Halo Infinite is easily one the most highly-anticipated Xbox Series X games on the horizon, and it promises to reboot the Halo franchise from the ground up. The game was supposed to be a launch title for Microsoft’s Xbox Series X console, but was sadly delayed. Halo Infinite is now scheduled to arrive during Fall 2021 (September – December), with a firm release date yet to be confirmed.
Described as a “spiritual reboot” by developer 343 Industries, Halo Infinite will continue the series’ ongoing story when it comes to Xbox One, PC (including Steam), Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. The game will come to Xbox Game Pass on day one and support ray-tracing, which will be added in a post-launch patch. Microsoft has also promised Xbox Series X players will enjoy an optimized version of the game, with “up to 4k resolution at 60FPS in campaign and greatly reduced load times creating seamless gameplay that ushers in the next generation of gaming”.
It sounds like the game is shaping up nicely, then, but read on for more Halo Infinite news, updates and gameplay trailers.
Halo Infinite: key facts
- What is it? The sixth game in the main Halo series
- When is it out? Fall 2021
- What can I play it on? Xbox One, PC and Xbox Series X/S
- Will Halo Infinite be on Xbox Game Pass? Yes, from day one
- Will Halo Infinite have split-screen multiplayer? Yes
Halo Infinite release date
For months, Microsoft and 343 Industries touted a 2020 release date that coincided with the launch of the Xbox Series X (though Halo Infinite will be a cross-generation title). Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case.
On August 11, 2020 Microsoft and 343 announced that Halo Infinite would be delayed until 2021 to give the team more time to polish the game, and hopefully give gamers a better experience at launch. The move was made to also preserve the health of the development team who, during the impact of coronavirus, have had to adapt to entirely different working conditions and a number of logistical issues.
Here’s the full tweet for context:
Halo Infinite Development Update pic.twitter.com/TFZvXhRN9fAugust 11, 2020
As of December 2020, we now know that Halo Infinite will release during Fall 2021, which spans September to December. That’s potentially a whole year after Xbox Series X launched, but 343 Industries are confident the delay will result in a vastly better game.
343 Industries head Bonnie Ross has offered assurance to fans that while “the wait has been difficult”, the delay means that the developer can give fans “the Halo game you deserve”.
As 343 Day draws to a close, we’re excited to offer a closer look at Halo Infinite development and share our updated launch window of Fall 2021.Read more in the first Inside Infinite: https://t.co/1m5mLSJKVm pic.twitter.com/FyDDs1WNoJDecember 8, 2020
But could Halo’s 20th anniversary help us predict when Halo Infinite will release? Potentially. Halo’s anniversary takes place on November 15, 2021, which falls on a Monday this year. While games typically release on Tuesday in the US and Friday in the UK, it would make sense if Halo Infinite came out during the week of its anniversary, so a November 16 release date isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
Halo Infinite gameplay
Halo Infinite kicked off the show during Microsoft’s Xbox Game Showcase event in July 2020, and as you can see from the trailer above, it’s a very reminiscent of Halo: Combat Evolved. There’s a familiarity to the verdant environments, as well as iconic weapons on display as well as vehicles from the long-running series, including the Warthog. It’s reassuringly Halo-like, but leagues ahead in terms of presentation compared to the older games.
This is a more open world-looking Halo game, though, with an in-game map called the ‘TacMap’ that shows how you can explore different parts of this extra-sized Halo ring and tackle certain missions, each of which have their own difficult rating. 343 Industries says the environment in Halo Infinite is “several times larger than that of the last two Halo games combined” and we can see that there is a day and night cycle in play.
In the menu screen, we also see an item called ‘Upgrades’, suggesting you can make RPG-style improvements to Master Chief, which would be a first for the series.
We also see some of the Banished, Halo Infinite’s main alien antagonists who were previously seen in Halo Wars 2. In the story, the Banished, led by Brute War Chief Escharum, have declared victory over the UNSC forces and taken over a Halo ring. This is Chief’s first encounter with the Banished. Some of the Covenant enemy types here look familiar, too, but the presence of the Banished should present a new spin on the Brute enemies from classic Halo games like Halo 3.
