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Halo Infinite’s December 2022 update is quietly one of its biggest

Halo Infinite’s final update of 2022 is also, surprisingly, one of its biggest. The update, live today on Xbox and PC, adds a new map, an array of free cosmetic options, and a file browser (which is… far more significant than it sounds).

As a live service shooter, Halo Infinite regularly receives content updates, both in the form of ballyhooed flagship seasonal launches and smaller, sporadic “drop pods.” Typically, these drop pod updates are small potatoes — minor tweaks to how specific weapons work, say, or tiny adjustments to how the scoreboard looks. They’re usually not massive rollouts that totally overhaul the game.

The most notable inclusion today is the addition of The Pit to the multiplayer map rotation. A staple of the series since 2007’s Halo 3, developer 343 Industries unveiled its inclusion in Halo Infinite back in Sept. 2022. For its Halo Infinite incarnation, it’s redubbed Empyrean, and done up with a violet-hued respray. Empyrean née The Pit will rotate in multiplayer matchmaking and in games found via the new custom games browser.

Image: 343 Industries/Xbox Game Studios

Historically, if you’ve wanted to play online matchmaking in Halo Infinite, you’ve been limited to the maps and modes on offer in 343’s rotational playlist. The custom games browser gives players a chance to hop into game types with bespoke rulesets determined by other players. But it also opens the floodgates for matchmaking in Forge, Halo Infinite’s robust suite of creation tools.

Over the past month, creators have whipped up literal thousands of new maps, everything from a Toy Story level to a reimagining of Super Smash Bros.’ iconic Final Destination stage. But the only way to actually get into these matches is to either A) have friends who also play (extremely unlikely) or B) find a Discord full of dedicated fans (hard pass). Halo Infinite’s custom games browser should give more players the opportunity to play these inventive game modes.

Halo Infinite’s approach to cosmetics has been… divisive, to say the least. Most cosmetic options are tied to modular kits called armor cores, each of which has its own unique set of color options. The snazzier sets are typically only available to those who pick up each season’s premium pass, which retails for $10. (As a semi-apology for delaying Halo Infinite’s third season, 343 Industries made the Halo Reach-themed Mark V[B] available for free last month.)

Today’s update makes every single armor core free to every player. What’s more, all five current cores will be able to rock the basic 10-color suite of color options. These hues are by no means the most striking cosmetics Halo Infinite has on offer (see the screenshot at the top of this article), but adding options further suggests that Halo Infinite could one day let any players mix and match colors across cores.

This is alongside standard quality-of-life improvements: stuff like tweaks to mouse-and-keyboard support, alongside enhancements to the game’s notoriously finicky online connectivity. Oh, yeah, and you can mute annoying players from the scoreboard now. Take that, ArbiterSucks420!

You can read the full patch notes here.

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