Developer 343 Industries made a massive announcement at the end of yesterday’s Xbox 20th anniversary stream. At around 1:30 p.m. ET, Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer was made available for everyone to play. The game’s beta was opened up and people were able to start progressing through the game’s first seasonal battle pass. Unsurprisingly, it attracted tens of thousands of players on Steam.
But there was one part that ended up making the entire experience somewhat bittersweet. While I had a killer time playing with my colleagues, we all came out of our session with one complaint in common: Progressing through Halo Infinite‘s seasonal content and battle pass is going to be a real pain.
Unlike other Halo games — or many other multiplayer games for that matter — Halo Infinite doesn’t give players experience points for just about everything they do. When you shoot down another Spartan with a sniper rifle or splatter them with a Ghost, you’ll get a little endorphin rush, sure, but you won’t get any XP — unless, you have challenges for either of those things. Battle Pass XP is only doled out for completing challenges in Halo Infinite, and in a game that seems to be all about letting players approach encounters however they want, it’s antithetical.
Halo Infinite‘s battle pass is full of all kinds of neat cosmetics. Players who fill out its ranks can sport Master Chief’s classic Mark VI helmet, or just set their entire set of armor on fire for an extra-badass look. But getting to that point will take players a good long while since they only earn XP by completing challenges.
Challenges in Halo Infinite are arbitrary, situational, and beyond anything else, pretty lame. The lone constant challenge tasks players with simply completing PvP matches, while other daily and weekly challenges are much more specific. My current list of weekly challenges, for instance, will reward me with 200 XP each if I can destroy a Ghost, kill a spartan with the Mangler, or capture a zone in an objective-based mode. But after I complete these challenges, I won’t get any more XP for doing those things again. For Halo Infinite, things players do regularly in-game don’t always deserve to be rewarded.
Compared to other free-to-play multiplayer games, like Call of Duty: Warzone, Infinite‘s progression system is just cruel. Those games reward players for doing just about anything. Kill a player? Here’s some XP. Win a game? Here’s some more XP. But Halo Infinite doesn’t care if you win, lose, or kill players unless you get lucky enough to have challenges tied to those requirements. And with 1,000 XP needed to advance through each level of the Battle Pass, players will have to complete a lot of challenges to earn any of its cosmetics.
Developer 343 Industries has designed this progression system to demand and consume all of your free time.
This opinion isn’t unique either. You’ll find similar sentiments at both PC Gamer and Kotaku, and there’s a good reason. In September, after one of Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer betas, 343 Industries acknowledged that people weren’t happy with how scant XP was. “We have heard community feedback around wanting more progression options, including things like ‘match XP,’ to feed into the Battle Pass and an entirely separate, incremental system along the lines of earning SR152 in Halo 5: Guardians,” reads the post. “Expanding Multiplayer progression offerings is something the team is actively exploring, and we look forward to continuing to evolve the experience in future seasons post-launch.”
Halo Infinite‘s current progression system also flies in the face of what live team design director Ryan Paradis said this past July. “First and foremost,” Paradis said, “We’re working hard to ensure that the Battle Pass isn’t a ‘grind’ for players. We want it to be a supplemental rewards stream for the time you were already putting into the game.” That idea was seemingly scrapped, as the game’s Battle Pass is its only rewards stream.
So while 343 Industries considers handing XP out for something as trivial as winning matches, players are going to be stuck with Halo Infinite‘s progression slog, and it seems like the system won’t be reworked until next year. Until then, players will simply have to grind their noses off trying to earn a cool helmet or armor effect.