You may have seen it too: In a recent match of Halo Infinite — specifically, the oddball game type — a player runs toward the edge of the map and leaps to their death. This isn’t some furtive gesture of inner bravery. Rather, it’s a bona fide strategy for victory, and it’s annoying AF.
Halo Infinite, an enormously popular first-person shooter, has had its free-to-play multiplayer mode available on Xbox and PC for about a month now. Though developer 343 Industries expanded mode playlists today, the offerings thus far have been slim, consisting of the large-scale Big Team Battle and the four-vs.-four Quick Play, which is available in both ranked and casual formats. Quick Play randomly funnels players into one of four match types: slayer (basic deathmatch), strongholds (zone control), capture the flag (you capture the flag), and oddball, an extremely Halo-specific game type. In oddball, whichever team can hold onto a skull that oozes blue fire (the “ball”) for 100 seconds wins the round. Matches are best two rounds out of three.
In Halo Infinite, at least at the moment, oddball’s ball only has one spawn point on each map, generally located centrally. If the ball goes out of bounds, it respawns in around five seconds. So oddball players have caught on to a strategy: When backed into a corner, the player holding the ball will hurl themselves off the edge, dying in the process but resetting the ball. One of their teammates will stand by the ball’s spawn point, where they can quickly grab it and continue running up the score. When this works it acts as a de facto pass, but less coordinated teams run the risk of sending the ball directly into the opposing team’s possession.
You can only deploy this strategy at certain locations. On the Live Fire map, players holding the ball tend to hover by the tower or the fields on the far side of the central structure, where they can easily jump into the ravine below. On Recharge, the not-so-sweet spot is in the generator room, where the map’s rotating melee weapon spawns opposite a chasm. There’s no place to leap off a cliff on the third potential oddball map, Streets.
“Why are you complaining? This is a viable strategy,” you say. “And it’s been around forever!”
Here’s what I say: “????”
For the past week, I beat my head against the wall over one of my challenges: “win three oddball matches in PvP.” For most of the past week I’d been sitting at two of the three necessary wins. In trying to pick up a third, I had a front-row seat to my opponents hurling themselves to combined doom and victory — Every. Damn. Time. Clearly, this move works. Indeed, other gaming sites recommend this goofy scheme as a reliable way to win rounds of oddball.
343 Industries could mitigate the strategy a bit, either by dinging the offending team’s score (minus five seconds seems fair) or increasing the respawn time of the player who leaps into the abyss (plus five seconds seems fair). Having a rotating spawn point for the ball would also nullify the strat, or at least introduce an element of randomness that levels the playing field a bit. But in Halo Infinite’s current state, this strategy remains somewhat overpowered.
Yes, the strategy, which does not have an official name, has been present in Halo games for almost a decade, when players held it up as a viable path for victory in 2012’s Halo 4. And to be fair, it totally gels with Halo’s signature dichotomy of being a Super Serious Space Shooter while also being a bonkers physics playground in which you mess around just for the heck of it, often to the eternal chagrin — intentional or not — of your fellow players.
“It pisses me off when people throw [the ball] off the edge,” one player wrote in response to learning about the strategy in 2012. “I’m gonna start doing it.”
Anyway, I eventually nabbed a third win last night, only to have the oddball challenge replaced by the even more interminable “destroy one wasp in PvP.” C’est la vie.