It has been quite the wait, but Halo Infinite‘s development seems to be going well, despite its recent delay into the fall of 2021. First revealed during Microsoft’s E3 presentation in 2018, the highly-anticipated game is scheduled to hit shelves in the fall of this year. Although much of its contents are a mystery, there’s still quite a bit we know about Halo Infinite.
Over the past few years, 343 Industries and Microsoft have been cautious about what content is offered to the public. The curtain was pulled back slightly during July’s Xbox Games Showcase, which showed off its gameplay debut, yet most of Halo Infinite remains an enigma. Since then, we’ve gotten multiple developer updates in the form of blog posts, keeping the community in the loop. Here’s everything we know about the next installment of the popular series.
While it disappointed many Xbox fans at the time, the delay of Halo Infinite from the launch of the new consoles has only become more understandable in the months since it happened. Initially, we were in the dark about just how long this delay would last, but we at least now have the rough release window of fall 2021 to expect the Chief’s return.
On December 8, 343 Industries posted a lengthy development update on Twitter, most importantly noting that Halo Infinite has been delayed to fall 2021. As for Halo Infinite‘s development, 343 Industries has cited COVID-19 as one of the main reasons for the delay but assured the fans that the extra time will allow the team to “deliver the most ambitious Halo game ever.”
As 343 Day draws to a close, we're excited to offer a closer look at Halo Infinite development and share our updated launch window of Fall 2021.
— Halo (@Halo) December 8, 2020
Halo is the Xbox’s biggest exclusive, so obviously, it will be coming to all of their consoles from the Xbox One, Series S, and, of course, the Series X. As a first, it will also launch day and date on the PC as well. After the success of porting The Master Chief Collection to the PC and how Microsoft has embraced the PC platform as an alternative marketplace, it makes perfect sense to launch their most massive title on both platforms.
Much of what we know about Halo Infinite comes from the two trailers released by Microsoft — as well as developmental updates via 343 Industries. The first was the announcement trailer from E3 in 2018 — and although it didn’t reveal much, it did show off the new Slipspace engine.
That vague trailer was followed up with the Discover Hope trailer in 2019. This time, we watched Master Chief interact with a UNSC Marine after being rescued from orbit; then, he held a brief conversation with Cortana. There’s a lot more going on in this trailer than the one from 2018 — be sure to check it out below if you happened to miss it the first time around.
Other than these two trailers, we’ve also seen a bit of concept art from 343 Industries. While the images on their own didn’t reveal much, the accompanying blog post provided fans with some of the best Halo Infinite details to date.
In July, we got our first glimpse of gameplay that confirmed Halo Infinite will be a more open title and pits Master Chief against the Banished, enemies most well-known for their involvement in the Halo Wars games.
At the end of July, coinciding with the gameplay reveal, 343 Industries released a blog post with a slew of information about Halo Infinite, including updates about the game’s beta and what to expect from its gameplay.
Following multiple delays (which we’ll get into later on), the development team has updated the community on the game’s new release window and has provided us with more details about the art — which was heavily criticized during the reveal in July 2020.
Since then, 343 has continued to trickle out details in their blog posts, including some new screenshots and art. February’s post was all about what exploring Zeta Halo would be like. The team expressed that their goals with the campaign could be broken down into two components: Legacy and Simplicity. They want older players to feel as though they are playing something that fits in with their memories of classic Halo games while avoiding overly-complex and distracting designs that many criticized Halo 5 for suffering from.
Storyline details are scarce, but we know Master Chief is that star
Details surrounding Halo Infinite‘s narrative are still murky, but we do know one thing: Master Chief is the star of the show. Infinite will take place after the events of Guardians, and it sounds like players won’t be switching off between Chief and an auxiliary character, as they did in the last installment. In a post by Chris Lee, Studio Head at 343 Industries, he mentions that the team “heard feedback loud and clear on the amount of time spent playing as the Master Chief in Halo 5” and that they will “focus on the Master Chief and continue his saga.”
The team listed terms including Super Soldier, Story Driven, and Spiritual Reboot as concepts they kept in mind when designing this chapter in Master Chief’s saga.
Xbox tweeted a video teasing Master Chief as the central character in the game, honing in on the digits “117” branded on his armor, which refers to his other name of John-117.
Your legend makes it more than just a number. pic.twitter.com/8DUFGz3FsO
— Xbox (@Xbox) July 16, 2020
July’s gameplay reveal gave us the biggest clues yet as to Infinite‘s story. The demo opened with a date: May 28, 2560, which places it two years after Halo 5: Guardians. It mentions that this is “167 days after we lost” and is based on dialogue from the Banished’s leader toward the end of the demo that would be a loss to his troops.
