Halo is currently trending with one one hundred thousand mentions on Twitter, and that’s … not the best news. Most of the conversation online right now is about the grim roadmap that 343 released about Halo Infinite’s second season, which will last another six months, just like season 1, with relatively minimal content shared beyond that period. Features that fans hoped Infinite would launch with are now “targeted” to the end of August, while others (split-screen collaboration) have no dates at all.
This has raised broader questions about Halo in general and how 343 Industries has handled Halo on behalf of Microsoft since they took it over from Bungie after Halo Reach. It was an unusual split, with Bungie leaving Microsoft, leaving the Halo IP and releasing Destiny with Activision. Now Bungie has been acquired by Sony with Destiny 2 one of the biggest live service games on the market. And while many people played Halo Infinite, the ongoing state of the game and the franchise as a whole are discussed.
Much of this is subjective, but I do not think you will find so many Halo fans prefer 343’s term of office to Bungie’s, for one reason or another. In general, the conversation about 343’s Halo installments has been:
Halo 4 – Had a pretty decent campaign, but tried to COD-ify its multiplayer in a way that did not work at all for traditional Halo players.
Halo 5 – Improved multiplayer significantly, but ended up with a very, very poorly executed campaign that did not focus enough on Master Chief and is generally considered the worst campaign in the series.
Halo: Master Chief Collection – It’s been a long time now, but this was a really disastrous release at launch, where the game did not work for several months. Over the years, it has been slowly improved and supported, and recently it passed the total number of Halo Infinite players on PC after a recent update.
Halo infinite – It was the most played Halo game at launch, thanks to its inclusion in the Xbox Game Pass. To begin with, there was a lot of love for how fun the sandbox in the open world was with the Master Chiefs collection of tools, even though the story was a bit … more debatable. It felt like we were missing out on some major events like 343 tried to “fix” the story of Halo 5, and it ended just as things got interesting with a new potential race, and now we have no idea when the story will continue.
Multiplayer has been … hard. The gameplay is solid, but Infinite boasts one of the worst progression systems in the genre, which has had to be overtaken and changed several times during this season, the same goes for its microtransactions. Now, with another six-month season bringing only two cards and three modes, fans believe the 343 just can’t support the game on the scale it needs. And all this comes after Halo Infinite was already delayed a year from its first launch window, which was to coincide with the Xbox Series X / S debut.
The Halo Show – This is a minor oversight, but 343 has been heavily involved in the Paramount Plus show, which has an extensive budget and went through a million scripts before it came out for release. The show has had a couple of solid fights, but overall it does not seem to be loved by most fans or casual viewers at this point with strange story and character decisions.
343 have been in control of Halo for ten years now, since the release of Halo 4 in 2012. While Halo games continue to sell well because … they are Halo games, it always seems like there are some major issue that accompanies every release that holds the game and the series back from where it should be as what should be Microsoft’s flagship IP.
Microsoft has already started bringing in “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 Microsoft wants to continue to rely on 343 for the long arc of the franchise given what we’ve seen over the last ten years and how the current state of Infinite and its in many ways development is one of the most disturbing twists to date (though I do not think anything will top the awful Halo MCC launch entirely).
The question may be … do they even have another option? Sony has just bought Bungie, so some master plan to bring them back to take over will not happen, not that Bungie would give up work on Destiny and their own new IPs anyway. 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.
Maybe the answer is time and Halo Infinite will find its track eventually. But again, I think it’s about looking at the bigger arc of the last ten years, which I would argue poses a much broader problem than Infinite’s recent matches. So far, Microsoft does not seem to agree.
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