I didn’t think I’d fare well when I fired up the Halo Infinite Multiplayer Beta. I’d played Halo 4 and 5’s single-player campaign but hadn’t really tackled multiplayer since Halo 3. So I thought I’d get my armored backside kicked by every other opposing player, followed by a reintroduction to the bad old days of teabagging. I didn’t expect Launch Site, the Halo Infinite map I landed on, to absolutely troll the hell out of me.
To understand how Launch Site managed to make me look like an idiot, you have to go back to the original Halo. I got a kick out of Halo’s close-range combat, but what really made my younger self grin was being presented with all these fantastic vehicles. The first time I got behind the wheel of a Warthog, I felt like it was my birthday.
This was a good three years before Star Wars: Battlefront let me fly a snowspeeder or clamber aboard an AT-ST. FPSes that blended on-foot and vehicular combat were few and far between, and here I was going wild in a jeep-on-steroids. Multiplayer was every bit as much a rush; if you were tackling one of the outdoor maps, half the team would make a beeline for the vehicles.
So when I spawned inside Launch Site in Halo Infinite and saw a Warthog mere meters from me, I knew what I had to do. I leapt into the seat and started hammering the horn, inviting others to join me. No one did. Five minutes and a few deaths later, I’d figured out why my teammates had dashed past me; Launch Site’s verticality means that vehicles are of little practical use.
Oh, sure, you can try, but there’s a good chance you’ll end up wedged against a wall, Austin Powers-style. You’ll get a little more use out of the quad bike or Ghost, but it’s still as practical as picking your nose with boxing gloves or separating Squid Game’s dalgona with a sledgehammer. So why are they there at all? Simple – to troll the hell out of anyone and everyone.
I have no doubt that 343 Industries knew exactly what it was doing when it designed Launch Site for Halo Infinite multiplayer. Because, while there are plenty of multiplayer games that feature vehicles, the vehicles tend to get left out of smaller levels. Both the original and current incarnations of Star Wars Battlefront reserve their tanks, speeder bikes, and so forth for larger, more open levels.
Not so for Halo Infinite, which is why I ended up the laughing stock of my whole team. It’s a masterful act of trolling on 343’s behalf, and every time I run past one of Launch Site’s vehicles, I still have the urge to leap in and hammer the horn like a lunatic. What if I used the gun turret to defend our flag?
But when you’re standing out in the open, you become an easy target for snipers, especially if you’re standing atop a jeep, so you can guess how that ended. Yet Halo’s vehicles are so powerful in single-player that the urge to commandeer them never entirely goes away. If they’re not there to be used, what’s the point of them?
Honestly though, I deserved to look like an idiot, and not just because I didn’t pause to consider how massively impractical the Warthog would be. Rather, after years of woeful Warthog misuse, the Warthogs were due some payback. Halo’s lore paints Master Chief and his fellow Spartans as elite warriors, capable of singlehandedly taking out entire battalions of foes. Halo Infinite’s tutorial begins with a dramatic cutscene of Master Chief saving the woman who’d go on to become a Spartan herself and, in turn, train other Spartans.
She wouldn’t have been nearly as impressed if she knew about all the times my Master Chief refused to part company with his Warthog. For instance, it was obvious that Halo 3 wanted me to ditch it and head on foot into that Forerunner complex. But was I going to leave that much firepower behind? Absolutely not.
If Spartan Trainer Laurette Agryna had been watching that scene, she’d have seen me smashing the Warthog repeatedly into the complex’s hallway arch. Then she’d have seen me backing up and ramming the arch, willing the Warthog to vomit out a Mongoose quad bike, The Dark Knight-style. Finally, she’d have witnessed me running in and out of the complex, in an effort to kite enemies into the open so I could turn them into novelty hood ornaments.
In short, she would have clocked me for the Warthog-obsessed imbecile I was. It was my determination to exploit this gift from God (God being a floating USMC dropship) that ultimately led to my later folly. Even now, I can hear the siren call of the Warthog’s mounted turret… “Infinite ammo… infinite ammo.”
But you know what? I’ve grown to love the trolling of Launch Site, I respect the twisted genius that went into its vehicle-baiting, and I love that Halo Infinite multiplayer isn’t doing my thinking for me. The truth is, playing Star Wars Battlefront, I used to grumble that in indoor levels I couldn’t just grab a speeder bike or leap into the cockpit of one of the docked TIE fighters. Launch Site has given me a choice I didn’t have — a stupid choice, but one I’m free to make. I’ve been trolled to high heaven, but I’m okay with that and I have nobody to blame but myself. Still… maybe if I take that corner at just the right angle.