Xbox's ticket to connecting with its players is Halo Infinite's multiplayer. The Xbox Series X had a disappointing launch (to say the least). Thankfully, launches don't typically make or break a new console. The Nintendo Switch was widely criticized for launching with one notable game: Breath of the Wild, but is now considered one of the best consoles Nintendo has ever made.
Halo Infinite's multiplayer is the most ambitious experience Xbox will offer. Why? Well, because it's free. That may not seem like much of a risk, but this is a big deal. Xbox is going to connect with players in its flagship title like no other company has before.
At the moment, Xbox has no big games on offer, but it will get back into the swing of things when the likes of Fable, Perfect Dark and Starfield launch. While the big game this year is Halo Infinite, the game's multiplayer isn't just a big game for this holiday season; it seems like it could be updated throughout the Xbox Series X's lifespan.
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E3 Halo Infinite's multiplayer overview
Xbox showcased its Halo Infinite Multiplayer at E3 2021, and it looks like a classic Halo experience combined with a dash of modernized gameplay mechanics. From the addition of new mechanics and new weapons to personal AIs and customizable Spartans, there are several new and old features to be excited about. You can even customize your Spartan from a website or an app on your phone.
The biggest reveal is that the developers are going to keep updating the game well beyond launch and will add additional cosmetics via free gameplay challenges and the Battle Pass. You can purchase a season's Battle Pass once, and you own it forever. So even if another Battle Pass is live, you can continue unlocking items from the older one.
It's still mind-boggling that Halo Infinite Multiplayer is free. There are plenty of free-to-play multiplayer games, but none of them are from the big three console makers. So far, the PS5 has the biggest appeal of the two major consoles, but when Halo Infinite multiplayer launches, the Xbox Series X and Xbox's services will benefit from having a long-lasting edge over rivals.
PS5 exclusives have almost never been about the multiplayer experience, but Xbox has a great track record with these modes. Hopefully, if Halo Infinite's multiplayer turns out well, things will turn around for Xbox.
What Xbox needs to do to maintain momentum
Halo Infinite's multiplayer has the potential to start something substantial for Xbox. People could be playing an Xbox game more than ever before when Halo Infinite's multiplayer launches, but that momentum won't last forever, so Xbox needs to do at least one of two things.
Halo Infinite multiplayer could be the hub of all things Xbox in the same way Fortnite has exploded with crossovers; Halo Infinite's multiplayer could feature crossovers from across the Xbox brand. Doing so would encourage players to invest more heavily in the Halo multiplayer experience.
On the flip side, Halo could stick with being his free-to-play strategy, but then carry over to other Xbox IPs. Imagine a Gears of War free-to-play multiplayer game. This could start an entirely new trend of big franchises branching out their multiplayer experience into live-service games, which would be a win-win for everyone.
On the player side, the game is free and receiving consistent updates, and on the developer side, they're making money off the Battle Passes and cosmetics that players purchase.
Xbox cannot squander this opportunity to turn Halo Infinite into the most played multiplayer game during this generation. As long as the developers are pumping in new content, and there's a competent Forge mode, Halo Infinite will have a healthy lifespan. Triple points if Halo Infinite is added to the Master Chief Collection for seamless play across games.
What Halo Infinite multiplayer needs to do to stand out
While Xbox may be competing with PlayStation for console sales, Halo Infinite's multiplayer will be competing with heavy hitters like Fortnite and Valorant for people's attention. Thankfully, Halo already features a unique experience that other games can't replicate and it has a dedicated fan base going in.
However, the trick is to keep players as engaged with the game as other big multiplayer games. Making the multiplayer free is the first step in the right direction, but the next is delivering on post-released content that was promised. It can't just be anything -- it needs to add new ways to play and more ways for people to stay engaged.
Xbox needs to jam-pack so much content into Halo Infinite that it's impossible not to enjoy each game mode. And as far as the Battle Passes are concerned, they also need to be worth the money, otherwise, the developers can kiss their easy income goodbye.
There is a great potential for Halo Infinite's success, but it can just as easily fail if Xbox doesn't learn lessons from its peers.