Halo Infinite’s campaign looks modern in the best way possible

Halo has always had a certain flavor to the hype behind it. Most notable for me was the run up to Halo 3. Bungie enveloped my teenage mind with visions of expansive sci-fi settings and the ways in which I’d get lost in its multiplayer. Halo 3’s marketing was simply something to be felt. In many ways, it was also the peak of the Halo hype machine.

Each release of Halo has left its mark on my gaming career, but it’s also become murkier ever since the release of Halo Reach. I had my fill of over 100 hours with Bungie’s last hoorah, but 343’s entries never truly got their hooks in me. I didn’t feel the connection with my gut that earlier titles provided. Punctuated by the latest release of Halo Infinite’s campaign overview, this lapse in loyalty seems to finally be coming to an end. For the first time in years, it feels fantastic to be invested in the Halo franchise.

Do as you please

I’ve played most Halo games made by Bungie. I remember having a hell of a time with Halo 2 and Halo 3 (and even Reach if memory serves me right). The campaigns didn’t have the depth of the greatest stories of our time, but the romp was right. Single player Halo, to me, is the right mixture of cheese, tropes, set pieces, and setting to become invested in. Nearly all of the classic titles bring the fun factor in spades as well. But I wouldn’t call myself a campaign fanatic. Whether Big Team Battle or Rumble Pit, multiplayer has always been the hook for me.

Halo Infinite’s campaign calls to me in a way it hasn’t in a long, long time. It looks to flip the formula on its head, offer player freedom, and inject all manners of fun into the sandbox. The game takes place on Zeta Halo and, from the looks of it, is an open world (or semi-open world) playground for players.

Halo has had its fair share of wide open levels, but for the most part, has always been more of a linear experience. Halo Infinite turns this on its head by introducing elements regularly seen in open world games like Far Cry. Things like a target list, upgrade paths, and enemy camps all make headway in 343’s latest release. This is only dialed up further by the inclusion of equipment. All of this, backed by player agency, seems to offer a perfect feedback loop that’s never been seen in the franchise up until now.

The potential to lure in new fans is through the roof if done right. Things can always go awry, but if the latest rounds of multiplayer flights are any indication, 343 will modernize the campaign tastefully. I can’t speak for all veterans of the franchise, but I’m very keen to these changes in part due to how the ineffable “feel” of Halo seems to be intact.

Halo Infinite looks like Halo

Just as with the multiplayer, I think that Halo Infinite’s campaign shines because it’s both new and old. It seems to give the formula a visceral shake, but it also maintains a distinctly Halo aesthetic. Unlike Halo 4 and Halo 5, the art style in Infinite is incredible. As odd as it may sound, 343’s prior releases always rubbed me the wrong way due to how they looked and felt. It’s a big part of why I couldn’t get into them.

halo infinite map overview
Halo Infinite brings open world newness while still retaining the distinct Halo aesthetic

Master Chief looks as exactly as he should, only touched up for the expectations of 2021. And this is the criticism I can’t get behind when taking places like Twitter and forums into context. Halo Infinite may not melt my eyes off, but it definitely looks excellent graphically speaking. I think a big part of this is its art style – it truly elevates Infinite into something special. Zeta Halo is a place I want to be in. The Banished are enemies I want to take down. Simply put, the campaign overview sucks me into the world 343 have created due to its mix of newness and familiarity.

Infinite may borrow elements from other modern games. It may not be exceptionally unique. But 343 seems to have finally hit the nail on the head, and their novel take the campaign within the context of Halo pushes the franchise forward while fully retaining its identity. I can only imagine the type of fun I and many others will get into thanks to the distinct sandbox the franchise is known for in the wide open world of Zeta Halo.

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