Everyone’s got a hot take on Halo Infinite, it seems. Personally, I couldn’t care less about the meandering plot, quippy new AI, or the monologuing villains. Hell, Master Chief isn’t the hero of my playthrough. Nah, my heroes, my MVPs of Halo Infinite, are the UNSC’s Marines!
I’ve always appreciated how Halo keeps it in perspective how insanely powerful Spartans are by surrounding you with normal human Marines. When an explosion merely jostles you but sends them flying, it’s equally empowering and humbling. However, for the first time in the series’s history, the Marines are finally just as valuable as Chief’s MJOLNIR armor in Halo Infinite.
Sure, he’s got a grappling hook, but that hook did little good against a Brute Chieftain with a rapid-fire rocket launcher, jetpack, and heavy shields. Six tries, and I barely scratched the hairy bastard’s hide. You know who did kick his human-massacring bum? Five of the finest Marines I’ve had the pleasure of chauffeuring in a Razorback Warthog jeep. I handpicked their armaments, and they did the rest, following my lead into battle, plastering the cliffside with the high-value target’s mangy remains.
This became my favorite mode of clearing objectives. Did you know the Marines can finally tell when they’re too close to fire an explosive weapon? And how to turn around in their seat while riding shotgun? They’ll hop out of any vehicle and follow you on foot for miles, grabbing power weapons along the way that they’ll gladly pass to you or harness themselves. You don’t need a dedicated command button like in Halo 5: Guardians – the Infinite Marines just do what they’re obviously supposed to.
I cleared an entire region of Infinite – high-value targets, FOBs, a processing facility, an armory, etc. – while barely firing a shot. My squad of Marines not only had amazing aim, but darn well understood when to dive out of the way of grenades. When the heat was on and I had to take point, they’d draw smaller enemies’ attention, alleviating the frustration of how Infinite can spam Reach-levels of filler enemies.
They’re even loyal enough to stay put outside of the usual draw distance. I dove into structures, handling scripted sequences, and would exit to find the Marines at the ready. These NPCs would ride or die with me no matter what, offering better one-liners than the main cast. They speak to one another, complimenting each other or adding to a zinger when their fellow Marines sniped an enemy.
In a sandbox that otherwise just feels like Spartan Ops stretched out over larger levels with some Far Cry objectives tossed in, the Marines save Infinite’s early hours. They’re so valuable that 343 Industries even tactfully places clusters of them kidnapped in several more scripted environments, ready to be freed by you to back you up in a fight. More than ever before, the UNSC’s finest are a legitimate, organic tactical asset.
Halo Infinite would be a sincerely blander, emptier sandbox game without it, and they almost were useless. I’m incredibly grateful Joseph Staten pushed for their further integration – it was an addition well worth making. Not only does it make several otherwise infuriating encounters far more enjoyable, but it perfectly embodies the essence of Master Chief reuniting, and leading, the last remnants of the UNSC forces on Zeta Halo.