The demo shows the UNSC soldier from the previous trailer, whom 343 officially refers to as the Pilot, and Master Chief crash-land on the Halo ring. The Pilot seems a little resentful at the fact that ever since he found Master Chief floating in space, he’s gotten into nothing but trouble. Master Chief promises that the pair can look for a ship to get them off the ring once he has taken out three anti-aircraft cannons.
Master Chief heads to one of the three cannons and comes across a message from the Banished’s leader. He asserts that he has control of the ring, says that he shares the same goal as “the Harbinger” of carrying out the Banished’s founder Atriox’s will, and challenges Master Chief to face-off against him.
The Banished leader is revealed in an interview to be War Chief Escharum, with speculation that the Harbinger he mentions is actually Cortana. What has happened to the rogue A.I. and the rest of the UNSC? Not even Master Chief knows, and uncovering that mystery is a journey the player and the Chief will go on together.
This will be the last entry in the series for a long time
343 Industries confirmed in an interview that they are looking for Halo Infinite to be a 10-year experience that gets updated, both technologically and with new story content, over time. The team did not confirm whether this was a live service game like Destiny 2. One of the first tech upgrades will be raytracing, which will be available soon after launch. The game will serve as a new platform and a launching-off point for new fans, which ties into the sense of discovery to what happened between Guardians and Infinite.
Graphics and presentation
A major point of controversy among Halo fans has been Halo Infinite‘s graphical style and presentation demonstrated during July’s Xbox Games Showcase. Many criticized it for its low fidelity, lack of detail, and blocky nature. A community update called Infinite Inquiries provided answers to these concerns.
The update assured fans that 343 Industries has heard the feedback, both positive and negative, of consumers. 343 defended Halo Infinite‘s presentation in its similarities to Bungie’s first three Halo titles and classic art style, though it acknowledged gamers’ complaints about the game’s visual fidelity and is “working as quickly as possible on plans to address some of the feedback around detail, clarity, and overall fidelity.” With the game’s recent delay, the team will have more time to iron out some of the concerns pertaining to Infinite’s visuals.
As part of the most recent developmental update, 343 Industries doubled down on the artistic improvements it’s striving to make. It referred to the feedback from July’s demo as “humbling” and is making it a priority to keep the visual style the series is known for while ensuring it looks next-gen. The image above is a still from one of the new multiplayer maps, and, based on fan reaction, the community seems to be pleased with the results so far.
Even Craig — the infamous enemy shown in July’s gameplay trailer whose lifeless face led him to become a meme — is getting an update. In regard to Craig’s reception, director of art management Neill Harrison sad, “Poor old Craig was never intended to be seen in that condition, which is not something that was evident during the gameplay.” Harrison added, “There’s been further work done on the material fidelity and more variety added for Brute faces; we’re also working to add some hairdos and beards, which was something we hadn’t gotten to in July. So, whilst we have come to love our dear old Craig, he’s certainly undergoing a significant makeover. ”
Previous rumors insisted Halo Infinite would only come with a campaign at launch, though the community director for 343 Industries tweeted this was untrue and that multiplayer would accompany the campaign at release.
Nothing to see here folks, this is not true.
— Brian Jarrard (@ske7ch) July 24, 2020
Much like previous Halo titles, Halo Infinite will allow for 2-player couch co-op and 4-player online cooperative play, despite worries the game would not include classic co-op. With titles such as Fortnite and Apex Legends dominating the market, it’s only natural to think that Halo Infinite might jump on the battle royale bandwagon. However, it appears that the game won’t include such a mode — at least not at launch. Frank O’Connor from 343 Industries spells it out pretty clearly when he says that there are “no plans” for a battle royale mode.
Like Fortnite and Apex Legends, Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer will be free-to-play, according to a tweet from 343 Industries’ official Twitter account, which also confirmed multiplayer will run at 120 frames per second on the Xbox Series X.
— Halo (@Halo) July 31, 2020
As for multiplayer content that the game will include, fans can expect to see split-screen play, LAN support, and the return of the beloved Forge editing tool. This is a Halo game, after all, so fans will likely hear more about the robust multiplayer offerings shortly.
The most recent dev update goes into the core pillars of the live service element of Halo Infinite, and based on that, it seems 343 is focusing on the player first. In fact, “player-first focus” is one of the aforementioned pillars, meaning the team will be taking fan feedback to heart to ensure the game is the best it can be. With that in mind, 343 will lean into player expression, allowing everyone to “create their dream Spartan.” Customization will be at the forefront with this entry, as shown by the image above.
