Halo has always been something of a playground, one in which players could find all manner of wild tricks and unintended uses for game mechanics. With Halo Infinite’s latest season introducing some new maps, one of which features a deadly waterfall, new, death-defying shenanigans have surfaced courtesy of legendary Halo stuntman, Mint Blitz.
Take A Tour Through Halo Infinite’s Newest Arena Maps
Though it wasn’t the first in the series to do so, Halo Infinite’s inclusion of user-deployable equipment allows for more than just pointing and shooting. One of the more versatile items is the Grappleshot: a retractable grapple hook capable of zipping players around the map at high speeds. The Grappleshot allows for swift, death-defying tricks and strats, particularly around areas of maps that usually result in near-instant death. It’s as tactical as it is entertaining and a recent video shows exactly why.
Shared to Twit—sorry, X (…), Halo trickster Mint Blitz discovered an environmental trap on the new map Forest, a waterfall that sends players falling off the map if they get too close. This led to a prime opportunity for Mint Blitz to use the Grappleshot to bait and trap players into falling to their deaths.
Mint Blitz’s scheme: trick opposing players into giving chase near the waterfall, then let the current pull them to their deaths while he yanks himself back up to safety via the Grappleshot. But that’s not the only trick he pulls off.
The Quantum Translocator, a new piece of equipment in Halo Infinite that lets you teleport back to a specified location on a map, Mint Blitz is able to tempt players to follow him into the deadly currents, only to warp back to safety once his opponents have fallen into his trap.
The video is fun to watch, but more than that, it feels like part of a long Halo tradition. After all, finding clever ways to send your opponent to a respawn counter using a combination of environmental hazards and in-game equipment is often what makes Halo such a surprising and playful game.
Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is a damn chatty game. With voice lines regularly erupting from the series’ legendary announcer, the dueling Spartans themselves, and the series’ new personal AIs, voices come at you as often as bullets and grenades. Now, thanks to a new update (that also packs a new map!), you can finally silence one of those sources of sound.
Take A Tour Through Halo Infinite’s Newest Arena Maps
Burdened with the task of reinvigorating a series over 20 years old without straying too far from its roots, Halo Infinite tries a number of twists to the old arena shooter formula. Personal AIs as side announcers are one of them. While these “mini announcers,” of which you could choose from several (including at least one character from Halo 3: ODST), does occasionally grant helpful info like letting you know when you’re running low on ammo, or if you pick up a grenade and don’t realize it (saving you the a glance at your HUD to focus on the game), they also regularly quip about the gun you were carrying or how you kill someone in over-the-top, unhelpful, and distracting ways.
And, as many Halo Infinite players can attest, there was (and possibly still is) a frequent bug where the game defaults to the “Butler” AI character seemingly at random, canceling out whatever AI you select. So even if you didn’t mind their chattiness or found some of the quips useful, it often wouldn’t work as intended to begin with (the game would often do this with the voice type as well, spontaneously detransitioning my Spartan to sound like a dudebro when I distinctly chose otherwise).
How to turn off Halo Infinite’s personal AI
The new Halo Infinite update tucks a “Personal AI Dialogue Toggle” into the settings menu, as listed as the third item on apost from the Halo Support account.
But that’s not all from this update.
Halo Infinite gets a new map, water physics, and camera improvements
As stated in the post above, Halo Infinite is also getting a Reach-inspired Arena map called Dredge. There’s a specific playlist now dedicated solely to this map for some 2010-era Halo feels.
Players can now also rotate the camera around a player they’re spectating when they’re in a respawn time out. Previously the camera was locked behind whoever you were spectating.
And for Forge maps, you can now add in a “Reactive Water Plane” that ripples and reacts to collisions from players, vehicles, and, of course bullets, among a few other bug fixes and menu tweaks.
But while it is great folks can now mute those AIs, I do bemoan how much of a missed opportunity they were. I happen to appreciate it when the AI lets me know I’m running out of ammo while I’m still in a mental frenzy from my last brush with death…I just don’t need the whole “kaboom!” and “nothing like a three-round burst!” and “such a reliable weapon” or “your accuracy has improved” without any actual stat behind it.
