In August, 343 and Microsoft announced that it has decided to delay Halo Infinite from its holiday 2020 release date to some time in 2021. Halo Infinite was originally supposed to be a launch game for the Xbox Series X but was unable to meet the time frame.
Now, Halo Infinite is slotted for sometime in Fall 2021, specifically, which narrows the release window for the next Master Chief adventure. 343 also shared two new screenshots from the Halo Infinite multiplayer. Halo Infinite’s multiplayer will also be free-to-play.
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Coincidentally, Halo will celebrate its 20th anniversary on November 15, 2021. Something 343 head Bonnie Ross highlighted in a tweet.
So proud of the work this team has accomplished and looking forward to sharing more soon. Fall of 2021…hmm, doesn’t someone have an anniversary coming up? https://t.co/gB2ulpkx4J
— Bonnie Ross (@PlutonForEver) December 9, 2020
Graphics and Art Improvement
The most complete look at Halo Infinite was revealed during an Xbox Games Showcase earlier in the summer. However, the demo received blowback after failing to meet expectations, particularly in graphics and art style.
343 addressed these points directly in its new blog post writing, “[T]he reality is that the art and visuals weren’t at the bar we hold for Halo – even in a work-in-progress state,” said 343’s director of art management Neil Harrison.
“Much of the feedback we heard from the community aligned with our own views and work we were already committed to doing around things like indirect lighting, material response, foliage and tree rendering, clouds, level-of-detail transitions, and character fidelity,” Harrison says.
343 development manager for graphics Ani Shastry also added that “Visual fidelity is a very important goal for Halo Infinite, and the graphics and art teams have been continually aspiring, and working closely with each other, to create the best-looking Halo game ever.”
The developers even talked about Craig, the infamous Brute whose emotionless face became a meme. “I can confirm that the facial animation on NPCs were not fully implemented in that [summer] build, which resulted iN Craig’s incredibly deadpan/lifeless look,” says Harrison. “There’s been further work done on the material fidelity and more variety added for Brute faces, we’re also working to add some hairdos and beards which was something we hadn’t gotten to in July. So, whilst we have come to love our dear old Craig, he’s certainly undergoing a significant makeover.”
As for online customization, 343 talked about its new “coating” system. Whereas in the past customization was relegated to simple RGBs in primary and secondary channels, the coating system lets players “define color, wear and tear, patterns, and materials on a region-by-region basis” on a spartan or anything in a game whether it’s armor, weapons, vehicles, or even fuel barrels.
That means weapon skins will be more varied in Halo Infinite, and options to change more parts of a Spartan armor like the helmet, helmet attachment, shoulder pads, and visors are coming.
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This latest update is the high-level Halo Infinite community update 343 promised back in November. 343 community director Brian Jarrard said at the time that there will not be a reveal at The Game Awards, as some had theorized. Instead, 343 is delivering its update directly to the community.
In the meantime development on Halo Infinite continues, but not without some shakeups. 343 brought back Halo veteran Joseph Staten to the Halo Infinite development team, while director Chris Lee has left. The developers also said that there are no plans to delay Halo Infinite back to 2022.
Staten, who is now the creative director of Halo Infinite says, “We needed more time to do things right. That included pushing hard in the fall, giving the team time to recharge over the holidays, and then coming back in January to finish the game at a healthy place.” Staten also says he completed the campaign for Halo Infinite twice.
“I could feel the classic Halo ’30 seconds of fun’ beating at the heart of Infinite’s world. But I had never felt more powerful, more mobile, more in command of a rich set of tactical choices. This was the Halo we imagined back in 2000, finally come to life, after 20 years of technical and creative innovation.”
Matt T.M. Kim is a reporter for IGN.