It has been quite the wait, but Halo Infinite‘s development seems to be going well, despite its recent delay into 2021. First revealed during Microsoft’s E3 presentation in 2018, the highly anticipated game is scheduled to hit shelves sometime next year. Although much of its contents are a mystery, there’s still quite a bit we know about Halo Infinite.
Over the past two 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. Here’s everything we know about the next installment of the popular series.
The facts at a glance
Release date: 2021
Developer: 343 Industries
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC
Much of what we know about Halo Infinite comes from the two trailers released by Microsoft. 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 blogpost with a slew of information about Halo Infinite, including updates about the game’s beta, and what to expect from its gameplay.
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.”
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
Some fans believe that the destroyed ring in the trailers is Zeta, but 343 is yet to confirm these theories. Unless Halo Infinite wants to introduce a brand new ring; however, Zeta seems like a pretty good bet. Others believe Cortana might take on the role of villain, which, after the events of Guardians, could be a real possibility.
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 V Guardians. It mentions that this is “167 days after we lost,” and 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 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.
Multiplayer will be free-to-play and won’t include a battle royale mode (at least at launch)
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 120fps 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.
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 items, 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 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.
No multiplayer details were shown off during the demo, but it seems classic modes, as well as LAN multiplayer, will return. 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 they weren’t sure how these might be worked into the game’s campaign, but they will vary in their implementation on multiplayer maps.
Xbox Game Pass and Microsoft Smart Delivery
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.
Better yet, Halo Infinite will be included in the Xbox Game Pass. 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.
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, but we’ve yet to see actual gameplay of Halo Infinite in action. Regardless, the visuals seem to be a big step forward for the Halo franchise. Players on both console and PC should be happy with the new art direction of Infinite.
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.
It has been delayed to 2021
On August 11, 343 Industries posted a lengthy development update on Twitter, most importantly noting that Halo Infinite has been delayed to sometime in 2021. This means it will not launch alongside the Xbox Series X, as intended. We know the Series X is now set to release in November 2020, but the system’s launch lineup is unknown. As for Halo Infinite‘s delay, 343 Industries cites COVID-19 as the main reason for the delay, but assured the fans that the extra time will allow the team to “deliver the most ambitious Halo game ever.”
Halo Infinite Development Update pic.twitter.com/TFZvXhRN9f
— Halo (@Halo) August 11, 2020
What’s going on with the beta?
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.”
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