Halo Infinite’s grappleshot is a small marvel. Attached to our hero Master Chief’s sizeable wrist, you can spit out its rope to attach to surfaces or bad guys and catapult the armour-plated super-soldier at a fair velocity. In battle it is a joy, barrelling towards hooked enemies before smacking them in the teeth, desperately flying out of danger as the warning sounds of your depleted shield ring out, before swinging out from behind cover, shotgun in hand, to rejoin the chaos.
It is a key component of Halo Infinite’s ferocious FPS combat –the best Halo has ever provided, more on that later– but it is also essential to traversing the game’s newly found open-world, scaling its monolithic cliffs and spelunking in its caves. After a debilitating defeat for humanity in the war against the alien ‘Banished’, Master Chief finds himself on the giant ringworld of Zeta Halo. The Banished, lead by zealous warchief Escharum, are up to no good here, leaving Chief to find out what they’re playing at, put a crimp in their plans and help rebuild humanity’s resistance on the ring after months of struggle. And also track down Cortana, rogue AI and Chief’s long-time bestie.
The open-world hub is a notable departure for Halo but is arguably a late evolution of the first game’s ideas. Heralded levels like The Silent Cartographer opened up a sandbox that suggested enormous scale, sending the Chief scouting around the original Halo’s coastal fortresses and frozen tundra. In Halo Infinite, the sandbox is much bigger, acting as a fulcrum for its campaign and informed by the last two decades of open-world design.
Not that this shift is a guarantee of success. In recent years it has felt like video games have reached ‘peak open-world’, succumbing to bloat in pursuit of endless ‘content’ and ever-expanding to-do lists. Indeed, after a more traditional opening blast through the corridors of a Banished warship, my heart rather sank as we reached the surface of Zeta Halo and the map opened up and peppered itself with mission icons.