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.

Impression from the July Xbox Games Showcase

To start things off, I am going to say that I am a massive Xbox fan so this impressions may have a little fanboy in it (and I do not apologize for that one bit) but the July 2020 Xbox Games Showcase was what I was expecting and I was not disappointed overall with what I saw and am looking forward to playing these games on my Xbox Series X console and PC in the future. I’ll break down the games that I am looking forward to the most below but the TL;DR is that Halo looked fine, there were so many games coming day one to Xbox Game Pass, and plenty of the titles shown here are not going to be ready for 2020, 2021, or even perhaps 2022 which is a little disappointing. The full showcase can be seen here in 4K 60fps.

Halo Infinite – the Chief is back baby

Along with being a massive Xbox fan I am a massive Halo fan. I have played all the Halo games and completed them all on Legendary difficulty. From what I saw from Halo Infinite I am pleased, and cautiously optimisitc.

Visually the game does not look too bad; but I was expecting a little higher fidelity, especially from a first party title. There were a couple of draw distance issues where noticable pop in was present, some of the shadows in the pelican had jagged edges and were not as clear and crisp in the outdoor environment, and some of the textures looked a little low resolution or lacking in detail such as the flat nature of the assault rifle or the hexagonal prisim environmental structures on the Halo ring. In saying that though, this is obviously a work in progress build and most likely a cut from not the most up to date build. Hoping that visually we see some improvements before the game is released in holiday 2020. So I cannot be too critical but will still call it out.

From an audio perspective, the game sounded like a Halo game. The music was Halo, the guns were Halo, it felt very Halo. I was fairly happy with how 343 managed to capture the “feel” of Halo through not just the musical score but the Grunts, Brutes and Elites voices and audio cues. If the rest of the game sounds much like what the gameplayed showed us then my ears will be happy.

The gameplay that they showed (and I am so happy that they showed us a solid 8 minutes of gameplay) was also what I was expecting from a Halo game. The shooting looks solid, I like that they have re-introduced pick ups in the game too like the new drop wall. The two new UNSC guns that they showed us, the VK78 Commando and the CQS48 Bulldog look like they are going to be fun to use, along with the new Banished weapons the Mangler and the Ravanger. Glad that the Brutes are back in a mainline Halo game. I am still a little unsure how I feel about the grappling hook, but it gives a new means of movement and adds more verticality to the game’s levels. It will be interesting to see how Halo feels being an “open world” game but I am cautiously optimistic about it. Once I get the game into my hands and start playing around with the objectives and shooting the poor alien bastards in the face, I’ll get a better sense if this really does “feel” like a Halo game.

Overall I think what Microsoft and 343 had shown for Halo Infinite was enough to get me more excited for Halo Infinite. I may have to replay the other Halo games to catch myself up with the story and get back into the feeling of stepping into the boots of the Master Chief. Looking forward to the game’s release. You can see the campaign gameplay reveal here.

State of Decay 3 – Winter zombie deers

I played the previous State of Decay games and I generally enjoyed them. I would not call them AAA games but AA games. They looked okay, they played okay, they had a number of bugs which did annoy me sometimes but overall I had fun playing them in single player and multiplayer. The CGI trailer for State of Decay 3 has me curiously asking if there would be dynamic weather or seasons and the potential of hunting or wild life threats. Very interested to see more. I do not know when this game will be released but I don’t see it coming out in 2020 or 2021. You can see the announcement trailer here.

Forza Motorsport – Vroooom…

Turn 10 and Playground Games have IMO developed the best racing games in the last two decades period. Both Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon are the best simulation and arcade racing games there are, no questions asked. They look, sound, and feel extremely authentic. The in-engine trailer they showed us has me excited to get back into the Motorsport side of the Forza series as it looks photorealistic and running in 4K at 60fps is going to be great. Again, much like State of Decay 3, I want to see more but can see this title being at least 2 years away if it is in early development. You can see the announcement trailer here.

The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon – Mystery! Scandalous Strangers! Thrills! Danger!

The Outer Worlds was a very good RPG by Obsidian. I really enjoyed my time in that universe and am happy to purchase the DLC for this, no questions asked. This trailer was also one of the best trailers promoting a game I have seen in a long time. The voice over and the overlays were hilarious, plus it comes out on September 9th so it is not too far away. Time to reinstall The Outer Worlds and pre-purchase this DLC; bonus discount if you are an Xbox Game Pass subscriber. If the DLC is as good as the main game I will be satisified with my purchase. You can see the announcement trailer here.

