Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer is going to be free-to-play, and while that’s a big deal for everyone, it might just matter the most to PC players. We love our free games, and a free Halo game sounds like a perfect new time sink.
But one of the most crucial parts of free-to-play games is the ability to run something on a potato rig. Games live and die by their player bases, and the easiest way to expand a game’s audience on PC is to make it run easily on old hardware, regardless of how bad things can end up looking. Fortnite being able to work on aged computers and laptops at extremely low settings is just one example of how that practice is put into play by developers.
However, Halo Infinite developer 343 Industries needs to put in some work in that regard. Halo Infinite, as it is now, isn’t just a computer-taxing title, it’s terribly unoptimized. I speak from experience, having played the game’s latest multiplayer test and experienced its subpar performance firsthand.
During my time playing Halo Infinite, I ran into two main problems, both of which seemingly stem from optimization issues. The first was the game’s inability to hit and maintain a constant 60 fps anywhere in the game, including its menus. My computer, equipped with 16GB of memory, an RX 5700, and a Ryzen 5 3600 easily runs most modern games (at least at medium settings) at 1080p, 60 fps.
However, Halo Infinite set to medium put my rig to the test. Temperatures ran high, and my framerate never hit 60, staying in the mid-50s. While that’s not a huge issue (50-55 fps isn’t anything to cry over), the game’s second issue made enjoying its moment-to-moment gameplay a difficulty. Much like Resident Evil Village earlier this year, Halo Infinite has an issue with stuttering caused by spikes in frame time.
For those who don’t know what frame time is, here’s a quick explainer. Whereas frames per second refers to how many pictures of your game show up on screen every second, frame time measures how long each picture is on your screen, down to the millisecond. Ideally, frame time will stay solid, ensuring that no single frame stays on your screen for too long, which would cause the stuttering that was common in RE: Village. Instead, Halo Infinite‘s frame time constantly spikes. Without the right testing software, I can’t say how large or frequent the spikes are, but they happened enough to be noticeable in every PvP match I played.
If those issues were happening constantly for me, I can’t help but think of the PC players trying the game out with weaker hardware, which a majority of people using Steam have when compared to my PC. The most common graphics card Steam users have, for instance, is still Nvidia’s GTX 1060. First released in 2016, that card can be found in just over 10% off all Steam user’s computers. It’s also significantly weaker than my middling RX 5700.
I can’t very well render judgment on Halo Infinite‘s PC performance, at least not yet. The version of the game I played was a technical preview, essentially a beta. With just under three months left until Halo Infinite‘s full release, 343 Industries has all the time — and presumably, all the resources — it needs to make Microsoft’s flagship title run well on any machine. And as a free-to-play game, it pretty much has to if it wants to succeed.