When Halo Infinite launched last fall, it came with something new to the franchise: weekly rewards. Some players said these challenges “weren’t Halo” and wrote them off. Others deemed them tedious and unrewarding. But a select few actually stuck with the slog for the entire season. Kotaku caught up with one to see what on Zeta Halo they were thinking.
“Playing Halo is one of my favourite hobbies, and I’m a completionist for the series,” said MixMaker117, a Halo Infinite player who previously hit the coveted SR-152 rank in Halo 5, and who recently finished every weekly challenge of Halo Infinite’s first season, in a chat with Kotaku.
Halo Infinite, developed by 343 Industries for Xbox and PC, is the first game in the series to feature a free-to-play multiplayer mode. Like many games based on a similar model, it features a battle pass: 100 levels, which you earn progress toward by completing challenges. Every week, you’re assigned 20 challenges, typically based around specific weapons (“kill five enemies with the assault rifle in PvP”) or game modes (“earn 5,000 cumulative score in tactical slayer”). You can use single-use items called “challenge swaps” to switch up any challenges that may prove anathema to your playstyle.
After you complete all 20 tasks, you unlock that week’s “capstone challenge.” You can’t swap that one out, and it’s the same for all players every week, but successfully completing it grants you a cosmetic option — a visor, an armour coating, a backdrop for your in-game scoreboard — that you can’t get by other means.
Last week saw the final capstone roll out for Halo Infinite’s first season. The social media brags quickly trickled in. “Props man, idk how you had the will to do that tbh,” one player wrote in response to another who said they’d completed every weekly challenge in the season.
For some players, though, it was less a question of willpower than it was a love for the game.
“At first, I was just ranking up in the battle pass with friends, since challenges are tied to progression,” Mix said. “I completed the battle pass rather quickly, and just decided to go for the weeklies from there on.”
As for how he pulled it off, Mix noted that knocking out the standard weekly challenges isn’t too steep a climb, provided you’re intentional about the order in which you complete them, and about when you use your challenge swaps.
It’s the capstones that posed the real test.
“Any time they give you a game mode-specific weekly challenge and it doesn’t have its own playlist, you really have to dedicate a lot of time and patience to accomplish that challenge,” Mix said. “I can see how that discourages lots of people.”
For instance, one week required you to win three games of Capture the Flag in Halo Infinite’s ranked playlist, which Mix said was the toughest of the season. There’s no dedicated playlist for the mode; it cycles in randomly between rounds of Slayer, Oddball, and Strongholds. So you’re up to the whims of RNG. Worse, even if you do end up getting into the right matches, you still have to rely on your teammates playing well. (According to figures from the stat-tracking site Halo Data Hive, I, about as dead-centre average as a Halo player can be, have a 48% win rate. I mostly play team games.)
By contrast, the easiest challenges involve the sort of thing you can complete via attrition: earning a 50 kills in a specific mode, or completing a set number of matches in a specific playlist. In the middle are the skill-based goals. To earn last week’s, for instance, you needed to score three “perfect” kills — meaning you take down enemies with as few shots as possible. (If you’re still struggling, a tip: Use the mangler. Two to the body, one to the head.) Those challenges can be frustrating, but aren’t quite as bang-your-head-against-the-nearest-desk as the ones that require you to rely on randos.
Sometimes, the rewards simply aren’t worth it. Early in the season, you could earn the delicious Willow Tea armour coating, which Halo Infinite style gods declared as one of the best of the season. Last week’s reward was the Bell Toll visor, a sleek black piece that fits with pretty much every armour coating. (Mix cited both options as the two best rewards for the season.) But 343 Industries filled out many of the interim weeks with cruft like emblems — stuff you can barely even show off to other players.
“Vehicle emblems are hard to see,” Mix said, calling out the Driving Offensively emblem in particular as the most egregious offender. (Driving Offensively was available as a capstone reward three separate weeks this season, once each as an unlock for armour, weapons, and vehicles.)
For Halo Infinite’s second season, which kicks off tomorrow, 343 Industries said it’ll revamp its weekly rewards, doing away with the disappointing offerings in favour of stuff you actually want to earn. The forecast for the first few weeks of the season already looks worth the effort, comprising a mix of weapon skins, vehicle coatings, and player stances.
Mix, for his part, is happy about the changes. “Weekly rewards should always make the player want to grind,” he said. “I think season one was very inconsistent in that way, so I love that 343 is listening to feedback and making changes.”
He plans on gunning for another perfect streak, aiming to complete every challenge in season two.
“Now that I have the flow of the game down, I actually think I will be able to grind more efficiently,” he said. “The addition of more game modes and playlists will help the pursuit as well. At the end of the day, I love achieving Halo goals, so weekly challenges are right up my alley.”