Christmas has come early to Zeta Halo as the winter update gets a makeover. New content arrives just in time for a festive free game that makes it easier than ever to play custom maps, modes, and pitches in the latest variant of The Pit.

Halo Infinite is the sixth installment of 343 Industries' sci-fi fantasy. The first part of the winter update added a co-op option (opens in a new tab) to the main campaign, and we didn't expect the next update to arrive later in 2023, when the third season will drop.

However, the December update has a lot more in store for us; Not only can we now easily see custom maps and modes in the custom games browser, but the new Empyrean PvP mode sees the return of a much-loved mode last seen in the third and fourth Halo games.

It's a true testament to the malleability of Halo's multiplayer modes, showing how vital it is to the continued success of the series.

forged in glory

With the arrival of the Forge in the Winter update, we finally received the tools to create our own maps and modes in Halo Infinite.

The Halo community has done this in spades, creating hundreds of custom games to play. So many, in fact, that it can be hard to find the best of them. That's what makes this Custom Game Browser such a quality of life feature: it's finally easy to find the types of maps and modes you want to play.

"We totally agree with the players who felt that the custom game browser should be a priority - it's a key support structure for what players create in Forge and a pillar for the community," said Alex Wakeford, writer for the 343 Industries community, in the patch notes (opens in a new tab). “The team has been working hard to get this feature much earlier, but that comes with the caveat that this is a V1. So it's probably going to have some rough edges to it, but we felt it was more important to get this into the hands of players as soon as possible.

Infinite halo

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

The December update also brings the new Empyrean PvP mode, a recreation of The Pit from Halo 3, which the team last played on a similar map in Halo 4.

Here, players will be matched up with other players through the multiplayer matchmaking menu before dropping into the indoor arena where a single team can reign victorious. You will have to run for powerful weapons like the Rocket Launcher, or run for high-opportunity positions by reaching the sniper turrets before your enemies.

These familiar features will be tempered by Halo Infinite's own chaos. As the blog post asks, "How do Halo Infinite toys, like your limited-use gear, alter some of these [established] dynamics and affect how you cross the fight dance floor?"

This new update also gives you plenty of free cosmetics, with all currently available armor cores and ten cadet skins unlocked for everyone.

By making it easier than ever to access custom maps and battle in Empyrean, the Halo Infinite team clearly knows how to play to the strengths of the series. Halo's customizable multiplayer sandbox elements have always been a key part of what makes it special, and this update really lets those elements shine more than ever.

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