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‘Halo Infinite’ live service issues persist and players lose interest

'Halo Infinite' live service issues persist and players lose interest

The game came out with 10 maps and a frustrating rotation of limited game mode playlists. In previous Halo games, it was easy to “live” in games for months or even years. The series was well ahead of the creative revolution in gaming with its Forge mode, allowing for player-created maps and custom games. Firefight, a player-versus-enemy type of game, kept casual players more cooperatively engaged while gaining ranks and achievements.

With “Infinite,” players were stuck with minimal Halo experience, core game modes like Slayer and Big Team Battle spinning into a playlist. The weekly rewards earned from challenges haven’t been very motivating, especially since many of them are stickers placed on armor that’s usually covered by other armor pieces. At this time, “Halo Infinite” does not meet the standards set by other live service games, all of which have had their own difficult launch periods, with little recovery over time. And game developers at 343 Studios agree.

“Frankly, there are also fantastic games in this [live service] a space that has set the bar incredibly high and is very mature, that has been operating in a live service capacity for a long time,” said Brian Jarrard, aka Sketch, Director of Community at 343 Industries. “And that’s the bar that a lot of players look at every game. And we’re not there yet.

“At the end of the day, I think it starts to come down to a capacity issue. You know, how many people and resources can you dedicate to one issue? And then what other issues do you have to postpone to pursue that something at this exact moment?”

Maintaining the promise of a live service might not seem like a huge task for a major studio, but having the ability to fill a steady schedule of content for such games is a Herculean challenge. Activision-Blizzard has contracted several of its talented studios to support its Call of Duty games instead of creating new original games. Its free “Call of Duty: Warzone” service operates at a tight pace with constant updates, even between its bi-monthly seasons. “Halo Infinite,” by comparison, was apathetic. All eyes are on May, six months after its initial release, for the launch of its Season 2 Battle Pass.

343 Industries has also long recognized fundamental issues with the game, primarily that players are not motivated to keep playing it. All game progression is tied to weekly challenges which are often counterproductive to how individual players may want to approach a game of “Halo”.

Tom French, multiplayer creative director for “Halo Infinite,” oversaw Forge mode in “Halo 5.” This game was criticized for its single-player campaign, but has developed a strong and healthy multiplayer community, thanks to Forge. “Minecraft,” Microsoft’s most popular video game of all time, is a testament to how giving players creative control over the game can lead to long-standing global success.

French said launching without Forge broke his heart because he understood how integral it was to the game’s lifespan and 343’s plans to turn “Halo Infinite” into a decade-long platformer. . French said he was proud of the success they found at Forge, and his current job has been to extend that success.

“Forge is going to be amazing,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post in early March. “’Halo 5′ Forge was a generational leap in what you can do…and it will be that and probably more. We rebuilt everything from the modes and thought about how we architected the modes so they were more extensible and reusable. We can reuse parts to create new modes that are faster and stronger and make them more bulletproof and shippable.

French said Forge’s latest update was “Halo 5” being “pushed to the seams.”

“We couldn’t embed any more objects into the game because it would break the maps,” French said. “Literally I had to go through and prune the content and we had to reduce the polygon count on things, all sorts of technical, cheesy stuff to make it all fit in the engine. But we couldn’t fit in there anymore. -inside.

Replicating this success in a live service game proved difficult as many things had to be redesigned. Letting players go wild with the game’s physics, graphics, and engine requires fine-tuning, which is why the feature has been delayed for “Infinite” to an as-yet-undetermined date.

So for now, being a fan of “Halo Infinite”, a game that I gave away a perfect score of 10 to last year, is a matter of patience. While the campaign was a successful launch, it’s been difficult for players to revisit multiplayer as its core offerings and issues remain.

To use a personal example, I recently played – but only slightly enjoyed – the Tactical Ops event. I like to play necessary game modes. But I didn’t appreciate having to use certain weapons to advance my weekly challenges, not when I have no control over what kind of weapons I start with in the Tactical Ops playlist. The Tactical Ops challenges required me to kill with the Combat Shotgun, but instead I continued to be placed in games where only Stalker Rifles were allowed. Unlike some games, “Halo Infinite” doesn’t ask me to play with money, it asks me to play with my time, a much more limited resource in life.

Because I refuse to let “Halo Infinite” waste my time, I kept quitting games that didn’t feature the Combat Shotgun. This meant leaving three other hapless teammates to fend for themselves unless someone else replaced him. Maybe the next player didn’t need a stalker rifle game either and left the same way. Quitting games early is, quite frankly, annoying and selfish behavior, something I’ve always decried and still do, and yet there I was, engaging in a practice I hate.

Playing with other weapons might be fine if there was another in-game weapon needed to progress through a challenge, but I completed the Season 1 battle pass a month into the season. Over the next three months, there has been no motivation other than to play more competitive ranked modes, which have their own issues with progression and how wins and losses factor into player rankings. .

Any review of “Halo Infinite” today almost always comes with one caveat: “Halo’s” gameplay and core mechanics are airtight, solid, and practically flawless. It’s also the crux of the frustration, since all the nuts and bolts feel in place today, but we have to wait for 343 Industries to build on that foundation to give us a game that will be, as the game calls it. French, expandable and reusable.

In early March, French said many features were being developed “simultaneously”.

“We’ll talk about that soon. There will be new maps, there will be new modes, there will be new experiences, there will be new features,” French said. “There will be an improvement [of] the experiences we shipped. … It’s about improving our platform, strengthening the foundation, and that includes things like rankings. We know we can improve it, we dreamed about it. Let’s push it in this direction.

Mike Hume contributed reporting from Redmond, Washington.