Halo is currently trending with a hundred thousand mentions on Twitter, and that’s… not the best news. Most of the conversation online right now is about the dismal roadmap that 343 has released about Halo Infinite’s second season, which will run for another six months, just like season 1, with relatively minimal content distributed to the during this period. Features that fans hoped Infinite would launch with are now “targeted” for late August, while others (split-screen co-op) have no dates at all.
This raised broader questions about Halo in general and how 343 Industries has handled Halo on Microsoft’s behalf since they took it over from Bungie after Halo Reach. It was an unusual split, where Bungie left Microsoft, leaving behind the Halo IP, and released Destiny with Activision. Now Bungie has been bought by Sony along with Destiny 2, one of the biggest live service games out there. And while many people were playing Halo Infinite, the current state of the game and the franchise as a whole is up for debate.
A lot of this is subjective, but I don’t think you’ll find that many Halo fans who prefer 343’s tenure at Bungie, for some reason. Generally speaking, the conversation about Halo 343 installments has been:
Halo 4 – Had a pretty decent campaign, but tried to COD-ify its multiplayer in a way that didn’t work at all for traditional Halo players.
Halo 5 – Multiplayer improved significantly, but ended up with a very, very poorly done campaign that didn’t focus enough on Master Chief and is generally considered the worst campaign in the series.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection – That was a long time ago now, but it was a really disastrous release at launch where the game just didn’t work for months. Over the years it has been slowly improved and supported, and recently surpassed the total number of Halo Infinite players on PC after a recent update.
Infinite Halo – It was the most played Halo game at launch, thanks to its inclusion in Xbox Game Pass. There was a lot of love initially for how much fun the open-world sandbox was with Master Chief’s tool collection, even if the story was a little… more questionable. It felt like we missed some Major events as 343 tried to “fix” the story of Halo 5, and it ended just when things got interesting with a potential new race, and now we have no idea when the narrative is supposed to continue.
Multiplayer has been… tough. The gameplay is solid, but Infinite had one of the worst progression systems of its kind that had to be revamped and changed many times over this season, the same goes for its microtransactions as well. Now, with a six-month second season bringing just two maps and three modes, fans think 343 just can’t support the scale play it needs. And it all comes after the release of Halo Infinite already delayed by a year from its original launch window that was supposed to accompany the Xbox Series X/S debut.
The Halo Show – It’s a quick aside, but 343 was heavily involved with the Paramount Plus show, which has a sprawling budget and went through a million scripts before its release. The show has had some solid battles, but generally speaking doesn’t seem to be enjoyed by most fans or casual viewers at this point with some weird story and character decisions.
343 has been in control of Halo for ten years now, since the release of Halo 4 in 2012. Although Halo games continue to sell well because… they are Halo games, there always seems to be a major problem accompanying each release , holding the game and the series back to where it needs to be as what’s supposed to be Microsoft’s flagship IP.
Microsoft is already starting to provide “help”. Certain Affinity is now building a separate multiplayer mode, presumably a battle royale, for release alongside Halo Infinite. I guess the question is whether or not Microsoft wants to continue to trust 343 for the franchise’s long arc given what we’ve seen over the past ten years, and how in many ways the The current state of Infinite and its development is one of the most troubling twists to date (though I don’t think anything tops Halo MCC’s terrible launch).
The question might be… do they even have to have another option? Sony just bought Bungie, so a master plan to bring them back as successors isn’t going to happen, not that Bungie would give up work on Destiny anyway and their own new IPs. And Microsoft is still trying to figure out how to make its own new first-party studios work, and production issues plague The Initiative and its Perfect Dark game.
Perhaps the answer is time, and Halo Infinite will eventually find its footing. But again, I think it’s about looking at the larger arc of the last ten years, which I think is a much larger issue than the more recent struggles of Infinite. So far, Microsoft doesn’t seem to agree.
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