Halo has been an omnipresent force since it launched with the Xbox in 2001 — and it’s finally back with a new edition.
The killer franchise carved a space for Microsoft in the home console market back then, an entry point to online deathmatches for people outside of ’90s IT departments playing Quake instead of working. Mario may be the most iconic gaming mascot, but the green fatigue armour of Master Chief made for a familial totem for post-9/11 pop culture: America’s Mario. After repeated delays, Halo finally returns for a new generation, a promising return to form in Halo Infinite.
Master Chief and his virtual partner Cortana have been battling interchanging alien threats for generations, including the bloodthirsty Covenant empire, the parasitic Flood and the rogue AIs. Time and time again the fight spirals back towards the titular Halo, an ancient ring-shaped biome that doubles as an extraordinarily powerful space weapon. The end of Halo 5: Guardians saw the awakening of another mysterious giant weapon called the Guardians and the reunion of Master Chief and his unlikely ally, the Arbiter.
A convoluted space opera has never prevented legions of players from hopping into the boots of Master Chief and a big component of that is the multiplayer. Spartan class soldiers are tough combatants who can flip a car with their elbow and jump seven feet into the air. Pitting a bunch of those against each other in team death-matches has always been a thrill.
Halo’s revered multiplayer mode will be free to play for the first time ever, staggered into battle passes that, unlike Fortnite’s, will not be time-limited. Features across the series are pooling into Infinite, from brutal power weapons to supply drops. Beloved vehicles like the Ghost and Banshee return while the all-terrain Warthog finds an upgrade in the bulkier Razorback.
Infinite also introduces a wider variety of vehicle damage, letting drivers discover fantastic new ways to blow up everyone on board. Infinite is also adding a grappling hook, a handy tool that we also saw well utilized in Doom Eternal, whose space marine hero always looked like a distant cousin or uncle of Master Chief.
Halo Infinite arrives on Dec. 8 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.