Earlier this year, Twitch streamer and psychology researcher Perrikaryal used her electroencephalogram (EEG) device (which records the brain’s electrical activity, but also has telekinetic research history) to beat Elden Ring, “using [her] mind for everything but movement.” Now she’s taking things even further, gunning down opponents in Halo multiplayer without touching a controller at all.
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“Killed ‘em without even lifting a finger,” Perrikaryal, who goes by Perri online, responded to a video clip esports reporter Jake Lucky posted to Twitter.
Though Perri’s whole set up—the black nodes strapped to her skull that evaluate her brain activity and let her shoot, the way she nods her head to move, and uses her eyes, through an eye-tracker, to aim—might seem to you like a swathe of inconceivable, Gattaca (1997) nonsense, it’s really the child of all-natural trial-and-error.
“There are still always comments about how this must be fake, but that just serves to show me how exciting and innovative this actually is,” Perri told me over email. But “there is still so much to improve and add. I still don’t have a full controller working—only four working [data] visualizations, which means four working button keybinds. I can only really, in practice, have two-to-three of those running at any one time; otherwise the EEG gets confused.”
Read More: Twitch Streamer Plays Elden Ring Using Only Her Brain
It’s all in the name of her ultimate goal, “to make the hands-free controller all-encompassing (all buttons and triggers accessible) and easier than a regular controller […] so that anyone can use it for a comparable gaming experience,” she tells me. In pursuit of this, she’s making things more complicated by streaming Minecraft, or, as she affectionately calls it, “MINDcraft,” on September 12.
“A game like Minecraft is going to be an insane challenge because of all the menus that are required to navigate,” she said. It’s a good thing, then, that Perri has big brain ambitions. In addition to calibrating her existing inputs like eye and head movements, she’s also working with a “few labs and research groups […] experimenting with biosignals,” like blood pressure and heart rate, “and EEG in order to integrate all of this into VR and a more immersive gaming experience.”
“Playing Elden Ring […] served as a great practice ground for trialing out different visualizations and figuring out what worked for me,” Perri said. “I’m not afraid of scrapping a visualization I spent hundreds of hours training for […] because I know now that that’s just a part of the process, and an important part of getting stronger as a mind-control gamer.”
Starfield has an absolutely massive galaxy to explore, so it was only a matter of time before players started discovering Easter eggs and subtle nods to other sci-fi franchises that came before it. Recently, a certain habitable planet in the Eridani system has fans convinced it’s a recreation of a rather unfortunate world in the Halo series.
Long-Lost Halo Demo Comes To Life
Read More:14 Classic Science Fiction Ships Recreated In Starfield Buy Starfield:Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop
Players have discovered that Starfield’s version of the Epsilon Eridani star system, a real star system that’s also a major part of Halo lore, includes a planet that bears a striking resemblance to that of Reach, where 2010’s Halo: Reach took place. Described on Halopedia as featuring “towering mountains, deserts, and weather-beaten forests,” Starfield’s Eridani II has similar terrain to Reach. Sadly, no one’s discovered any weird ostrich-like birdies.
And like Reach, Eridani II is the second planet in the Eridani star’s orbit.
Read More:Starfield: This Creepy Derelict Spaceship Goes All Dead Space
As mentioned, Eridani II is a real star system out there in the void. It was first written about in Ptolemy’sCatalog of Stars, which listed over 1,000 worlds, as well as other Islamic works of astronomy. In the 1900s, it was estimated to be about 10.5 light-years from our solar system. Early on, SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project which scans the skies for signs of other civilizations) took interest in Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti—which is also in Starfield and featured in Marathon, another Bungie shooter—as a likely spot for habitable planets, either featuring extraterrestrial life itself or possibly proving a good candidate for future space travel.
How to find the Halo: Reach Easter egg in Starfield
If you’d like to visit Eridani II in Starfield, you can do so very early on in the game. Starting from Alpha Centauri (home of The Lodge and other early story moments in Starfield), go down and to the left on the star map and you’ll find the Eridani star system, which is only a mere 19.11 light years away.
Read More:Starfield’s Photo Mode Is Deeply Satisfying
Once there, simply navigate to Eridani II and touch down on any of its biome regions for comfortable weather and mountainous terrain. As some fans have pointed out, Eridani II’s locations are closer to what’s seen in the Halo: Reach level “Tip of the Spear” than its more lush, grassy areas shown in other points of the game’s campaign. This is a prime location for Halo fans to build their first outpost (and you won’t have to deal with the challenges of extreme environments).
