343 Industries has finally released the Halo Combat Evolved Mark V armor for Halo Infinite, delighting fans of the series who want to get stuck in to multiplayer drenched in nostalgia — but it’s already sparked a vociferous debate about microtransaction cost.
Infinite’s Mjolnir Mark V kit is a recreation of Master Chief’s iconic armor from Bungie’s seminal 2001 Xbox shooter Halo Combat Evolved. It arrives exclusively within a bundle priced 2,200 Credits, or $19.99 / £15.99. As well as the Mark V kit, the bundle includes the Viridescent Ring armor coating, the Cinder Ring armor coating, and the Aurum Evolved visor.
It’s fair to say the Mark V armor is the most-wanted cosmetic among Infinite players, and it seems to be selling well, too. Halo Infinite, whose multiplayer is free-to-download, jumped 41 places on Steam’s top-selling games by revenue chart, a rise no doubt boosted significantly by sales of the Mark V armor.
But some Halo fans are lamenting its cost, which makes it pricier than many full-price games — including Halo Combat Evolved itself. Much of the current sentiment is made up of players who grow frustrated at the cost of cosmetic items in video games these days. 2023 has seen a number of microtransactions controversies from the likes of EA Sports FC 24, Diablo 4, Overwatch 2, and plenty more. Call of Duty and Fortnite and other live service games sell expensive skins, and Halo Infinite’s latest is but another.
“Ya know it used to be $10 for a bundle of maps,” said Imareallyneato in a thread on Reddit. “How we have gotten to this point is both depressing and unsettling.”
“Damn — I want this so bad. I can easily afford it. But the idea of supporting a skin that costs 1/3 the price of a game is insane,” added Owain660. “Remember when Infinite first came out and we thought $10 skins were expensive?” asked Logondo. “We’re moving backwards.”
In truth, Halo Infinite has sold iconic armor sets for $20 a pop for some time now. Two years ago it sold old Halo Reach armor for $20. So 343’s pricing, however upsetting, has remained consistent.
Halo Infinite has enjoyed a modest resurgence of late and Season 5 is generally well-received despite the monetization controversies. Earlier this month the studio moved to explain a recent microtransactions price hike following a community backlash.
Halo Infinite dropped off hard following launch as disgruntled players ditched the game for its poor progression systems, monetisation, and missing modes. 343 also made a number of controversial decisions, including scrapping split-screen multiplayer. Forge mode itself only arrived a year after launch alongside online campaign co-op. 343 appears to have left Halo Infinite’s campaign behind, too. In June, the developer announced it had scrapped Halo Infinite’s story-driven seasonal cutscenes, news that came after significant lay-offs at the studio.
“As we’ve refined our top priorities and shifted resources internally this year, we had to make the decision to forego seasonal narrative cutscenes to make room for the team to continue focusing on highly requested features, content, and improvements for Halo Infinite,” 343 said at the time.
The mention of “shifted resources” might have referred to the lay-offs that affected it earlier this year and saw Halo Infinite director Joseph Staten leave the developer. 343 was forced to clarify that “Halo and Master Chief are here to stay” following the lay-offs, saying it “will continue to develop Halo now and in the future, including epic stories, multiplayer, and more of what makes Halo great”.
The developer is reportedly working on a new Halo project, codenamed Tatanka, built on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine rather than the in-house Slipspace engine.