Like a circular space structure imbued with the power to destroy all sentient life at the push of a button, some things just go on endlessly. Such is the case with discussion around aim assist features in Halo games. Chatter has kicked off fresh following the not-a-beta for the forthcoming Halo Infinite.
It all started when Jake Lucky, the founder of swag brand Esports Closet, posted a short clip of Twitch streamer Jeff Sheney stepping away from his keyboard in the middle of a Halo Infinite match. Sheney is clearly not at his station, yet you can see the targeting reticle in the game move of its own volition, seemingly magnetized to an opponent Spartan. To some, it unambiguously looked like a case of overzealous aim assist. See for yourself:
— Jake Lucky (@JakeSucky) September 24, 2021
The video has since made the rounds on social media. Lucky’s original tweet is largely quoted-tweeted by users chiming in to harp on those who prefer to play Halo with a controller rather than a mouse-and-keyboard setup. The controller aims for you, the thinking goes, so that’s too easy, newbs. Your wins don’t actually count! (Sheney was reportedly using a mouse-and-keyboard.)
Some players say the aim assist needs to be toned down, or taken out of the series altogether, especially for competitive matches. Others say it should stay. Sure, it might be fine to remove aim assist for the best of the best, but your average Halo player relies on it — maybe in ways they don’t fully realise. That’s the whole point of Halo: making you feel like a seven-foot-tall super soldier with falcon-eyed precision. You don’t get that feeling if you’re constantly missing shots.
Louder voices in the space appear to be holding off judgement until more info is available. On its Halo-specific feed, the esports website Dexerto merely described the clip of Sheney as “…interesting.” Popular Halo player Eric “Snip3down” Wrona circulated the clip as well, saying he’s “going to need an explanation.”
Well, good news: There’s a very real reason the aim assist happened in Sheney’s match, according to 343 Industries. Quinn DelHoyo, lead sandbox designer on Halo Infinite, weighed in to clarify what’s going on. Basically, when you’re actually controlling the game with mouse-and-keyboard, it’s shut off.
“In this example, as soon as a player touches their mouse, aim assist is instantly disabled,” DelHoyo wrote on Twitter. “Once mouse movement stops, it takes half a second to enable again. This does not come into effect during gameplay.”
So there you have it. Aim assist doesn’t actually make you any better at Halo. You’re awesome on your own merits. Go, you!
Plus, c’mon, we’ve circled this ring before. Players complained about aim assist in 2007, when Halo 3 was at the height of its prominence. They complained about it in 2021, when Halo Infinite’s water-cooler rating spiked following that sick multiplayer reveal at E3. They’ll complain about it in 2027, too, when we’re all still playing Halo Infinite, because some things are destined to continue for mathematical eternity.
Halo Infinite, which is scheduled to release December 8 on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC, has had several public-facing technical tests. The first one went down on the shoulder weekend between July and August, and let players face off against bots (which were surprisingly humanlike). This weekend and next, developer 343 Industries is hosting two more tests, and will actually let humans fight other humans, a context that has stoked all manner of discussion around the game’s competitive bona fides. Yay…