Halo, arguably Microsoft’s flagship franchise, is sick. The television series failed to secure either of its target audiences, long term fans of the series and the average TV watcher. Halo Infinite, which launched to positive reviews on account of its fun, narratively messy campaign, has burned every ounce of goodwill it managed to garner with its community. Even the Master Chief Collection, a collection of previous Halo games people still enjoy playing today, has been mired by confusing changes to the progression system, intermittent support, and technical issues. All of this has culminated in the series' conspicuous absence from the recent Xbox and Bethesda Showcase, historically one of Microsoft’s biggest events of the year.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/epz4zz/halo-is-languishing
I totally get the criticisms with Halo currently, it certainly is not in a position to live up to its flagship status. However, the series is in a much better position than it was 5 years ago. Back then, Halo was shackled to a floundering console, had technical problems that made even playing the games difficult, and incredible backlash to the campaigns that 343 put out. Today, we have a well-received new entry into the franchise, a multiplayer that plays better than ever, and a roadmap for content in the next few months that has me personally excited. This certainly does not excuse the ways that 343 (and Paramount+) are failing Halo, but honestly this languishing status is a lot better than the nadir of the Xbox One.
I’m still keeping up with the battlepass and am having a great time, although I know that I am an extreme outlier as someone that bought an Xbox One to play the Master Chief Collection and Halo 5 (and did not regret it). But like, I am still getting into well-balanced matches very quickly, despite the constant online talk about Infinite being a dead game. I have to imagine this core of diehards are similar to me, in that despite all its flaws, there is nothing out there that feels like Halo combat. 343 has consistently nailed the secret sauce that makes Halo feel good, and Infinite is no exception. Even games that seek to ape Halo, like Splitgate, simply do not feel as good as Infinite to me.
As for the lack of spotlight at the Xbox showcase, I am too disappointed, but also, there’s nothing stopping 343 from doing a dedicated stream down the road when they have something good to show. And given that they are debuting the campaign coop test, things are progressing on that front. Maybe my optimism has turned to delusion, but I still think they can pull this out to be an unqualified success.
I’m coming at it from a pretty similar place I think. I too picked up an Xbox One for MCC and Halo 5 (and… I would not say I regret playing Halo 5, but I still think it’s the worst Halo just for its repetitive boss fights tuned for four player co-op and limited consideration of the solo experience, but that’s my bugbear. I liked the story of Halo 4 and 5 despite other quibbles). I was not as high on Halo Infinite’s campaign as some people but it was a good start and the multiplayer is great.
That’s it, really. Even when I was thinking “this story is paced very strangely” or lamenting having to go into a corridor instead of hang out in the open world in the campaign, or when I’m grumbling about strange choices in the multiplayer shop or event implementations, it still feels unmatched. They’ve frankly got a nice pace of multiplayer events going now which give me reason to pop back in every few weeks. If they keep that going and were to announce some kind of DLC expanding on the cliffhanger ending and/or million loose threads left by the story I’d be pretty happy.