Regretting buying the Halo Infinite Season 2 Battle Pass

Oh man do I regret buying the Halo Infinite Season 2 Battle Pass. I knew going in that the state of the game was (is) bad but I did not realize (or want to believe) how bad the game has gotten for me and others after reading thread posts after thread posts on Halo Waypoint and even the Halo subreddit.

I’ll start with the amount of lag and desync that I experience; this is the biggest gripe I have right now and is my major pain as playing the game can be like pulling teeth. The past week I have played a couple of hours, I can count on one hand how many games I played where I had ping less than 20ms. The average ping that I was experiencing, no matter the time of day, was (is) 170ms. On top of the high ping I experience at a minimum:

  • rubber banding and dying around corners
  • grenades causing no damage and bullets causing no damage even though there is hit markers (allegedly)
  • melee trades when they should not happen or melee hits not registering at all

For a PvP arena shooter having these issues is inexcusable. I have played online games for a long time and I have not seen servers and network behavior this bad for a long time. Halo Infinite should have launched with the ability to disable cross platform play (sorry PC cheaters) and a server selection. I remember clearly the launch of Battlefield 4 and the Halo Master Chief Collection which were also abysmal in regard to their online experience.

Before purchasing the season 2 battle pass I looked over the rewards and did like a good portion of what they were offering. I knew how annoying the weekly challenges can be but thought that I could easily complete them. But I do not know if there has been a backend or server side change where the challenges have been changed to be more frustrating to complete. Why are there challenges for game modes that I cannot specifically choose from a playlist? This just causes lop sided games where people quit when they do not get the game mode they want. It makes games worse with an already horrible online experience. Not to mention tracking for the challenges doesn’t work. Kill with the skewer, check. Finish the match and the challenge is not complete, um what.

If I could go back in time I would not have given 343 Industries any more money after the season 1 battle pass. From everything they have shown in Halo 4, Halo 5, Halo Master Chief Collection and now Halo Infinite, they are not the developers for the franchise, there have been too many missteps and issues that could have easily been avoided. I’ll finish the season 2 battle pass (through gritted teeth) but come season 3 there is no way I will be giving 343 Industries any more money even if they fix the game. I know I could buy the season 3 battle pass for free if I complete the season 2 battle pass but I will most likely skip it purely because the game is so bad to play. I’d rather spend the money on another product where the developers actually care about the product they are working on. Developer health is important but when self inflicted wounds cause the game to be in such a horrible state due to constant internal missteps and foolish decisions, why should any player care or play the game? Take all the time off and avoid any form of crunch to keep the health of the team high but don’t be surprised when no one is playing your broken game.

The Inexcusable State of Halo Infinite

It has been a good while since I had done my initial impressions on Halo Infinite. Now I have completed the campaign (which I enjoyed for the most part) and have played a very good portion of multiplayer (I played daily for about 3 hours each day at a minimum). The taste of potential and fun has been completely washed away by the taste of disgust and disappointment. The entire leadership team at 343 Industries needs to have a real good look in the mirror and ask themselves “can we provide the Halo community with a game the fans actually want to play and can we lead the team to deliver it”. Right now, no one at 343 Industries should be happy with the state of Halo Infinite and someone at Microsoft should really be looking at the quality of the team there because it is not up to the standard for a franchise like Halo. This pains me so much to write too because I love Halo so much.

Halo Infinite is supposedly called a “live service” game. Nothing shown by 343 Industries has shown the game to be “live service”. Having cosmetic events every other week that is recycled or offering minor cosmetics is not a “live service” IMO. I have been extremely patient with 343 Industries and Microsoft too. The last patch however to address the issues with being matched into lobbies with high ping and desync has made the game worse for me. I have not played Halo Infinite after I completed the last event and got all the items. Right now, I have absolutely no plans on returning to the game unless there is an event on and when I have all the event gear, I am not playing it anymore. There is no content to work towards as I have done the season pass, the game is not in a playable state here in Australia with the poor selection of player pool. The game is essentially dead to me.

Before I progress any further, let me back up a little. During December, the Big Team Battle playlist was completely broken, and you were still being assigned challenges. I understand completely the team needed to have some time off and spend quality time with the family. I would not want the entire team working on the game to not have a break and want them to enjoy their holiday. However, in saying that, in what way is it smart at any capacity to launch a brand-new game (knowing that there will be bugs and issues all over the shop) during the holiday period without some form of skeleton crew that has the capacity to deploy hotfixes for bugs that will arise? That was the very first red flag. I may be completely wrong in my assumption here, and they did have a team, but what did they do for over 4 weeks while the issue was not fixed? I completely understand how difficult it is to troubleshoot software issues but at the very least they could have removed the BTB challenges from the list. Not only that, once the patch was deployed it fixed nothing and BTB was still broken (a second patch was needed to address BTB).

