Ever since Halo Infinite was announced, there have been rumors of a Halo battle royale. This week, Halo Infinite Season 2 brought a new story chapter, two new maps, and Last Spartan Standing, a free-for-all elimination mode that’s the closest 343 to airdropping 100 Spartans onto an island.
Cards on the table. I don’t think Halo Infinite needs a battle royale. Despite being the staff Apex-liker, I don’t even know to like battle royale as much, bouncing straight off PUBG and Fortnite. Halo is truly its own kind of shooter, with its own unique rhythms and flows, an arena shooter built from a wonderfully playful sandbox of weapons, vehicles, and gear.
But while Last Spartan Standing isn’t a battle royale in name, it’s very clearly an attempt to hit many of the same beats. An elimination mode where you acquire better weapons as the match shrinks, Gun Game style, with a circle closing in on the last fighters.
It’s an attempt to capture the essence of battle royale with the tools Halo already has at its disposal. And frankly? It does not work.
Here’s how my Last Spartan Standing experience went. You start out on a decent sized map, wandering around with two guns looking for targets. If you’re lucky, you’ll see one first, kill, and move on to a mangler. If you’re unlucky, someone will see you first and get the upgrade. Now you’re behind on weapons, one life down, with only five remaining.
The map slowly thins from 12 to 10 and below as players stumble into ongoing fights or bump into each other from a distance. Battles rarely last more than a few seconds and ultimately only four players are left standing. Now is when the ring comes in, very slowly, to encroach on the remaining players. Survivors likely have shotguns, and the game very suddenly slows as players miss, only exiting to nap nearby bonuses.
In one match, I saw the last two players standing practically next to each other, refusing to move for nearly ten minutes.
the battle royale halo is uh. not great. pic.twitter.com/IPopHUKu8MMay 4, 2022
As an experience, Last Spartan Standing is interesting. The pretty neat custom game you’d expect to find in a private match. But as a complete mod, I’m not sure it holds up. Fights in Halo end too quickly for extended engagements, getting lost for a minute can leave you behind the weapon curve, and while I appreciate the addition of power-up drops to direct the battle, it can often seem like players are untouchable if they manage to always snag an overshield.
LSS also misses out on some of Infinite’s wilder weapons, advancing you through a pretty rote array of pistols, assault rifles, commandos, and shotguns. It’s easy to imagine, in place of Overshields or Active Camo, the game dropping a limited-use power sword, combat shotgun, or one of the more creative gear tools like grappling hooks or repellents.
king of the hill
I don’t think a Halo battle royale is a bad idea on the face of it. When Fortnite transitioned from unpopular tower-defense-RPG nightmare to global battle royale, it did so by realizing that its building mechanics could fit effortlessly into the PUBG mold. Respawn has been extremely careful in the way it has slowed down Titanfall pilots for Apex Legends, ditching wallrunning while retaining the fundamental core of what makes movement in these games. work.
Halo itself is a game about finding bonuses and learning weapon spawns in a sandbox of chaotic, physics-based toys. It’s easy to imagine a world where 100 Spartans stumble across a ringworld, scavenging gear and armor to clash in eerily floating firefights. It just requires a full and fundamental commitment to figuring out what parts of Halo might work in a battle royale and what should be changed.
There are rumblings of a good Halo Royale under development at Certain Affinity, of course. And maybe that will do the concept justice, bringing a Halo twist to a genre we are still unable to move from. Hopefully Last Spartan Standing is a proof of concept that Certain Affinity can learn from. I don’t really want a Halo battle royale, but if we’re going to make a Halo battle royale, let’s at least do it right.