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Back in November of this year we looked at Forza Horizon 5, a Playground Games and Xbox Game Studios release that’s available on Xbox Series X/S consoles and Windows PC. We now have quite some time with the second major Xbox Game Studios release of the holiday 2021 season. And that’s Halo Infinite by 343 Industries, the sixth main release in the Halo first person shooter series that was originally created by Bungie back in the late 1990s. Since the release of Halo 5 in 2015 there hasn’t been anything technically new in the beloved franchise, although the Master Chief Collection and its constant updates did help fill the void.
Luckily, Halo Infinite was completed in time for the 20th anniversary celebrations held by Xbox, as the brand has been around for two decades since 2001. Also, the good news is that Halo Infinite is a capable game from both gameplay and performance perspectives, and we want to explain a little bit of the why for anyone considering to sign up for John 117’s latest adventure and his conflict with the menacing Banished. Yes, the same scary guys from Halo Wars 2!
To be clear, we played Halo Infinite on Xbox Series X primarily, just as we did with Forza Horizon 5. However, we also tried it out on a fairly powerful PC with an RTX 3090, 32GB of RAM, and an eight core Ryzen clocked at 4.4GHz.
The PC version of course has more graphics settings and an unlocked framerate, but we felt the Series X edition was more consistent and thus felt smoother as we explored Zeta Halo with Master Chief and his new friends Weapon and Pilot. On the console, Halo Infinite sports two performance modes. Quality uses dynamic 4K (probably 1600p to 2160p) in ultra settings and 60Hz. Performance mode goes for roughly 1440p and 120Hz but also sticks with what we think are ultra settings. While Halo Infinite takes place in an open map (sort of like Far Cry), it’s nowhere near as huge, and not on the scale seen in other open world games. It’s also not very diverse in terms of locales, so we believe the strain on console resources isn’t as severe. Halo Infinite looks good and runs very well on Series X, with locked framerates in both modes.
For perspective, the more demanding Forza Horizon 5’s quality mode runs dynamic 4K in 30Hz while performance mode is dynamic 4K in 60Hz. Effectively, Halo Infinite has double the frame rates compared to its fellow big ticket Xbox release of the season due to a different engine and an obviously less complex game world.
With Forza Horizon 5 we didn’t feel much need to game in performance mode because it only went up to 60Hz and did make visible concessions to graphics quality, and with that game every texture and polygon felt important. But from experimentation it’s clear that Halo Infinite has a different approach. Because it’s a more modest game, performance mode runs at a super smooth 120Hz and still appears to be at ultra settings, but in 1440p or maybe as low as “good pixel” 1080p. If you’re on a 27” or even 32” gaming monitor, Halo Infinite looks great in performance mode from desktop viewing distances.
Performance mode is also superb for gaming projector users that prefer higher refresh rates. As Halo Infinite has a very comprehensive multiplayer suite (which is separate from the story campaign and free to play), response is everything and 120Hz gives you an edge over players who prefer 60Hz for some reason.
At the same time, if the single player portion is your absolute focus, then quality mode is especially impressive on a big screen with the low input lag of a quality 4K gaming projector that allows you to take in the bright and lush environments of Zeta Halo with HDR glory.
It’s been fifteen years since we thought Chief would finish the fight, but of course he keeps coming back for more, and that’s a good thing. Provided you have the right display for the occasion, Halo Infinite was definitely worth the wait.
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