Halo Infinite multiplayer is ruined by being free to play – Reader's Feature

A reader criticises the progression system in Halo Infinite’s multiplayer and warns that it could ruin what is otherwise a very good game.

Now that Call Of Duty: Vanguard and Battlefield 2042 have been dismissed as failures by the majority of gamers the way seems clear for Halo Infinite to be acknowledged as the best online shooter of the year. No-one’s played the campaign yet, so we don’t know how that’s going to turn out, but thanks to it being released as free to play, everyone that owns an Xbox or PC has the chance to play the multiplayer for nothing.

I certainly have and I’ve really enjoyed it. I haven’t played Battlefield 2042 (never really been a fan of that series) but Halo Infinite is clearly miles better than Call Of Duty, especially because it feels like something different and has an energy and excitement to it that seems lacking in its rivals.

The gunplay isn’t Destiny levels of good, and I’ve never liked the Halo aesthetic, but it’s clearly a really good online shooter. Except there’s one thing that really drags it down, something that has nothing to do with the gameplay and yet has already made the game boring and frustrating to play through, and that’s the progression system.

Nowadays you can’t just have an online shooter and expect it to be successful for a long period of time purely on its own merits. If you did all that would happen is that hardcore players would get better and better at playing it and newcomers, or simply those that don’t play it 10 hours a day, would find it harder and harder to win. So naturally they’d give up and go elsewhere, and probably wouldn’t be interested in future sequels.

Game makers have realised this phenomenon and that is one of the primary reasons why all games now have battle passes and similar progression systems. Fortnite is not popular because everyone that plays it has a reasonable expectation of being able to win but because they know that whatever else happens they’ll still be able to earn XP and unlock a few things in their battle pass just by taking part.

That means the top 10% of players can fight over who’s winning while ordinary players can be happy that they at least experience some progression and always have something to look forward to in terms of unlocking more.

Of course, the other reason for battle pass and cosmetic items in general is microtransactions and fleecing players for money but I think it’s obvious that most people are fine with that now. Even if the idea of paying £11 for a Fortnite skin makes my eyes water.

Halo Infinite clearly understands all of these systems but its way of doing things is notably different to its rivals, and considerably worse. In Halo Infinite you don’t progress through earning XP at all, but instead by completing specific time limited challenges. This has two immediate problems: just playing the game doesn’t earn you anything and there are so few challenges that you almost instantly have to start doing the same ones over and over again to level up.

Unless you take Halo Infinite on as a full-time job there just isn’t enough time to do everything and getting all the parts of the samurai armour, which is the current meta goal, is almost impossible because it’s all time limited and you’re going to have to wait till it comes round again to get the parts you missed.

Microsoft does have a solution to this though and it’s, guess what? Microtransactions! You can buy samurai related items but there’s over £50 worth of it on just this one event, and the only way to get the free stuff is working through everything in a way that would take the best part of two months.

343 says they’ve heard the complaints, but nothing has changed yet and it’s not clear how much it will because these are pretty fundamental problems with the whole approach to multiplayer progression. The central concept is badly flawed and seems to be designed around spending the maximum amount of time and money on the game, with no other considerations.

People ask how the Craig the Brute preview could have happened last year but how on earth did this multiplayer system get through the design phase without everyone pointing out it was completely terrible? Halo Infinite may be the best online shooter this year, but that’s not really saying much and, at the moment at least, it has some serious problems of its own.

Ultimately, making the multiplayer free-to-play may have been the worst thing that could happen to Halo Infinite, and if it doesn’t get a major rethink very quickly it’s going to drag the whole game down.

By reader Grackle

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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