time to launch

What to know about Halo Infinite, the Xbox Series X's flagship launch title

Welcome back, Chief.

The Xbox Series X won’t only introduce a new era of console gaming, but it’ll also see the return of Halo and the franchise’s iconic protagonist, Master Chief.

Halo Infinite will be the Series X’s premier launch title and the eleventh Halo title developed by 343 Industries. Studio head Bonnie Ross told IGN that this latest installment will be a “spiritual reboot” of the sci-fi shooter. That should come as reassuring news to long-time fans since many of them felt that the most recent Halo 5: Guardians watered down the series.

Halo Infinite has some big shoes to fill and a lot remains unknown about the title, even as its late 2020 release window approaches. 343 Industries’ creative director Tim Longo left the company midway through the game’s development, questions still remain about whether or not it’ll include microtransactions, and a co-developer — SkyBox Labs — was added to the production team.

A lot is riding on the grand return of Master Chief. Here’s everything we know about Halo Infinite.

The next-generation Xbox console will take the next chapter of the 'Halo' series to new heights.YouTube.com/Xbox

When is Halo Infinite’s release date?

Halo Infinite doesn’t have an official release date yet, but it was announced as an Xbox Series X launch title which means it’ll ship during the 2020 holiday season like Microsoft’s next-gen console. It’s possible that it might face delays because of the global coronavirus pandemic, but neither Microsoft or 343 Industries have indicated the possibility of pushing its release date back.

Barring any Covid-19 related road bumps, a mid-to-late November release seems most likely based on when previous Xbox consoles have been released. The Xbox One was released in North America on November 22, 2013; the Xbox 360 dropped on the same date in 2005, and the original Xbox launched on November 15, 2001.

Is there a Halo Infinite trailer?

Yes, there are two of them actually. The first debuted at E3 2018 when the game was first announced by Microsoft:

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:

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.

YouTube.com/Xbox

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 will Halo Infinite be about?

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, some time 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.

Two leaked images of Halo Infinite toys were also posted online seemingly revealing that the Brutes, or Jiralhanae race, are a giant ape-like species introduced in Halo 2 would return to the new title. Plus, the Lego-like figures were wielding two never-before-seen weapons, which suggests Halo Infinite could be chock full of new equipment, guns, and more.

The two allegedly leaked 'Halo Infinite' toysResetEra / Gundam

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, Studio Head of Halo Infinite. 343 also partnered with Canadian development studio SkyBox Labs in August 2018. Both companies have worked together on Halo 5: Forged for Windows 10 and the Xbox One X enhancements fro Halo 5: Guardians.

Master Chief is months away from making an epic comeback on the Xbox Series X.343 Industries / Microsoft

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.

Gamespot discovered a job listing for an Online Experience Design Director in September 2018 alluding to the presence of microtransactions in the game. Word spread, prompting fans to voice their discontent on Twitter.

Following the blowback, Lee explained on Twitter that the game’s microtransactions won’t involve “real-money loot boxes” in any form. It’s likely Infinite will feature a skin market allowing players to could trick out Master Chief for a few bucks.

Halo Infinite will hit shelves during the 2020 holiday season.

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