Loads of us were called up by Master Chief to test out Halo Infinite and its Big Team Battle mode last weekend. Going in, I thought there would be no competition between its smaller 4 vs 4 Arena modes and this bombastic 12 vs 12 playground. Surely I'd prefer the latter. In my mind, this would be Halo at its messy best.
But no, I have proven myself wrong. In a strange turn of events, I've decided I actually much prefer Halo Infinite's smaller modes. And I think this comes down to laziness.
In games like Battlefield 2042, with their vast maps and plentiful zones to capture, I find it difficult to match their rhythm. The action is there, but sometimes it feels like you're a kid in a vast playground and you see people having fun playing cops and robbers miles away, but can't seem to find any joy nearby. Sometimes you make it to the action, but they're right in the middle of their game and it's already a dizzying mess of bullets and explosions. And even if the game mode offers structure, the action itself may feel a bit chaotic and inaccessible.
I've found this with Halo Infinite's Big Team Battle mode. The goal may be clear: capture the flag, capture the zone, eliminate lots of Spartans. But I struggle to remain focused. There's a need to be proactive on these big maps with lots of players; I need to seek out the pockets of violence before they happen. Like a corporate training course, I must set myself achievable goals with clear targets, and if I don't, I run about aimlessly and the chaos eventually morphs into white noise. I lose interest.
In smaller modes, I find Halo Infinite comes to life, because, well, it brings me to life. I have no choice but to be brought to life, because I don't really need to be proactive. On these smaller maps, I don't necessarily need a plan of action, because the action is already there. It arrives at my feet, or, largely, buries itself in my chest as I keel over and die.
Not only are Halo matches more manageable for me in a smaller form, Infinite's tighter maps compartmentalise the sandbox. In those tense duels in twisting corridors or little circular arenas, I can steal a weapon from under someone's nose using the Grappleshot. Perhaps stare someone in the eye for a second before I Repulsor a rocket back into their face. Not that you can't do this on big maps, it just doesn't happen as often and it's less intimate when it does. In smaller modes, you get a feel for the other team's behaviour and you might even start noting names: "I bet that's xXFredSh0tXx going for the Grav Hammer again. I mean, that's just sooo xXFredSh0tXx." Bigger maps lack these psychological battles, at least in my experience.
Don't get me wrong, Big Team Battle is fun. It's just not the Halo I'm fond of playing. I'm lazy and want the action to be up in my face right from the get-go. I want those jabs and japes with the opposing Spartans. Man, I really am needy aren't I?