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Halo Infinite’s Lackluster Multiplayer Progression Is Its Only Weakness

Halo Infinite’s battle pass progression has some serious issues. Here’s what the otherwise stellar multiplayer offering is missing.

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The surprise launch of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer beta has already been a massive success, with its Steam concurrent player count peaking at 272,000 in the first day alone. Not only does this make Halo Infinite the most popular Xbox Game Studios release of all time on the platform, but it’s also helped propel pre-orders for the single-player campaign to the summit of the Steam Top Sellers list for a couple days after release. Needless to say, Xbox has had a pretty stellar start to the holiday season.

However, despite the unanimous praise Infinite is garnering from longtime fans and newcomers alike, there’s one consistent complaint that’s been souring the conversation since the very first test flights: the multiplayer progression system. From meager rewards gained from matches to it being agonizingly slow to progress through the battle pass, 343 needs to make some major tweaks if they hope to retain players for a fraction of Infinite’s proposed 10-year plan.

The Battle Pass Grind

The best live service games make players feel like they’re constantly working towards something. By design, live games never want players to stop playing, and as long as there’s a carrot on the end of the stick, the dopamine hit of gradual progress becomes an addiction in and of itself. The widescale adoption of battle passes falls right in line with this; they give players a litany of reasons to keep coming back in the name of leveling up to earn cosmetics and other goodies.

Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite fundamentally fumbles in its execution of this strategy. Unlike nearly all other live service games (Fortnite, Rocket League, Knockout City, you name it), Infinite doesn’t award experience points based on in-game performance; progression is entirely challenge-based. This means someone can do exceptionally well and carry their entire team to victory and get nothing at all, causing battle pass advancement to be agonizingly slow for even the most skilled players. While there doesn’t have to be an external reason for someone to want to do well in a match, live service offerings like Infinite lend themselves well to the formula.

The challenges themselves are similarly frustrating. One daily challenge grants 100xp for simply completing a match, but since it takes 1,000xp to level up at first, someone could play for hours before so much as getting to level two. Meanwhile, the majority of weekly challenges require specific weapon usage, such as “Kill 5 enemy Spartans with the Ravager” or “Kill 10 enemies with the Skewer in PvP.” While tasks like this wouldn’t be an issue if there were other means of earning experience, having them be the sole way to earn it directly impacts team focus. Instead of prioritizing helping the team win in Capture the Flag or Total Control, players are incentivized to scour the map for specific guns and only focus on getting kills with those.

These same issues were brought up by the community during the closed flighting period a few months ago, but 343 Industries initially doubled down on challenge-based progression, insisting that there would be enough daily challenges for the system to work. Challenge Swaps can be used to avoid particularly frustrating challenges, but these are only purchasable as micro-transactions or earnable by, ironically, advancing through the battle pass.

Infinite Possibilities

All of this adds up to a surprisingly stingy progression setup where players have to go out of their way to get those dopamine hits instead of earning them naturally through the course of play. It’s divergent from the industry standard in a negative way. The Infinite battle pass doesn’t even offer in-game currency as part of its rewards, eschewing what makes buying other battle passes so much more palatable. While the discussion around Apex Legends and Rocket League is how long it takes to complete their respective passes and earn your money back, Halo Infinite doesn’t even give players that option.

If there’s any saving grace for the way progression is currently being handled, it’s that Halo Infinite multiplayer is still in beta, and there’s a decent chance that these problems may be remedied by the time Infinite has its full launch on December 8th. In fact, 343 has already announced some changes at the time of writing, including making the 100xp per completed match a permanent challenge (though decreasing the value to 50xp) and reevaluating weekly challenges that seem to be hindering progression.

This is only a hotfix, and there’s still plenty of work to be done to get Halo Infinite’s battle pass up to industry standards, but at least it shows that 343 is listening to the community and trying to respond in kind. Once there’s enough positive feedback for playing matches to feel worthwhile and for completing the battle pass to feel obtainable, Halo Infinite’s multiplayer may very well be the best in franchise history.

Brent fell head over heels for writing at the ripe age of seven and hasn't looked back since. His first love is the JRPG, but he can enjoy anything with a good hook and a pop of color. When he isn't writing about the latest indie release or binging gaming coverage on YouTube, you can find Brent watching and critiquing all manner of anime. Send him recommendations or ask to visit his island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons @CreamBasics on Twitter.

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