Halo Infinite: Everything We Know

Microsoft's crown jewel, Halo, is finally releasing this year across Xbox and PC--here's what you need to know about the sequel.

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Halo Infinite is one of Microsoft's biggest upcoming games, and while it missed its original release date as an Xbox Series X|S launch title, it still looms large on the horizon.

While Halo no doubt remains popular and stands today as one of the best-known FPS games ever, the series has lost some ground to its contemporaries with Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite, and Apex Legends eating a lot of the FPS pie these days.

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Now Playing: Halo Infinite Full Presentation | Xbox + Bethesda E3 2021

Halo Infinite represents a chance for Microsoft to reclaim Master Chief's former glory, and fans are excited. Set after the events of Halo 5: Guardians, the game looks to be throwing the veteran Spartan up against a new threat, while returning to some of the roots of the franchise--and some more familiar adversaries.

We learned a lot about Halo Infinite at E3 2021 this year. In this post, we're rounding up everything we know about Microsoft's flagship game.

Announcement And Trailers

Halo Infinite was officially announced at E3 2018. At the event, Microsoft showcased an impressive-looking trailer, not for the game itself, but rather its brand-new engine, Slipspace. While it didn't contain any gameplay, the trailer got Halo fans excited for the long-awaited sequel to 2015's Halo 5: Guardians by demonstrating what the engine is technically capable of delivering. We saw sweeping vistas, a vast world to explore, and all manner of wildlife.

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A year later, at E3 2019, Microsoft showcased another cinematic trailer, revealing the first look at Master Chief and his new design. The sequence showed Master Chief being "woken up" to embark on his next mission to save the universe, probably. According to Microsoft, the trailer is hiding clues and references to Master Chief's next journey, and fans spent months picking it apart in search of answers for what's coming next.

One of the most important developments about what we know about Halo Infinite is that it may well be the end of proper, numbered Halo sequels. Instead, 343 has said that Infinite will be the "platform" for the next decade of Halo--which suggests something of an MMO-like approach, where 343 continues to build on and expand Infinite with additional content over time.

This, and many more details, was confirmed at E3 2021. Microsoft dedicated a good amount of time to Halo Infinite during its showcase. We were introduced to a new Cortana-like AI character (and there are surely more mysteries to unravel there), but the big-ticket item was multiplayer. We finally saw lots of multiplayer footage and learned more about how it'll all work. Check out the trailer below and keep reading to learn more.

Is It Coming To PC?

Halo Infinite is a premiere title for the Xbox Series X|S, even though it didn't wind up becoming a launch title for the new consoles. But another important note is that it'll release on PC as well. That's notable because a new mainline Halo entry hasn't released on PC since 2004's Halo 2. Microsoft change the situation when it released Halo: The Master Chief Collection on PC in 2019, setting records with the title on Steam. Microsoft has only leaned into the PC side of Halo harder since then, adding more games to the Master Chief Collection, while making the game part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on PC.

The PC edition of Halo Infinite is no slouch. 343 said in April that the game was developed "from the ground up" for PC. It will come with graphics settings that make the best of high-end hardware and multiplayer matchmaking rules that prevent anyone from having an advantage in-game for its cross-play multiplayer.

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Release Date

Though Halo Infinite was originally scheduled for release alongside the Xbox Series X and S, 343 Industries said development was slowed significantly by 2020's global pandemic, resulting in Infinite's release getting delayed. The visuals shown in the first gameplay trailer for Halo Infinite received some less-than-stellar feedback, however, so it's possible the delay is also related to reworking the look of the game to better match its next-generation nature.

Right now, there's not an exact date for Halo Infinite's release. The window 343 identified is Fall 2021, so there's a wait ahead to get back into the Halo universe. At E3 2021, Microsoft reiterated that Halo Infinite will launch this holiday season, and the company quickly debunked a rumor that it would arrive on November (the day that Forza Horizon 5 launches). After that, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said Microsoft has narrowed down the release date to a period of a few weeks, so we might learn the exact date soon.

Halo Infinite has been billed as Microsoft's big next-generation title, so you can expect to see it hit its full potential on the Xbox Series X (and to a lesser extent, the Xbox Series S). But you don't have to buy a new console in order to enjoy Halo's next installment. The game will also be available on Xbox One and on PC, and with Smart Delivery, buying the game on Xbox One will get you a free upgrade to Xbox Series X|S if you snag a next-gen console later.

The thing that's probably most notable about Halo Infinite is that, like other first-party Xbox games, it'll be available on Xbox Game Pass on launch day.

