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Halo Infinite - OUT NOW - no campaign spoilers pls


Wallace
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It sounds like 343 still operate a lot like Ballmer era Microsoft. This gag chart became a thing for a reason.

 

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Halo Infinite’s creative direction was also in flux until unusually late in its development. Several developers described 343 as a company split into fiefdoms, with every team jockeying for resources and making conflicting decisions. One developer describes the process as “four to five games being developed simultaneously.”


It seems that even now they're still pretty dysfunctional in that aspect. For example, in the recent (very barebones) Fracture: Tenrai event, they put out marketing materials to promote it indicating that players could get various items for free. Then when the event came out it turned out that the majority of it was just challenge swaps and XP boosts and the stuff they put out in PR were almost all paid items in their (very expensive) item shop. There was a bit of a backlash and they put out a video admitting that it happened because marketing and the team behind the event hadn't talked to each other. They've since backtracked and put a bunch of stuff back into it for their second attempt at it which starts later today.

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3 minutes ago, Harsin said:

It sounds like 343 still operate a lot like Ballmer era Microsoft. This gag chart became a thing for a reason.

 

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It seems that even now they're still pretty dysfunctional in that aspect. For example, in the recent (very barebones) Fracture: Tenrai event, they put out marketing materials to promote it indicating that players could get various items for free. Then when the event came out it turned out that the majority of it was just challenge swaps and XP boosts and the stuff they put out in PR were almost all paid items in their (very expensive) item shop. There was a bit of a backlash and they put out a video admitting that it happened because marketing and the team behind the event hadn't talked to each other. They've since backtracked and put a bunch of stuff back into it for their second attempt at it which starts later today.

 

Marketing not being in line with other departments is pretty standard in my experience :)

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15 minutes ago, jonny_rat said:

I think there will be lots of dissection of what went 'wrong' with Infinite (and I say this as someone who loved it and it still enjoying the multiplayer). I think a lot of it is going to be problems with playtesting.

 

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It must ultimately come down to poor management, because even if the engine is a dog to work with, Bungie have put out a bunch of awesome games with it in the past. Maybe it just needs very careful planning from the outset because it's such a pain to rework stuff. 

 

The campaign reminds a bit of my experience of Halo 2. Not in the gameplay style, as Infinite goes in the opposite direction of providing wide open areas, whereas 2 narrowed things down and focused on bombast. But with regards to the quality, which varies throughout an is a mixture of extreme highs and some series lows. The first third of Halo 2, I think, is among the best in the series, but then it goes onto turgid, frustrating encounters against un-fun enemies later in the game. Compare that to Bungie's 360-era games, which have an 'all killer, no filler' feel to them. Also, Halo 2 introduced a bunch of new stuff (probably the most out of any of the games), some of which was brilliant and became staples of the series, but other things that were less popular. Halo 2's core gameplay is as amazing as any other game in the series, it just suffers because of relatively weak level and narrative design. Halo Infinite has similar highs and lows.

 

I'm not at the end yet (just done The Road, which was a brilliant bit of relief after fighting Sentinels in dark rooms for what felt like hours), but I can already say that Infinite has given me probably my best Halo experiences across the whole series, and that's all down to the open world stuff. I agree that it needs some balancing, and that they need to move away from just splurging icons on the map for the player to mindlessly tick off, but the feeling of agency when deciding how to tackle things (and the grapple, of course), elevate the sandbox gameplay to a whole new level.

 

I would love for a follow-up to continue mixing up open world areas and more linear sections, but have those linear sections be much more impressive, varied and imaginative. More different environments, set pieces, carefully designed encounters etc. Up in space, on little floating bits of destroyed Halo, on cruisers hovering above the surface etc.

 

I'd love for there to be three very different open worldy bits as you progress through the campaign, each with a different biome, and each following a different gameplay style. Perhaps one is on a heavily-fortified Banished island, with a big command centre in the middle (like Ganon in the castle in BOTW) and installations strewn about elsewhere that can be destroyed, guerrilla warfare style, to weaken the central fort in interesting ways. Perhaps another in a relatively untouched paradise with both sides rushing to find out its secrets - this one would be more focused on exploration and treasure-hunting type gameplay. Then perhaps the last is the UNSC base, which undergoes a full-scale invasion with embattled marines about the place.

