Halo Infinite has received a new release date window. The momentous return of Master Chief was supposed to be a triumphant start to the Xbox Series X/S consoles’ new life cycle. But there were issues at launch.
Halo Infinite was supposed to release on November 10, the same day Microsoft dropped its new consoles. But developer 343 Industries decided to push back the title’s launch to 2021 following its first gameplay reveal on July 23, 2020 that was poorly received by fans. Gamers were underwhelmed by Halo Infinite’s graphics that were severely lacking compared to other next-generation shooters that have recently debuted, like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
To top it off, there have been several managerial shakeups at the Microsoft-owned game studio that cast a shadow of doubt around the icon franchise’s comeback. But now fans have some clarity.
Halo Infinite has been five years in the making. 343 has set out to breathe new life into the iconic Xbox franchise that many fans complained has been watered down since the 2015 release of Halo 5: Guardians. The studio has some big shoes to fill and it has seemingly been fighting an uphill battle since the early days of development.
Studio head Bonnie Ross told IGN that Infinite will be a “spiritual reboot” of the sci-fi shooter. The July 23, 2020 showcase confirmed the game will revolve around the return of Atriox and the Banished as the game’s primary antagonists.
But creative director Tim Longo parted ways with the company in August 2019 after more than six years with 343 right at the height of Halo Infinite’s development cycle. There’s always been a tinge of concern surrounding the title, but now it’s become more palpable than ever.
There’s a lot riding on the upcoming release, but there are still a plethora of unknowns around its release. Here’s everything we know about Halo Infinite.
When is the Halo Infinite release date?
343 Industries announced on December 9 that Halo Infinite will be released in fall 2021 almost a year after its originally scheduled release date. In the same breathe, Halo writer Joseph Staten reiterated the team's devoted effort to address the criticisms that gamers had with its gameplay reveal.
"That’s when the game is coming out," he writes. "And from now until then, every one of us at 343 Industries and our great partner teams will be building, testing, and polishing an experience we hope all of you love."
How 343 is addressing the Halo Infinite graphics controversy
Many fans that thought the graphics that were showcased during the Halo Infinite clip looked dated compared to some of the AAA titles, like The Last of Us Part II. This sparked a social media outcry and led 343 Industries to explain their choice of game aesthetic. This negative fan reaction also likely had a lot to do with the dev team's , to delay the game until fall 2021 on August 11.
343 Industries provided an updated on the graphical changes it is in the processing of making to Halo Infinite in the same post it revealed the game's new release window:
"Much of the feedback we heard from the community aligned with our own views and work we were already committed to doing around things like indirect lighting, material response, foliage and tree rendering, clouds, level-of-detail transitions, and character fidelity. Still, the feedback was humbling, and it also pushed us to look at additional opportunities for improvement."
So the final version of the game could look totally different.
Could there be another shakeup at 343?
There has been talk that 343 might undergo another change in staff following Longo's departure in 2018. This information comes from Thurrot reporter and trusted Microsoft insider Brad Sams who tweeted on October 25, 2020 that there have been "whispers" about changes coming to the studio. He didn't say these would directly affect Halo Infinite, but the upcoming release is the company's biggest undertaking at the moment.
"Whispers of more changes at 343 are circulating - not saying anything else for now but maybe it becomes public eventually," wrote Sams. "The chatter is not game-related to be clear."
Is there a Halo Infinite trailer?
The second was released during E3 2019 to give fans a bit more context around its plot and it revealed its holiday 2020 release date window:
Finally, this latest story teaser was tweeted by the Halo series' Twitter account on June 24.
What will Halo Infinite's gameplay be like?
Microsoft showed the world eight minutes of Halo Infinite gameplay during its July 23 Xbox Game Studio showcase. The snippet of game footage teased all-new tools, the return of classic weapons, and the most expansive Halo game of all-time. Watch the clip below:
The biggest take away was that Master Chief now has a grappling hook attachment on his power armor, giving him all-new movement and traversal options as well as offensive and defensive capabilities in the middle of a firefight.
Microsoft also updated the running list of weapons that will be available in Halo Infinite. All of the following guns will be available in-game upon release:
- Plasma Pistol
- MK50 Sidekick
- VK78 Commando
- Pulse Carbine
- CQS48 Bulldog
How will the Halo Infinite multiplayer be like?
The Halo franchise redefined what it was like to play first-person shooters online and Microsoft is making an unprecedented move for the franchise.
The company announced that Halo Infinite's multiplayer will be free-to-play and it will support 120 frames-per-second. This means Halo Infinite's single-player campaign will be completely optional, much like how Activision made Call of Duty: Warzone free-to-play earlier in 2020.
