However, after an underwhelming July 23 reveal event for the game prompted a deluge of memes poking fun at the game's sub-par aesthetics, the development team at 343 Industries opted to delay the game until 2021. As of now, the Xbox Series X is still due to launch sometime in November, but without the crowning jewel in its launch lineup, Microsoft's 2020 holiday season might be a bit less cheery than we'd expected.
Many fans were let down by how the game ran and looked in the July 23 demo, which came as a big disappointment for many who have been eagerly waiting for gameplay footage since Halo Infinite was first announced in 2018. But the clip and subsequent announcements also introduced a flurry of new features that could very well make Halo Infinite one of the greatest entries yet in the series.
The triumphant return of Master Chief has been just about five years in the making. 343 Industries is looking to breathe new life into the long-standing franchise that many fans complain has been watered down since the 2015 release of Halo 5: Guardians.
Studio head Bonnie Ross told IGN that Infinite will be a “spiritual reboot” of the sci-fi shooter. The July 23 showcase confirmed the game will revolve around the return of Atriox and the Banished as the game’s major antagonists.
The upcoming installment of the series has some big shoes to fill and a lot about the game remains unclear months ahead of its launch. 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.
There’s a lot riding on the Master Chief’s comeback. Will Halo Infinite be able to live up to its predecessors and inspire long-time fans to pick up an Xbox Series X? Will Game Pass be enough to drive holiday sales for Microsoft? That remains to be seen.
Here’s everything we know about Halo: Infinite.
When is the Halo Infinite release date?
Halo Infinite was first announced to be an Xbox Series X launch title. That's no longer the case. In an August 11 Twitter message, the official Halo account and 343 Industries studio head Chris Lee shifted the release of the game back to 2021, without specifying a new release date or release window:
We have made the difficult decision to shift our release to 2021 to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo game experience that meets our vision. The decision to shift our release is the result of multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges, including the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting us all this year. I want to acknowledge the hard work from our team at 343 Industries, who have remained committed to making a great game and finding solutions to development challenges. However, it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday.
While this is undoubtedly an unwelcome development for the Xbox team, past consoles suggest a launch lineup isn't everything. Kotaku EIC Stephen Totilo made the following canny observation in response to the delay announcement:
Tough break for the next Xbox to not have Halo at launch, but there have been plenty of great consoles that launched without great games. It's not great, but I also find launch line-ups for new hardware to be generally dreadful and buy new consoles with an eye to the future.
Totilo's comments are worth bearing in mind in light of the doomsaying sure to spread across social media in the days following the Halo Infinite delay announcement. Microsoft is one of the largest, wealthiest companies in the world. It's a hard knock, sure, but Xbox will bounce back if Game Pass remains a compelling option for gamers. Exclusives aren't the cornerstone of its future plans for Xbox, anyway.
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.
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.
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 2021 on August 11.
Community Manager John Junyszek published a statement where he explained that 343 Industries wanted to make Halo Infinite look and feel like classic installments of the sci-fi shooter. That wasn't how the demo came across to fans, but Junyszek reassured gamers that Microsoft and 343 were hard at work to polish the game's visuals.
"We do have work to do to address some of these areas and raise the level of fidelity and overall presentation for the final game," he wrote. "The build used to run the campaign demo was work-in-progress from several weeks ago with a variety of graphical elements and game systems still being finished and polished."
So the final version of the game could look totally different.
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 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, 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.
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 release in 2021.