If you thought we could coast by to the new year without any Halo Infinite drama, you must be new here. The weekly reset brought a new collection of cosmetic items to spend your Christmas gift cards on, and as has become a Halo Infinite tradition, players are pissed. Last week, the Cat Lovers bundle ruffled everyone’s feathers. This week, the Mister Chief bundle is making everyone foam at the mouth. While the cat ear discourse was clearly fueled by the same tasteless chuds that think women shouldn’t be allowed to play Halo, I have to admit that there is something a bit off about the $20 bundle of Mister Chief cosmetics – a character the symbolizes loot boxes and predatory microtransactions. I’m kind of on your side this time, gamers. Don’t get too excited.
Mister Chief is a kitschy, hand-drawn version of Master Chief who was introduced in a Halo 5 trailer, though the character appeared in weekly updates as well during the development of Halo 2 and 3. Voiced by Parks & Rec’s Nick Offerman, Mister Chief’s job was to explain the REQ system, Halo 5’s much-maligned loot box economy. The REQ system was a way to earn (and buy) not just cosmetics, but also weapons and vehicles to use in Warzones – Halo 5’s version of Big Team Battles. Players would open REQ packs full of REQ cards then increase their REQ level and spend REQ energy at REQ stations. The system was an absolute nightmare, and the way it was explained by Mister Chief didn’t help either.
As Mister Chief explained this convoluted loot box system – a process that takes a full five minutes – another character would periodically come in and voice obvious concerns. This nasally, annoying character who ostensibly represents the player would ask questions about the pay-to-win quality of the REQ system and whether the system could be exploited to give players an unfair advantage. Valid concerns, if you ask me. In response, Mister Chief mocked them and ran them over with a ghost.
Of course, history has not been kind to Mister Chief. You’d think someone would have realized that the system is bad if the only way to combat dissent is to personify valid criticism as a snively little weirdo, but apparently not. Loot boxes have gone out of style since 2015 – largely because they’re illegal in a bunch of countries – and the REQ system doesn’t exist in Halo Infinite.
Which brings us to this week’s cosmetic bundle, which includes seven Mister Chief items: an AI model, an AI color, a charm, a nameplate, a vehicle emblem, an armor emblem, and a weapon emblem. Those last for are all the same emblem, but Halo Infinite categorizes every place you can put an emblem as a different cosmetic. This is four items technically, and one of them is just the color green for your AI. The bundle costs $20, and people are big mad.
There’s a lot of comparing happening between the price of the Mister Chief bundle and the price of cosmetics in previous games, but I find that to be a pointless exercise. It’s a different game with a different model in a different time. You can’t compare the price of items in one game to items in another. I mean, you can, but there’s really no point.
I don’t even think $20 is obscene for a seven item bundle, regardless of the variety. You people don’t know the pain of being a Pokemon Unite player, where a Santa hat for Pikachu will set you back $40. You don’t even get to hear Nolan North voice lines.
My real problem with the bundle is with the character itself. Mister Chief is a relic of an era where it was cool for a game to mock and cajole its own players – over loot boxes, no less. 343 Industries should be ashamed of the REQ system. It should want to bury Mister Chief in an unmarked grave and never speak of him again. Instead, 343 is selling a $20 bundle to players that are already sensitive about the price of cosmetics in Halo Infinite. It feels deliberately antagonistic to me, and I can’t blame people for being upset about this one. Cat ears good, Mister Chief bad. I’ll see you next week.
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