Xbox loves to embrace a meme. When Halo Infinite’s cinematic, immense, and stunning campaign is released in early December, gamers will have an ugly Brute named Craig to thank for its most interesting Easter eggs. The low-poly alien became an inglorious internet icon in July 2020 after mediocre Halo Infinite graphics were shown during an Xbox Games Showcase. The ensuing backlash prompted a year-long delay of the game. But now, ahead of Halo Infinite’s release, its developers have revealed that Craig’s role in gaming history will be forever memorialized.
Associate Creative Director Paul Crocker says Craig’s story reflects a certain open-mindedness with the game’s development.
“We had the situation a year ago when we showed the game for the first time and got some stink for it,” Crocker tells Inverse. “But one thing that came out of that was Craig.”
In the original gameplay reveal, Master Chief shoots the helmet off of a random Brute, revealing Craig’s unappealing Neanderthal face. The world collectively cringed, but everyone also fell in love. Developers listened. Then they made Craig — and Halo Infinite at large — so much better.
When the Halo Infinite multiplayer launched earlier this week, gamers were dismayed by a grindy battle pass. Within days, developers made some improvements and promise many more to come. Craig might as well be a mascot for the development team’s approach to feedback: communicate, be transparent, and work hard to change things for the better.
When asked specifically about his favorite piece of Halo Infinite lore, Crocker confirmed that the game has plenty of Craig references for the Brute’s devoted fans. Rather than shy away from these missteps, the team has instead decided to lean in and maintain an open dialogue with fans.
“It's one of those things that we've tried to embrace respectfully for the people on the team, because a lot of this stuff was bugs we hadn’t fixed,” Crocker says. “Because it became this internet meme, there is stuff about Craig to find in the game as well. That's just a way in which we're trying to embrace some of our more public missteps and take it into a new place to create some lore around it.”
In an October 2021 blog post, Character and Combat Director Steve Dyck discussed the team’s “love-hate” relationship with Craig and how the role he played ultimately made for a better final product. He also offered an early hint that Craig’s role in the game got beefed up.
“While it was fun to see the community gravitate towards Craig, he unfortunately represented some content and systems that were not ready for prime time in that demo,” Dyck said. “The positive outcome of Craig was that he was one of the factors in gaining some more time to finish work and get Brutes to a place where the team is happy with them. This is one of the many positive examples of 343 working with and aligning with the Halo community around expectations. Players who look hard enough will still be able to find some evidence of Craig in Halo Infinite, his spirit lives on!”
Because that original Craig rendering was so ugly, the team wound up getting a lot more time to refine how Brutes appear in the game.
Skip ahead to around the 2:50 mark to hear some delicious Craig hints.
A then-and-now comparison video of the Halo Infinite campaign published by Game Informer on November 17 also reveals that despite the glow-up, Craig has been “banished” from the story. And yet, “eagle-eyed explorers Zeta Halo may well find some of his legacy left behind."
What will that actually look like? In our wildest dreams, Craig’s voice appears as a collection of voice recordings across Zeta Halo. Perhaps the Banished’s Minister of Propaganda proclaims Craig’s handsomeness and acumen in battle on one of his radio broadcasts. One thing’s for sure, we can’t wait to find out more about these mysterious Easter eggs. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll eventually get some Craig DLC.
The Halo Infinite campaign will be released on Xbox and PC on December 8, 2021.