Halo Infinite just went live earlier today and within a matter of hours, it’s already become clear 343 Industries’ highly anticipated return is one step ahead of the competition as CoD Vanguard and Battlefield 2042 both fumble at launch.
2021’s season of shooters is now in full swing. Three gaming industry titans are jostling for attention together for the first time since 2015, with a new CoD, Battlefield, and Halo all dropping in the same calendar year.
While Activision’s FPS franchise continues on with its annualized structure and EA pushes out a new Battlefield every few years, Microsoft’s next step with the Halo series has had more time in the oven than everything else. Just hours into Infinite’s launch and it’s immediately clear this extra time has paid dividends.
While Vanguard and BF 2042 both suffer from critical launch issues, Halo Infinite appears to be thriving.
With records being shattered, no barriers to entry, and more content available at launch than its rivals, Halo is already winning this year’s race.
Halo Infinite setting the pace as a F2P title
After a not-so-secretive lead-up, Infinite went live on November 15, coinciding with Halo’s 20th anniversary. While the game’s campaign is still on track for its initial December 8 release date and Forge is set to follow part way through 2022, what’s available today comes at no cost.
Regardless of where or how you play, Halo’s multiplayer offering is now accessible for free.
Every mode, every map, and every weapon is right there on day one. Although there is a seasonal model for cosmetics, Infinite is more content-rich out of the gate as a F2P game than its premium competitors this year.
With CoD Vanguard’s structure, a number of key modes like Capture The Flag and Control didn’t quite make it in time for launch. Not only does this limit casual appeal, but the competitive scene is currently left without a third game mode to practice before the pro season starts up.
Meanwhile, BF 2042 comes in as a full-priced product with less substance than previous iterations. Barely two or three weapons in each category, for instance, is a significant step back from earlier titles, a point the community has already been plenty vocal about.
Speaking of vocal, even the most basic features like voice chat have seemingly vanished without explanation. That’s all without mentioning the lack of a campaign or similar narrative experience in this premium launch.
Infinite also launched with more direct support for its hardcore fanbase than either of its competitors. While ranked play is nowhere to be seen in CoD once again and Battlefield’s new Hazard Zone isn’t for everyone, Infinite ticks all the boxes on day one and then some.
Competitive ladders are active already. You can even split your matchmaking preferences in said ladders based on your preferred input. Don’t want to play against aim-assisted controllers? Infinite is the only game that supports your preference in a ranked setting.
All the while, custom esports skins are available at launch, allowing players to rock the colors of their favorite teams while supporting them in the process.
— Halo Esports #HCS (@HCS) November 15, 2021
Not only does all of the above give Infinite’s community more to do out of the box, but it goes a long way in treating its loyal fanbase with the respect it deserves.
Halo Infinite’s polish shines brighter than the rest
Outside of the stark difference in content, Halo Infinite also leads the pack in terms of functionality. Simply put, the game works as intended. Hundreds of thousands have already been able to boot up multiplayer without issues and enjoy their day one grind.
Infinite has already smashed player records without any major server complications. Considering the magnitude of this surprise drop, Halo’s first full-fledged title in six years, it’s astonishing how smooth the experience has been.
In honor of Halo’s 20th anniversary, your Spartan journey officially begins today. Dive into Season 1 of #HaloInfinite, in the multiplayer beta starting today on Xbox and PC!
— Halo (@Halo) November 15, 2021
Systems operate as they should, progression is all going to plan, matchmaking appears rock solid, and we’re yet to see any glaring balance oversights. That hasn’t been the case for Vanguard or BF 2042.
Similarly, Battlefield can’t even get crucial performance issues ironed out in time for its full release in just three days. Keep in mind, both of these will run you the price of a full game while Halo, the most cohesive of the bunch, won’t hurt your wallet.
Even with Infinite’s ‘Beta’ label attached on this surprise early release, it’s far and away the most polished FPS of the trio. While the others obviously have time to catch up, first impressions are crucial.
With Halo now back in the spotlight, there’s no telling how many players might flock from either CoD or BF before it’s too late for any drastic changes to take effect.
Hopefully these rocky launches coinciding with Halo’s quick move to capitalize can force some key changes, whether it’s giving the devs more time to ensure their games aren’t a mess on arrival or scrapping the idea of time-gated content drops in full-priced titles.