Still alive and still improving.
The Halo Infinite team at 343 is looking to slowly but surely capitalize on some much-needed momentum generated in November by releasing a sizable update to the game today with a large handful of improvements and new features.
Highlighting the Dec. 6 update is the official launch of a new Arena multiplayer map, Empyrean, which serves as the spiritual reboot of the classic Halo 3 map The Pit. The return and revamping of The Pit was originally teased at the end of September during the HCS Orlando Major, built on the soon-to-be-released Forge mode.
The devs noted a few significant gameplay changes for Empyrean compared to the original Pit: “The machine gun turrets at each base are now Scrap Cannons and weapon spawns throughout the map now use Weapon Racks like other Halo Infinite multiplayer maps.”
Numerous quality-of-live improvements have been made in this update as well. A custom game browser lets players start and join custom games on a whim. Mouse-and-keyboard play has been improved. Toxic players can now be reported and muted in-game. Networking and desync issues have been fixed.
Previously released armor cores that were only available via premium battle passes, including the Mark V [B], Rakshasa, Yoroi, and Eaglestrike cores, are now free to all players. Ten Cadet armor coatings have also been made available for free to all players.
343 is hoping to build on a somewhat resurgent month of November for the game after a streak of downward trending months. The average player count in Infinite had been going down since May, falling below 2,800 average players in October on Steam.
But the numbers rebounded in November, reaching an average of over 4,000 and a peak of over 12,000 for the first time since May. This was primarily due to the huge Winter Update, which added Forge mode, online campaign co-op, a new battle pass, and much more.
343 will hope to build on that momentum with this update and more to come in 2023, but the path ahead is still daunting with the latest departure of the game’s multiplayer creative director.