The Halo Infinite technical preview gave us our first chance to get hands-on with Microsoft's flagship shooter. While the campaign is still shrouded in mystery, the preview let us sit down with the multiplayer, three maps, and a wide variety of weapons and equipment for an entire weekend. Like I say in my preview, I think Halo Infinite makes one hell of a good impression. Throughout the extended playtest, I was also able to spot a couple of little details that you may have missed – which is easy to do in all the excitement.
From cool ways to utilize equipment, new ways to interact with your teammates, and two-decade old callbacks, below you'll find the Halo Infinite multiplayer details you may have missed. With more Halo Infinite multiplayer beta opportunities planned for the coming months, as its 2021 release as a free-to-play game for the Xbox ecosystem approaches, there's sure to be more secrets hidden away. GamesRadar will keep its eyes peeled for them but, in the meantime, here's what we were able to spot in the Halo Infinite technical preview.
1. You can drop weapons
After 20 years of active service, Spartans have finally learned how to share. For the first time in a Halo game, you're now able to drop equipped weapons to the ground. Previously, you would exchange one of your two equipped primary weapons whenever you picked up a power weapon, but you'll now have the ability to hand them off to teammates. There wasn't much use for this in the Halo Infinite technical preview, but it's easy to see how it could be used by communicative groups in competitive games. It means that a player will be able to grab a power weapon like the S7 Sniper or Gravity Hammer, should they happen to be running by their spawn, and deliver it to a teammate they know is proficient with it. That's just one example, but I'm sure the Halo community will come up with plenty of creative ways to use this feature in the future.
2. Weapons have alternate firing modes
In classic Halo games, a select few weapons came equipped with alternate firing modes to help improve their utility; where most of the guns are designed to be fired from the hip, you could aim down the sights of a weapon with a scope, for example, to help dial in headshots at range. In Halo Infinite, as every weapon now features ADS, this is less impactful, and so 343 Industries has introduced a fresh wave of alternate fire modes to the power weapons. The S7 Sniper has a longer zoom, for example, but the real stars of the show are with weapons like the Heatwave. If you can get your hands on this gun before it's snatched up, you'll be able to switch between vertical and horizontal weapon spreads – perfect for taking on solo players or squads. Expect to see more alternate firing modes introduced in the new Halo Infinite weapons, such as the Ravager and Shock Rifle too.
3. There's a ping system
After sitting down with the Halo Infinite technical preview for well over 10 hours this weekend, I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I only discovered that there's a ping system in here by total accident. I was trying to swap grenades in the middle of a firefight and happened to mark my aggressor, alerting a nearby teammate to swoop in and save me from certain death. After further experimentation, the ping system can be used to mark areas of interest on a map, communicate vital information around weapon spawns, and highlight enemy positions. It's similar to the system introduced by Apex Legends and used by games like Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite, delivering contextual updates in the lower left-hand corner of the UI. Given how rare it is to hear people using microphones in this modern era of Xbox Live, the ping system will no doubt have its uses in Halo Infinite – particularly when it comes to larger maps with spare gunnery positions in the Warthog.
4. Smart-link has changed
343 Industries has paired back many of the more controversial changes it introduced in Halo 5: Guardians, particularly around its divisive advanced-mobility featureset. Smart-link has made a return, but it has been entirely rebalanced. For those that don't care to remember, Smart-link was a system that activated aim down sights on all weapons, rather than just those with a scope as it had always been in Halo. That was controversial, especially as activating ADS while jumping would cause your Spartan to hover in the air and shoot with stability from an aerial position. While you can still ADS with all guns – be it the starting MA40 Assault Rifle or the Needler – the zoom is less significant, and the cost to your peripheral vision is high, putting the onus once again on strafing and hip-firing. Better still, the ability to hover in the air while shooting has been removed entirely.
5. Different damage types
Damage types aren't new to Halo Infinite, but 343 Industries is making some changes in communication. Throughout the technical preview, little prompts would show up to highlight key information that may have otherwise been assumed knowledge: Plasma is best used to drain shields, Ballistic can take down unguarded enemies faster, Hard-light deals equal damage to both but excels at neither. This info is also communicated to players in-game too. If you approach a power weapon you'll notice that the UI indicates the weapon name, its class, its firing rate, and range of engagement, and next to all of that is a little symbol that indicates damage type. With new and returning Banished, Forerunner, and Human weapons coming to Halo Infinite, this'll certainly be helpful information while we're all learning the ropes.
6. Grappleshot factors in momentum
Equipment has returned to Halo Infinite and Grappleshot is the headline item. The grappling hook can be picked up as a spawn on the map or from corpses, giving you up to three opportunities to use the wrist-fired grappling hook to reel yourself toward enemies and areas of the map. A small (arguably too small) indicator on the reticule indicates when you are in range of something that can be grappled and it turns out there's a surprising amount of nuance to the equipment. Fired from a standing position, you'll move directly to a platform and move slowly enough that you'll be easily shot out of the air. Fired with a little momentum behind you, however, and the Grappleshot suddenly has far more utility, letting you swing between platforms or toward enemies with such speed that you'll be able to whip past their heads, let off a few headshots, and see their body hit the ground before your feet do.
