I am not a Halo fan. Not even a casual one. I played about the first 25 minutes of Halo 3 before I turned it off and never went back. In fact, the only thing Halo-related that I found somewhat enjoyable was the Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn web series. And even that I could take or leave.
So perhaps I am not the best person to talk about the recent eight-plus-minute-long gameplay demo for the upcoming Halo Infinite. I can already see the comments section exploding, angry Xboxers dragging me over the coals and calling me a Sony fanboy shill.
Which… man, I wish. Give me that Sony shill money, shhheeeeiiitttt!
But in some ways, I am perhaps the perfect person for the job. Because this game should not only excite longtime Halo fans, but it should also drum up interest for the upcoming Xbox Series X consoles. It should speak broadly to the gaming enthusiast community at large, targeting those who are currently not locked in as guaranteed paying customers.
You can always win over an on-the-fence guy like me if you really work for it. Hell, I was not remotely interested in Death Stranding until I read just how dull and meandering it actually was. Slow and meandering, for the record, are two qualities that really speak to me. I love The Long Dark, after all, which might as well be called Slow Walking While Managing Your Inventory Weight: The Game. Well, maybe not. I’m not a marketing guy.
Anyway, it was under this pretense — the hope that I might just discover the next game I didn’t know I needed, thus securing for Microsoft yet another new console sale — that I approached the Halo Infinite gameplay demo. Unfortunately, it failed to hook me, and in the end it just looks like more Halo to me. Again.
Maybe that’s exactly what every Halo fan was hoping to see, more of the thing they love. For me, however, the game seems content to simply check boxes and toe the line.
It’s probably unreasonable for me to expect a God of War-level overhaul — especially for what’s slated to be a launch title for the Microsoft’s next-gen consoles. Hell, at its core, Halo was always a competent-yet-boilerplate shooter, very much a reflection of the era it was birthed in. Still, I can’t help feeling like it could be something more than that at this point in the series’ lifetime.
And that is to say nothing of the complaints that have already been lobbed across the vast space of the internet. The flat visuals, the noticeable, atrocious texture pop-ins. These things are definitely alarming for a tentpole Xbox franchise, especially as Microsoft gets ready to release its upcoming Xbox Series X, hoping to take a bite out of Sony’s current-gen victory cake.
343 Industries did address some of these specific concerns, and they also claimed the version they showed was an old build that shouldn’t be misconstrued as an accurate depiction of the final product. Maybe that’s fair. I’ve never made a game, but I can only imagine that building demos could be a nightmare to put together.
The problem, though, is that when you show something that is meant to be representative of the game you are hyping, and it doesn’t accurately represent what to expect, isn’t that sort of a waste of development resources? Worse yet, isn’t it testing the faith of your core audience, causing them to question whether we can trust anything at all we just saw in this demo? Perhaps the better call would have been to hold off until the demo build was ready? Again, I’m not a marketing guy, but I do feel like these are valid questions.
As is, Halo Infinite looks like more Halo, for better or for worse.
You can watch the full gameplay demo below.