Halo Infinite Technical Preview: Here's What We Learned - VRGyani News and Media

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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Halo Infinite Technical Preview: Here's What We Learned

The first time I played Halo: Combat Evolved was in early 2002, a few months after the release. In what was a beautiful encapsulation of the era, my inaugural experience was via a LAN party with seven other friends. As friends each arrived with extra consoles, TVs, cables, and controllers, epic rounds of Team Slayer unfolded in the desolate rocks of Blood Gulch. Chaos reigned as Warthog jeeps exploded and Ghosts screamed through the battlefield, catapulting unsuspecting Spartans across the barren landscape.

Now, almost twenty years later, Halo Infinite has arrived via its first—of several, supposedly—"technical tests." The terminology is important, as this release is actually pre-beta. The model we are getting here is the equivalent of how your NBA team looks in the first day of summer league practice. In other words, don't worry yourself too much over what you do and don't see. This is strictly 343 Industries saying, "Hey, Halo fans, look what we are working on!"

This particular incarnation was of the closed variety, granting the opportunity to invited players to test out a few maps against AI bots, a weapon range, and some user interface design concepts. As Halo: Combat Evolved came to me through my social circle, so too did my chance to access Halo Infinite. So, here I sit to report on a few things from the experience. Off we go...

RELATED: 'Halo: Infinite' Gets New Release Date and Multiplayer Trailer

1. It Feels Like Halo

Several early reports—the "reports" I am referring to are general Twitter comments, so ingest whatever number of grains of salt you deem appropriate—complained that the gameplay experience was decidedly un-Halo. While you can't avoid the limbo in which Halo Infinite currently resides due to where we are in the development, I have to disagree with those complaints. There are still a great many features as yet unreleased, but the graphics, pacing, and general bones of gameplay scream Halo.

Three maps were made available—Recharge, Live Fire, and Bazaar—but I only had the opportunity to play the former two, as Bazaar did not launch until the following day. I can't say that I was blown away by these maps, but map preference is pretty specific to each player, so it may just be that these maps were not the sort that I normally gravitate towards. And despite my neutral reaction, they still managed to feel at home in the Halo universe.

2. Weapons Feel Underpowered

I only had my hands on this test run for one night, but at the stage I played, everything felt a bit underpowered. I will always leave room for my occasional terribleness as a cause of my objections, but this was a consistent complaint, both from myself as well as those I was playing with. Frag grenades in particular were borderline useless. After playing for a few hours, I chucked one into a group of bots and got a double-kill. I may as well have won an Olympic gold medal; my room of friends erupted into cheers, as such an accomplishment had seemed impossible. A group of Halo veterans should not be impressed by such a feat.

The location of the guns is also a little different, as they hang in small lockers in various areas of the map. Because they are not in the running path, it is easy to forget to look for them. The number of weapons that were made available was a little lacking, but that's just a note, nothing resembling a concern.

3. The Bots Are... Dangerous!

Playing exclusively against AI bots naturally lacks the intensity of human players, but Halo Infinite's AI army is surprisingly competent, even lethal. Other than getting a little overcommitted to overshield spawn points, the bots handled themselves well beyond many of their peers across the genre. Had I not known I was facing bots, I can't help but wonder if I would have even been suspicious that I wasn't facing human players.

And according to 343, advanced bots arrived ("Spartan Bots") later in the test. After watching a few clips—wax nostalgic about the days when bots couldn't perform such carnage as seen here and here—it is easy to see the elevated level of ferocity. Just how intelligent these bots are going to get will be an interesting aspect to watch as the game moves further towards release. 343 claims at least one more level of super bot exists. Yikes.

4. Your Spartan Is Highly Customizable

The headline says it all. The customizer allows for many predictable options like weapon skins and color changes but also different helmet styles, as well as quirky armor changes like prosthetics for your limbs. When all the developmental dust has settled, it seems safe to assume that players will have unprecedented opportunities to make their Spartan entirely their own.

5. The New Opponent Highlighting Is Difficult

The new customization options come with a price. No longer confined to simply red vs. blue, Spartans of all colors are now rushing around the map. This creates a need for a new targeting system, as it is less immediately apparent who is an enemy. Instead of being able to spot an enemy simply by their color, players must rely on a colored outline that highlights opponents—the color of that outline is chosen by the player. I must admit that this took some getting used to. On more than one occasion, I hesitated as I quickly assessed whether or not the Spartan in front of me was friend or foe. It was only about a half-second, but once PvP arrives, such hesitation will be a death sentence against any accomplished player. This may not be a problem but rather something that is going to take more than a few hours of exposure with which to become comfortable.

Overall, my experience with Halo Infinite left me feeling positive. At such an early stage, criticism doesn't really apply, just observation. There are plenty of kinks that would be alarming if they were to linger, but if Halo Infinite ends up half as strong as its bots, we'll be one happy fanbase.

Halo Infinite is currently slated for relase in late 2021 on Xbox Series X/S, as well as PC.

KEEP READING: 'Halo Infinite' First Multiplayer Closed Beta Will Begin This Week



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