It's time for Halo Infinite to come out of the shadows.
2020 will be a big year for Halo and the Xbox brand, with Halo Infinite expected to be the headliner of the Xbox Series X launch title lineup. It'll be the first time since 2001's Halo: Combat Evolved that a Halo title has released at launch with new Xbox hardware. 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. 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 galactic threat.
Microsoft has only so far released a couple of cinematic trailers, so there is little to go on as it relates to official details, but here in this post, we're rounding up everything we know about the Xbox One and PC 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 have spent the past six months picking it apart in search of answers for what's coming next.
Is It Coming To PC?
Another big thing to know about Halo Infinite is that it is coming to Xbox One (or the Xbox One family of consoles; more on that later) as well as PC. That's notable because the Halo FPS series hasn't been on PC since 2004's Halo 2. Halo: The Master Chief Collection launched on PC this year, and it was a big success on Steam in particular where it set records. There is very clearly an appetite and an audience for Halo on PC, and Halo Infinite will launch on PC with high expectations as it broadens beyond the Xbox console alone. Halo Infinite on PC will launch day and date with the console version, so PC fans don't have to worry about waiting.
Halo Infinite is scheduled to release holiday 2020 on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC. Hopefully, Microsoft will announce a specific release date sometime soon. We're guessing that it'll spill the beans during E3 2020.
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 other form of franchise extension beyond the main storyline. It is a "spiritual reboot" of the franchise, according to 343 studio boss Bonnie Ross.
Halo is best known for its multiplayer mode, but unfortunately, no details are available at this stage beyond the 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). You can expect Halo Infinite to bring back its classic team-based multiplayer, but with the Halo franchise generally understood to be not as popular or influential as it once was, Microsoft will need to deliver something new and compelling in the multiplayer department to reignite interest in the aging series. Halo 5's massive-scale, MOBA-style Warzone mode was a refreshing take on the Halo formula, and fans will be looking to see Halo Infinite innovate even further on the multiplayer side.
Who's Developing It?
It is also worth noting that Halo Infinite isn't being developed by 343 Industries alone. The studio has recruited SkyBox labs to help; the Vancouver-based studio also worked on Halo 5: Forge for Windows 10 and did the work on Halo 5's Xbox One X enhancements.
Will It Have Microtransactions?
2019 also saw some concerns float to the surface about Halo Infinite as it relates to key developers and microtransactions. Several key staff left the studio during the year, beginning with creative director Tim Longo who resigned in August. His replacement, Mary Olson, then left 343 Industries in October. Microsoft responded to concerns about the high-level staff departures by stating that both Longo and Olson worked on the campaign, and it's not uncommon for developers to move on as their parts of the game have finished.
Regarding microtransactions, a job listing at 343 Industries revealed that Halo Infinite will have some form of microtransactions. The listing described the system as a "AAA investment experience" featuring methods for players to customize their characters. Reading between the lines, it sounds like Halo Infinite may feature cosmetics, but this is not confirmed yet. None of this is a surprise, as many AAA multiplayer shooter games offer microtransactions. In fact, it is rare for such AAA games not to have microtransactions. Microtransactions can run afoul with players when they border on the icky and manipulative side. Still, it's so early, so we don't know anything about how Halo Infinite will handle microtransactions or specific pricing details. It bears mentioning, too, that Halo 5 had microtransactions as well--and they generated a lot of money.
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 eventually get a crack at the beta later on.
How Do I Pre-Order?
Pre-orders are not yet open for Halo Infinite at any major retailers. However, we'll be sure to update this feature once they do.