Halo Infinite Season 2 is set to begin on May 3, and 343 Industries has provided a roadmap for the upcoming season and beyond. Halo Infinite Season 2 will include new maps, new modes, a new battle pass, and campaign network co-op. But the season will last yet another six months – quite a long time for live-service game seasons – and there's no set date for Forge or split-screen co-op. There's also precious little detail in the roadmap itself, and while there is a Twitch stream scheduled for April 27 that will provide more info, it's unclear if and when that info will be available elsewhere, and just how much the stream will offer in terms of concrete dates for future promised content.
A week ago I wrote that Halo Infinite Season 2 was a make or break moment, and while it's imperative that we don't ask 343 Industries to crunch to give us more content, there's definitely cause for concern. For players who have felt frustrated by the content pipeline and by the developer's comms surrounding it, the latest Halo Infinite news feels like more of the same.
Communication is key
Swapping from a traditional release cadence to a live-service model is no easy feat, so it's understandable that 343 Industries would run into some difficulties out of the gate. The latest Halo Infinite update (opens in new tab) made it clear that the company's "priority zero" is the health of its dev team and "getting ourselves into a sustainable development rhythm so that we can deliver great experiences to all of you while maintaining a healthy work/life balance." In an industry far too often plagued by crunch and unhealthy work conditions, this is an admirable stance, and one that many can get behind. It's the conversation and communication around the content pipeline that's the issue.
The roadmap 343 Industries provided on April 22 was initially set to release back in January. On February 1, after weeks of players asking for that roadmap, Joseph Staten promised an update (opens in new tab) "as soon as we can," citing a need for "more time to finalize our plans so what we share is something you can rely on." While the roadmap may be something players can technically rely on, the vagueness of much of its promised content feels a bit like we're being strung along.
Currently, the Halo Infinite roadmap states Season 2 will run for another six months (which was never made clear until the moment the roadmap was released), that two "narrative events" are coming (which we only know will "place your personal Spartan in the center of an evolving Seasonal storyline"), that campaign network co-op is targeted for late August (and split-screen co-op is TBD), and quality of life improvements are on the way. Confusingly, the roadmap promises a Forge open beta coming in September, but also has a Forge open beta listed under Season 3, which won't start until November 8.
A few months back, I wrote about live service game fatigue and how developers can combat it. Chet Faliszek, CEO and co-founder of Bombay Stray, the studio behind co-op shooter The Anacrusis, spoke about the importance of communication. "I think one of the missing parts is the communication part with the community. It's hard. But often players do not feel they are being listened to or that the only way to communicate is in negative ways, so we work hard at trying to communicate clearly and really listen to the feedback," he said. "Players are understanding if you are honest and clear with them." For Halo Infinite players, the lack of clarity may be more frustrating than the lack of content.
How to fix it
When it comes to shifting the optics around Halo Infinite and its content roadmap, the upcoming community livestream is a promising start. The stream is promising a deep dive into the Season 2 Battle Pass, rewards, events, game modes, and more, as well as more details on the roadmap itself. This should help placate players who are feeling less-than-enthusiastic about a long-awaited roadmap with both vague and conflicting information, and it'll give 343 Industries a chance to speak directly to the community.
Sometimes it feels like 343 Industries is picking the wrong battles when it comes to communication. A lengthy blog post (opens in new tab) from March went into great detail about the Halo Infinite ranked rework, but failed to mention any plans to adjust MMR, a feature that drastically affects how ranked matchmaking works and one that is often exploited by players. When Halo Infinite ranks were reset, players' MMR remained the same, and there wasn't a whisper about it from anyone at 343.
For what it's worth, 343 seems aware of players' frustrations with both the perceived lack of content and the developers' communication thus far. Back in March, 343 Industries' community manager Brian Jarrard took to Reddit (opens in new tab) to assure players Season 2 news would be coming, but acknowledged the frustration at a lack of regular updates. "We understand the community is simply out of patience and frankly, I think understandably tired of words. We just need some time for the team to get the details sorted and then we can certainly share as much as we can," Jarrad wrote.
While concrete release dates have the potential to cause even more frustration if those dates have to be pushed to avoid crunch, more transparency and clarity about what's going on behind the scenes of Halo Infinite would help placate players. Is there a lack of adequate staffing resulting in slower dev times? Would repurposing old maps act as a temporary salve? (Halo Infinite is, I believe, the only modern Halo title to not bring back classic Halo maps) What the hell is Halo 4 Forge and map co-developer Certain Affinity working on for Infinite? While the dynamics between a game and its community can often be dicey (to say the least), clearer lines of communication from 343 to its players will only help calm the unruly base. Here's hoping the upcoming livestream is the start of that.
Halo Infinite's co-op delay is a blow, but it deserves to be done right