The Halo Infinite campaign co-op beta has finally launched, but I struggled to get anyone to play with me for days. Many of my friends, who I played Halo Infinite multiplayer with months ago, have gradually drifted away to other games, and the staggered and sometimes confusing communication around the co-op beta meant none of them signed up for the Insider program.
As such, I've been forced to try and find squadmates online, whether it's through the Halo Discord or by somewhat pathetically tweeting out requests for a teammate as there's no matchmaking option - and there won't be. For two whole days I was completely ignored in the Halo Discord, until one person finally reached out and offered to run some co-op with me. We played for a few hours, where I discovered the limits of our tether and a few glitches, but mostly enjoyed the experience. But is it enough after such a long wait for Halo Infinite co-op?
Halo Infinite wait
Halo Infinite's campaign co-op has been delayed several times. Just a few weeks ahead of Halo Infinite's November 2021 release, 343 Industries' head of creative Joseph Staten announced the game would ship without campaign co-op or Forge. At the time, it was promised both would arrive in May 2022 "at the earliest", but by March 2022 campaign co-op was delayed again and we were left with a promise that network co-op would arrive sometime in Season 2. Then, it was announced that the campaign co-op beta would arrive the week of July 15, with 343 clarifying later that it was planning for a July 11 launch date. Ultimately, the Halo Infinite campaign co-op beta launched on July 15 – but I couldn't play until the 20th.
That's because there are no Halo Infinite co-op matchmaking options available in the beta. If you're looking to queue up and play cooperatively, it has got to be with a mutual – and that isn't going to change for the final release either. "Online matchmaking will not be available with final co-op. We encourage you to continue to use the Halo LFG and the new Discord voice call feature on Xbox to find players to party up with as you continue playing the beta," a representative for Xbox told me via email.
Since none of my friends (whom I've spent hours in Halo Infinite multiplayer with) have access to the flight, I was left to scour the internet for anyone interested in playing with my sorry ass. But how many people are actually looking to play Halo Infinite's campaign eight months after it launched? In all likelihood, if you haven't already played the campaign you aren't likely to be a loyal Halo Insider, so the chances of you having access to the co-op flight are slim. And if you are a big Halo fan, you likely already breezed through Infinite's campaign before the first snow of the season fell.
So who is actually playing the Halo Infinite co-op beta? In the Halo discord, there's a channel dedicated to those looking for a group to run through campaign missions together, but the channel isn't game-specific. So there are handfuls of people looking for teammates to do Legendary runs of a game in The Master Chief Collection, and my several requests for a Halo Infinite co-op teammate go unanswered for more than 24 hours.
I am grateful for the person who finally answers the call and sends me a request to join them on Xbox. Sure, I immediately get an error code and have to sheepishly ask for another invite, but the second time's a charm and we jump into a new campaign rather quickly once I enter the lobby. From there, we breeze through the opening bit, with my silent teammate (they did not have or did not want to use a mic) skipping all the cutscenes and impatiently waiting for me by jumping up and down in doorways when I lag behind. We're playing on Normal, and take out Tremonius in under a minute, so expect to scale up the difficulty if you want a real challenge.
Revisiting the Halo Infinite campaign is wholly enjoyable. The gameplay remains rock-solid, the enemy AI and dialogue are fantastic and hilarious, and it looks as good as I remember. It's hard to get a proper feel for the co-op component until we emerge on the surface of Zeta Halo and get to test the boundaries of this open world. After reclaiming our first Forward Operating Base, my teammate summons a Mongoose. Wanting to zip around Zeta Halo with them, I attempt to summon one for myself but can't, so I begrudgingly hop on the back of theirs.
We tool about for a few minutes, each pinging different areas which supersedes the other person's, until I decide I want to figure out how long the 1000-foot tether feels in-game. I jump off the Mongoose, rush back to the FOB, and summon another vehicle before heading in the opposite direction of my teammate. After a few frustrated pings reminding me of the next point of interest we were meant to hit, my teammate suddenly appears on the back of my Mongoose. "Oops, sorry," I say into the microphone. There's no response. This would be a lot more fun if my friends were playing.
Running around Zeta Halo with a partner quieter than Master Chief isn't an ideal way to play Halo. I have such fond memories of late-night sessions trying to get through Halo 3's The Ark on Legendary with my friends, all of us laughing and yelling until our sides hurt. With split-screen co-op not launching until November at the earliest, I don't think I'll be playing any more campaign until the network co-op comes out of beta. It's a bit anticlimactic, really. We waited so long to play Halo Infinite with friends, and while it's completely understandable that 33 Industries would struggle to adapt the franchise for a live-service model, it feels like this is all just too little too late. I'm sure I'll feel different once me and several friends can pile into a Warthog and drive it off the face of a cliff, but how much longer will I have to wait for that?
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