Halo Infinite multiplayer surprise-launched on the 20th anniversary of Xbox, but that wasn't the only surprise players got - many quickly learned 343 Industries' free-to-play title has a rather grueling Halo Infinite Battle Pass progression system.
Shortly after launch, the Halo subreddit (opens in new tab) was inundated with players calling on 343 Industries to change the way the battle pass progression works, with many asking for matchmaking-based XP as they struggled to make it through a single tier. However, 343 Industries already warned us about this - kind of. Back during the Halo Infinite technical tests, players offered up similar feedback regarding the battle pass progression, and 343 Industries responded (opens in new tab) with promises to look at it after launch, And remember: the battle passes never expire, so the FOMO you get from not playing in other games' season won't exist in Halo Infinite.
Despite this, I'm confident we'll see changes coming down the pipe - it just might be later rather than sooner. Let's break down the Halo Infinite battle pass progression controversy and see how it stacks up to other popular free-to-play titles.
Halo Infinite multiplayer almost broke the internet when 343 Industries surprise-launched it on November 15, the 20th anniversary of Xbox and the first Halo title. The build offers new maps and game modes that weren't available during the Halo Infinite multiplayer technical test, and fully unlocks customization options that include banners, icons, AI voices, AI colors, armor cores, armor colors, and more.
The surprise launch also marked the beginning of the first season of Halo Infinite's multiplayer battle pass, Heroes of Reach. Like most free-to-play games, Halo Infinite offers both a free and a paid version of the battle pass, with opportunities to pay to skip tiers in order to unlock content faster. The $10 battle pass is on par with free-to-play titles like Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone in terms of cost, and with 100 levels of unlockable tiers, it's also on par in terms of content. Players don't have an issue with the battle pass content - it's the progression that they have a problem with.
That's because Halo Infinite, unlike Warzone and Apex Legends, does not offer matchmaking-based XP. This means you won't gain any traction on the battle pass just for playing, but will need to complete challenges like getting kills with specific weapons, playing 20 games, or scoring in a Capture the Flag match. If you're having a few bad matches, the battle pass progression icon will remain stubbornly frozen in place, which can be quite a deterrent for both new and returning players.
I myself was annoyed when I played nearly an hour and a half's worth of games and didn't get past battle pass level two. I want new armor options, new color combos, a chance to unlock a different AI voice - all of the customization options that make Halo Infinite so exciting for long-time Halo players. The grind to get there is certainly daunting, but it's something 343 Industries old us would be the case - at least at launch.
Here's what 343 Industries said in response to player feedback about the battle pass during Halo Infinite technical tests: "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. 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."
Considering Halo Infinite just dropped three-and-a-half weeks before it was set to launch, and season one was just extended until May 2022, I can't imagine 343 Industries is rushing to adjust battle pass progression. Unless they drastically shift the dates for the current season, matchmaking-based XP will see players blowing through the battle pass well before May 2022. However, considering how much fervor players currently have about the state of the battle pass grind, 343 Industries may decide to rejig the entire thing. If that is the case, they should look to Warzone and Apex Legends for inspiration.
Battle pass progression in Warzone can be lightning-fast if you play a lot of games, and even faster if you have double and triple XP tokens at your disposal (which most players do). Warzone offers XP from getting kills, assists, and even just opening loot crates. Daily challenges can reward you 2500 XP just for getting hip-fire kills, and if you want to just drop into a match and hide, you'll get more XP the longer you stay alive. Progressing along the Warzone battle pass is fairly easy, with hardcore players getting to the 100th level early on in every season.
The Apex Legends battle pass has been a point of contention for players since the game launched in 2019. In November 2020, Respawn changed the battle pass progression after player feedback, looking to simplify the progression by offering stars instead of XP. Earning ten stars would progress you to the next battle pass level, but players quickly pointed out that this required an intense grind of several hours of gaming per day. The players (rightfully) raged (opens in new tab), and Respawn cut the XP required per star by half (opens in new tab). Add that to the bevy of options you have in terms of challenges, and Apex Legends feels like you can focus your attention on achievable goals.
At the moment, Halo Infinite doesn't feel like that. It feels like you've got to put in tons of hours to make very little progress towards a battle pass tier you may not particularly care for. Offering more challenges gives players more options, and doling out a nice sum of XP for wins and a smaller drop in the bucket for losses would make the current grind feel a bit kinder. But, again, Halo Infinite battle passes don't expire. So, while the grind may seem eternal, the battle pass is actually eternal, offering you a chance to get every item in it months after the season ends.
This is great news for players who may not have enough time to dedicate hours to Halo Infinite a day or enough money to pay for tier skips, but it won't solve the frustration they're feeling when trying to unlock cool new gear. Free-to-play games earn money by offering coo, purchasable cosmetics, but players have always circumvented that by working their way through battle passes to get the pot of gold (armor) at the end of the rainbow. 343 Industries will have to make some adjustments to Halo Infinite's battle pass in order to help sweeten the deal.