Xbox fans got their first look at Halo Infinite gameplay Thursday during Microsoft's Xbox Games Showcase. Master Chief's triumphant return on the Xbox Series X still hasn't received a release date, but Microsoft unveiled one major reason why the next installment of the sci-fi shooter needs to be open-world.
Master Chief will once again have access to his most iconic weapons, like the classic MA5C AR, but developer 343 Industries has given the super-soldier's armor a grappling hook attachment. Master Chief can now rappel up cliffs, grab objects like Spider-Man, and grapple punch enemies like in Doom.
This gives the protagonist an all-new set of tools to effortlessly traverse Halo Infinite's alien landscapes to find hidden caches for supplies or secret Covenant hideouts. Turning the Xbox Series X launch title into an open-world shooter could be the difference between making Master Chief's a defining game feature instead of just a cool detail gamers use occasionally.
Halo Infinite studio head Chris Lee hinted that the title could in fact be let players roam around a type of sandbox-adventure map. But 343 industries has not outrightly confirmed or labeled Halo Infinite as open-world yet.
“This is the most ambitious campaign we’ve ever created at 343," he said in a pre-recorded message. "For the first time, players will have the freedom to explore a mysterious new Halo ring that’s several times larger than our last two Halo games combined.”
A sneak peek at Halo Infinite's expansive vistas and map served as additional evidence that 343 Industries is leaning towards an open-world approach.
Master Chief will have access to a topographical map of the areas he explores. In the demo, there were five different points of interest that were highlighted on the map that appeared to be different missions or vantage points that Master Chief needs to gain control of.
A layout like this suggests that players can explore Halo Infinite's world as they see feet while choosing what objectives they want to accomplish first. There was also yellow quest marker on the map, which hints at the possibility of optional side-quests that could add more color to the game's new world but aren't necessary to advance to a new section of the game.
Each objective also appears to have a difficulty setting attached to it. That could be a tease that gamers can later return to replay quests for better loot and rewards, another design choice used by open-world RPGs.
The Halo franchise is nearly two decades old, which gives 343 Industries ample room to turn its lore into a living and breathing sandbox that players can swing and parkour across using Master Chief's new grappling hook. Giving players more creative control over how the narrative unfolds in a series that's traditionally railroaded through missions feels like an interesting evolution for the series. We can't wait to see how it pans out in the final version of the game.
Halo Infinite will be released later this year alongside the Xbox Series X.