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Halo Infinite: Release date, game engine, and everything else you need to know

(Image credit: Microsoft Xbox)

We're getting closer and closer to Halo Infinite on Xbox Series X, as the highly anticipated game is set release sometime this year. 

The sixth game in the Halo series is bringing back Master Chief and heading to the next gen console. We still don't have a set release date, but it's safe to say it'll come out around the time the Xbox Series X does (although it's reasonable to consider the COVID-19 outbreak as a potential cause for a delay). Halo Infinite has been shrouded in mystery since since its announcement at E3 2018 - there's been no new trailers or footage debuting at any of 2019's major gaming shows. However, we aren't completely in the dark about the next Halo game. 

We recently learned that Halo Infinite will be on Xbox Game Pass at launch. While this isn't surprising given Xbox's dedication to providing first-party games on the subscription version on day one, it's still great news for Xbox Game Pass subscribers. We also learned that Halo Infinite will be available for free for the Xbox Series X for those who buy the title for Xbox One, thanks to Microsoft's Smart Delivery service.

Since Halo Infinite will be on Xbox Series X, it's natural that 343 Industries would look to harness the console's power. So it's no surprise that they developed a new game engine called Slipspace that will offer new and unique features for the title. We'll get into more details below, but it looks like Slipspace will allow 343 Industries to amend Halo Infinite after launch.

Halo Infinite is considered a spiritual reboot for the franchise, which is why Master Chief is returning. This will delight fans of earlier Halo games, who have voiced some aggressive opinions about the franchise's shift away from the Chief formula. We also know that, along with the unmistakable voice of Master Chief, there's a new voice actor joining the midst - Gyoza the pug.

From new game engines to potential plot, here's everything we know about Halo Infinite:

Fast facts

  • Halo Infinite release date: 2020
  • Developer: 343 Industries
  • Publisher: Microsoft Studios
  • Format: Xbox Xbox Series X

Halo Infinite release date is 2020 and it will be on the next-gen console, Xbox Series X

Microsoft has confirmed that not only is Halo Infinite a Xbox Series X launch title, but that both it and the console will be out 'Holiday 2020'. It's clearer than ever that the game is a showcase for the next-gen 'Slipspace' engine, which is probably why we're not seeing any actual gameplay just yet - you don't show off the future until you're absolutely ready.

Halo Infinite will be on Xbox Game Pass at Launch

Xbox boss Phil Spencer confirmed in a blog post that the next story in the Halo saga will be available on Xbox Game Pass on day one. The post reads:

"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," Spencer says. It's important to note that while we know for sure that Halo Infinite will be released on PC for Windows 10, it's unclear if it will be available on the Xbox Game Pass PC library, or solely for Xbox One.

Also, Halo Infinite and other Xbox Game Studios titles will be covered under Microsoft's Smart Delivery program. Spencer describes the service as a way to guarantee that you "buy a game once and know that - whether you are playing it on Xbox One or Xbox Series X - you are getting the right version of that game on whatever Xbox you're playing on."

Halo Infinite will be a Microsoft Smart Delivery game

As part of making the transition between current and next-gen smoother for players, Microsoft's Smart Delivery service will help connect the console family. The program guarantees Xbox owners need to buy a game once, no matter what console they own. So, if you own an Xbox One and buy Halo Infinite, but your Nana gives you Xbox Series X for Christmas (that's some Nana), you'll be able to play the game on both consoles. Smart Delivery is a fantastic program for those who are able to buy an Xbox Series X at launch and for those who may not be able to get their hands on it immediately. 

All first-party Xbox Game Studios will be supported by Smart Delivery, Halo Infinite included.

Halo Infinite Slipspace engine

As GamesRadar+ previously reported, Halo Infinite's engineering director, David Berger says that the new Slipspace game engine was designed to allow the team to implement and introduce new ideas and gameplay features that were impossibilities during the game's early development. 

