The Halo Franchise has been a fan favorite ever since the release of Halo 1 in 2001. From its in-depth and customizable campaigns to its unique multiplayer experiences, the Halo Franchise has made its games a cornerstone of gaming for two decades. The only real problem it has in terms of its competitive playability is that it was an Xbox exclusive, limiting both the player base and its room for skill expression due to the exclusive use of a controller. Halo Infinite seems to be trying to rectify these issues.
Release on November 15, 2021, the multiplayer of Halo Infinite was released for the Xbox and the PC as a free game. It brings back everything that fans liked about the multiplayer in Halo games before and more. The customizable armor, 12 vs. 12 Big Team Battles, a variety of vehicles, weapons, and game modes, and ranked 4 vs. 4 play are all given new life in Halo Infinite, keeping what fans liked about the old games and adding new features that make the game feel fresh.
For clarification purposes, the multiplayer is the only free part of Halo Infinite. The campaign which came out on December 8th must be purchased to play it. There are also micro-transactions for the multiplayer mode as well, but none of these purchases affect your in-game power levels, they are essentially just cosmetic. The easiest way to access free multiplayer on PC is by downloading and playing it through Steam.
Since Halo Infinite has been brought to PC, the logistics behind actually playing the game have completely changed compared to past Halos. One would think that now that it is on PC, all the players would be swapping over to mouse and keyboard to play because precision one can have on the controller cannot compare to mouse and keyboard. However, the Halo Franchise kept something in the game for controller players that mouse and keyboard players do get, aim to assist. This has always been in the game; it was just never a big deal because everyone had it because everyone had to use an Xbox controller. Now that there is a choice, things have changed.
The majority of PC players of Halo Infinite will be using a mouse and keyboard. That is just naturally going to happen because not all PC players have a PC compatible controller just sitting around to use, but for their PC to function efficiently, they will have a mouse and keyboard. However, the veteran Halo players, the players that have always played Halo with a controller, will be using a controller on the PC. Because these players are already well versed on the controller and still have aim assist, it is arguably better for players who are good with controllers to continue using them because aim assist is powerful.
The power of the controller in multiplayer can most clearly be seen in casual play, where it is the mouse and keyboard players will not have the best aim so the advantage of having aim assist is much more noticeable. For example, one of the best guns in-game, the BR75, is a gun with a three-round burst with 24 bullets in the magazine. Without headshots, it takes 4 bursts (12 bullets) to get an elimination and 3 bursts (9 bullets) with headshots. In casual play, it is not uncommon for mouse and keyboard players to have used all 8 bursts (24 bullets) to get one elimination from full hit points. The controller players on the other hand will generally not have to use their whole magazine to one elimination because aim assist will make sure their bursts are hitting as long as they are aiming some near an enemy’s body.
In higher level, competitive play though, this difference is much tougher to recognize because the mouse and keyboard players generally have much better precision than the casual players that use mouse and keyboard. So, in competitive play, all aim assist really does is even the playing field for controller players because, without it, they would not hold a candle to high-level mouse and keyboard players. Some people say controller players now have an edge over mouse and keyboard players even in the highest levels because of aim assist.
Keeping aim assist for controller players is really important for Halo Infinite as a competitive esport. It allows the veteran competitive Halo players to continue to use a controller even in the highest levels of play and still be able to compete on even footing. It also makes mouse and keyboard feel unique in that doing well with mouse and keyboard shows a higher skill expression because they do not have the added benefit of aim assist. Just one month after the release, Halo Infinite is already being played in tournaments on one of the largest online stages possible, Twitch Rivals. One of the best teams in this tournament, Team Echidna, a team full of Halo veterans is, all using controllers even though the competition is exclusively on PC.
Halo Infinite is one of the first competitive shooters on PC to bring controllers onto equal footing with mouse and keyboard.