The multiplayer mode for Halo Infinite just got a surprise early public beta release and we have our first impressions after several hours of gameplay. The free-to-play modes are available off the bat to everyone on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and on PC via Steam or the Microsoft Store. It can even be streamed via Xbox Cloud Gaming
Before we start, it’s worth noting that players will need to wait a bit longer for the single-player campaign on December 8 and possibly further still for The Forge. In t he mean time, players can dive right into Infinite’s other modes, with Quick Play, Big Team Battles, and Ranked Multiplayer, as well as the Academy mode and Bot Bootcamp for players looking to learn the ropes.
Among my first impressions was a slick feeling, the Halo Infinite public multiplayer beta is polished. Weeks of the technical previews and limited beta runs seem to have helped iron out any kinks, and Infinite’s multiplayer is all the better for it. The open beta includes the full raft of day one maps and modes, though with the Forge not yet opened up, we’re not going to see some of the wilder game modes or player created shenanigans yet.
Ranked mode in particular is a fierce challenge, 4v4 competitive games with Battle Rifle starts and no motion tracker rewarding players who can get precision fire out of the BR’s 3-round bursts and coordinate team play. Competitive modes include Slayer (first team to 50 kills), Capture the Flag, Oddball (hold on to the skull for the longest amount of time), and Strongholds (control point battles). Go in prepared for fierce battles and be ready to have your butt handed back to you.
More casual Quick Play and Big Team Battles offer wilder experiences that let other aspects of Infinite’s multiplayer shine. Quick Play adds vehicles to the mix, and Big Team Battles opens up larger maps and 12v12 firefights that let a more eclectic mix of weapons come to the fore. The lack of a Slayer-only queue has irked deathmatch devotees, but for everyone else, there’s a ton of gameplay variety to be had in the more casual battles.
The Academy mode gives you some basic pointers and weapon drills, and the Bot Bootcamp is an opportunity to get your feet wet shooting it out with some bots, and is also a nice way to cool down or warm up before trying some of the more strenuous modes.
Halo 5’s divisive Spartan Abilities are walked back to a more traditional armor abilities model of powerups in the style of previous Halos. Players all start with sprinting, mantling, and sliding and familiar abilities like drop shields and thruster boosts make a return as item pickups.
Gone are ground pounds and mid-air hovering shots, but the new grappling hook and repulsor are game changers. The grappling hook gives you new ways to get up to sniping roosts, hijack enemy vehicles, or just give you the option to whip around and attack from odd map angles, while the repulsor can knock your foes off cliffs or return explosives back to sender. We can’t wait to see all the resulting memes and GIFable moments on this one.