I had no real expectations for Halo Infinite, but I found myself pleased by the outcome. I found the story to be my favorite since Halo: Reach, and definitely the best one that 343 has done. Perhaps the best starring Chief directly. After what I considered a confusing mess for 4 and an unfocused story for 5, Infinite's story felt tight, sensical, and contained. Which is strange to say it was contained, because part of its story heavily relied on knowing about Halo Wars 2. But what was important was given through the cutscenes and audio logs, so it feels fairly organic. There's a good amount of cutscenes, some in-engine and some out, that help the story along and the audio logs give good information on the background.
The characters are more focused than before and we get a great performance from Chief in both body language and voice, his pilot who has a great arc, and The Weapon, Cortana's spunkier, ditzier AI counterpart. She is an utter joy to be around and The Pilot is very enthralling as you watch his character take shape.
The main issue is that the development of these stories come from missions where most of them are very similar environments over and over again. It seems since we've been stuck in the Forerunner time, most levels consist of hexagonical structures and lots, and lots, and lots of blue. It gets tiring, despite a few levels breaking away from this trend, it is not enough. But I will say it does not go overboard with length and overstay its welcome.
The other main component of the story is the overworld. Which is fun! It's nice to be able to really drive around in a vehicle endlessly. But, like the mission levels, there is not a lot of environmental variety. It is either grass, mountains, or hexagons. There's also so many jagged edges around the place that sometimes it feels like its more of a waste of time to get a vehicle than it would be to traverse using your grapple. The grapple, by the way, is awesome, and you'll make extensive use of it in every level and to get all the collectables. As far as over world games go, like Far Cry or later Assassins Creed games, I'd say it has less to do but in a good way. It doesn't take ages to finish every activity. It feels like a fine amount of time.
Overall, it's incredibly fun to run around the overworld, search for collectables, and do some small skrimishes. But there's some quality of life improvements that could be made to the map itself. The zoom function is barely functional, at the most zoomed-in, you're still super far out from the map, which makes it hard to put in a good waypoint. There's no filtering of icons, so the map will get cluttered. If you have discovered something, it shows up as a black icon with white. If you collect it, it turns... black with grey. Which is nearly indistinguishable, and needs to be fixed. Most annoyingly is that, collecting certain areas unveils collectables for you, but not ALL collectables, so you're still going to be using a guide anyway. The map layout makes this a bit hard as well, because it's divided into a few sections but those divisions are not well marked, and one section is so huge it makes searching difficult regardless, even if you confine yourself to one small space.
Multiplayer is still pretty fun, but feels like a step back from 5. I may be in a minority on that. But after giving fun maneuverability with the hover and slam moves, taking that away was a loss. We also lose assassinations which always felt fun to add. There's lots of new guns, but at the loss of some old ones. And frankly, most of them don't feel very fun to use at least against other humans. An assault rifle or pistol can kill someone very quickly, but trying to score a kill shot with a ravager feels insane. You lose fun weapons like the plasma launcher or grenade launcher and instead get the stalker rifle, which can't kill in one or two shots, or the disruptor, which takes longer to kill than a regular pistol.
And if this is a review of the product as a whole, then I can't ignore the battle pass. You can really only gain experience for it through challenges. As of this writing, I've never been able to load up the game, and look at challenges without playing a game first, which is annoying, and so many of the challenges are so specific that it's frustrating. I can't enjoy trying to finish a battle pass when I've made progress in other games' like Smite or Sea of Thieves without really needing to try. But realistically that doesn't impact the gameplay of the multiplayer. A nice addition is the ability to fight bots just so you can WIN once in a while if you're on a losing streak. That was a good touch.
Overall the campaign I would give a 4/5 for a good story and very good characters, along with an amazing tech in the grapple hook. I frankly didn't mention the other tools because the grapple is easily the best. The multiplayer I'd give a 3/5 for some missing elements and an upsetting battle pass. So averaging that out, I give the game a 3.5/5
Update: After writing this review, I left the game for three months. I came back to it to see how my feelings had changed, and frankly, they were soured. I am already bored by the small amount of maps, and the guns that I dislike using. I hate the battle pass, and not getting 90% of the armor unless I buy the premium version. I understand that soon they're going to update the multiplayer with another mode, and another map, but it is not going to be enough. I put hundreds of hours into Halo 5 and Reach multiplayer and this is just boring and aggravating me. I'm moving my review down to a 3 because the multiplayer is so stagnant.