How Do I Pre-Order?

Though Halo Infinite is still more than a year away, you can preorder it from a few retailers right now.

Who's Developing It?

It is also worth noting that Halo Infinite isn't being developed by 343 Industries alone. There are at least three other studios also contributing to Halo Infinite. Skybox Labs is responsible for Halo Infinite's Forge mode, and also worked on Halo 5: Forge for Windows 10 and did the work on Halo 5's Xbox One X enhancements. The other studios involved are Sperasoft, which has contributed to games including Anthem, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Rainbow Six: Siege and Assassin's Creed Odyssey, and Certain Affinity. It's unknown how the latter two studios are contributing to the overall game.

Gameplay Reveal

During its Xbox Series X stream ahead of the launch of the new console back in 2020, Microsoft gave a big look at Halo Infinite in action, with eight minutes of campaign gameplay. Check out the video below. This is the bulk of what we've seen of the campaign so far, but the multiplayer trailer released at E3 2021 showcased a lot of footage from the head-to-head component (see above and below).

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What We Know About New Gameplay

Halo Infinite is taking the series back toward its beginnings in a lot of big ways. For one, it's set on a new ringworld, just like the original game--but this one will be more explorable than in the past, making it the biggest Halo environment yet. We've seen a glimpse of the map in Microsoft's Halo reveal, which suggests you'll explore open chunks of the halo ring, choosing your own path forward. It'll also sport a day-night cycle and wildlife, making this ringworld feel a lot more alive and realistic than what the series has included in the past.

That doesn't mean this is going to be a nonlinear game, however. According to 343, telling a traditional Halo story is still a big part of the equation, so you won't have total freedom as you run around in Halo Infinite.

Infinite also sees the return of the Covenant as your primary antagonists (as opposed to the Prometheans, the robot enemies at the center of Halo 4 and Halo 5), although these aren't the same guys Master Chief fought back in the original Halo trilogy. The Covenant enemies you deal with in Infinite are members of a splinter group called The Banished, who first appeared in Halo Wars 2. You'll see a familiar mix of Covenant races among the Banished, with Grunts, Elites, Jackals, and Brutes all making a return.

According to 343, you'll see some pretty advanced AI from the Banished enemies you face in Halo Infinite. One example of the unconventional tactics you might face: Brutes hurling Grunts at you.

Chief has new tactics at his disposal as well, including a grappling hook called the Grappleshot that provides you with new traversal options. You shouldn't expect to climb everything you come across, though--343 said the Grappleshot will not turn Chief into Spider-Man--but it should provide new options for getting around and getting into fights. Expect to use the Grappleshot to yank items and ammo to yourself from a distance, to pull Chief over to enemies to close the gap for a melee, or to reach high ledges and other locations. Master Chief will also sport some new Spartan armor, which we've seen in concept art.

We've seen a few other new weapons pop up through the course of Halo Infinite reveals, which IGN ran down with a few extra details:

  • Ravager - A Banished three-round burst energy weapon that runs on plasma fuel. The fuel level is, as always, represented by a percentage. There is a blade on the end of it that slightly increases melee damage.
  • Mangler - A Banished pistol with giant kinetic projectiles that fires more slowly than the UNSC pistol but deals more damage.
  • CQS48 Bulldog - New UNSC riot shotgun that replaces the classic shotgun. This one is upgraded with a dum magazine and 12 gauge over the classic shotgun's 8 gauge.
  • VK78 Commando - This UNSC rifle can go full auto and is good for mid-long range.
  • Pulse Carbine - A familiar but not quite identical version of the classic Covenant carbine weapon.

Multiplayer

Halo is best known for its multiplayer mode and we know from news from years ago that it will feature local split-screen (yes!). Microsoft has said the new Slipspace Engine is capable of supporting numerous different modes, including battle royale (though that mode is not currently in development).

At E3 2021, Microsoft showed off Halo Infinite's multiplayer properly and for the first time, and confirmed it will support up to 120 FPS on Xbox Series X. You can check out this trailer below, while a blog post from 343 Industries goes into a ridiculous amount of depth about what to expect.

Microsoft revealed that there will be the traditional 4v4 Arena, while Big Team Battle is back and it's bigger than ever with 12v12 battles. Microsoft also showed off some of the new equipment that players can use, including a heartbeat sensor of sorts that temporarily reveals the locations of enemies. Additionally, Halo Infinite has a new vehicle called the Razorback, which looks like a beefed up Warthog, and we've also learned more about the new multiplayer maps.