7. Respawn timers are clearer
In previous Halo games, there was a tendency for players to disappear from active firefights to all stand around and camp-specific power weapon spawns, with team-killing and arguments emerging in the immediate aftermath. While this will likely always be a part of Halo, there's less onus on camping spawn points in Halo Infinite. While some power weapons are still tied to set respawn times – like the Gravity Hammer on Recharge or Skewer on Live Fire – most materialize in weapon racks found across the map. To help you better understand the rotation of these on-the-rack power items – think the BR75 Battle Rifle, VK78 Commando, Pulse Carbine, and Needler – a white hologram appears in its place when the weapon has been equipped, a red hologram indicating that the weapon has been taken but dropped, and there's a little bar above the rack showing the respawn timer.
8. The Drop wall is more useful than it appears
Admittedly, I didn't quite understand the point of the Drop Wall in my first few hours with Halo Infinite. The deployable cover is similar in its utility to Halo 3's Bubble Shield, but less resistant to damage and only covers a small window of space around you. It's also slow to deploy, meaning you need to use it in tandem with the motion tracker and audio cues to get any real use out of it. The thing is, if you get your head around its particulars it can be a real lifesaver. See a gaggle of enemy Spartans rushing you, deploy it a few seconds in advance of their arrival and you'll find that it can actually deflect incoming enemy grenades. Hear sniper shots ringing out, get that thing out in front of you and at least one of the perishable 15 squares of protection will save you.
9. Maps have secret passageways
Given that there were only a few days to learn the Halo Infinite maps, there's a good chance that plenty of little secrets and details were missed. Grenade jumping is possible if you can get the momentum right, for example, so there are likely all sorts of positions we haven't discovered yet. One thing I did find was a secret passageway on Bazaar, up the stairs in the central area. This walkway snakes around the upper platform and will ultimately lead to a dead drop into the room below, which just so happens to hold the Heatwave power weapon and offers quick passage to either base. 343 Industries is focusing on core arena play, so expect plenty of little shortcuts to materialize throughout the Halo Infinite maps, especially when combined with tools like the Grappleshot as well as tricks like grenade and rocket jumps.
10. Team colors are no more
Customization is more important than ever in Halo Infinite, what with the game launching with a Battle Pass as a free-to-play experience for the Xbox ecosystem later this year. While we knew this change was coming, it was still surprising to see it in action: team colors are gone, with Spartans no longer sequestered into Red versus Blue allegiances. I have to admit, it's one of those things that you only notice when it gets in the way; there were a few occasions where I found myself firing at a player because they were wearing the same color armor as the enemy (the bots in the 343 technical preview all wore uniform colors) which has left me a little concerned over how readable the final experience will be. Still, for now you best start thinking about the Coatings you're going to want to match up on your armor in the final game.
11. Homages to Halo's past
Halo is celebrating its 20th anniversary this November. We know that the Halo Infinite campaign is looking to recapture the spirit of Combat Evolved, returning Master Chief to a Halo Installation and ditching the illusion of freedom we had back in 2001 for the opportunity to freely explore an open world Halo ring for the very first time. With Chief tied up in saving the universe, again, it looks like it is falling on the shoulders of the multiplayer maps to honor the legacy of Halo. There's a couple of nice touches throughout the maps we've seen, but my favorites have to be Live Fire being set in the Avery J. Johnson Academy of Military Science – a Spartan training facility named to honor the SPARTAN-I member who was killed on Installation 08. And then there's the Bazaar map, echoing the design of the Outskirts map from Halo 2, and you can even spot the New Mombasa Orbital Elevator being rebuilt in the skybox following its destruction in Metropolis.
12. "Yeah, it's definitely pink"
Red vs. Blue will always be intrinsically linked to the Halo franchise and so perhaps it should come as no surprise that 343 Industries would show a little love to the iconic Rooster Teeth franchise. A blink and you'll miss it reference while personalizing AI Color, the 'Lightish Red' option points back to Season 1, Episode 16 of the show, 'A Slightly Crueler Cruller' where rookie Spartan 'Donut' is rewarded by Command for returning the Blue flag with his own colored armor. His own… lightish red armor, as he maintains, to which Grif retorts: "Guess what, they already have a color for lightish red. You know what it's called? It's pink." It's an 18-year old reference that I certainly appreciated and I'm sure Halo Infinite will be packed with come release.
Will there be another Halo Infinite test? The Next Halo Infinite flight date is up in the air as 343 hopes it will be "properly focused on PvP"