Before we get into the argument proper, I want to clarify two points:
- I'm using the term "Battle Royale" to loosely define a 100+ player mode on a massive map, that involves exploration as well as combat. We'll get into exactly what that could look like later on.
- This is not an attack on Halo Infinite, which is a polished and enjoyable shooter, or on Battle Royales, which, despite their poor reputation (largely caused by the Fortnite fanbase), have revolutionized casual shooters for the better.
With that throat-clearing done, here's why I think Halo Infinite needs a Battle Royale, and why I think that's an exciting prospect, not a cynical inevitability.
The State of Halo Infinite Pubs
Let's start by looking at the core of the Halo Infinite experience as it stands right now. 10 maps, 7 modes (with varying player sizes). Now, we know that there are a number of modes that can be seen online, but which haven't yet made it into the full game. But at the moment, it's a fairly minimal offering, and it's presented in the now-decades-old arcade shooter format.
What we have is great, and that needs to be said. The product is polished, and the core gameplay is well-thought-out. Weapons feel satisfying, they have a certain weight to them. Vehicles are responsive and well-balanced and the maps are all clearly very well-designed, with a mix between symmetrical competitive maps, and more free-flowing idiosyncratic ones. They could give us ten more maps and a hundred modes, but that still wouldn't tackle the elephant in the room: the casual shooter audience are tired of the traditional arcade experience.
This has contributed to Battlefield's poor reception (with Hazard Zone being so bad, the player base was forced into All-Out-Warfare), it's why CoD's multiplayer has effectively become a levelling tool for Warzone, and it's why the collective response to XDefiant's reveal was: why? Battle Royale's offered people a co-operative experience in a PvP environment with infinitely more depth and story to each game than a constant-respawn slayer fest ever could. But more on that later.
Halo Infinite's Competitive Scene
While we're discussing the current health of the game, it's also worth giving props to the comp scene in Halo. Clearly, the Infinite devs built the game with esports in mind, because while the game is fundamentally targeted at a casual audience, it's balanced to support a great competitive scene as well.
The high TTKs in Halo naturally force teams to work together because lone-wolfing simply isn't viable. This already offers an organic motivation to think tactically, which the mechanical depth offered by new tools like the grappling hook complement wonderfully. And we're already seeing the fruits of this design come to bear; Crim and Formal are streaming Halo chals almost daily, the first Halo comp tourney saw a peak of almost 260k viewers on Twitch, and Pro-Team skins available in-game have become wildly popular.
This is good for gaming, good for esports, and I hope to see Halo's comp scene continue to thrive. That being said, for casual shooters, the competitive scene will never be big enough to support the whole game. This isn't League or CS:GO or Siege, it's an arcade shooter with mass appeal. And that isn't going to change.
Why Halo Infinite needs a Battle Royale
You might still be thinking, "well, there's a campaign too, and Forge is coming", and those both promise a good amount of content. But for most people, the campaign is a one time-thing, it doesn't have replayability. And a vast amount of users won't even touch Forge, they'll just play a few of the best creations from the community occasionally. No, the mode that Halo Infinite needs is, at this point, the tried-and-true Battle Royale.
Battle Royale's offer an immersive and intense experience for the pros and casuals alike. You can drop in somewhere quiet and explore if you want a passive game, or you can jump in somewhere hot if you're feeling aggressive. And with every game, you get a story; you explore the space you're in, move through a few POIs, maybe encounter one group and fight, or hide and move on. And the experience of making it into the final circle, having beaten hundreds of other players to one of the top spots, give you the kind of rush that's impossible to replicate in a standard arcade experience.
Despite their bad reputation, there's a good reason why Battle Royales have enjoyed such market dominance since they came into being. And in Halo Infinite, a BR could be fantastic. They could use a whole Halo ring as the map, they could pepper it with Forerunner secrets, and possibly even throw in some neutral Covenant to fight. As I said at the top, this should be an exciting prospect, and hopefully the devs can see it that way. We'll keep you updated if we hear anything through the grapevine...
Other columns for your viewing pleasure...