Another important element to call out is that Halo Infinite will have a tutorial mode of sorts called the Academy. This will help players learn the ropes, and they can even compete against bots to hone their skills before going online to test their mettle against the masses. With Halo Infinite multiplayer going free-to-play, the game is opening up to potentially its biggest audience yet, and it's neat and nice to see the developers creating an onboarding experience to help newcomers learn the ropes. And for seasoned fans, playing against bots may be a good way to learn the ins and outs of the new maps in a less stressful environment.

Customization is also a big part of Halo Infinite. Players can unlock and earn new cosmetics through gameplay, or they can buy pieces outright, but 343 stressed that these items are "purely cosmetic and have no impact to gameplay."

"A key component of the new Halo Infinite multiplayer experience is your personal Spartan that’s meant to grow and evolve month after month, season after season," 343 said. "Players will have more options than ever before to customize your Spartan and make it uniquely yours. Each season will feature a new assortment of customization pieces and components that can be earned via gameplay, challenges, events, and purchase. We've said this before, but it bears saying again--there will be no loot boxes or elements of chance if you decide to purchase an optional customization item. And, of course, all of Halo Infinite's Spartan customization elements are purely cosmetic and have no impact to gameplay."

The Halo Infinite multiplayer mode also gives players a personal AI they can equip that helps you capture objectives, but we still don't know a lot about how this works. Here's what that AI looks like:

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There is a Friend and Foe system in Halo Infinite as well. Here's how 343 describes it:

"To fully support our goals for expanded player expression in Halo Infinite the team has designed a new 'friend and foe' system for multiplayer games/ At a high level, this functions as an 'outline' system that uses different colors to denote friends and foes. These colors are configurable for accessibility purposes and whatever colors you assign will match your scoreboard, team bases, and team flags. This isn't depicted in the reveal trailer, due to its more cinematic nature, but we’ll have more details to share down the road (and Halo Insiders will be able to check it out first-hand during technical previews later this summer)."

You may not have to wait until this holiday to try Halo Infinite, as a Halo Infinite multiplayer test is coming this summer, and you can sign up for Halo Insider for a chance to participate.

Halo Infinite's multiplayer mode is free-to-play; when you purchase the game, you'll be buying its campaign and other features, but anyone can hop into multiplayer without spending a dime. That sounds like a great move that should grow the Halo player base and revitalize the game as a leader in first-person shooters.

Microsoft also says that Infinite will feature cross-play, so you'll be able to play with the entire Halo community regardless of whether you fire up the game on an Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, or PC. It'll also run at 120fps on Xbox Series X, according to the Halo Twitter account.

Finally, 343 stressed that Halo Infinite is a live service game, so you can expect the studio to react to how the community receives the game over time.

"We know the expectations and stakes are high and we may not get everything exactly to everyone's liking on day one, but as a live service we're committed to partnering with players to evolve the game together," 343 said. "With a free-to-play service supporting crossplay on Xbox and PC, along with a more inviting new player experience, we're rolling out the red carpet for more players than ever before to jump in and share in this universe and these experiences we've all come to know and love for nearly twenty years. We're as eager and excited as you are to begin the next chapter of this journey together this holiday."

Will There Be Microtransactions?

A free-to-play model has to make money somehow, which means we can expect some microtransactions to go along with a multiplayer mode that Halo makes available to all Xbox and PC players. 343 has shared some details along the way of what players can expect, and the developer has specifically said Halo Infinite won't include loot boxes.

"Yes, being free-to-play does mean that there will be some premium cosmetics, but players will still obtain tons of customization content through things like playing campaign, challenges, skill, special events, legacy rewards--such as the Halo 5 SR 152 reward--the progress system, and more," Halo Infinite lead progression designer Christopher Blohm said in a 343 blog post.

Blohm went on to say that players will also have other methods of earning cosmetics through gameplay, so you won't be locked in to just spending money in order to make your Spartan look cool.

"We want everyone to build their dream Spartan," Halo Infinite design director Ryan Paradis said in the post. "We are always looking for more ways to customize in-game personas and give the players options. My team knows that our long-term players have favorites that they love and may have for two decades. We want to make sure that Halo Infinite players will be able to get their old favorites, as well as find new favorites at launch and as we expand over the months post-launch."

At E3 2021, Microsoft revealed its plans for live service and ongoing support, and this includes seasonal battle passes. A new battle pass will be available with each new season at an interval of about three months. Unlike other games, however, the battle passes in Halo Infinite will never expire, so you won't need to grind to finish one before the next begins. Halo Infinite will also sell cosmetic items, but they are just that--cosmetic. These customization items do not impact gameplay, 343 said.