From the look of things, Halo Infinite won’t have a typical beta. Community manager John Junyszek posted a blog late last year mentioning Flighting Programs, which will be small testing programs that work in a fashion similar to those for Halo: Master Chief Collection. Anyone interested in learning more should sign up for the Halo Insider program, where they can register for a chance to partake in the Flighting Program.
Again, the team at 343 Industries has faced challenges this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will likely impact the forthcoming beta. In July 2020, 343 shared a blog post with a section that read, “Given the unprecedented challenges of this year, we’re not quite where we expected to be in terms of broader public flighting.” The same post assured fans that more information would be coming “soon.”
Shown during July’s gameplay demo and confirmed via an interview with project leads, Halo Infinite will feature an open Halo ring for players to explore. However, it will be several hours into the campaign before they’ll have access to it. While the player will be able to explore at their leisure and even backtrack to certain areas, Infinite will not have a nonlinear story — 343 wants the narrative to continue moving forward. The game will also feature a day/night cycle and wildlife to create a more vibrant world.
Halo Infinite will also adhere to classic Halo difficulty standards, with players able to choose from the conventional Easy, Normal, Heroic, and Legendary difficulties. The game will include item pickups similar to Halo 3, according to reliable Halo insider Klobrille. “Grapple hook, thrust or classics like overshield. All this is very dynamic and might vary heavily based on playlist etc. of course. But more on all that at a later date.”
These items will be discoverable in the open world, and the grappling hook was shown in the gameplay demo to either traverse the topography or pull Master Chief toward his enemies.
Several new guns were shown off, such as a burst plasma fuel weapon of the Banished’s entitled the Ravager, with a blade on end for increased melee damage. The Mangler is a Banished pistol that is slower than the UNSC’s but deals more damage. The UNSC shotgun is being replaced by the CQS48 Bulldog, which is a 12-gauge versus the original’s 8. The VK78 Commando is a new UNSC rifle that excels at longer ranges. The classic Covenant Carbine is also getting a slight upgrade with the Pulse Carbine.
However, it isn’t clear whether the actual shooting mechanics will be more reminiscent of the recent Halo 5: Guardians or pre-343 Industries Halo iterations. Klobrille added that they weren’t sure how these might be worked into the game’s campaign, but they will vary in their implementation on multiplayer maps.
For the past few years, 343 Industries has been busy building a new engine for Halo Infinite. Lee claims that the new engine “empowers [the] creative teams to reach detail and performance no Halo has ever delivered” and that it will let them capture “intimate stories like the moments [witnessed] in Discover Hope.”
The visuals we’ve seen so far are all from this new engine and seem to be a big step forward for the Halo franchise despite being a work in progress. Players on both console and PC should be happy with the new art direction of Infinite.
Ever since Halo 2 took the series online, each mainline game in the Halo series has had some amount of DLC. This typically comes in the form of map packs, which we fully expect to see come to Infinite as well. What remains to be seen is how they will be monetized. Being sold as a platform and the focus on bringing players together, we suspect that Microsoft and 343 will not want to fracture their community of players by selling maps as DLC. Instead, we think they will probably give away maps for free and instead charge for things like cosmetic options for your Spartan and weapons.
Additional missions could also come to the campaign to expand the story as the years go on. If this game is truly meant to last a decade or more, fans won’t want to wait that long to continue the story.
One of the biggest worries of any release these days is that it will be bogged down with microtransactions and loot boxes. It seems likely that Halo Infinite will include some form of microtransactions — the specifics of which are still unclear — but it will not feature “real-money loot boxes.”
In August 2019, 343 Industries was hiring a Live Design Lead, who was responsible for delivering a “AAA player investment experience that focuses on our fans and their desire to express their passion for our franchise (including but not limited to microtransactions).” This confirms microtransactions will be in the game, but to what capacity is unknown. At the very least, we know there are no plans for random loot boxes.
We’re still eagerly awaiting an update on when exactly in the fall of 2021 Halo Infinite will drop, but you can technically pre-order the game right now since Halo Infinite will be included in the Xbox Game Pass on launch. Microsoft has been trying to heavily promote this service by pumping it full of excellent first-party games, and something as popular as Halo Infinite is sure to give the platform a massive boost. Players interested in trying the service can usually get the first month for just a dollar, meaning it could be a cheap way to get your hands on the upcoming title.
Fans who pick up Halo Infinite on Xbox One won’t have to repurchase the game when they upgrade to the Series X, as it will be a part of Microsoft’s Smart Delivery system. This means that all Xbox One copies come with an Xbox Series X version of the game at no additional cost.
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