I’ll be honest, I thought my life playing FPS games online was over. Not because I don’t love them, but because they stopped loving me back. I’d flirt with a new tease every now and then, each time realizing within days that I just didn’t have it any more. I’d die a bunch of times, never get to experience that fun kill streak I waited for. Even worse I’d get eliminated immediately in Rainbow Six: Siege and have a 13-year-old swear at me. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
Then Halo: Infinite came along, and taught me how to love again.
Halo: Infinite fully released Wednesday after several weeks of Microsoft making the free-to-play multiplayer available. As excited as I am to dive into the new campaign, I just can’t stop playing Slayer and Big Team Battle. The game being free to play means anyone can dive in, and everyone can catch these hands.
I can’t really tell you why the magic is back. Why this specific Halo is the one to bring me back in the fold. I can tell you that the endless, “one more round” joy comes from absolutely obliterating these kids. Years of pent up frustration at players “ROBLOXFAN69” and “TorturedSoul_420” glow at the tip of my charged plasma pistol as I drop them with the classic pistol-battle rifle combo known by all old school Halo players. While these kids are desperately trying to shoot me at close range, because they don’t know the Halo power of the melee, I’m dropping them with my rifle butt.
Sure, they might be used to bunny hopping around because of Fortnite, but I know all the choke points in “Blood Gulch,” which has been reimagined as the map “Fragmentation,” but the same principles apply. Now I am the one who makes them cry. I am the harbinger of death. I get to experience the joy of cackling maniacally as I become the Master Chief.
There are so few moments in life that make you feel younger. When I boot up Halo: Infinite the world melts away. Remembering to pay the mortgage, ensuring the laundry is done, thinking of what I’m making for dinner tomorrow, is my daughter’s homework done? It all disappears. I’m back to my primary college concerns: Do we have ramen? Is the beer fridge stocked?
That kind of escape is priceless in your mid-thirties. The amount of time I have to game has largely evaporated, but it’s so wonderful to boot up Halo: Infinite, hear that music, and realize my muscle memory hasn’t escaped me.
The world of gaming is the most pronounced “old man” I’ve felt in my life. Kids have no idea how we used to have it. They get to play online with anyone in an instant, we had to run ethernet cables all over our two bedroom apartment to support three TVs playing Halo over LAN. We yelled, with our voices, between floors, to communicate our trash.
All of this prepared me. Readied me for now. These kids don’t stand a chance. The children are our future, but I am their present. Sorry kids, ya boy is back. Thank you Halo: Infinite for teaching me the joy of shooters again.