The Forge Returns

The Halo-franchise's map-making feature, the Forge, is a favorite among fans, and we'll see it return in Halo Infinite. Skybox Labs, the team behind the Forge in Halo 5, is taking the reins on Infinite's Forge mode. We can probably expect it to be more robust than the Halo 5 Forge, but at the moment, we have no idea what features the Infinite's Forge mode might sport.

Story Details

While story details are being kept under wraps for now, Microsoft did confirm that Halo Infinite will tell a story that focuses more on Master Chief than Halo 5 did. As fans may recall, that title strayed from the franchise's hero with a storyline that touched on another character, Agent Locke, and even had players fight as him for some parts of the campaign.

Putting more of an emphasis on Master Chief is the smart call by Microsoft. It demonstrates a commitment to getting the story right this time around with Halo Infinite. Microsoft has acknowledged that Halo 5's story was a letdown, so fans will be eager to see how the story grows and improves this time. For what it's worth, Microsoft is telling fans to think of Halo Infinite as Halo 6 instead of some other kind of spin-off or franchise extension beyond the main storyline. It is a "spiritual reboot" of the franchise, according to 343 studio boss Bonnie Ross.

Beyond the broad strokes, we know it takes place on Zeta Halo, a key location from Halo lore. If you remember, the story of Halo is that the ringworlds were created by another race, the Forerunners, as superweapons that could wipe out sentient life in the galaxy. They were a last-ditch effort to contain the Flood, a hive-minded alien race that turns other sentient creatures into its gross zombies. Remember The Library in Halo: Combat Evolved?

Zeta Halo, also known as Installation 07, is where the Forerunners used human test subjects for experiments with the Flood back when the parasites first started to show up during the Forerunner era. Installation 07 had some different functionality than other ringworlds, so we can probably expect new and different structures there, and to plumb more of the backstory of the Forerunners and the race that preceded them, the Precursors, while exploring the place.

We've also gotten a little bit of info about the Banished. The Covenant splinter group sounds like it is hell-bent on wiping out humanity once and for all, probably by making use of the halo array superweapon to do something...drastic. The Banished on Zeta Halo seem to be led by a Brute called War Chief Escharum, who looks to be the game's chief antagonist. We've also seen concept art of another Banished character, Jega, a scary-looking Elite with a red energy sword.

Will There Be A Beta?

2019 also brought the news that Halo Infinite's beta--or "flighting" period in the Halo parlance--will launch first on Xbox before coming to PC. You can sign up for the free Halo Insider program for a chance to get into the beta, but there are no specifics yet on when it will launch or what it will include. PC players will also get into the beta, apparently.

More recently, it was reported that Microsoft was actively drafting plans for a Halo Infinite beta later this year. At E3 2021, Microsoft officially announced plans for a Halo Infinite multiplayer test that is set to begin this summer, and you can sign up for Halo Insider for a chance to participate.

Some Big Departures

Along with the big year-long delay, Halo Infinite has seen some high-profile members of the development team leave the project. The most recent was game director Chris Lee, who confirmed he had "stepped back" from the project and was looking for new opportunities in October. Lee had served as Partner Studio Head at 343 and worked at the developer since 2008 in producer roles on the Halo series.

Lee's departure and the ongoing global pandemic aren't the only turbulence the game has seen during the course of its development. Creative director Tim Longo left 343 Industries in August 2019, with executive producer Mary Olson following suit in October. And earlier this year, 343 confirmed that three different studios are assisting with Halo Infinite's development. The team even brought back veteran writer Joseph Staten.

Don't Forget Craig

Say hello to Craig.
Say hello to Craig.

After the gameplay reveal for Halo Infinite during the Xbox Series X Showcase, some viewers were less than impressed with the visuals on display for Microsoft's flagship next-gen title. Representing the problem was Craig, the meme name given to a Brute enemy seen briefly in the footage who sported an incredibly deadpan, extremely board look, despite getting clocked in the face by Master Chief. Craig's dead eyes quickly and blank face turned him into a meme, one which 343 and Microsoft have actually acknowledged in a good-natured way.

Though Craig had his day in the internet spotlight, 343 seems to have taken the note on the looks of Halo Infinite. Some new screens released in December look to be a pretty significant improvement over that early footage. After that, 343 released even more screenshots that were quite impressive, so clearly the extra development time has paid dividends for improving the overall quality of the game's assets.

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