We see a grappling hook revealed (technically called a Grappleshot), too, which lets you pull Master Chief towards enemies and objects, or help him reach higher ground to deliver fire from above. There’s a glimpse of a Drop Shield, too, which offers the Chief protection from enemy fire when out in the field. These new additions are designed to help you personalize your approach to combat in Halo Infinite, and seem to be more fleshed out than Halo 5’s rather limited Spartan abilities.
Despite some rather unglamorous screenshots, Halo Infinite still appears to be a beautiful-looking showcase of what the Xbox Series X is capable of, and an exciting teaser of more to come from 343 Industries. The game is built on 343’s new Slipspace Engine and, although Microsoft confirmed that the gameplay wasn’t running on an Xbox Series X, it was at least on a PC that’s “representative of the experience players will have on Xbox Series X”.
Halo Infinite trailers
Microsoft began its Xbox Games Showcase for the Xbox Series X with a beautiful-looking CG teaser trailer for Halo Infinite, followed by the gameplay demo above. The first trailer shows Master Chief’s Mjolnir armor being reforged. Check it out below:
Check out the Halo Infinite 2019 E3 teaser below too, in case you missed that:
Halo Infinite was officially announced during Microsoft’s E3 2018 conference, with the below teaser.
Halo Infinite multiplayer
We haven’t seen Halo Infinite’s multiplayer in action yet, but we do know some key things about it.
The first multiplayer details spilled out as early as 2017 when head of 343 Industries, Bonnie Ross, confirmed that the game would include split-screen co-op multiplayer at DICE 2017.
The decision to remove split-screen co-op from Halo 5: Guardians, in favor of an online-only version, was met with criticism from fans, as it had been a staple Halo feature that had been around since the first game was released in 2001. Ross said Halo 5’s removal was “painful”, adding that “it erodes trust with the community. [We’ve had a] lot of learnings from that, and I would say for any FPS going out forward we will always have split screen going forward.”
Commitment to split-screen was reiterated in an Xbox Wire post during E3 2019, where Community Director Brian Jarrard said that split-screen support would make its long-awaited return to the series.
Since then, we’ve learned that while Halo Infinite will restore this fan-favorite feature, multiplayer will be quite different to other entries in the series with regards to its frame rate and resolution.
According to a tweet from the official Halo account, Halo Infinite’s multiplayer will run at 120fps and will also be free-to-play.
Halo is for everyone. We can confirm #HaloInfinite multiplayer will be free-to-play and will support 120FPS on Xbox Series X. More details will be shared later! pic.twitter.com/9bIrppFiONJuly 31, 2020
We’ve also been given a first look at an armor render from the upcoming game. In the a Halo Waypoint update, 343 Industries showed the Mark VII Mjolnir armor in a Monarch coasting. The render is marked as a work-in-progress so could be subject to change, but we expect this will be a customization option for the game’s multiplayer mode.
Klobrille, an Xbox leaker who has previously leaked accurate Halo Infinite details, tweeted to say that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer will also include a battle pass system as well as new customization options.
No battle pass has been officially confirmed, but in a December 2020 Halo Waypoint post lead progression designer Christopher Blohm confirmed “that there will be some premium cosmetics, but players will still obtain tons of customisation content through things like playing campaign, challenges, skill, special events, legacy rewards (such as the Halo 5 SR 152 reward), the progression system, and more.” He added “Players that play for free will be able unlock items across a multitude of different customisation types to allow them to represent themselves in-game.”
Blohm also made it clear that there will be “No loot boxes. No randomness or items that influence the sandbox and gameplay.”
Given an interview with Polygon in which Xbox boss Phil Spencer teased that Halo Infinite could see a change in structure from previous Halo games, with his comments leading many to speculate that Halo Infinite will be an ongoing platform for plenty of post-launch support, a battle pass system wouldn’t be entirely surprising.