You also won’t have to deal with, you know, Covenant.
Halo Infinite’s fifth season, “Reckoning,” arrives on October 17, 2023. With two new maps, a returning multiplayer mode from Halo 4, a new variant of the Bandit rifle, and more, it’s shaping up to be an excellent season for 343’s shooter.
Take A Tour Through Halo Infinite’s Newest Arena Maps
Buy Halo Infinite:Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop
Halo Infinite’s new Arena maps: Forbidden and Prism
While Halo multiplayer is capable of delivering many different experiences, the core 4v4 experience of “Arena” is essential. Halo Infinite shipped with solid maps on launch, and has seen some wonderful new additions, but I’d suggest that these new maps are a step above what we’ve seen added to the game before.
“Forbidden” is a symmetrical map that 343 Industries multiplayer level designer Cliff Schuldt said was designed “specifically for Capture the Flag.” It features a well-known Forerunner ruins art style that’s very reminiscent of Halo 2’s “Sanctuary” and has a dash of “Warlock” as well.
As a symmetrical map, it’s a natural fit for competitive play, and I found it to be quite fun in game modes besides CTF as well. But it’s the visual design that I especially appreciate. With varied amounts of overgrown vegetation covering its structures and a looming Halo ring visible from the very center,it has that distinct Halo vibe that other competitive maps in the game like Aquarius or Streets are somewhat lacking.
There are a lot of neat opportunities for some fancy movement across Forbidden. In particular, I loved the “rat holes,” as Halo Infinite’s multiplayer level designer Cliff Schuldt called them. These are chutes on either side of the map that you can slide into to drop down to the lower level, making for great flag getaways or quick repositioning.
The varied levels, tight corridors, ramps, and opportunities to snipe down some wonderfully positioned sight lines gives me some very serious “Lockout” vibes, a classic map from Halo 2 on which I used to absolutely terrorize my friends.
“Prism” offers a very different flavor from Forbidden and features a welcome injection of Covenant purple that feels like it’s been missing from Halo for far, far too long. While structurally it’s very different from something like “Midship” (it reminded me quite a bit of Halo 4’s “Abandon”), the presence of enormous glowing purple crystals (from which Needler ammo is mined according to the lore) really sells that old-school Covenant vibe. It features varied levels of elevation that have a natural-feeling topography as opposed to the more angular “Forbidden.” In my time with “Prism,” I found that the map naturally lends itself to tight pockets of action, particularly in the new game mode: Extraction.
“Prism” also features some environmental hazards in the form of crystal clusters that, when shot, release dangerous shards that can damage you or your opponent. It gives the map a bit of interactivity, and well-placed shots and grenades around these crystals ought to make for some interesting plays. I didn’t find them overly punishing, but they provided enough damage to either be used strategically or, potentially, to catch you by surprise if you’re not prepared.
“Prism” also features the Pinpoint Needler as a power weapon. If you’ve played Infinite’s campaign, you’ll remember it as the reward for taking out one of the High Value Targets. It’s a far more lethal variant of the Needler, feels perfectly at home on a Needler-themed map, and helps shake things up a bit from the usual “go get the rockets/sniper” pattern of most maps and power weapons.
Speaking of weapons, Season 5 also includes a new addition to the arsenal by way of the Bandit Evo, which manages to avoid stepping on the Battle Rifle’s place in the game while still offering some excellent range.
The Bandit Evo might be better than the DMR ever was
The semi-automatic DMR rifle made its debut in Halo: Reach and was arguably the final evolution of the one-shot-at-a-time precision of the overpowered M6D in Halo: Combat Evolved. It worked well enough in Reach, but when it joined the Battle Rifle in Halo 4 (along with the now-retired Light Rifle), it sort of felt like there were three guns competing to do the same thing.
Enter the Bandit Evo with season five of Halo Infinite. On paper it’s rather simple: It’s a Bandit (a semi-automatic medium-range DMR) with a reflex scope as opposed to the ACOG-style featured in Reach, 4, and 5.
