Halo Infinite is an upcoming first-person shooter game developed by 343 Industries and published by Xbox Game Studios for Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and Series S. The sixth main entry of the Halo series, and the fourteenth game overall, it continues the story of the Master Chief as the third chapter of the “Reclaimer Saga”, following Halo 5: Guardians (2015). Originally intended to launch alongside the release of the Xbox Series X/S, it was delayed in August 2020, and is planned for release in 2021.

Synopsis

According to Microsoft, Master Chief returns in Halo Infinite with “his greatest adventure yet to save humanity”. The storyline of Halo Infinite will be “much more human”, with the Master Chief playing a more central role than in Halo 5: Guardians. The E3 2018 trailer indicated that the story will be set on a Halo ring that has mysteriously suffered damage and also showcased the design of Master Chief’s MJOLNIR armor to return to the design seen in Halo 2 and Halo 3. The Banished, a violent mercenary group that splintered off of the former Covenant alien alliance, are shown to be enemies.

Development

Halo Infinite is being developed by 343 Industries with assistance from Skybox Labs, Sperasoft and Certain Affinity. It will utilize the new Slipspace Engine. The story entered planning stages in 2015. An announcement trailer was released on June 10, 2018. The developer said that all of the scenes in the Halo Infinite trailer were running in the engine. Halo Infinite will feature split-screen again, in response to the backlash of its removal in the previous game. It was also planned to have a beta prior to its release, described as an insider flight program.

Although initially implicated to be exclusive to the Xbox Series X, development director Frank O’Connor stated in August 2019 that Infinite was being developed for Xbox One. He said they were “building it so it plays and looks fantastic” on the platform, would have enhancements when played on Xbox Series X. In January 2020, Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty confirmed that the studio had no immediate plans for Xbox Series X exclusives at launch, preferring to phase out compatibility with older hardware over a longer period, similar to PCs. Development was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing developers to work from home.

After the Xbox Games Showcase on July 23, 2020, 343 Studio Head Chris Lee stated that a public beta is unlikely due to the impact of the ongoing pandemic, despite Microsoft stating at E3 2018 that there would be a public beta ahead of launch.

On July 31, 2020, it was announced that the game’s multiplayer portion would be released as a free-to-play game.

On August 11, 2020, it was announced that the game has been delayed until 2021 due to a range of factors, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affecting development. Microsoft initially planned to split the game into several parts but ultimately decided against it. It was reported that 343 Industries heavily outsourced the game to external developers, resulting in development troubles, and was a contributing factor to the delay. Speaking to IGN, a spokesperson for 343 Industries denied that the Halo TV show had an impact on Halo Infinite’s development, but IGN state that “the spokesperson did not speak to the report’s claim that “a significant portion of the game is being outsourced to third-party contractors.”

On August 27, 2020, after Jason Schreier of Bloomberg News initially broke the story, 343 Industries announced that Joseph Staten, the former lead writer and cinematic director of the Halo series at Bungie, joined the team as Campaign Project Lead for Halo Infinite.

Music

Infinite‘s music is a collaboration between Gareth Coker, Curtis Schweitzer, and Joel Corelitz.

Marketing

On May 7, 2020, as a substitute for the cancelled E3 2020, Microsoft announced it would reveal the first gameplay footage of Halo Infinite via livestream to the public on July 23, 2020, among other games from its first-party studios for Xbox. On June 24, 2020, the official Halo YouTube channel premiered a short video titled “SIGNAL DETECTED. TAG DESIGNATION: FOE”, which featured an audio clip of an anonymous character who represents the Banished, a faction introduced in Halo Wars 2. This was later confirmed to be a teaser for Infinite.

Among the merchandising tie-ins for the game is a partnership with Monster Energy Drink. Participants can earn a variety of in-game weapon skins, player nameplates and weapon emblems. There are also several augmented reality experiences through Snapchat as part of the promotion. Coinciding with Infinite‘s gameplay reveal was a trailer, “Step Inside”, produced by 215 McCann. The spot, showing Master Chief’s armor being made, was the kickoff to a wider campaign, “Become.”

Reception

Following the gameplay reveal for Halo Infinite on July 23, 2020, publications and audiences expressed disappointment towards the standard of the game’s graphics and performance. Eurogamer wrote that “Halo Infinite looks like the fake plastic trees version of Halo, like a video game designed with Mega Bloks in mind. It pops in all the wrong places. […] It doesn’t feel grounded. It doesn’t feel like it has depth. It feels, well, surface level, smooth and uninteresting.” Aaron Greenberg, general manager of Xbox marketing, responded to concerns in an interview with Inside Gaming, saying “Listen, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s July, we’re far from [launch in] Holiday, you’re seeing a work-in-progress game.”

He further stated that the final version of the game would be a “visual showcase.” 343 Industries later outlined that the game would receive a free ray tracing update post-launch. 343 Industries narrative experience director Dan Chosich tweeted, “I want you to know your voice matters + is heard […] I always want to live up to the legacy that Bungie pioneered. I personally care a lot about honoring that.” A screenshot of the gameplay showing one of the enemy Brutes with a deadpan expression, given the moniker “Craig” by internet commenters, became an internet meme, with 343 Industries’ community director embracing it.

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