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As much as the game is a bit of a mess, it's by far the most fun Halo game that 343i have put out. I think it's so far ahead of both Halo 4 & 5. 

I also have no problem with the bosses either, and in fact welcome them. During my Heroic playthrough, none of them were a problem if I adhered to the Plasma Weapon on shields / Kinetic Weapon on flesh tactics. 

 

Seriously, the hammer-man is an absolute cake-walk if you keep your distance and use the right guns. 

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I personally think people are being ridiculously harsh on it - it's not perfect, but then no game ever is - and the expectations were massive to the point nobody was ever going to be 100% happy.

 

Most people prior to release would have taken 'an excellent multiplayer Halo with a really good campaign' - and that's what we got. Sure they need to add co-op, and a level select, but providing they do that (and they've said they will within the next 6 months) I think they'll have done pretty well given the current situation.

 

Basically, it *is* fun to play, and that's the important bit really.

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They could definitely refine their approach to open world design by placing a much larger emphasis on things catching the player’s eye on the horizon, prompting organic discovery. You should be able to spot the marine’s distress flares from miles away, but they’re far too small and the geography too cluttered to see anything until you’re right on top of them. Likewise the beacons, it would have been more fun to follow the blue trails into the sky rather than having them marked on the map. Ingredients are all there, but they’d benefit from a more nuanced approach. I expect this is closer to how the original ‘Halo of the Wild’ pitch looked. 
 

Just adding a basic ‘fog of war’ to the map would probably go a long way. 

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I do think it's a minimum viable version of the ultimate Halo game. An incredibly exciting blueprint that I hope they're able to build on in a fully-fledged, Series-exclusive sequel later this generation. It's the first time that 343 have added new elements on top of Bungie's template that have genuinely moved things forward in a way that I was hoping for (in single player, at least. I realise that they nailed the MP in Halo 5). The exciting thing is that 343 have shown that they can do graphics and sci-fi vistas. They've shown that they can do exciting set-pieces and awesome level design (see 4's The Composer level). They've recaptured and expanded on the exquisitely-balanced core gameplay that's the lightning-in-a-bottle for the series. Okay, so the story is a bust, and I'm not sure much can be done there. But, story aside, I've not been this excited for the future of Halo since reading and re-reading this Halo 2 feature in Edge back in 2002:

 

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I think you guys just don't get that we disagree on some of these premises, I don't think it's ahead of their previous games, at least those had y'know variety in enemies and environment and setpieces, and were less buggy and more finished (well, aside from MCC).

 

Also I see we're in the same revisionist "well multiplayer is excellent" line as Halo 5, when it's currently fucked. After launching an 'excellent' multiplayer game that was half finished and the aiming didn't work properly they've now got a new 'excellent' one that's half finished where different players can just completely desync from each other and see wildly different versions of events, I've never seen that in a released multiplayer game in 20 years - AAA or indie.

 

 

They really are being graded on a curve due to peoples like of the Halo franchise, the "no one would accept this stuff from any other franchise" point has been raised multiple times and no one has refuted it, just sort of awkwardly talked around it. Imagine if EA launched a game in this state, or Ubisoft? It'd be getting ripped apart.

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6 minutes ago, rgraves said:

I personally think people are being ridiculously harsh on it - it's not perfect, but then no game ever is - and the expectations were massive to the point nobody was ever going to be 100% happy.

 

Most people prior to release would have taken 'an excellent multiplayer Halo with a really good campaign' - and that's what we got. Sure they need to add co-op, and a level select, but providing they do that (and they've said they will within the next 6 months) I think they'll have done pretty well given the current situation.

 

Basically, it *is* fun to play, and that's the important bit really.

 

I completely agree with this.  Particularly the last sentence.

 

I understand why there's criticism, particularly with the already lengthy delay - I feel that the main frustration is because it plays SO well, but so much around it is poorly implemented/designed.  But I don't think the level of criticism has been very fair.  It's about balance.  No, it's not perfect but it's far from awful.

 

However, what I am hoping is a similar thing to what we've seen with titles like No Man's Sky and Sea of Thieves.  The latter in particular was a pretty empty experience when first released, but being a flagship 1st party title, it has been constantly looked at, updated with a colossal amount of extra content added over the years.  Now, it's a vastly improved game with so much to do - it was ridiculed and dismissed by a LOT of people upon release.  I don't see why 343i wouldn't go down this route seeing as Halo is such a massive IP for Xbox.

