It struck me recently that I’ve not played as much of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer as I thought I would. I envisaged myself wiling away most evenings with my mates, playing Oddball and Slayer and laughing like someone from those video game adverts, swaying violently with a controller in hand.
I now know the reason why and I hate to admit it. Infinite doesn’t have a battle royale mode, which I've come to realise is the perfect FPS template for gaming with my mates. Something about it just works, you know? Listen, let me explain.
Does Halo Infinite need a battle royale mode? Absolutely not. But would I support one? Absolutely. It’s hard not to imagine Infinite’s take on one: an enormous playground stitched together from some of Halo’s most iconic maps of yore; Warthogs and Mongooses roaming the lands; players racing to the M41 SPNKR as it spawns; grappling to a rooftop and laying down covering fire; some contrived reason as to why there’s a circle of poison gas closing in... but hey, rings are what Halo does best, right? It's 100% doable.
Battle royale modes are great because they break up all this action perfectly. That’s not to say arena-style modes like your team deathmatches and capture the flags aren’t home to quiet moments. It’s just that once you’re in, you’re in. You have 50 kills to reach, so you better hop to it. A flag must be captured, so you best get on that NOW. But in a battle royale, the pace of the game is entirely in your hands.
Often, it’s decided by the mood in Discord. Feeling a bit sleepy today? Then you can all drop somewhere quiet and take things easy. Feeling energised? Then you can drop into Tilted Towers or the nearest available city centre and prep yourselves for a mad dash to the nearest loot chest. And even if the beginning of your game is frantic, this doesn’t mean the middle and end are decided for you.
That’s the beauty of battle royale, I think. The way it accommodates the chat dynamic, giving you space to exchange japes in between adrenaline hits. Even little things, like early deaths leading to lengthy spectator sessions that open up other channels to down tools, steer the conversation back to something totally unrelated, or backseat game like a bastard.
I also find high stakes lend themselves to educational moments. Death in other game modes often entails a quick respawn or a slight wait until the end of the round; there’s rarely much urgency, or at least, cohesion. You may fall in different spots at different times, or if you do team-up, you know it’s going to be a fleeting roar into the enemy’s base before you inevitably split up afterwards. Yet in battle royales, you’re largely forced to stick together to survive. Death means instant loss, so when you face off against an enemy team, you learn how your mates behave when their fight or flight responses kick into overdrive.
I know for certain that I’m a bloodthirsty liability, for example, while another one of my friends always keeps this murderous intent in check. Others are more measured or peel themselves away for a flank. Make it to the final circle and this is tested to its limits. The Discord banter evaporates as the mode steers you all to a level of laser focus that was previously thought impossible. Suddenly, you’re all serious, telling each other what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. There’s a job and it needs to be done properly.
Finish the task at hand and then there’s the crescendo, a moment of pure elation you’ll struggle to find elsewhere. It’s at this point you’ll discuss what went down, everyone exhaling their trials and tribulations in one overexcited babble. The evening transforms from a chill Discord sesh into some blockbuster movie, where you all emerge from the cinema examining its highs and lows.
Yes, there are so many of these battle royale modes knocking around, but I maintain that they’re a brilliant template for a really good time. Of course, you’re not going to hit that crescendo every single night. Yet, no matter what sort of mood you’re in, I find they’ll always work with your group to form a meaningful journey of sorts.
Look, I'm not going to ball my eyes out if Halo Infinite doesn't get a battle royale mode. That's fine, it'll still be a great FPS no matter what. Selfishly, though, I'd like it to get one. If only as a reason to gather some friends and bask in the comfort of that lovely multiplayer template.