This past weekend, I spent an unreasonable amount of time playing Halo Infinite’s Big Team Battle (BTB) mode.
While the hotly anticipated game’s first Technical Flight was an impressive start, BTB’s packed 12 vs 12 Deathmatches felt absolutely electric compared to the often dull battles I’m used to experiencing in Battle Royale (BR) titles like Apex Legends.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge fan of Apex, but to make it to those riveting moments of Spitfire-filled action, there are lulls where you’re forced to slog across the map just hoping to find someone to shoot at. To put it bluntly, dropping in and spending time hunting for the perfect weapons and attachments, only to be killed in seconds, can get tiresome very quickly.
Speaking of Halo, I spent Sunday night playing Infinite with the same people I went to LAN parties with in high school. It’s fascinating how that series brings us all back together every few years.
— Patrick O'Rourke (@Patrick_ORourke) October 5, 2021
This isn’t the case with every BR match, obviously, but it happens often enough — even if you’re great at the game — and anyone who has played a Battle Royale title will know precisely what I’m talking about.
Halo Infinite doesn’t suffer from this issue and during my time playing BTB, I was quickly reminded why I enjoy arena shooters so much.
First off, increasing the total BTB player count to 24 makes the action feel absolutely non-stop. From the moment you spawn, you’re in an all-out war filled with super soldiers. Sniper shots ring out in the distance, that one guy on your team does donuts in a Mongoose for no reason, and the resident former MLG pro talks about “how great the Battle Rifle feels, dude.”
My experience with Infinite‘s BTB mode feels more like the Halo I remember than both Halo 4 and Halo 5 — and that’s saying something.
The two BTB maps that were available this weekend, ‘Behemoth’ and ‘Fragmentation,’ are perfectly suited to large-scale vehicular combat, with the latter arena being my personal favourite. Jumping in a Warthog with a childhood friend behind the wheel and handling the gunner seat, only to fail to kill anyone because we instantly rolled, remains just as fun as it was in Combat Evolved back in 2001.
Sticking with the Halo: CE/Halo 2 nostalgia, flying across Foundation in a recently-dropped Ghost and running over helpless enemies brings back memories of the countless LAN parties I attended as a teenager. You might not be able to hear your opponent cry out in anguish as you run them down, but it still feels great after all these years and adds to the overall chaos of BTB.
In that same vein, the ability to grapple onto all vehicles with the ‘Grapple Shot’ brings a fun new variable into BTB’s gameplay. While I was only able to successfully pull the move off once myself after attaching to the back of a Warthog, during one match I watched in awe as a player on my team Grapple Hooked to an opponent’s Wasp and took control of the vehicle — all while soaring in mid-air above the map.
Moments like this made me feel like I was right in the middle of an action movie.
Other fun equipment proves extremely useful in BTB, like the ‘Dynamo Grenade,’ for example. This tool makes any nearby vehicle unusable for a brief period, which is especially handy if your opponent tries to make a getaway when playing Capture The Flag.
‘Fusion Coils,’ explosive canisters you can pick up and throw, are equally compelling, but mostly because I’ve never seen someone use one successfully. On the other hand, if you’re holding a Fusion Coil, you’re basically just a walking bomb; I managed to take out an enemy running with one with a well-placed Pistol shot.
Perfect Start to a Halo Infinite Game pic.twitter.com/D2HfnlQiIc
— Mint Blitz (@MintBlitz) October 1, 2021
I can't wait to see more clips like this when Halo Infinite drops.. pic.twitter.com/jGW9sSMdbe
— Drift0r (@Drift0r) October 2, 2021
— Andy Cortez (@TheAndyCortez) October 3, 2021
It doesn't get more Halo than this… 😂 pic.twitter.com/o3scx6anU2
— iSpiteful (@iSpiteful) October 4, 2021
I had no idea that they had added hookshots to Halo, or that you could do this with them: pic.twitter.com/9gVcMLwKup
— Bill Murderin' (@mudron) October 3, 2021
My action-packed weekend with Halo Infinite has reaffirmed my belief that the game doesn’t need a Battle Royale mode to succeed. 343 Industries truly has something special with Infinite that both modernizes the series and retains what made it so great in the first place. It’s also carving its entirely own path in the first-person shooter space, which is something the Halo series needs right now.
Based on the several clips I’ve seen from last weekend’s technical flight (there are a few above), I have no doubt Halo Infinite will find the younger audience it needs to thrive (especially since it’s free-to-play). Halo’s identity is that it’s an arena shooter, and straying too far from its roots to capitalize on a still relatively new trend isn’t worth 343’s effort.
Halo Infinite’s multiplayer mode already includes everything it needs to succeed, and the chaos of BTB looks poised to be its main draw.
Halo Infinite is scheduled to release on December 8th and will be included in Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription service on day one. The game’s multiplayer mode is free-to-play.