Lone Wolves may be the last shot at saving Halo Infinite as a live service

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Halo Infinite had a great launch during the tail end of 2021, delivering a fresh take on the shooter franchise with a semi-sandbox campaign alongside familiar slick multiplayer gunplay that curb-stomped the competing triple-A launch of Battlefield 2042.

It was a fantastic start, but things have steadily drifted downhill since then. A lackluster Season 1 Battle Pass and a paucity of new content besides overpriced cosmetic bundles has frittered away at Infinite’s live service ambitions and its player count. The 343 team has been admirably responsive to technical and gameplay experience issues, but the lack of new maps, the MIA Forge mode, and slow introduction of new gameplay modes has left the multiplayer feeling stale.

Now the game has hit an embarrassing milestone where player numbers on Steam have been dwarfed by the Master Chief Collection’s player count. Community patience is wearing thin, something which 343 Industries Community Director Brian Jarrard (aka @ske7ch343 on Reddit) acknowledged.

Two long blog posts on Halo Waypoint have made it clear that 343 hears the community feedback about everything from requested quality of life improvements, all the way to gameplay refinements, and most importantly, a lack of new content to keep the game fresh, and that’s something that they’re working on as Season 2 nears.

Halo Infinite Lone Wolves

Both “Outcomes” reports are long reads, but go into detail about many of the most requested features and concerns, as well as the team’s intended response and development thoughts, whether on the technical and gameplay side in the first Season 1 Outcomes Report, or the more Live Service-oriented second installment. A constant refrain is a desire for more maps and modes, and concerns about content, matchmaking options, and the health of the game going forward.

Season 2 of Halo Infinite, dubbed Lone Wolves, is just a week away and 343 has a shot at turning things around. Over the weekend they’ve laid out a roadmap of what to expect over at Halo Waypoint. Lone Wolves promises to come out swinging, introducing three game modes and two new maps to Halo Infinite multiplayer. There’s a lot of cool stuff incoming, but also a few things I’ve got concerns about.

Halo Infinite Lone Wolves

New maps and modes for Halo Infinite Lone Wolves

Of the new game modes, one is an old favorite, with King of the Hill making its Halo Infinite debut as Spartans gun for control of a single objective point that moves throughout the map. Land Grab makes for a neat spin of the Strongholds game mode, with objective points spawning in triples and captures locking a point for the capturing team in a race to 11 points. Finally, Last Spartan Standing combines elements of Attrition and mini-battle royale as Spartans enter the field with a limited loadout, five lives, an arsenal that improves on kills, and the goal of being the sole survivor on an increasingly shrinking map.

The new game modes are also accompanied by two new maps. Catalyst is set in a derelict Forerunner installation, a symmetrical multi-level battlefield ideal for a varied range of engagements and game modes, while Breaker throws players into a pseudo-symmetrical big team battle arena in the sprawling reaches of a Banished shipbreaking yard, split down the middle by a gigantic plasma cutter that moves throughout the midline for a spicy environmental challenge that players can exploit.

New characters and content for Halo Infinite Lone Wolves

Most intriguing is the new story content that’s being teased, which is themed around Lone Wolf Spartans: resourceful hunters and trackers trained to operate deep behind enemy lines. Concept art has shown off two of these Lone Wolves, Spartans Sigrid Eklund and Hieu Dinh, and together with Spartan Commander Laurette Agryna, the Wolves are going to be the focus of Season 2’s story, to be revealed through a mix of cinematics, story-themed Events, and Battle Pass rewards. How well told will this story be? We’ll see.

We’ve also got a look at the new armor core for Season 2’s parallel world Fracture Entrenched, a chunky remix of Mjolnir armor that exudes a dieselpunk aesthetic. Week 1 of the next Fracture comes May 24-30, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Event Pass will look in response to early fumbles from Fracture Tenrai.

New features coming to Halo Infinite during Lone Wolves

With all the neat stuff comes a few concerns. First off, the long promised Forge mode is coming in September, far later than expected. Forge will launch in Open Beta status, rather than the originally intended slow march of technical preview flights. On the one hand, we’ve got a clear window for its arrival, on the other hand, leaping straight into beta gives me concerns that Forge might not come out as polished as it needs to be.

On the campaign play front, co-op network play comes out in late August, along with a welcome addition of replayable campaign missions, a notable failing in an otherwise really fun single player sandbox campaign experience. Splitscreen co-op arrives later still with a vague “timing TBD” listed.

My concerns for the future of Halo Infinite

Season 2 will run for 6 months, a surprisingly lengthy chunk of time compared to the usual 3-4 month season pass model of other games. What’s in the pipe for Lone Wolves seems pretty cool, but can 343 keep the multiplayer and storyline fresh and interesting over the six month period? A new monthly “drop pod” system outlined in the April Waypoint update is meant as a rapid response to player quality of life and technical concerns, and bringing in Certain Affinity to help with certain tasks (and what sounds like the development of a new game mode) could help keep a better pace.

Zooming out on a more meta perspective, I’m hoping that the 343 team gets better at shaking things up and providing more things for people to do with Infinite. I absolutely love the feel of knife-edged sharpness and the multiplayer shootout-oriented design and balance, but the game also feels like you always need to be on point and at 110% all the time, without as much room to breath. Infinite could use some more of the wackiness that social modes like Fiesta can bring, or the more relaxed experience of PvE coop of Firefight and Floodfight modes from previous Halo games. The Coop Campaign and Forge mode could have opened the floodgates for creativity and more casual ways to engage with multiplayer, but until they arrive, you’ll need to keep your trigger fingers twitchy and your head on a swivel.

It’s make or break time for 343 Industries when it comes to saving Halo Infinite’s live service ambitions, and as we see the tail end of Heroes of Reach, I’m excited, and more than a little bit anxious to see what Lone Wolves will bring us in a week’s time.

Halo Infinite Season 2: Lone Wolves launches on May 3, and should cost US$10 or its equivalent in your local currency.