The second red flag was the deflection, “multiplayer networking code is hard” and “it is not us” posts we got from the team working on the game to address desync and networking issues. I have never (ever) experienced this type of poor matchmaking, lag, desync, and other networking problems in previous Halo games nor in any game where I have a ping less than 20. I do not understand how even in LAN games there are disconnects and desync issues. To me that speaks volumes of the quality of the game’s net code and that there is a serious underlying issue somewhere. If the team at 343 Industries are not sure how to resolve the issue or figure out what the problem is, then they should hire someone or a team that can fix the issues. To deflect and say that the problem will always exist and there is nothing they can really do about it while also saying that geo-filtering is the main culprit is poor on their behalf. Do not treat the community like idiots or ignorant fools and expect us to accept whatever you say as the absolute truth and correct.

The final red flag was the delay of the roadmap. I am completely baffled how the roadmap could be delayed. The team clearly then from the outside looking in has no goals or objectives that they are working towards. If there was some goals or objectives, then share this information with the players. I feel by holding this information back you are saying to the community that “we have nothing to share in the future and you will not be looking at any new content”. We know season 2 got delayed and as such so did co-op campaign and forge mode. I am okay with the delay (if) the features are not complete and would be half baked. Knowing the quality that 343 pump out in their games I feel that they should probably be delayed again because they will not work when they are released. I’m sorry but I have little to no faith in the features working as expected when they are released.

Here is a couple of easy steps 343 Industries can make to better rectify the disappointment and loss of trust from the Halo fans:

  1. Apologize for the current state of the game. Mention the expensive microtransactions and Halo store which seems to be the only thing that is functioning as expected (weird right), the cosmetic gear that is poorly delivered like Jorge’s untextured shoulder pad and the misaligned helmet effects (come on really), the diabolical armour coating system, and the networking of the game. There is probably more they should be apologizing for but that is a start. It needs to also not be a blog post but a video where they look right into the camera and say it to the fans. We need to see if there is actual disappointment in what they have shipped or if they are just giving us crocodile tears.
  2. Make available a public bug tracking system that the entire Halo community can see, follow, and contribute to. Let us have some visibility into the bugs that the team is addressing and help us to help you resolve the issues. We want to play a game that runs and plays smoothly with little issue, and this can go a long way to not only help with this but create better visibility. Let us upload our clips showing the issues. Let us create tickets that express what isn’t working correctly or as expected.
  3. Get the PR and community team to post meaningful content about what is actively being worked on or even do the live streams again. The bug tracking system would help here, but let us know what features are coming, what maps or weapons may be added, etc. Give us something to get excited about. If we hear radio silence, then we can safely assume that nothing outside co-op campaign and forge mode is being worked on (and that is what it feels like right now).
  4. Give us a data center selection option. I find it completely baffling that in 2022 you would provide a multiplayer game without being able to select the closest data center to you to provide the best online gaming experience. Most multiplayer games have an option to select which server you will connect to, I am unsure why Halo Infinite does not have one.

Like I said, right now I have no plans on coming back to Halo unless it is for the few events that have cosmetics that I can earn. Other than that, there is nothing that is bringing me to play the game. When it came out, I was having fun playing the multiplayer as it was a pleasant experience. Now the issues I have with lag and desync, I just want to completely avoid playing it. Why should I play a multiplayer game where I get put into a lobby 9/10 with ping greater than 100ms? So please 343 Industries, I really want to like Halo Infinite, I would like to go back to playing it consistently but the number of issues I have with it makes it very difficult. If someone asks me if they should try it out, I will say no. Even with it being free to play, the game is not a fun experience. Maybe season 2 will change all this but I doubt it very much 😦

Halo Infinite Initial Impressions

The Halo series has been my favourite first person shooter game by far. From the griping stories that are told to the extremely fun gameplay, it has always been a series that has kept me hooked. It is also one of the only game series where I have a number of the novels and comics.

Halo: Combat Evolved is a masterpiece; Halo 2 had revolutionary multiplayer; Halo 3 was the complete story and multiplayer package where I spent hours playing games with my friends and was really the first time where I was going to LAN parties playing Halo non-stop for hours on end; Halo 3: ODST was such a departure in my eyes that it changed the way I looked at the series, and introduced Firefight; Halo: Reach was a gem that had one of the best soundtracks and knowing what happened to Reach even before I played the game made it feel that much more emotional to play plus was my first experience with Xbox Live; Halo 4 had a story that was adequate but nothing special with a multiplayer that was lacking and changed way too much being very close to Call of Duty; Halo 5: Guardians had an abysmal story that I cared absolutely little for but had a really tight, focused and competitive multiplayer that I loved.

