Halo Infinite Didn’t Deserve To Be A Failure

Halo Infinite isn’t going to get better. I stayed hopeful after its spectacular launch petered out and months passed between the first major multiplayer updates. Then new trademarks hinted at major campaign expansions and an ambitious future for the live service shooter, but now rumours suggest that, amidst layoffs, the single player strategy has been considerably scaled back, with Microsoft potentially trusting external partners with the property moving forward.

None of this is confirmed obviously, but with the departure of high profile figures like Joseph Staten and Bonnie Ross, the future of Halo Infinite in its current form is far from ideal. Keep in mind that not many people are even playing the game right now, with only a dedicated audience still sticking around to master Forge Mode and wait for the next seasonal chapter. It’s far from the mainstream success 343 Industries was hoping for, and that really sucks.

Who knows what the future holds for Halo Infinite, but with internal reports claiming it failed to achieve its expectations, I can’t see Microsoft wanting to turn it into a platform that goes beyond what we already have. Ironic I suppose, given its namesake and how its Slipstream Engine was designed to introduce Halo to a new generation of players. At first, it did exactly that, but a lacklustre pace and failure to capitalise on its popularity meant gamers moved on, keen to play the next big thing when Infinite wasn’t offering nearly enough to placate them.

The campaign ends with Master Chief and his small yet endearing group of friends leaving Zeta Halo behind, embarking on a new adventure to save whatever parts of humanity they can, all while a mysterious new enemy bubbles away in the background. It reset the status quo, meaning hardcore fans could appreciate its newfound dedication to world building and lore, while newcomers wouldn’t be lost amidst the noise.

It was a fresh start, and one where the foundation could have reached for the stars. Sadly development was mismanaged from the start, after multiple delays and a reliance on temporary contractors, so once it was out the door, there wasn’t really anything there to build upon. Only to survive, and it seems even that was a struggle. Maybe I got my hopes up, since it appears those who have since left the studio wanted the exact same thing, to craft a chapter in this universe they adore.

Halo is one of the few household names in video games, penetrating the echo chamber with music, an instantly recognisable protagonist, and a standout aesthetic that can sit alongside Mario and Zelda. Master Chief has held that iconic status for years, but time and time again Microsoft has failed to make proper use of him. Bungie intended for his story to end with Halo 3, yet the series’ popularity was so pronounced that Microsoft was always going to bring him back, even if the coming stories at times failed to justify their existence in ways that even now remain unfulfilled. I was there for the entire ride, and might be one of the few in the world ready to defend Halo 5: Guardians.

Now I’m tapping out, finally able to look past all the hype and nostalgia to see that even if the iconic musical sting and memorable characters continue to give me goosebumps, it can never escape from the corporate landscape in which Halo exists. Infinite was built as a live service platform without the resources nor foresight to ever achieve its original vision.

In the words of those who worked on it, Microsoft and 343 Industries set it up to fail. A lack of resources, a fractured production cycle, unclear post-launch plans, and constant fumbling of a project that should have been a slam dunk. This is Halo. Do it right and the game will sell itself, and it almost did. The gunplay was amazing, the multiplayer was satisfying, and the solo campaign was emotionally resonant in all the right ways. Yet here we are less than two years later, staring at the decaying corpse of a blockbuster that could have had the world.

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