"You have to make tools that allow you to make new features that maybe weren't thought about. You've got to give the content creators room to ideate outside of that." Multiplayer director Tom French adds that "Designers are more empowered themselves to actually tackle a problem and prototype something quicker and faster than we've ever been able to before." 

Franchise director Frank O'Conner speaks to what the new engine means for the Halo franchise, saying that 343 Industries "had to create an engine that was more powerful for next-generation development, but also more nimble, so the creatives and engineers are able to work more easily and iterate faster." 

In the same video, design head Jerry Hook discusses the delicate balance the team is facing when making Halo Infinite. "We have to be able to respect that legacy that we've come from to help make sure that Halo doesn't just become an amalgamation of what the market is currently doing, but that what makes halo unique remains unique for our players, our community, and for the industry," Hook says.

Halo Infinite has a pug voice actor making alien noises

(Image credit: Halo Official Instagram )

There's a voice actor even more important than Steve Downes, the voice of Master Chief, and his name is Gyoza. Gyoza is a pug who spent some time in 343 Industries' studio recording snarfles and sniffles and grunts. Halo's official Instagram account even posted about him, writing "Meet our favorite pug, Gyoza.The best friend of our studio's Technical Art Director, his grunts, breaths, and excitement are sure to make for some... interesting sounds in #HaloInfinite." 

While we initially reported that it was unclear what alien Gyoza could be voicing, and suggested it may be a new species, after several consecutive listens it certainly sounds like Gyoza could be portraying the Flood. The Flood are a species of incredibly virulent parasitic organisms that consume lifeforms in order grow and reproduce. Those Gyoza noises suddenly sound a lot less cute...

Halo Infinite is considered a spiritual reboot

According to an interview with IGN, 343 Industries' head Bonnie Ross has confirmed that Halo Infinite is going to be a "spiritual reboot" for the entire Halo franchise. That's a seriously big statement. 

"We're kind of calling it a 'spiritual reboot'," said Ross. "That's kind of how we talk about it." She added that the team has had "great learning moments" with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Halo 4's multiplayer, and the REQ packs / free maps in Halo 5's multiplayer. 

"There has been a lot of introspective time to really reflect on what [we have] done as 343," said Ross. "Where have we made mistakes? Where have we hit it right? What does Halo mean to all of us? That [Halo Infinite reveal] trailer we did is what Halo means to the studio."

"Maybe it took us two games to get there, and I think we've done good things and bad things, but what does Halo mean to us? It is about hope, and wonder, and heroism, and humanity, and community, and bringing a community together. That's what that trailer is, and that's what we want to do."

The Halo Infinite story will focus on Master Chief

Halo 5 split players' time between Master Chief and Spartan Locke. It was a narrative shift that, frankly, not many were keen on. So for Halo Infinite, developer 343 Industries is refocusing on the saga's main, green-armored protagonist.

"The team also heard feedback loud and clear on the amount of time spent playing as the Master Chief in Halo 5. In Halo Infinite, the game will focus on the Master Chief and continue his saga after the events of Halo 5," studio head Chris Lee wrote in a blog post.

And did you notice that Chief seems to be back to wearing his old armor? That's a deliberate change too, and meant to show that the art style for Infinite will be different from Halo 4 and 5. As Lee writes, it "draws significant inspiration from the most iconic and historic parts of the Halo franchise and your feedback, all while modernizing and taking advantage of the full power of the Xbox One family. The new Master Chief helmet directly showcases our new art style."

Interestingly, in a recent Social Stream from 343 Industries, Justin Robey (who recently became the game's Director of Player Voice, a role solely created to feedback player comments and criticisms to the development team) said that the team is trying to create the Halo Infinite story in a way that's "approachable" for new players, but deep enough for veteran fans. The ultimate thin line. 

"Halo is one of those franchises where we have a lot of players who are probably going to come back when we release Halo Infinite," he said. "And we want to make sure as it gets in there that people aren't lost, which is one of the things that people complain about with Halo 5."

"[People said], 'Ahh there's so many elements, and I don't really know what's going on.' Making sure there is enough meat and awesome for the fans and at the same time it's approachable for people who are coming back in [for Halo Infinite]."

There was no Halo Infinite gameplay at E3 2019 or Gamescom 2019 or X019

This is probably the only disappointment after the new trailer, platform confirmation and release date: despite strong rumors there would be Halo Infinite gameplay at E3 2019, there was none. Just the trailer. There was no Halo Infinite news at this year's Gamescom. And most surprisingly, at Microsoft's big year-end celebration, X019, Halo Infinite news was nonexistent. They're really keeping us in the dark about this.

The Halo Infinite box art might tease some story and gameplay elements

(Image credit: Xbox / Microsoft)

There's a new glowing blue element to Master Chief's helmet that we've not yet seen before, and the Halo Infinite box art is definitely intriguing. The E3 2019 trailer showed Master Chief inserting a chip he'd had clenched in his hand while being all frozen in space. It didn't light up, and flashed a message that read 'AI not detected'. That was already a little tease that Cortana is about somewhere, and now we're thinking that she's right at home within Master Chief's helmet. 

The box art also features several blue beams of light that seem to look like mission markers, but with so many visible could this be a hint of an open world-style structure for Halo Infinite? We certainly hope so. Even seeing Master Chief poised by the open rear door of a Pelican seems to reinforce that, perhaps using the vehicle to drop into different areas for missions. Studio Head Chris Lee has mentioned that the pilot in the trailer is a new character for the universe, and a significant one too. Perhaps its he that's ferrying you around in this world? 

Halo Infinite will have microtransactions

A job listing posted this summer for a "Live Design Lead" at Microsoft shows the company is looking to hire someone who will come up with ways to keep fans engaged with Halo Infinite for an extended period of time after its release. The description asks for someone who can work on social media engagement and in-game progression, and also includes this line: "Design and deliver a AAA player investment experience that focuses on our fans and their desire to express their passion for our franchise (including but not limited to microtransactions)."

However, Halo community director Brian Jarrard has  previously answered fans' worries by saying not to "worry over a job description" and that it "doesn't mean it'll result in something bad". But that was over a year ago...

The Halo Infinite reveal trailer isn't actually the game

Halo Infinite was announced as part of the Xbox E3 2018 press conference - in fact, it was the first game Microsoft showed on-stage. But there really wasn't too much solid details on just what we were looking at, other than it was being powered by a new engine, dubbed "Slipspace". In fact, in a blog post, 343 studio head Chris Lee clarified that what we saw was not Halo Infinite, but merely a tech demo for Slipspace.

"We still have a long way to go until we ship the game, so things will certainly evolve between now and the release of Halo Infinite, though the engine demo is a clear indication of the direction we are heading with our next game and a great snapshot of where our tech is right now," Lee wrote.

In other words: this announcement was more of a 'it's coming' than anything concrete.

Halo Infinite battle royale won't be a thing at launch, but you might be able to make your own

Despite rumours of a Halo Infinite battle royale mode floating around the internet, 343 Industries' own Frank O'Connor has said that there are no plans for the game to launch with a battle royale mode. However, he has suggested that players are more than welcome to create their own version of Halo + Fortnite in the franchise's Forge mode. 

"We will not talk about the launch content of Halo Infinite until we're ready. I haven't watched the video so if I am misinterpreting the headline as 'Halo Infinite is launching with/as a Halo Battle Royale mode' that is still not the case," O'Connor said in response to a Brad Sams video posted in a Resetera thread. "You can probably make your own Battle Royale mode in Forge even right now though."

"The launch modes for MP are not 100% defined and are subject to change till quite late in the process - but Battle Rifle will still be there." O'Connor said. "But are we interested in big social modes with loads of organic shenanigans? Yes. Specifically a blimp full of survivors heading to an island after a (metaphorical) lecture from Beat Takeshi? No."