 

I don't expect any significant changes until Season 2 at the earliest but they would be insane not to build upon the framework here.  The game play is already bang on the money, but I want to see Halo Infinite move from 'good' to 'exceptional'.

 

If they don't significantly add to what's already there, then yes - it'll have been a let down and a huge missed opportunity.  I'm not going to be too down on the devs not implementing changes over the holidays.  I'm sure they needed some festive downtime following the release of both parts of the game in November/December - 2022 should be a big year for the game.

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8 minutes ago, RubberJohnny said:

Also I see we're in the same revisionist "well multiplayer is excellent" line as Halo 5, when it's currently fucked. After launching an 'excellent' multiplayer game that was half finished and the aiming didn't work properly they've now got a new 'excellent' one that's half finished where different players can just completely desync from each other and see wildly different versions of events,

 

I'm no techie so I don't understand how this works, but I can honestly say that I've not noticed issues like this in Halo Infinite's multiplayer.

 

Yes, I would like the constant quitter issue and am option to filter playlists in ranked matches to be addressed, and of course the rewards/challenges are as basic as it's possible for them to be but as a gaming experience, I bloody love the multiplayer.

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29 minutes ago, rgraves said:

Basically, it *is* fun to play, and that's the important bit really.

 

Sure, but then of course lots of games with a fraction of HI's budget are fun to play. I still think its lack of SP coop, its lack of enemy variety, bad warthog physics, difficult-to-navigate map screen with Ubisoft-like items, difficult-to-comprehend upgrading and equipement menu and one of the worst stories ever (I constantly press "skip") do spoil the experience. Yes, gunplay is excellent - but I'm sure a lot of players would view the game differently had they spent 60 bucks on it vs. getting it on the cheap via GP.

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I honestly don't let the story stuff bother me - I mean honestly, it's all going to be bobbins anyway - it's about a space marine. Just skip and get back to the boom boom.

 

The map screen I totally agree on - but it's hardly game breaking - one quick update to make it easier to distinguish between done and not done would solve a lot of it for example.

 

I've got no idea what the 'difficult to comprehend upgrading and equipment menu' is - I mean that seems really rather simple to me, there's hardly an overwhelming number of options etc - is anyone really struggling with that?

 

I don't want to sound like I'm just defending the game - I totally see there are a number of ways it could be improved - I just feel like some folks are going over the top - you'd think it was a total train wreck going by some of the comments.

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There's been polite pretty measured discussion about what people do and do not like about the game and how it ended up the way it did, which I've found quite interesting, where people have been amicably agreeing and disagreeing on various points. I think the question is why that bothers you so much (characterising them as 'ridiculously harsh'  and 'over the top' and a rather snide aside about the UI chat questioning other posters intelligence) that you're going after the posters and trying to shut down discussion.

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I looked through the reddit thread but didn't see the answer - how does he record his point of view and then get the server version?

 

As for not criticising it or whatever, I don't think it's a case of people letting it slide, it's probably not happening to them I imagine? I've been killed when I thought I was around a corner about 5 times where I thought "That's bullshit". Halo tracker shows I've died 3,473 times so it's a very small percentage. That's not taking into account other things in the game causing the death - a bunch of times I'll think I was killed in one shot or something but sometimes it's a grenade going off behind me or someone else shooting me that takes a chunk of health off.

 

Clearly this d-sync thing looks to be an issue but it doesn't look to be happening in every game to every player so I find it hard to label it as an unbroken mess and not just because it's Halo and a popular franchise.

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13 minutes ago, Harsin said:

There's been polite pretty measured discussion about what people do and do not like about the game which I've found quite interesting where people have been amicably agreeing and disagreeing on various points. I think the question is why that bothers you so much (characterising them as 'ridiculously harsh'  and 'over the top' and a rather snide aside about the UI chat questioning other posters intelligence) that you're going after the posters and trying to shut down discussion.

 

I'm honesty not trying to be snide - totally not as much as your post just was anyway - or shut down discussion. And I'm absolutely not 'going after' posters - that's just a nonsense accusation that's totally uncalled for. I've made two posts - only one of which was a reply in any kind of direct way, and neither of which could be classed as anything other than polite IMO.