Battle pass monetization would also make sense if those rumors that Microsoft is planning to overhaul Xbox Live Gold, or phase it out, for free-to-play games do actually end up being accurate.
343 has said we’ll see Infinite’s multiplayer in action soon and has confirmed that the game’s first Insider Flighting will finally be coming at some point in 2021, meaning Halo Insiders will get to go hands on with the game’s multiplayer ahead of release.
You can check out the interior space of one of Halo Infinite’s work-in-progress maps below.
Halo Infinite news and features
Below we’ve gathered up the latest news and rumors around Halo Infinite.
Halo Infinite won’t have these two classic features
According to developer 343 Industries, who shared a surprising amount of new Halo Infinite details in a lengthy video, said that dual-wielding is not in the game, nor is the ability to play as a Covenant Elite.
343 said that playable Elites wouldn’t be present because “this is a Master Chief and Spartan story”, though they did say “never say never”, which means we could see them appear later down the line.
Dual-wielding, a feature that was first added in Halo 2 but has by no means been a mainstay for the franchise, is also not on the cards. 343 acknowledged that while “We can do everything”, they wanted to focus primarily on nailing the game’s weapons, grenades, melee and equipment in Halo Infinite.
New screenshots show the game “coming together” and the Time-of-Day lighting system
In February 2021, as part of its regular updates on the progress of Halo Infinite, 343 Industries released a handful of brand new work-in-progress 4K screenshots, captured on the PC version of Halo Infinite, giving fans a fresh look at the game world and the visual progress that’s been made in recent months.
As part of the blogpost containing the screenshots, Alex Le Boulicaut, Halo Infinite’s Graphics Producer, said that after the widely criticised Campaign demo from July 2020, “the team has been continuously iterating on outstanding graphics and lighting work to deliver a more immersive experience” and that “this team effort is finally coming together, and we are very excited to share some of the results with our community today!”
One particular group of screenshots (see them below) show the game’s time-of-day lighting system, which Campaign Art Lead, Justin Dinges, called “one of, if not THE largest graphical feature implemented into our engine over the past few years.”
Dinges explained that the time-of-day system can change the tone and mood of a location depending on when you visit it, saying that “coming across a mysterious Forerunner obelisk during the day may feel peaceful and serene, where at night it might feel much more ominous and threatening – it really adds some incredible dynamically-driven visual variety throughout the experience where we were not able to have it before.”
Alongside Sandbox Lead, Troy Mashburn, and World Design Lead, John Mulkey, Dinges also explained how the game’s grappleshot will change traversal and combat, allowing players to “get to spots and areas that in previous titles we may have prevented them from getting to” and to pull weapons and launch themselves at enemies “to land a powerful melee attack.” The grappleshot is, apparently, a good example of the game being a ‘spiritual reboot’ which Mashburn said is “a term we use to describe our approach to introducing new ideas while staying true to what it felt like to play the classic games.”
The blog post also explained that that the game is its bug-fixes and polishing stage and that the final few months of development will see a focus on fixing bugs and “ensuring that the game “runs smoothly across all the platforms”.
In the run up to the release of Halo Infinite, 343 Industries is providing monthly updates on the game’s progress over on the Halo Waypoint blog. Called “Inside Infinite“, the series will give high-level updates on the game and “provide insights into the game we are making from the people who are making it.”
January 2021 saw an interview with the game’s Sandbox team covering “all of the vehicles, equipment, weapons, and objects that the player will interact with.” While February included a wider look at the world of Zeta Halo. March and April are expected to cover audio and PC, while the topics of future instalments are yet to be confirmed.
Xbox One release is still on the cards
Following the announcement that Halo Infinite will be coming in Fall 2021 rather than Spring, there’s been a resurgence in rumours that the game won’t be coming to Xbox One and will instead be limited to Xbox Series X/S and PC. This is something that 343 Industries has previously denied and Community Manager John Junyszek reiterated the denial that the Xbox One version is being dropped in a response to a fan on Twitter (via VGC).
