Seven months after its launch, Halo Infinite continues to evolve: 343 Industries has launched an extended co-op campaign beta phase. This is a key feature for the Halo title that was sorely missed in the game’s debut. And this is obviously a challenge for the developer. Finally, Halo has evolved from a linear shooter to an open world game, providing a high level of player freedom. The idea that up to four players could travel around the map and do whatever they wanted would make no sense. 343 solutions are limited, but they work. The overall impression is positive.
First impressions point to a co-op game similar to its predecessors, but only due to the nature of the first two chapters of the campaign. These are completely linear, and the 343 strategy for keeping players together is simple: there are some “points of no return” such as going through a door that permanently closes behind you or starting a new cutscene that sets a position for all players resetting. . In that sense, I never felt like the game was artificially holding us closer, it felt like the classic Halo co-op mode.
Of course, that changes in the open world, because it just has to be, because 343 has established what they call an Area of Operations (AOO). This is roughly defined as the maximum distance between players of 300 meters, with warnings starting at around 250 meters. When the distance becomes too great, the player farthest from the closest target will be automatically killed and spawned closer to their teammate. The end result is that freedom is limited, but the team stays together and has to focus on the next goal.
It is extremely rewarding to be close to each other while achieving goals together. Connecting with enemies, working together, or just traversing the terrain together is just as natural and fun as in any previous Halo title. Perhaps even more so, as traversing larger pieces of terrain in this game is a bit lonely in single-player, but it’s really fun in a co-op scenario where one person might, for example, sit in a Warthog shooter chair and the other might be at the controls .
In terms of real network stability, we tested the system by playing a 2-player co-op game with me in Berlin and my colleague Oliver Mackenzie in British Columbia, Canada. This corresponds to a distance of 8,000 kilometers between us. We also tested it on very different PC systems, pitting me against Oliver on Steam Deck (with Halo Infinite on Windows) on the Ryzen 5 3600 / RTX 2060 mainframe. Of course, while testing is limited to PCs in a variety of configurations, feel free to play also console owners, as cross-system crossplay is fully supported, as are standard multiplayer modes.
As for the gameplay itself, everything worked fine, especially in the first linear chapters of the campaign. Despite the great distance between us, disconnects, lags and other glitches during gameplay were surprisingly rare. Most importantly, there was no noticeable entry delay for non-host players as we see in the Master Chief Collection titles. Even though my device runs at nearly 120 frames per second and the Steam Deck is set to 30 frames per second, the in-game lag from firing the gun to the bullet hitting the ground was the same on both systems at 166 ms. The only area where the lag was visually noticeable was when casting objects in first-person view, which has synchronized network rendering. For example, when throwing explosive power cores there is a visual lag as the hands lower, which looks strange. This doesn’t affect gameplay though, as they still land where you throw them, the process just looks a bit weird.
There are problems venturing into the open world, but this seems to be largely due to Halo’s oddly high system requirements for PCs. I had to downgrade to 60fps on my Ryzen 5 3600 based system to achieve a steady level of performance, while Steam Deck was plagued by severe stuttering even at medium settings and limited to 30fps. This happens regardless of whether you are playing online or offline. Obviously, local performance issues have a serious impact on a single player, but since Halo Infinite runs on dedicated servers, it doesn’t seem to affect other people in the same game instance.
However, I did notice some latency differences between us as we switched to more powerful hardware. This seems to be related to how close to the user the dedicated server is, and Oliver has lower latency in North America than I do in Europe. Does the campaign collaboration option look good? Yes. Is it ready for all users? I would say not yet as there are still many bugs in the game. While the lag is acceptable, we experienced two game crashes in four hours of gameplay, always while loading. In all cases, we had to manually close the game in Windows and restart the collaboration session.
In the end, though, I had a great time playing this game again. Despite the limitations of open-world cooperative play, the overall experience is outstanding. And that’s definitely the way I want to end the Halo Infinite campaign. So far I’ve done every Halo campaign in co-op which makes the lack of it in the Halo Infinite release so disappointing, but even if you’ve already completed the game, the added co-op campaign is definitely a huge leap forward and I can’t wait official update release.
Originally written by Alex Battaglia, video producer, Digital Foundry