The latest Halo Infinite roadmap is here, as is the now-familiar cycle of emotions brought about by a 343 Industries update. It goes something like this: excitement over a new collection of Halo Infinite news, reservation when you start to analyze that news, agreeable acceptance of a few good tidbits of information, concern that some of the updates are starting to look a little worrisome, then disappointment once again. once you realize this is all you’re going to get for the next six months to a year.
The last Halo Waypoint Update (opens in a new tab) was especially upsetting in that regard as we learned that season 3 will be delayed from November this year to March 2023 and that 343 Industries abandons Halo Infinite’s split-screen co-op entirely. Naturally, the players feel that the goal posts have moved once again; the fact that the cancellation of local co-op was quietly hidden in a 30-minute update video doesn’t help either. The most frustrating thing about all of this, though, is that Halo Infinite could be a great game; I just don’t want to wait any longer for all these promised improvements.
RIP couch co-op
Halo 5 Guardians was the first Halo game to launch without couch co-op, with 343 removing the mode in part to ensure the game can hit 60fps. But a Halo game without split-screen co-op is a Halo game in name only, and fans of the franchise expressed their disappointment. As such, 343 Industries responded loudly and declaratively to the backlash. studio founder Bonnie Ross took the DICE Summit 2017 stage and discussed what the team had learned from the debacle. “It’s incredibly painful for the community and for us,” she said. “It erodes trust with the community, as the community is part of our world building… I would say that for any FPS in the future, we will always have split screen.”
In July 2020, then-studio head Chris Lee doubled down on Ross’ promise, saying “we Will we have split screen and we Will have co-op when we launch Halo Infinite.” Halo Infinite’s release was soon pushed back to 2021, and when it did launch, it did so without a co-op campaign or Forge, which were delayed until at least May 2022. Then in March 2022, both modes were delayed again, with 343 admitting that Infinite’s open world presented “major challenges”.
Gamers can (and should) understand the rigors of game development, especially when considering the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent shift to a work-from-home model. But the problem is not what is provided, but what is promised and how those promises keep changing.
The latest series of updates from 343 Industries is pretty transparent, and that’s part of what’s so frustrating. It’s not that past updates or conversations with players seem to obfuscate the truth, but rather that the truth keeps changing, with long gaps between each adjustment. And it’s not just split-screen co-op that has fallen victim to objective post changes, but also Forge, matchmaking, online co-op, really the whole Halo package.
While trying the Halo Infinite Network Cooperative Beta In July, I realized that it was incredibly difficult to find people to team up with. Halo Discord was ignoring my requests and none of my friends had access to the beta yet, so I sent a question to Xbox asking whether or not the mode would have matchmaking at launch. A representative replied: “Online matchmaking will not be available with final co-op. We encourage you to continue using Halo LFG and the new Discord voice call feature on Xbox to find players to have fun with while you continue to play the beta.” This is all very well and good, but here’s the rub: when were we to learn that this incredibly useful feature was missing?
Then there’s the issue of repeated lags when it comes to multiplayer seasons and updates in general. In April, I wrote that Status of Halo Infinite highlighted the need for clear live service roadmaps, as players were confused and frustrated by the lack of concise information. At that point, after months of silence, we were finally told how long Season 2 would last, that the network co-op campaign would come in August, and that Forge would launch in September (or maybe November, it wasn’t clear). Since then, we’ve completely lost split-screen co-op, network co-op, and Forge were pushed back to November, with Season 2 stretched out to almost a year, and Season 3 pushed back five months. And yet, the vagueness persists: I had to watch a 30-minute video to know split-screen co-op was cancelled.
The most painful part is that Halo Infinite is a good game with rock-solid gunplay and hectic, fun multiplayer that seems to honor the franchise. Even going back to the campaign a few months ago was very nice, although I wish I had done it with my partner by my side and some empty tinnies between us.
Halo Infinite’s best qualities are marred by inconsistent messaging and what appears to be a top-down issue, where higher-ups may be writing checks that the dev team is struggling to collect. In February, I wrote that Forge would help Halo Infinite access a community of creators who could create new maps that would help keep the game fresh online and potentially take pressure off the development team. Without Forge in the mix, online play quickly becomes stale, especially since we’ve only gotten two new maps since the game launched nearly a year ago.
Halo Infinite has so much potential and a passionate fan base who desperately want this game to have as long a shelf life as the others in the franchise. For a while, players just wanted constant updates on what was to come. But with so many features delayed or canceled altogether, even with the latest roadmap in my hands, I have to wonder how much will actually materialize. Will we ever have a robust implementation of Forge? Will season 3 only last three and a half months? Most importantly, will I run out of patience before this game finally feels complete?
review the best open world games to play right now and completely forget that real life exists.