Halo Infinite is in a tricky spot right now. On the one hand, the game itself is phenomenal, a sharply balanced and wonderfully satisfying arena shooter. But that gem is wrapped in a frustratingly stingy progression structure, with a battle pass that straight-up sucks.
Last night, 343 launched Halo Infinite's first “Fractures” event, Tenrai. And while the addition of Fiesta mode's hectic nonsense is welcome, its secondary unlock tree is only exacerbating Infinite's exhausting progression woes.
Here's how Tenrai works. On top of your regular pass, the event introduces a new Event track, which you climb by completing event-specific challenges. These challenges require jumping into the new Fractures: Tenrai Fiesta playlist, which in and of itself is fun enough. Fiesta is a Halo staple, a version of Team Slayer that spawns you with two random weapons and a random piece of equipment each life. It's daft fun, tossing Infinite's entire sandbox into one big blender.
Fiesta is a great addition for a game that launched with very few modes, and it's a crying shame the playlist will vanish at the end of the event. Spawning with a grappling hook and a hammer and pummelling an entire team at once is peak Halo, and it deserves to stick around. But it's that event track that's really riling up Halo Infinite's already testy community.
For starters, there really just isn't much in it. You get a new “armour core” at level 5, a handful of pieces to slot into that core and a few emblems. But over half of the track's tiers simply give you flat XP boosts (which are fine, I guess) or Challenge Swaps, which have come to be seen as a crutch for the game's frustratingly specific challenge system. That the more exciting themed items are listed in the store for a tenner a pop isn't helping community sentiment.
The event track itself is only progressed by completing specific event challenges which, being included in the regular challenge pool, might simply not show up. But the real kicker is that, no matter how much you play over the week-long event, you straight up won't be able to complete the event track. See, Tenrai is going to repeat four more times over the course of the season, and 343 doesn't want you exhausting it early—so for the time being, you're capped at 7 tiers this week.
Correct, you will not be able to finish all 30 tiers of the Event Pass in week 1. However, Fracture: Tenrai will return five more times throughout the season. Also, while you can use challenge swaps for Event challenges, players can’t purchase tier skips for the Event Pass.November 23, 2021
Never minding what this means for first-time players coming into the game 3 months from now to find an event they'll never be able to finish, Fractures has only further stressed the sense that Infinite may have rushed some of these elements.
It was a pleasant surprise to see Infinite's multiplayer drop last week. Servers held up better than most established live games, and the game itself is extremely polished. But with the game's first season extended to six months, it feels like 343 is scraping to stretch out what little they have. A battle pass that, for free players, is bloated with Challenge Swaps. A coatings system that struggles to live up to its own promise of more exciting patterns. I don't think I was alone in assuming Tenrai would be the first of many themed “Fractures” this season—but instead, we'll be dipping back into this well four more times over the coming months.
It's perhaps too early to have expected a dramatic change for Tenrai. In a tweet yesterday, community director Brian Jarrard noted that 343 has heard criticism but is currently (and rightfully) taking a break after surprise-dropping Infinite's multiplayer.
“Changes will take time and our priority this week is giving the team a much deserved break for the holiday after a long final stretch,” wrote Jarrard. “Thank you for understanding.”
343 was fairly quick to respond to immediate progression concerns with a quick fix to per-match XP. And while more substantial improvements won't drop tomorrow, here's hoping they do come eventually. Because while I love playing Infinite, dealing with its frustrating progression systems and lack of meaningful customization is piling on top of countless smaller concerns I have with the game's design—from somewhat lacking custom game tools to the reality that Big Team Battle's mode of spawning vehicles just doesn't really work.
Halo Infinite truly is good Halo. But a week in, I'm already starting to feel burnt out, and Fractures: Tenrai has only accelerated that feeling.