With just a reflex scope, the Bandit gets the range it deserves, while not stepping on the Battle Rifle’s domain. In my experience it finds a nice middle position between the Sidekick and the Battle Rifle. I predict this weapon will work out very well in Big Team Battle, but its shorter range means that it presents some great utility for standard 4v4 action. To me it feels like a more appropriate version of Halo CE’s pistol.
The return of Halo 4’s Extraction, match XP in custom games, cross-core customization, and yes, AI in Forge
History doesn’t always look too kindly on Halo 4, which is a bit of a shame as it had some great ideas. Extraction, a multiplayer mode where players need to deploy and defend extraction devices in key areas, is one such example. Once you plant an extraction device, the countdown toward scoring a point begins. Fail to defend the area, and the opposing team can take it from you. It’s a straightforward mode, but one that can lead to a lot of interesting outcomes as both sides battle for control of the area.
Season five will also include some other much-needed additions such as cross-core armor coatings and helmets (these were previously locked to specific armor sets), and match XP from custom games, so you can make progress in the battle pass by playing in games other than what’s found in the matchmaking playlists. This is particularly interesting as season five also sees the long-awaited inclusion of campaign AI in Forge, opening the door to all kinds of interesting PvE and PvPvE experiences on Halo Infinite’s maps.
Forge AI, however, is a topic for another day. We’ll dive into that a bit more closer to release.
Halo Infinite Season Five: Reckoning will be available on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and Windows on October 17, 2023.
Forge, Halo’s in-game map creator, has appeared in every mainline Halo game since Halo 3, allowing fans to bring back beloved older maps, fashion creations of their own, or just create unique, quirky experiences within Halo’s timeless and tweakable sandbox. Once season five of Halo Infinite launches, however, players will finally be able to import computer-controlled campaign enemies (and allies) directly into multiplayer maps and modes.
Take A Tour Through Halo Infinite’s Newest Arena Maps
Read More:Halo Infinite: Here’s Your First Look At Season 5’s Awesome New Maps Buy Halo Infinite:Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop
With the ability to make custom games, Forge has long been central to the Halo community. But though Forge has always been capable of creating a wide variety of experiences, creations have usually centered around PvP. This will radically change with the launch of season five of Halo Infinite on October 17, which will see the long-dreamed-of arrival of campaign AI in Forge.
343 Industries recently gave me a demo of how AI is going to work in Forge and I was able to spend a bit of time messing around with it during my recent hands-on with the new multiplayer maps. The inclusion of AI in multiplayer looks like it could genuinely change the creative Halo space, and potentially multiplayer entirely, offering up PvE and PvPvE experiences of the likes we haven’t seen before in Halo.
Forge AI Toolkit Basics
Halo’s single-player and co-op campaigns have always featured large casts of antagonistic aliens and friendly humans, steered by the game’s AI routines. But with the exception of the wave-based “Firefight” mode, CPU-controlled characters have always been exclusive to the campaign. Soon, CPU foes and allies will be able to coexist with other players via season five’s new Forge AI Toolkit.
Adding AI entities in Forge looks pretty simple—you drop an AI Spawner from Forge’s object browser right onto the map. The Spawner looks like a hologram of crossed energy swords with a circular radius to denote where the resulting units can go. Each Spawner is capable of spawning up to eight CPU characters of a wide variety of types. Forge will let you use as many as 32 active AI in any given scene, though the number of other objects you have in the map might eat into that. Forge AI was active during my preview of the new season five multiplayer maps, so I was able to get in a few rounds sparring with Banished forces across a few different locations. It’s pretty simple to just drop and drag around enemy spawn points.
AI units include an assortment of the usual Halo suspects: There are variants of Brutes, Elites (including Ultras and Spec Ops versions), Grunts, Jackals, as well as Skimmers, Marines, Hunters, and even two variants of the Halo Infinite boss, Adjutant Resolution. Flying enemies like Sentinels, however, are not included. I was told this would require aerial nav meshes, essentially a virtual grid that determines where AI can move, which don’t exist in Forge.
