The second Halo Infinite beta kicked off this weekend, showcasing more multiplayer gameplay and progress over the previous build. Fans (including us) are no doubt relishing the opportunity to finally play a new Halo game, but it’s important to keep expectations in check as we near the launch of the long-awaited sequel.
In our initial technical performance preview, we noted a number of problems with the game, but cautioned that it was indeed just the first beta. At the same time, it was a beta for a game that’s been in development for nearly six years that also was delayed just months before its previous release window last year. We certainly expected a more polished experience than what we got, and felt it necessary to follow up on how things have changed in the latest build. Fortunately, we have more positive things to say about this beta, though Halo Infinite is still far from ready for launch, at least on the PC platform.
We have yet to harness the power of this ring
Stutters were the foremost issue with the original beta for Halo Infinite, with poor optimization standing out as the other clear problem. We can report that those issues aren’t as prominent this time around, though are still present. The game is playable in the current build, but it isn’t in a state that could be considered ready for launch. Moderate to small stutters disrupt gameplay, and the RTX 3060 we used to test the game barely managed 60 fps in 1440p with medium settings. To put that into perspective, Apex Legends runs at a smooth 60 fps in 4K with high settings on the same system, while Call of Duty: Warzone manages 60 fps in 4K on high settings with DLSS Balanced turned on. We also determined that the majority of the issues were tied to the GPU and found that the game still only utilizes 70% of GPU resources on RTX 30 Series cards for whatever reason.
Fortunately, we can report a significantly improved experience in other areas. We never suffered from any matchmaking disconnects during our two hour play session, and only experienced one crash that was possibly tied to a separate bug. The game loaded and closed very smoothly as opposed to the previous build, and the menus were much more smooth and stable. One thing we found particularly frustrating about the previous build was that many of the user settings reset after each match. That was not the case anymore, and it even remembered system graphics settings from the previous beta, which saved us a lot of time.
The menus do still suffer from some visual bugs, and render certain icons and 3D models improperly. These don’t affect functionality, and seem like something that will be ready to go for launch. We also spent time testing the unlockable and customization options and found everything worked properly.
It’s starting to come together
Moving on to the rest of the gameplay, Halo Infinite has a reasonable number of glitches for a beta. As we noted in the previous technical preview, the stuttering was the main issue that plagued gameplay. We also noticed a degree of screen tearing, though it may have been connected to the stuttering, as there was no screen tearing in the most recent build.
We did note a few visual issues, such as shadow flickering and other lighting effects displaying improperly at times. These were generally minimal though, and didn’t affect gameplay. For the most part, the gameplay functioned properly. We only noticed a few minor graphical bugs, and were frankly too busy being impressed with the game’s physics to care. Halo Infinite has some of the best physics we’ve seen, and there’s something to be said about the odd satisfaction of poking sandbags and watching them jiggle, or seeing a small object hurdle across the map due to an explosion. Those are just some of the little details that make Halo the cheeky experience it is, and it’s good to see 343 Industries has remembered those things.
One thing that was problematic pertained to the movement of the bots. On numerous occasions, the AI fell into strange movement rotations that resulted in them getting stuck in groups. The bots then remained trapped until enemies approached them and initiated behavioral changes that caused them to break free of their botty, bot-like jigs.
Alt + F4 and that’s a wrap
Input issues plagued the previous build where the character model couldn’t run in a certain direction. While those were resolved, we did experience a match where all of the inputs aside from movement controls ceased to work. There were also white streaks of light frozen on the screen during the fiasco and the game froze during a black screen after the match ended. Despite this game-breaking glitch, we were able to smoothly close and relaunch the build in just a few quick seconds. It wasn’t the end of the world, but the event did mark the end of our playtesting session.
All in all, we had fun testing the multiplayer and were able to enjoy the experience. Still, the Halo Infinite beta felt like more of an alpha at times. Compared to the last test, it’s moving in the right direction, but 343 Industries needs to keep pace with optimization improvements and bug fixes if it wants to nail a smooth launch. Since the game won’t launch with Forge or splitscreen co-op, it needs to execute on its core principles.
That’s it for now, but we’ll continue to check out Halo Infinite in future beta tests to see how it progresses on the PC platform. Next week is all about Big Team Battle and some interesting new toys. Want to try out Halo Infinite for yourself? Head over to the Halo Insider portal to get signed up.