Halo Infinite isn’t in a great place right now. Following the early launch of its well-received free-to-play multiplayer mode and the subsequent resounding critical reception of its single-player campaign, all the fanfare and hype has firmly subsided as the truths of what can only be described as lackluster post-launch support have been laid bare. Now, 343 Industries seems intent on a last-ditch effort to save Xbox’s flagship IP with a Battle Royale mode that feels like a rushed and poorly considered bandaid over a much bigger problem.
First, though, let’s recap the situation. The co-op campaign that was supposed to launch on May 5 with the beginning of Season 2 has been pushed back to sometime later in Season 2, and the Forge mode has also been delayed to Season 3… and goodness knows when that will be given Season 1 will have run for nearly six months by the time it ends. It could be another six months for Season 2, pushing us to the very end of the year. That would make it almost an entire year since Halo Infinite launched before we get one of the series’ flagship modes.
And that’s just the major modes that are missing that we knew about from launch. Dive into Halo Infinite’s multiplayer scene and you’ll find even more of a mess. A severe lack of game modes and maps — particularly noticeable in its Competitive mode where fewer modes and maps are deemed viable for ranked matches — and a frankly awful cosmetics and Battle Pass system has led to fans growing increasingly impatient with 343 Studios.
343 has even accepted the community “is simply out of patience and frankly, I think understandably tired of words.” Not to mention the lack of collision that many players have complained is jarring when playing the multiplayer, and the developer has even admitted that “most players would like it to return.”
Season 2, sadly doesn’t look to resolve many of these issues. The few glimpses we’ve got of Battle Pass cosmetics certainly look pretty, and the promise of earning Credits in the Premium Battle Pass is a welcome one. Still, a measly two maps — one for Big Team Battle, and one for Arena — just isn’t good enough for Xbox Series X’s supposed flagship exclusive six months after launch — especially so when the initial offering was meager at best and flat-out monotonous at its worst (playing Competitive).
In the context of all of this, the rumors swirling around Halo Infinite of an imminent Battle Royale mode feel out of touch with the community. Granted, it’ll offer some variety in the multiplayer, but 343 Industries and Certain Affinity — a developer now confirmed to be helping 343 with evolving the Halo series further — have more significant problems to rectify rather than adding in an additional mode. Given its track record of post-launch support so far, I’m skeptical it can compete with the biggest Battle Royale titles out there which have found success through consistent updates and attention.
That’s what just doesn’t seem right regarding these rumors. The very best Battle Royale games out there right now — Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Apex Legends — aren’t modes shoehorned into a larger multiplayer ecosystem. They’re their own, living, breathing juggernauts that gobble up new content and updates at an alarming rate in order to satiate the masses of players that log in each day.
To add such an attention-demanding mode into Halo Infinite, whose multiplayer already feels woefully under-supported, doesn’t make sense in the context of the longer-term sustainability of the title within the fiercely competitive landscape.
I’m not going to try and refute there are some cool ways 343 and Certain Affinity can Halo-ize the Battle Royale experience. They already have the drop pods that Spartans can fire themselves into the action with, and the campaign map just feels like it’s begging to be home to 100 players and an encroaching storm circle.
In fact, I’d hedge my bets that player count numbers will see an enormous spike on the first day, maybe even for the first week. But when the dust settles, if the Battle Royale experience feels as undercooked and unsupported as the core multiplayer modes, it’s not going to fix the dwindling player counts the game is currently suffering in the long run. On the contrary, it’s likely to only add to the mountain of content, fixes, and balancing that 343 and Certain Affinity are currently working on to appease fans.
I’m also not trying to argue that Halo Infinite Battle Royale should never be a thing period. There just needs to be some prioritization. If and when the core multiplayer is in a healthier and more stable situation and the community isn’t out of patience, then I’m all for a BR based on Halo Infinite’s campaign map.
Referring back to that comment made by the 343 employees on the Halo Infinite subreddit, a Battle Royale mode just doesn’t align with the fact the team is “unable to meet player and community expectations.” What makes Fortnite such a juggernaut of the genre is its frequent content drops, new skins on a weekly basis in the Item Shop, a jam-packed Battle Pass teeming with challenges and bonus features, and end-of-season showcases that push the limits of simultaneous multiplayer events.
And remember, Save the World was Fortnite’s first, primary mode before PUBG kickstarted the Battle Royale craze. Since then, Epic Games has abandoned plans to make the PvE mode free-to-play, allowing it to fade into the background while Battle Royale remains the primary focus.
Despite what appear to be 353 Industries’ best intentions, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that it’s only continuing to dig itself deeper into its self-made Halo multiplayer mess.