Here’s the full list of AI units soon to be deployable in Forge (“Chosen” variants refer to whether or not the character has shields):
Each unit will spawn with a default weapon, which you can swap out for any gun the model has an animation for (Grunts, for example, do not have access to the Assault Rifle, but Elites do). I was told you can even give Jackals S7 sniper rifles, which Forge technical designer Connor Kennelly appropriately described as “terrifying.”
Read More: 24 Halo Infinite Forge Maps Inspired By The Classic Games
AI can be triggered to spawn from thin air, aerial drop pods (“Craig” pods), and Phantom flybys. You can also set movement zones that direct AI to go to specific areas, or follow patrol routes. Other details include what direction the AI faces when they spawn, whether they’re triggered by a specific script you can design in the node graph, when they’ll spawn, and under what conditions they’ll appear or behave, such as when a player enters a specific area you’ve designated. You can even set the AI to follow you, like the marines do in the campaign.
As for vehicle interaction, Marines will hop into passenger and turret seats of Warthogs, but are unable to drive. Elites will pilot Ghosts, Brutes will pilot Choppers, but CPU characters will not pilot Banshees, again, because of the lack of an aerial nav mesh. You can also specify areas as “non-driveable” to prevent the AI from using vehicles there, even if they’re on the map.
You can even tweak an AI character’s senses, toggling their sight or hearing or giving them the ability to see through walls. You can adjust what team they’re on, influencing whether they’re friend or foe, or whether they’ll fight each other, regardless of whether they’re Cove—err, Banished or Marines.
To make all this possible 343 had to create a new API (application programming interface) that allows multiplayer modes and campaign AI to coexist. As Kennelly told me, “Any time you’ve played [past Halo PvE experiences like Firefight] in previous games, you were fundamentally playing a campaign mode. Here, we truly brought AI into multiplayer, and that’s why it’s gonna work in all the different game modes.”
Forge’s AI Toolkit opens up entirely new multiplayer possibilities
So you can drop a wide variety of AI-controlled friends or foes into Forge now, but what kinds of experiences can you craft?
For starters, wave-based “Firefight” modes are perfectly within reach. You’ll be able to set conditions for when waves will get harder, or set waves to spawn only when certain conditions are met. But that’s the easy stuff.
Forge’s node scripting opens the door to a staggering number of options. Using an interface very similar to Unreal Engine’s Blueprint, Forge’s visual scripting system will let you weave together a variety of functions, crafting everything from endless waves of foes to more linear, campaign-like experiences.
Players will also be free to add AI to existing multiplayer game types, such as Capture the Flag. I was told that while AI don’t know how to hold flags (or similar objectives like holding an Oddball), you can set up scenarios where AI will guard a flag.
Michael Schorr, 343 Industries’ Forge lead designer, told me how people will be able to set up conditions that are MOBA-like, where certain events—such as capturing an enemy’s flag—will see a group of grunts replaced by more powerful enemies like Jackals or Elites. Schorr described one such scenario as relatively simple to set up, and dramatically versatile in terms of what kinds of games will soon exist within Halo:
I made a demo a couple weeks ago where within a Team Slayer or Strongholds, there’s another capture zone that [spawns] Hunters to come and fight on your team. So now you’re making choices: “Do I go over here and capture the Stronghold? Or do I go over here and capture the thing that gives us extra power for a bit?”
This all represents a pretty remarkable shift for Halo’s multiplayer, and as Schorr told me, they’re intending to make sharing your creations pretty simple.
Starting on day one of the new season, players will be able to upload their Forge creations and game modes featuring AI directly to the customs browser. Schorr was keen to point out, Forge AI creations in the custom browser, combined with the newly added match XP from custom games in season five, mean that you can make progress in the battle pass while playing custom Forged AI game modes. Kennelly added that as AI game modes grow, 343 Industries will be looking to curate select creations to be featured in an eventual matchmaking playlist.
AI in Forge looks like it really could be a new frontier for Halo. 343 Industries has built what seems like a robust and dynamic toolset to create different games, from modifications of existing multiplayer maps, brand-new PvE and PvPvE experiences, to potential recreations of linear shooter levels (I expect a remake of Doom’s E1M1 won’t take long to surface). Combined with Infinite’s solid game mechanics, season five could potentially represent a dramatic shift in what’s possible in Halo. Season five of Halo Infinite, “Reckoning,” launches on October 17, 2023.