Avowed – classic RPG

As an RPG fan the new RPG that Obsidian announced has me intrigued. There was not much shown other than the CGI trailer, but it is fantasy based, there are spells, flaming arrows, skeleton warriors, etc. I’ll need to see more but the RPG games that Obsidan has put out are all IMO hits so this one should be a no brainer if you are an RPG fan. Again I don’t think we’ll see this game released until late 2023 the earliest. Plus being built entirely from the ground up for the Xbox Series X means it will most likely not be released on the Xbox One. You can see the announcement trailer here.

Hellblade 2 – we are going to… Iceland

Using Unreal Engine 5 and built for the Xbox Series X and PC means this game is going balls to the walls with high fidelity. I really enjoyed playing the first game and am looking forward to playing the sequel. Wish that they showed us a little more than just telling us the game is going to take place in Iceland or centered around Iceland. Much like State of Decay 3, Forza Motorsport and Avowed I do not see this game being released in 2020, 2021, or 2022 (starting to see a pattern here anyone?)

Destiny 2: Beyond Light – XSX, XGP, 4K 60fps

Bungie to me have really done no wrong. They made Halo. I never played Destiny 1 and got into Destiny 2 from the start and generally enjoyed it. Now that they have split with Activision they can really spread their wings, try new things and experiment a little with their game. I have not played Destiny 2 in a little while because I find the load times fairly long when playing on my Xbox One X and running at 30 fps is not great after playing many games now in 60fps at a minimum. When it does come to the Xbox Series X in 4k at 60fps and on Xbox Game Pass I’ll be looking to get back into it and I know a couple of my friends will be ready to party up and get back together in our usual fireteam. You can see the showcase trailer here.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2 – surprised to see this

I absolutely loved playing the previous S.T.A.L.K.E.R games. I was absolutely surprised to see this game shown off here, even if it was just a CGI trailer that really gave very little away. I look forward to finding out more about this game in the near future with it releasing in 2022 at the earliest. Could this be the S.T.A.L.K.E.R game that has official and proper dedicated coop multiplayer? You can see the official trailer #1 here.

Warhammer 40K: Dark Tide – for the Emperor

As a kid and teenager I played both Warhammer 40K and Warhammer Fantasy. So seeing this game was again a little surprising and pleasing. I am happy that we are not playing Space Marines but the Imperial Guard too as it makes the game feel significantly more dangerous. The CGI trailer looked good and I have enjoyed my time playing Warhammer: Vermintide 2 which was also developed by Fatshark. I would like to see more of this game. It looks like we will be getting different classes based on the characters that they have shown and the Chaos are at their old tricks again. Hopefully this comes out in the next year or two but I do not have my hopes up. You can see the announcement trailer here.

The Medium – rendering two worlds at the same time

I am hopeful that this game is good because what they had shown looked really interesting. Graphically I think it did not look next generation but I guess conceptually what they are trying to achieve requires some of the technology that the next generation of consoles and PC is offering. Unfortunately this game too did not have a release date so I’ll need to wait a little longer before it is released. On the plus side, if it is going to come out several years down the line, they can polish it up and start drip feeding us a little bit more about the game. Happy to see more of this game in the future. You can see the dual reality trailer here.

CrossfireX – a Remedy campaign

Last time I saw anything about this game was the multiplayer and that looked interesting. I am still waiting for a decent military shooter that is not too janky, in early access or Call of Duty. Seeing the footage of what the campaign would look like was another surprise and to have Remedy working on it is a bonus. To me it looks very Call of Duty in regard to the set pieces, explosions and themes. Not sure if this is a day one pick up, but I will be keeping a close eye on this one because if the campaign and multiplayer are any good then bye bye Battlefield (even though in reality I dropped off Battlefield 5 very early on in the release). You can see the campaign reveal trailer here.

Fable – what, you chase chickens?

Finally. I had been waiting so long for another mainline Fable game. Fable 1 was an absolutle blast. Fable 2 was amazing and unfortunately Fable 3 was a little bit of a disappointment and not a great way to send off the series for the time being. To showcase a CGI trailer for such a beloved franchise so early on in the development of the game means that we will need to be waiting a good period of time for this title too. I am more than happy to wait for a new Fable game if they can iron out the lag and issues that plagued Fable 3. Once I find out the release date for Fable it will be a day one pick up on Xbox Game Pass. You can see the announcement trailer here.

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