Halo Infinite could also have another thing in common with Warzone come launch day.
How will Halo Infinite microtransactions work?
Halo Infinite will have a microtransaction system, like many modern titles that use the games-as-a-service model. Lee revealed in a tweet that the game won't include any "real-money loot boxes," like Electronic Arts' sport game franchises. Now, Halo Community Manager John Junyszek has shed more light on Halo Infinite's microtransaction system in an October 22 blog post.
The title will include a shop for "coatings," which players can buy or earn to customize Master Chief, weapons, and vehicles. Junyszek assured fans these cosmetics won't only be available for players with deep pockets.
"There will be all kinds customization items (including coatings) that can be earned in-game and earned as special rewards," he said. "Will there be purchases? Sure. Is that the only way? Absolutely not."
Halo Infinite could have a battle royale mode
The game mode drew mixed reactions from long-time fans who didn't like to see their favorite franchise copy FPS trends. While other gamers thought a battle royale set in Halo Infinite's new sandbox world could be incredibly fun to explore and fight through with friends.
It's unclear how or if 343 Industries will put their own spin on the game mode at the moment, but expect the company to reveal more as the 2020 holidays approach.
What will the Halo Infinite box art look like?
Microsoft revealed Halo Infinite's box art on July 22, which featured Master Chief front and center. Here's an animated version of the cover art:
What consoles will Halo Infinite be available on?
Halo Infinite was announced to be released on the Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and Windows 10. To sweeten the deal for Xbox users, Microsoft announced that Halo Infinite will be available on Xbox Game Pass on the day it’s released.
"In addition to games from across four generations of consoles, our leading game subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, will continue to have our first-party games, like Halo Infinite, included at their launch," wrote Xbox chief Phil Spencer in a February 24 release. It’s still unclear if that means the game will also be playable on the Game Pass’s PC library, or if it will be exclusively for Xbox One players.
Will Xbox One users need to repurchase Halo Infinite for the Series X?
If you purchase Halo Infinite for the Xbox One, you will be able to play it on the Xbox Series X at no additional cost, thanks to the console’s “Smart Delivery” feature. This lets gamers purchase certain games once on old hardware but still have access to fully optimized versions of them on the improved Series X hardware.
Spencer promised gamers that all exclusive Xbox Game Studios titles will receive this treatment. That means players will no longer need to buy remastered versions of iconic Xbox Games for $60 if they want to play them with better graphics.
What is the Halo Infinite story?
While Halo 5: Guardians was split between Master Chief and Spartan Locke’s storylines, Halo Infinite will seemingly focus exclusively on Master Chief.
Microsoft hasn’t revealed any gameplay footage, only two trailers seen at E3 2018 and 2019. Hawk-eyed Halo fans on Reddit noticed the “Discover Hope” trailer from E3 2019 takes place more three in-universe years after the events of Halo 5, sometime after 2561. In that same thread, fans also noted a screenshot from the 2018 trailer showed the date as 5/27/2560. That suggests the 2019 trailer took place at least 16 in-game months after the 2018 trailer.
Combined, the two E3 trailers paint a bleak picture of humanity locked in a heated battle that it eventually lost. A marine who finds Master Chief in stasis tells him, “We lost. We lost everything. There’s nothing left for us here,” before jumping into action. These clues suggest the game could kick off after the ashes have settled following a massive fight, finding Master Chief tasked with redeeming humanity.
What could Tim Longo’s departure mean for Halo Infinite?
Tim Longo was creative director for Halo 5 and worked in the same capacity on Halo Infinite until he left 343 in mid-August, according to his LinkedIn. He had worked with the company for more than six years. Microsoft said Longo left on good terms, noting that after some leadership restructuring, Halo Infinite was still on schedule.
Here are snippets of the statement they gave Kotaku:
Our Executive Producer, Mary Olson will now take charge of the Campaign team on Halo Infinite as the Lead Producer, utilizing her many years of experience at 343 to help craft a great campaign for fans.
Additionally, Tim Longo has recently departed our team and we are truly thankful for his many contributions to our games, our studio and the Halo universe. We wish Tim nothing but the best in his future endeavors.
The overall creative vision and production of the game remains led by Chris Lee. 343 also partnered with Canadian development studio SkyBox Labs in August 2018. Both companies worked together on Halo 5: Forged for Windows 10 and the Xbox One X enhancements fro Halo 5: Guardians.
Halo Infinite will be released sometime in 2021.