The Halo franchise is dying as fans are crying


Photo courtesy of Pixels

Beau Sansom, Columnist

“Die? Didn’t you know? Spartans never die.” Kurt- 051

Spartans may not die, but the “Halo” franchise certainly will if current trends continue as they have. Halo has been a flagship franchise for Xbox since the release of “Halo: Combat Evolved” in 2001. The franchise has gone on to release six mainline titles and numerous spinoffs over the last 20 odd years and cemented itself as one of the most iconic IPs in gaming history. A majority of the games put the player behind the visor of Spartan II, John 117, the Master Chief, as he battles against the genocidal alien empire, The Covenant, to save humanity from extinction. 

Halo fans have fallen on hard times. With the release of “Halo: Infinite ” in November of 2021 following countless delays, Halo fans were left with a sense of hope after the game had languished in ‘development hell’ for the better part of four years. The campaign received a fair amount of praise, and the multiplayer game mode was an absolute blast and a breath of fresh air. With such a successful launch, fans were eager to know what would come next for Infinite after the promise of frequent and free content drops.

The eagerness would go unrewarded as fans were treated to incredibly lackluster updates for the first year of the game’s release. Highly requested game modes such as Infection and Firefight continued to be delayed, while the currently available game modes fell into a repetitive cycle due to the lack of map variety. Halo: Infinite came with 12 maps at launch and only managed to release two more in 2022. These setbacks in the game’s success aren’t even accounting for the cancellation of split-screen multiplayer, a feature that has been missing from Halo for almost a decade now, which was also promised to be available at launch before the game even came out.

With so much controversy surrounding the beloved franchise, fans are left wondering where it all went wrong and many have been vocal about their displeasure with Halo: Infinite’s developer, 343 Industries. 343 took the reins on the franchise after original developer Bungie parted ways following the release of Halo: Reach in 2009. 

The studio itself has gone through many twists and turns throughout Infinite’s lifecycle, with a constant shift of leadership and staff alike. A recent round of lay-offs around Microsoft has put the studio in a tough bind. 

Former Halo: Infinite Senior Multiplayer Designer Patrick Wren had much to say on the layoffs in a post on Twitter

“The layoffs at 343 shouldn’t have happened and Halo Infinite should be in a better state,” Wren said. “The people I worked every day with were passionate about Halo and wanted to make something great for the fans.”

While the layoffs certainly have not helped the state of the Halo franchise, it is undeniable that the franchise has had problems before that. The story of Halo: Infinite, while enjoyable for the most part, was a bit misleading. Fans went in expecting to battle against Atriox, the leader of the Banished and a returning character from Halo Wars 2. Halo: Infinite itself initially seemed to play into this expectation with the opening cutscene of the game featuring Master Chief getting brutally beaten by the alien warlord in combat. However, soon after this players learn that Atriox supposedly died off-screen, leaving them to face off against Escharum, Atriox’s mentor and de facto leader of the Banished after his protege’s passing.

While Escharum was a force to be reckoned with in his own right, fans felt robbed of the opportunity to face Atriox directly. This bitter feeling only grew when the final cutscene of the game reveals that Atriox was alive the entire time and in pursuit of a currently unknown goal. Hopefully future content will expand the story, because as it is now fans are left with critically unanswered questions at the conclusion of Infinite, with nothing but a barren open world and dry multiplayer to tide them over.

The story was something that Halo: Infinite needed to nail in a big way. Fans were extremely displeased with 343’s previous entry in the franchise, Halo 5: Guardians due to its confused story, taking the focus off of Master Chief and bringing in a second playable protagonist in the form of Spartan Locke. Fans did not enjoy having to switch between the beloved Master Chief and this incredibly pretentious and flat new protagonist. While Locke is nowhere to be seen in Halo: Infinite, the fact that his fate has gone unaddressed as of this time is a story oversight that cannot be ignored. 

As a lifelong fan of the franchise myself, it pains me to see the Halo franchise in such a sorry state. I grew up following the Master Chief in his fight to save humanity, but now fans everywhere have to fight to save the franchise.