After being tipped as a launch title for the Xbox Series X, the Halo Infinite game was pushed back to 2021, and now developer 343 Industries has confirmed it’ll arrive in the fall of next year.
On the Halo Waypoint blog, Joseph Staten, a Halo veteran from the game’s Bungie days and now at 343 Industries, explained how the delay of Halo Infinite has been due to the developers polishing the game and improving its graphics. The latter was a point of contention when a game footage showcase of Halo Infinite revealed graphics that didn’t scream ‘next-gen’ and attracted the ridicule and annoyance of Halo fans.
Addressing the decision to delay Halo Infinite’s original 2020 launch, Staten said: “This discussion boiled down to one fundamental truth: we needed more time to do things right. That included pushing hard in the Fall, giving the team time to recharge over the Holidays, and then coming back in January to finish the game at a healthy pace.”
Staten added that Halo Infinite will now come in “the Fall of 2020” though he gave no exact launch date. However, he added that Halo Infinite is “just the beginning of the adventure,” which hints at more Halo games to come.
Halo Infinite graphics overhaul
A graphics overhaul seems to be the biggest thing to expect the next time we see Halo Infinite in action.
The Waypoint blog went into detail with how a lot of work has been put into the art and graphics of Halo Infinite to make sure it taps into the style of older Halo games; with Halo 5: Guardians there was a pretty severe change in art style that a lot of fans didn’t approve of.
“We basically look for three conditions: making sure all assets fit into the gameplay needs, that they fit into the Halo Aesthetic and Legacy, and finally, that they look awesome,” explained Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier, a senior concept artist and art director for 343 Industries.
“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.”
That all sounds promising for people who were let down by the Halo Infinite gameplay from earlier on this year. And the blog post even addressed a now infamous screenshot of a low-fidelity Brute enemy snapped from the gameplay showcase, which the internet dubbed “Craig.”
“Firstly, I can confirm that the facial animation on NPCs was not fully implemented in that build, which resulted in Craig’s incredibly deadpan/lifeless look,” said Bouvier. “All characters are modelled in a neutral pose, prior to blendshapes & animation being applied.”
“So, poor old Craig was never intended to be seen in that condition which is not something that was evident during the gameplay. It was only later, in the close-up freeze frame of his one bad moment, where it came to light and the legend of Craig was born.
“There’s been further work done on the material fidelity and more variety added for Brute faces, we’re also working to add some hairdos and beards which was something we hadn’t gotten to in July. So, whilst we have come to love our dear old Craig, he’s certainly undergoing a significant makeover.”
And Bouvier added that more game character models are getting an overhaul with a lot more splosh being added to the graphical presentation of models, weapons, and environments.
Halo Infinite open world and customisation
Outside of a visual overhaul, Halo Infinite will get plenty of customisation in the multiplayer mode, which will be free-to-play. It will be focussed on keeping players engaged rather than drop a lot of arbitrary events or collectibles for them to grind through in a formulaic manner.
But the most interesting element is how Halo infinite will blend the traditional “30 seconds of fun” action bubbles of the original Halo with the ability to choose to take on different tasks in different orders, seemingly adding an open-world element to the Halo franchise.
“Everywhere I looked, I saw choices,” said Staten. “Do I explore off the golden path? Assault that Banished war base guarding the valley pass? Follow a flight of Forerunner Sentinels into that unexpected cavern? Rescue a squad of marines dug-in and desperate halfway up that mountain? Or do I keep pulling the mainline story thread that feels epic and intimate at the exact same time?”
So while the Xbox Series X launched without it’s ‘killer app’ that’s no bad thing. Not only is the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S extremely difficult to find in stock – check out our where to buy Xbox Series X article for help on that front – it doesn’t exactly have a wealth of exclusive games to play on it.
But if you can hold out until later next year, you might find Microsoft’s new games console is a lot easier to get hold of and will come with a boosted lineup of games, including what’s shaping up to be a rather compelling new entry in the Halo franchise.