Assurances from Bonnie Ross after the delay
In a recent development update post on Halo Waypoint, 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross assured fans that Halo Infinite’s delay means that the developer can give fans “the Halo game you deserve”.
Ross thanked fans for their patience in the face of the delay and said that “2021 will be a big year for the Halo franchise. As we recently announced, Halo Infinite will release in fall of 2021. I realize the wait has been difficult, and I assure you that the team wants the game in your hands as soon as possible, but they also want to deliver something special…the Halo game you deserve.”
Waypoint update on 8 December 2020
In a wide-ranging update posted to the Halo Waypoint blog on December 8 2020, it was confirmed that the game will be coming in Fall 2021 with the first Insider flighting coming “later next year” (that’ll be some time in 2021).
Since the somewhat disastrous Campaign demo from mid-2020, the 343 team has apparently been hard at work on the game’s visuals.
According to Ani Shastry, Development Manager for the Graphics team on Halo Infinite, “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.”
Shastry went on to say that “On the graphics technology front we have made improvements along with fixing bugs that were inherent to some of the techniques, as well as iterating and polishing the features that were still in development … Some of the key areas of progress include better quality of global illumination, ambient occlusion, shadows, volumetric lighting, sky, and atmosphere. We have also addressed issues with our GPU-driven rendering and texture streaming solution that should mitigate the LOD popping and texture quality issues that were prevalent in the July demo.”
In addition to this, improvements have been made in Art and Content “across all disciplines such as Environment, Lighting, Weapons, FX and more.” Oh, and the infamous Brute “Craig” is “undergoing a significant makeover” after achieving fame in July while other characters and 3D models are undergoing “significant changes”.
Alongside those key details, 343’s Joseph Staten revealed towards the end of the post that he’s played the entire Infinite campaign twice, stating that he was left “stunned – in the best possible way – by what the team had done.” According to Staten, “Infinite is, by far, the most expansive and vertical Halo world, ever. Why did the team do this? Because they understand that wonder and freedom are key to the Halo experience.”
He went on to add “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 Truly, Halo Infinite is a world in which I love spending time and that I’m thrilled to return to, both as a designer and a player. On behalf of the entire team, thank you for your patience and your passion.”
Staff turnover nothing to worry about
Following the departure of director Chris Lee from the development of Halo Infinite, Phil Spencer has said that staff turnover isn’t anything to worry about. In an interview with GameSpot, Spencer said “I don’t have any specific concern about 343. I actually think in the long run, turnover is a healthy thing because we want people who are really motivated by the things that they’re working on.”
Spencer expressed faith in Bonnie Ross and said that he was feeling good about Halo veterans, Jospeh Staten and Pierre Hintze joining the team as project leads for the game’s campaign and multiplayer respectively.
Spencer also touched on the game’s delay coming soon after its underwhelming July showcase, explaining that sometimes what’s being reported doesn’t line up with the timeline of events, stating “Sometimes what hits the press, or when certain things get announced internally, have actually happened months before…It’s not always accurate when these things line up—we did take the feedback coming out of the July showcase event seriously, both on the date and what people were expecting from the game.”
Spencer went on to add “It was a miss on our part, on my part, to open our July showcase with Halo Infinite and then a couple of weeks later have to move the date.”
In an interview with GameSpot, Phil Spencer has noted that 343 has a “clear vision” for the future of Halo and has suggested that it won’t be gritty realism. In the interview, Spencer said:
“I think there were certain people that were looking for Halo Infinite to be this lifelike gritty real-world looking game when we first showed it. And for those of us that have been around Halo for a long time, that’s never been Halo. It’s always had a certain palette and a certain look and I actually think there’s more games in the industry now that are, it’s less about how realistic or how M-[Rated] can I make a game and more about the fun and engagement that games have. And that’s where I really think that Infinite is going to shine.”
