343 lost Halo Infinite's casual crowd, now devs are driving hardcore players away too - Dexerto
Halo

343 lost Halo Infinite’s casual crowd, now devs are driving hardcore players away too

Published: 4/May/2022 6:49 Updated: 4/May/2022 9:40

by Brad Norton

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It’s no secret Halo Infinite had a rocky launch. While missing features and core gameplay issues saw the casual crowd flee in droves during the early months, baffling updates and evident mismanagement are beginning to force even the most dedicated players to uninstall.

When Halo Infinite finally launched in 2021 after a series of lengthy delays, it did so to considerable praise. Not only were longtime fans pleased with the fresh open-world structure of the campaign, but the multiplayer sandbox was also lauded as 343 delivered one of the most satisfying FPS experiences in recent years.

It wasn’t long, however, until the hype train flew off its tracks and the honeymoon phase abruptly ended. As we entered 2022 with little communication and extremely scarce updates, players quickly grew concerned.

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Game-breaking bugs became overwhelming, a dire cheating crisis went unattended, and fundamental balance issues were left in place for months on end. While Infinite soared to a peak player count of more than 250,000, it now sees fewer than 7,000 players signing in on an average day as a direct result.

Clearly, the casual community has all but departed and now, Infinite’s most dedicated players are being driven away too. Inexplicable updates that go against the core principle of ‘fun’ have left even the most seasoned veterans searching elsewhere for their multiplayer fix.

Halo Infinite Season 2 art
343 Industries
Halo Infinite’s Season 2 patch came with a range of surprise gameplay changes, much to the dismay of the remaining player base.

Halo Infinite Season 2 lowers the skill ceiling

After further delays following Infinite’s launch, Season 2 finally went live on May 3. While 343 managed to release some new content here in the form of a few maps and modes, this highly anticipated update also came with some surprise gameplay changes.

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Outside of the typical weapon stat tuning, 343 shockingly adjusted one of Infinite’s core mechanics. ‘Advanced sliding’ or ‘jump sliding’ as many refer to it, has been a fundamental part of the multiplayer experience since the earliest public tests in July of 2021.

Mastering your movement is one of the most effective ways to get a leg up in the competitive shooter. Thus, the mechanic has become ingrained in just about every experienced player’s style since launch. 

Following the May 3 update, Infinite no longer supports this mechanic. Moreover, a wide assortment of the game’s more intricate movement tricks have also been patched out.

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Leaving the most passionate players and even former Halo devs shocked, 343 opted to go in a different direction without even so much as a warning.

“Someone literally had to go out of their way and spend valuable time to remove features that are important to major sub-communities of their game,” former 343 employee Blaze Lightcap said in response to the shock changes.

Renowned Halo commentator Alexander ‘ShyWay’ Hope was one of many in the esports scene also left “feeling betrayed” by the sudden pivot.

“Making significant changes to game balance without transparency or insight from your most dedicated fanbase just doesn’t feel like the best way to foster a healthy community.”

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Over 1,500 players shared his sentiment in demanding 343 revert these changes in the near future.

Veteran Halo pros eyeing the exit

If 343 was in sync with its remaining player base, changes of this nature wouldn’t have gone through in the Season 2 update. At least, not in such a sudden manner.

Directly limiting skill expression while also failing to appease the casual crowd leaves Infinite in a strange middle ground where no one is truly satisfied. Fans aren’t flocking back in light of two new maps this season, and pro players aren’t having their voices heard whatsoever.

Speaking to the latter, we’ve already seen one of Halo’s most popular figures venting his frustrations. FaZe Clan’s Eric ‘Snip3down’ Wrona left Apex Legends behind in December as his passion for Halo was reignited by the launch of Infinite. Now five months on, he’s already looking to swap back over.

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“I’m not happy, not at all,” he said regarding the state of Infinite during a recent stream. Unfortunately, Snip3down is just one of many echoing that sentiment.

As pros feel disenchanted, content creators left demotivated, and a vast majority of casuals have long since moved on, the Season 2 update is yet another nail in the coffin rapidly forming around Infinite.

Though it goes without saying, everyone loves a good comeback story. From the disastrous No Man’s Sky launch to Bungie’s triumphant rebound after Destiny 2’s heavily panned release, we’ve seen communities rally around various devs as they look to correct course and deliver on their promises.

There’s no reason Infinite can’t be listed among those examples in the near future. But to do so, 343 needs to start acknowledging those actually playing the game before it’s well and truly too late for Infinite to be salvaged.