 

If anything, your post goes after me and attempts to shut me down far more than any of the posts I've made.....

 

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6 minutes ago, Kryptonian said:

Clearly this d-sync thing looks to be an issue but it doesn't look to be happening in every game to every player so I find it hard to label it as an unbroken mess and not just because it's Halo and a popular franchise.

 

You mainly notice when someone starts firing at you, you duck round a corner, go phew managed ro get away, and then a few moments later abruptly drop dead.

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RubberJohnny has posted that desync thing from Reddit before. I'm not sure it's much of a gotcha when few of us playing the multiplayer have noticed the exact issue - so we've not exactly had our enjoyment affected in hundreds of hours. Maybe it affects pro players in tournaments. Maybe that will kill the game in future. Maybe they will fix it before then if it's an issue...

 

Big whoop.

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53 minutes ago, rgraves said:

I personally think people are being ridiculously harsh on it


And I’m of the opinion that people aren’t being harsh enough. Let’s not forget, it’s currently sat at 87 on Metacritic, has appeared on most big gaming sites top ten of 2021 and the majority of people on here seem to be loving it. That’s great, and I’m pleased for those that feel that way, BUT! … there are so many comments along the lines of ‘yes it has a lot wrong with it, but it’s still got that combat loop’. Well, yeah maybe, but every other Halo game has that combat loop as well, so what’s Infinite bringing to the party?

 

And that’s where it suddenly falls down, in my opinion. It isn’t an amazing ‘open world’ game. The progression systems are incredibly weak.  The story, well I think we’re all in agreement on that one. And on top of all that, it’s unfinished, after 6 years in development.

 

343 should absolutely be held to a higher standard, and if everyone gives them a massive round of applause and pat on the back, they’ll just do the same next time.

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That being said in my post above: after they unlocked the campaign on release they also somehow managed to break the multiplayer matchmaking and various other things for no apparent reason. As bad as when the PUBG devs would randomly introduce stupid issues throughout its life whenever people thought the game was finally fixed and solid. So that's shit and needs sorting, before it sounds like I'm defending incompetence

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I wouldn’t go as far as it call it broken (apart from BTB right now). But I do find it fascinating how a company with the sheer resources of MS/343 can release a multiplayer game in this day and age where you can't even easily mute someone in-game (functionality that was in previous Halo games) and doesn't even have basic anti-cheat functionality.

 

I've got loads of hour racked up in the game and continue to play it, I think it’s possible to like elements of a game, dislike elements of it and discuss both. Everything has to be so binary on the internet all the time.

 

I tend to harp on a bit about the story stuff as I genuinely find it head scratching how poor they still are at that aspect of things after all this time and just how odd some of the narrative depictions they make are. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall in some meetings and know how it ended up that way. I wouldn't put Bungie on a pedestal for telling stories either but they were still better than this.

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2 minutes ago, Benny said:

One issue was Big Battle Mode was basically unjoinable if you were in a fireteam, at least that was the case before Xmas, if they haven't fixed it.


They haven’t yet. Last week the weekly MP challenge was to get splatter kills, a mode where you pretty much need to play BTB, unless you want to play Fiesta and hope you get one of the two maps that spawn random vehicles. Its decisions like that I find so odd.

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‘Mute all’ is Menu (3 lines) > View (2 boxes) > Y I think. Quite fast when you remember what to do. Annoyingly you can’t do it till the game actually starts though. 

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3 minutes ago, Pob said:

‘Mute all’ is Menu (3 lines) > View (2 boxes) > Y I think. Quite fast when you remember what to do. Annoyingly you can’t do it till the game actually starts though. 


Are you talking in-game or OS level? Also I'm talking about when you need to mute an individual player. I had some prick blasting shitty music down the mic all game and the only way I could easily see to mute him but be able to listen to the rest of the team was doing it from the Guide. In past Halo games you just brought up the scoreboard and muted them with a button from there.

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2 minutes ago, Harsin said:


Are you talking in-game or OS level? Also I'm talking about when you need to mute an individual player. I had some prick blasting shitty music down the mic all game and the only way I could easily see to mute him but be able to listen to the rest of the team was doing it from the Guide. In past Halo games you just brought up the scoreboard and muted them with a button from there.

In game. Try Menu then View - this brings up the roster. You can probably then choose an individual. I only ever do mute all. 

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