Still on track for 2021 according to insider
A Twitter user by the name of Klobrille claiming to be connected with Xbox has tweeted that Halo Infinite is on track for its 2021 release date, stating that the game is “more or less” finished and focus has moved to “technical aspects”. This is, of course, not official word from Microsoft and Xbox and while Klobrille has previously been accurate in details they’ve leaked this should be taken with a pinch of salt.
In another blow for the development of Halo Infinite, Bloomberg has reported that the game’s director, Chris Lee, has departed the project. This makes him the second top director to leave the project in two years.
The departure comes after the game’s recent delay announcement. Lee has told Bloomberg that he has “stepped back from Infinite” and is “looking at future opportunities”, adding “I believe in the team and am confident they will deliver a great game and now is a good time for me to step away.”
In a statement, Microsoft has said that “Chris Lee remains a Microsoft employee and while he has stepped back from Halo: Infinite right now, we appreciate all he has done for the project to date.”
343 Industries has responded to players who have expressed concern and confusion over Halo Infinite’s customization system.
In a thread of tweets, community manager John Junyszek explained the changes being made to the system, saying that the new Coatings are only one part of how players will choose their look in the game.
I’m seeing a decent amount of confusion around coatings out there, so I wanted to jump in and address some of the common talking points. Thread below! https://t.co/D6tP6pgSZUOctober 24, 2020
According to Junyszek, Coatings and colors will be able to be earned in-game, not only purchased. He also added that while moving away from the old system was “a tough call” it has made it possible “to go into greater detail and variation with Armor color, materials, patterns, etc.”
In a Halo Waypoint post in December 2020, Lead Progression Designer Chris Blohm elaborated on Infinite’s new customization, saying that:
“The coating system allows us to define color, wear and tear, patterns, and materials on a region-by-region basis on the Spartan or anything in the game be it armor, weapons, vehicles, or even environment elements like fuel barrels. To get to our design vision we needed to make an exceedingly difficult decision to move away from a system that was in the game from the early days – primary and secondary color. This decision was not made lightly, but it has laid the foundation for greater detail and variation when it comes to color customization.
“We have looked at the system and we understand the concern. In our recent value balancing pass, which was a direct result of community feedback around coatings, we have looked hard at how many coatings are in the starting set and how many and of what quality are unlocked via engagement vs other systems.
“Coatings are one part of the customization picture, but we feel all-up we will hit our goal for player representation by offering more possibilities across the entire system. While this does mean losing some player control, it increases the depth of customization that we can achieve internally and that you can ultimately show off publicly.”
Rumors of new features being added to Halo Infinite
A Twitter user under the name Qilin, claiming to be involved in the development of Halo Infinite, has said (via GamesRadar) that Halo Infinite is “looking amazing” and that “new features” have been added in early stages. There are no specifics on what these new features might be but other tweets from Qilin also say that the developer is “taking our time to perfect this now that we got a delay”.
Of course, as with anything that isn’t coming from a confirmed Microsoft or 343 Industries source, we should take this with a pinch of salt. While this account has previously teased details about Microsoft IPs before official announcements that’s no guarantee that anything stated about Halo Infinite is accurate. The fact that the initial tweets have since been deleted also casts some doubt on their veracity.
No plans to cancel the Xbox One version
343 Industries has denied recent rumors that Halo Infinite will be delayed into 2022 and that the Xbox One version of the game has been shelved. According to Halo Infinite community manager, John Junyszek, the game is still on track for 2021 for all platforms.
Hey Eric – we’re seeing lots of fake “leaks” out there, so please don’t believe everything you read. There are no plans to change our 2021 release or the devices and platforms we’ll be supporting. We’re building Halo Infinite to be the best it can be on each device/platform 👊August 25, 2020
Head of design at 343, Jerry Hook, has tweeted to provide some clarity around split-screen in the game’s campaign mode. According to Hook, Halo Infinite’s campaign mode will support two-player split-screen and 4 player online co-op.
