It has been quite the wait, but Halo Infinite‘s development seems to be going well, despite its recent delay. First revealed during Microsoft’s E3 presentation in 2018 and once again in 2021, the highly anticipated game is now scheduled to hit shelves in the fall of 2021. 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, but the best look we’ve gotten of the final product came during their 2021 E3 presentation. Here’s everything we know about the next installment of the popular series.
Halo Infinite will launch on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on December 8.
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 three 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.
343 has trickled 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.
The latest story trailer came during E3 2021 where we got a much more expansive, and better-looking, glimpse at Halo Infinite. As the devs state, this game will spotlight the Chief, but also emphasizes the relationship he will have with the pilot and a new artificially intelligent companion. Cortana’s voice still haunts the Chief as he navigates a zero-gravity space, where he encounters a new A.I., made to imitate Cortana, that informs him she “has been deleted.” The mystery then becomes who actually deleted her, and why this A.I. wasn’t deleted if Cortana actually is gone.
In what will likely be the final look at the game before release, we finally saw the campaign for the first time since its initial reveal. This new trailer serves partly as a recap, briefly explaining the key players and events of prior games to Halo Infinite, as well as what the main plot will be.
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 like in almost every Halo storyline. 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.
The last Halo Infinite campaign overview trailer goes into more depth. The Banished have full control over Zeta Halo, the ring we’ll be playing on. It is spelled out that Chief’s first, or one of his first, missions will be to find this new AI called “The Weapon”, who explains her purpose is to contain Cortana, while attempting to uncover the mystery surrounding Cortana’s fate after the previous game.
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 about 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. Regarding Craig’s reception, director of art management Neill Harrison said, “Poor old Craig was never intended to be seen in that condition, which was not 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 two-player couch co-op and four-player online cooperative play, despite worries the game would not include classic co-op. However, we won’t be able to play with friends at launch. In a development update, the game’s creative head announced that campaign co-op will not be included with the game’s initial launch. Further adding to the disappointment, forge will also not be ready until sometime later as well, as Joseph Staten explained:
“Unfortunately, as we focused the team for shutdown and really focused on a quality experience for launch, we made the really tough decision to delay shipping campaign co-op for launch. And we also made the tough call to delay shipping forge past launch as well,” said Staten. “When we looked at these two experiences — campaign co-op and forge — we made the determination, they’re just not ready.”
Both of these modes will eventually be added to the Halo Infinite experience, with co-op estimated to come somewhere around three months after launch, and forge six months later.
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. This was further confirmed at Xbox’s E3 presentation.
— 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 that 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.
The trailer shows off a ton of features, including weapons, vehicles, equipment, maps, game modes, and a cheeky new A.I. announcer. The trailer does the best job of conveying what to expect, but everything shown off seems to be fast, frenetic, skill-based, and, most importantly, fun. We know that at least two game modes will be coming back, oddball and capture the flag, as well as what appears to be the Valhalla map from Halo 3. New gear, aside from the grappling hook, which looks insane, includes a Threat Sensor that will highlight enemies in its range, the Repulsor that deflects incoming projectiles, and a Drop Wall that works like a deployable cover.
343 dropped with almost no warning, the first beta for Halo Infinite in the form of the previously mentioned Flighting Program. This weekend-long test, which was only for a select few players who were invited, gave players a small taste of what the new multiplayer experience will be like. The main mode of the Flight was undoubtedly the classic 4v4 slayer, but it wasn’t quite what we all would want. Rather than traditional matches, players were pitted against teams of bots of various difficulties. For such an early test, 343 made it clear they wanted to focus this first Flight on gameplay against bots, the menu, and UI, including the battle pass and the Waypoint experiences on mobile.
While very short, the general consensus among those who managed to get invited is that all the guns and maps feel fantastic. Movement and traversal are said to be silky smooth, and the weapons all feel strong and, while hard to get a true gauge against bots, balanced. There’s some back and forth regarding the new equipment and its functionality, but the true test will be when the game is open to the general public and everything is tested against human opponents.
There were only three maps shown off so far as well, so plenty more is still to come, including true PvP and big team battle. Hopefully, more maps and modes will show up as well in promised future Flighting Programs.
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.
Banished forces will set up different outposts across the ring that you can attack and take over, or destroy depending on the objective, as well as rescue stranded UNSC soldiers. Some bases also appear to have boss-type Brutes with unique names and health bars. You can find these, as well as other points of interest, on the new Tacmap. Here you can even set waypoints and view any collectibles yet to be found in that area.
There will also be an upgrade system for the first time. Chief has five different abilities shown he can enhance that we’ve seen before: Grappleshot, Shield Core, Threat Sensor, Drop Wall, and Thruster. These upgrades will cost a currency called Spartan Cores. The one we saw get upgraded was the Afterburner upgrade to the Thruster, which allows Chief to hold a second thrust charge, but there appear to be three upgrades per category.
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 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.
To help explore the map, you will be able to summon vehicles from bases, including classics like the mongoose, and new ones like a flying craft called a wasp.
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 holiday period of 2021 Halo Infinite will drop, but you can pre-order the game right now since Halo Infinite will be included in the Xbox Game Pass on launch, or get the disc or digital pre-order. 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.
If you want to reserve your copy of the campaign, you can pre-order your copy here.
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