The Halo franchise is an established hit for Microsoft. The hotly anticipated Halo Infinite is launching this month on the largest variety of platforms ever, and it’s also launching on their Xbox Game Pass on day one making it available to anyone subscribed to the service.

The multiplayer component of Halo Infinite launched as an open beta last month for the 20th anniversary of the franchise which launched back on November 15, 2001. The multiplayer launch has been a little controversial for Halo players, with concerns over lootboxes and more, but it’s the campaign that I’ve been looking forward to

The release of Halo Infinite is set for release in Australia on December 9th – 5am AEDT on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PC and Steam.

I haven’t played a Halo game since Halo 3 – I skipped the Xbox One consoles – but after managing to secure an Xbox Series X I’ve been itching to get back into Halo ever since.

Microsoft kindly provided access to Halo Infinite to me for review and I’ve been playing for just under a week now. I’m nowhere even close to finishing it, but I have had an absolute blast, and I’m definitely returning to the franchise. For a bit more detail, here’s how it went.

Story & Gameplay

The game itself takes place about 18 months after the events of Halo 5: Guardians Halo Infinite again focuses on the titular character Master Chief, who is again voiced by Steve Dawes.

For fans of the character the story is all about Master Chief. The story opens with ex-Covenant, and now Banished war leader, Atriox, casting Master Chief into the void of space. The story that follows unfolds the tale of what happened on the Zeta Halo, to the UNSC (United Nations Space Command) as well as the AI Cortana – and of course, you have to fight to stop the Banished.

The initial setup sequence introduces the protagonist, and sets up the story of getting to the Zeta Halo.

The campaign for Halo Infinite follows the same linear structure that players are used to with a Halo game. This time around though you’ll also get to explore a Halo with an open world element letting you explore the Zeta Ring for yourself – and this is where it gets exciting.

The addition of the open world lets you go through the game at your own pace. You can complete the main missions when you want, or just explore the map and pick up any Spartan Cores to upgrade your gear, Mjolnir Armour upgrades or helping out any UNSC squads in trouble around the map.

There’s hidden secrets to discover as you traverse the map and the game is rendered so beautifully you can just stop to enjoy the view sometimes.

The open world is also littered with former UNSC Forward Operating Bases (FOB) which have been taken over by the Banished. Clear out the FOB’s and you have a nice new base which can spawn in anything from new weapons, to vehicles (WARTHOG!) or even squads of UNSC marines to help you out.

Players start with basic weapons which can be upgraded or swapped by acquiring them from fallen enemies. Your old favourites like the Assault rifle, Rocket launcher and more are back, as are the energy weapons like the Needler and Plasma Pistol – but there’s also new weapons to find and use throughout the map.

One of the most interesting weapons or tools is the addition of the Grappleshot, which is both weapon and tool.

The wrist mounted tech fires a line with a grapple, letting you pull yourself towards something or retrieving items and weapons from a distance. It’s a versatile new addition which introduces a whole host of new ways to approach combat with new ways to take out enemies or even navigate around the levels and map.

All of your weapons and armour can be upgraded by finding Spartan Cores throughout the map, and the Grappleshot can become a killer addition – shocking grunts before you melee them into oblivion, or even just knocking their shield out of the way before you blow them away with a more traditional shot from your weapon.

The gameplay is easy – if there’s a character on-screen, chances are it should be dead. The exception is the encounters with UNSC squads across the map who you can help out, but it’s a simple game: If it moves, kill it!

I love the scanning action in Halo. Pressing down on the D-Pad activates a scan which highlights waypoints and weapons, making them easier to discover, pick up and use.

The only downside to the scanner is that it won’t mark enemies on your Heads-Up Display (HUD), though you see enemies marked on the mini-radar on the lower left side of your screen. I tend to like to mark enemies for the HUD in other games, so I’d love to see this option in a future update – but it plays well enough that you won’t really miss this, it’d just be nice to get the option.

Having stepped away from Halo for a while, I’m not completely familiar with the leveling system of the weapons. This isn’t a barrier though. Having used a pretty wide assortment of weapons in-game you pickup fairly quickly which ones are more effective at mowing down enemies as you progress.

I found I jumped around a bit with the weapons available, but mostly due to running out of ammo. There’s various charge points around to refill energy or more traditional weapons as you navigate, but not enough for me who has terrible aim and wastes far too much ammo – but I’ve been getting better, and you will too.

Graphics and Engine

I played the Halo preview on an Xbox Series X and the game looks absolutely gorgeous. The game offers up vistas that include large draw distances and lighting that immerses you in the Zeta Ring world.

Stylistically it matches with previous Halo games, with a futuristic feel to the UNSC bases that have a very ‘Aliens’ like feel, or an alien-like quality for some of the missions and locations. The designs of both the terrestrial and alien weapons are distinctive enough to make them all seem cool, but also easy to tell apart when you’re looting a battlefield.

The game runs smooth as silk, and launches fast even without the Xbox Quick Resume feature which is also supported and lets you get back into your game as fast as possible.

Depending on the platform you play on you’ll get different graphical experiences. PC gamers will need to cover the basic system requirements, but can ramp up as much as their budget will allow. Xbox owners will see a 60fps @ FullHD experience on last-gen consoles and the Xbox Series S, while Series X owners will get the full 120fps experience at glorious 1440P.

For those with compatible hardware, Halo Infinite is the first game to take full advantage of the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support on the Xbox Series X which enhances brightness, color, contrast and detail on supported TVs.

As a whole though, Halo Infinite is just stunning to look at and play.

It’s not flawless, I had a couple of instances where the action just locked up, only to resume 10 seconds later as I was threatening to restart the console. It only happened twice, and it’s on the review copy, so the full release on Xbox should have a smooth experience.

As a whole though, Halo Infinite is just stunning to look at and just play.

It’s not flawless, I had a couple of instances where the action just locked up, only to resume 10 seconds later as I was threatening to restart the console. It only happened twice, and it’s on the review copy, so the full release on Xbox should have a smooth experience.

Should you buy it?

It’s pretty simple. Yes.

Microsoft and developer 343 Industries famously delayed the release of Halo Infinite, which was due to be THE big launch title for the Xbox Series X|S when the consoles launched last year. The delay though has been worth it. Halo Infinite is polished, fun to play, looks stunning and runs like greased lightning.

Microsoft was going to sell a lot of copies of Halo Infinite to existing Halo fans, but they’re also going to capture a lot of new players with this latest release simply because it’s an absolute blast and looks, & runs so well.

If you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber it’s a literal no-brainer for you to jump on in when it launches in the wee hours of Thursday (Dec 9th) morning, but if you like to buy your games I’d personally recommend shelling out the $99 on Steam or the Microsoft Store to experience it.