Now with Halo Infinite being out for a little bit of time I have some initial thoughts about the multiplayer. I have well over 500 matches and have played over 120 hours of just multiplayer. I have not started or played the single player campaign yet as I’m saving that for my annual leave during the Christmas and New Year period. I have been thankful that I haven’t seen or read any spoilers and none of my friends have spoiled anything too (thanks for that guys).

So where to start with the Halo Infinite multiplayer? What 343 Industries have crafted is a fine tuned and well-oiled machine regarding gameplay. The grenade, shoot and melee combo is nearly perfect. Adding in the new equipment to the combo spices things up just enough to keep encounters interesting. You must position yourself better on the map because if you’re too close to the edge you may be repelled off but can be saved if you have a grapplehook. I can’t recall how many times I’ve grapplejacked a banshee or have been grapplejacked only to be close to the edge and have the enemy Spartan fall off the map.

The maps that are currently available are not too bad either. Some maps are definitively better than others. Behemoth and Launch Site are my least favourite and should not be on the rotation for Tactical Slayer aka SWAT due to how the site lines are and how easy it is to spawn and get killed instantly which happens way too often. Streets, Bazaar and Aquarius are my three favourite maps because they flow so well and have the best balance IMO. A map that I was not a fan of during the beta was Recharge, but it is starting to grow on me especially in Oddball and Tactical Slayer.

Now on to the areas where 343 can improve on and what they must address before gamers start to move away to other games. Here is a small list of improvements and recommendations that I think would make the game even better:

  • The playlist needs to be expanded; there needs to be a Team Objective playlist. We have a Team Slayer playlist, so it only makes sense to have a Team Object one. I know this will take time to fill in all the missing playlists like Infection, etc. but when you have challenges tied to certain game modes you should be able to queue for that game mode.
  • The 18m radar just does not work plain and simple. I don’t think 343 knows what 18m really looks like. I have several videos of a Spartan running and sliding around the corner and the radar does not even pick them up or they are above a ledge. I can see that the radar “looks” to pulse but even then, it does not match with the enemy Spartan movement. Either make the distance larger to 25m or remove the radar entirely as it just a false indicator that has gotten me killed too many times because it has given me false information. What is the point of a radar if it does not give accurate information to the player?
  • There needs to be some way to earn the Halo premium currency in game. Other games like Apex Legends provides ways to earn their premium currency even at a very slow rate. I am not going to comment on the store in particular or the premium currency too much as I am not going to participate in it other than the battlepass and if there is actually something I feel is absolutely worth it (cat ears is not one of them, sorry).
  • The entire amour coating system does not feel right. Why should an armour coating only be available for the Mark V Spartan but not the Mark VII? I have absolutely no plan on buying any amour coating in the store unless it is available to all current and future Spartan models. I am a little more forgiving for weapon and vehicle skins though, but it would be a nice to have that the same sniper skin is available for the assault rifle or commando.
  • There needs to be a way to completely turn off cross play between console and PC players. I have recorded and reported several people who are on PC that either have aim bots or wallhacks enabled. The way they snap to enemy Spartan’s heads or track them through walls perfectly is infuriating to see. Thankfully all of this is visible in Theatre mode. The reason why I no longer play competitive or PvP games on PC is because of the sheer number of hackers running rampant in games. 343 needs to fix this ASAP otherwise people will get frustrated and leave the game.
  • Server selection. I have very good internet download and upload speeds for Australia. Some games I get 4ms ping while other games I get 200ms ping. For the last week, the majority of games have been 120ms ping or higher. I am not alone in this either as others I play with or know who play in Australia also experience this issue (no matter the time of day either). This is completely unacceptable for SWAT or ranked games. When you are around a corner and are still getting shot or die is rage inducing. I am more than willing to wait several minutes to look for a match that has under 20ms ping than be thrown into a match in less than 15 seconds with 170ms ping. Is the game dead in Australia? Does 343 not have adequate servers available in the region? Is 343 prioritizing for skill over ping? This information needs to be made available to the player so that I know what the issue is.

Overall, I think 343 has a solid game on their hands. I applaud the hard work and effort the team has done to date and encourage them to keep at it. Keep refining and polishing this diamond as if they do that it will only get better. Provide the updates like you have been doing so far and keep the community informed of where you plan to take the game. If you keep communicating to the community about what your plans are then hopefully some constructive feedback and ideas can be brought forward. After Halo 5: Guardians I had little hope in 343 delivering something that is worthy of being a Halo title but so far I have been pursuaded.

The team deserve the break they are having now, but when they get back, they absolutely must address the cheating issues going on and the server issues (be it the high ping, being unable to squad up with a number of people and get into a Big Team Battle, or the random disconnects and crashes). Soon I will be playing the campaign and be enjoying that too 🙂

Thank you to everyone at 343 Industries and Microsoft for so far delivering a Halo experience that right now to me is on par with the original trilogy.

%d bloggers like this: