We may have wanted Halo Infinite in 2020, but Halo Infinite in 2021 will be the game that we deserve. 343 Industries is using the extra time awarded to it with the rather extensive delay to spit shine all of the game's mechanics until Master Chief can see his reflection on every surface.
The journey to Halo Infinite has been like the Warthog ride at the end of Halo 3 – persistent obstacles, frustrating setbacks, and moments where it feels like the ground has fallen out from beneath it. 343 Industries knew the reaction to Halo Infinite's somewhat uninspiring first gameplay reveal during the Xbox Games Showcase back in July 2020 meant that it was time to step back and take stock. The sizable delay – Halo Infinite will drop close to a year after its initial release date – has given 343 devs a chance to optimize the game for Xbox Series X, finetune its control scheme, reanalyze its cosmetics, and so much more. We may be waiting longer than we expected for it, but the Halo Infinite we will get this year is the Halo Infinite we deserve.
Bridging the generational gap
Game Halo Infinite
Developer 343 Industries
Platforms Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Halo Infinite is designed to not only take Halo into the next generation, but to be a platform for which the series can grow long into the future. As a result, 343 has the difficult to task of simultaneously celebrating Halo's 20th anniversary in style and of laying the foundation for the next decade of iteration and evolution. The campaign, an open-world adventure set across the mysterious Zeta Installation that is designed to evoke the same feeling of mystery that Halo: Combat Evolved achieved back in 2001. Its multiplayer, positioned as a free-to-play component that can bring as many players into the fold as possible.
As part of this challenge, the studio has been hard at work optimising Halo Infinite to run across two generations of Xbox and PC. That's what the delay – taking Infinite from an Xbox Series X launch game to one that's set to land at anytime in 2021 – has given 343: the chance to get this right. The studio has promised to release a monthly dev update leading up to the game's launch, the first of which details the steps the team has taken to ensure this game slaps across console generations.
"We rebuilt the engine multi-threading solution to ensure high execution efficiency across all platforms and PCs, instead of running optimally just on Xbox One," game foundation architect Danielle Giannetti explains in a Halo Waypoint post. "We used this new system to transition the renderer to a massively parallel multi-threaded framework to support the increased cost of all our new rendering features and achieve high graphics efficiency on PC CPUs of various size as well as Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One X/S hardware."
When Infinite was set to drop alongside the Xbox Series X, 343 wanted to make it very clear that the Xbox One would not be treated like an antiquated piece of tech and that Halo Infinite would run well on the last-gen console. Now that the game is set to release a year after the current-gen console was released, the focus has shifted to a more all-encompassing one – Halo Infinite will run well on everything, period. With Master Chief set to embark on his most ambitious and challenging adventure to date, the news that 343 is working to ensure maximum results across all of its supported systems is certainly welcomed.
Halo infinitely good
We all know what we want from a Halo game: epic set pieces, cracking music, crispy gunplay, and multiplayer you can sink countless hours into. Halo Infinite, now more than ever, is poised to deliver just that, with the year-long delay giving 343 Industries a chance to make sure the sixth Halo game is one of the best.
With the announcement that Halo Infinite sandbox launch content is in-game and being played daily, we know that 343 Industries is working towards perfecting what exists, not cramming more content into the game for launch. Part of the fine-tuning process includes the addition of a fully customizable control scheme for the first time in Halo history, which the studio believes will increase accessibility for players. "Everything should feel intuitive and we don’t want the player to have to 'fight' the game in order to have fun," says sandbox designer Quinn DelHoyo.
343 is also delving deeper into weapon damage types, taking Halo Infinite beyond the typical "Covenant weapon" and "Earth weapon" format we know so well, or the light-based rifles introduced in Halo 4. "Players should now have stronger choices presented to them. Instead of using the weapon that you like because of how it shoots or handles, in Halo Infinite you might want to grab a certain weapon because of how it affects other players, the environment, or vehicles," says DelHoyo. This will allow you to make more informed decisions about your loadout before jumping into the fray and add a new layer of game sense previously unseen in Halo games.
Previous Halo Infinite updates have detailed extensive art and graphic updates that better marry the clean, simple forms of classic Halo games with the power of next-gen. Halo Infinite devs confirmed Craig may not have been his "best self" at the July Xbox Game Showcase, but you can expect a full graphical makeover for him and all of his grunt buddies that includes better quality global illumination, more wear-and-tear on vehicles and weapons, and a complete re-tuned dynamic lighting system. In short, 343 Industries is clearly dedicated to making sure Halo Infinite looks and feels good, which makes it one of our most sought after big in 2021 titles. I know I'm ready to drop in this fall.
Big in 2021 is GamesRadar's celebration of the new year. Every day, we will be exploring the most anticipated games on the near horizon with brand new previews and exclusive developer interviews.