Addressing those underwhelming visuals
Following the Halo Infinite reveal in July, some fans expressed concerns about the underwhelming graphics on show, prompting a lengthy blog post on Halo Waypoint from 343 Industries’ community manager John Junyszek, in which he acknowledged that the studio has heard the feedback from Halo fans loud and clear, and provides an explanation on why Halo Infinite looks the way it does.
“In many ways we are in agreement here – we do have work to do to address some of these areas and raise the level of fidelity and overall presentation for the final game,” writes Junyszek.
He goes on to clarify that the build we saw at the Xbox Games Showcase was a “work-in-progress from several weeks ago with a variety of graphical elements and game systems still being finished and polished”.
Halo Infinite could be a 10 year game
In an interview with IGN, 343 Industries outlined a future vision of Halo built around Infinite. “Halo Infinite is the start of our platform for the future,” said Chris Lee from 343. “We want Infinite to grow over time, versus going to those numbered titles and having all that segmentation that we had before. It’s really about creating Halo Infinite as the start of the next ten years for Halo and then building that as we go with our fans and community.”
The interview goes on to explain that future Master Chief stories will be told under the “umbrella” of Infinite, making it sound more like a platform for all future Halo games rather than just an individual title.
This lines up with a previous interview that Xbox boss Phil Spencer had with Polygon, in which he teased that Halo Infinite could see a change in structure from previous Halo games and said that lessons had been learned from the Master Chief Collection.
“There’s been a ton of learning in the studio around what does it mean to actually have a collection, the kind of totality of the Halo lore and stories and experience inside of one Halo world, one Halo UI, and platform,” Spencer told Polygon.
“As 343 has gone through this journey, they’ve seen some of the benefits of not requiring that our customers make a decision between ‘Do I want to play this one or that one?’ I feel like in a way, the games almost compete with each other. You see that with some of the annualized franchises that are out there – which clearly Halo’s not annualized – but you see that where you spend a lot of energy actually trying to move the customers who are already playing your game to a new version of your game. I think as gaming has evolved, there’s a view of ‘our customers are our customers and we should respect them where they are.’ It’s similar to our Xbox message, and I think you’ll see that in terms of the way Infinite is talked about–even the structure of what the game is itself.”
Halo Infinite box art
On July 22, ahead of the Xbox Series X games showcase, Microsoft revealed the game’s box art. Here’s what it looks like in full. It’s very nostalgic in style, portraying Master Chief on a very traditional-looking Halo ring.
Banished are the antagonists, but you don’t need to do any homework
Following the Xbox Games Showcase, we now know that The Banished, the main antagonists from Halo Wars 2, are back to cause problems with a new leader called Escharum.
In an interview with IGN, the development team promised that players won’t have to have played through Halo Wars 2 in order to understand the role of The Banished, nor will it be necessary to be entrenched in every aspect of the Halo universe, saying “We don’t want a game where players have to do homework to enjoy this game.”
The Banished were the villains of choice for 343 in order “to have something that’s an evolution of the Covenant so you get some of the familiar, but something that’s different [too], and it comes together to feel fresh.”
Xbox Series X’s SSD will make a “huge difference” for devs, says Halo co-creator
Speaking to VGC, former Bungie art director, Marcus Lehto, explained that the Xbox Series X’s custom SSD will give developers much more freedom.
“It will make a huge difference,” Lehto told VGC. “It will open up the door for more expansive content that can stream a lot faster. Players won’t be waiting on load screens and we won’t have to hide loading behind cinematics and that kind of thing.
“It will just help make things a lot more seamless and fluid for the player when it comes to their experience on those consoles.
“I am really excited about that because that’s one of the things that’s really hard for us in particular right now: dealing with those old platforms.”
Halo Infinite will be a cross-generation title and release on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X consoles.
Halo Infinite will undoubtedly look better on the next-gen hardware, but at least nobody has to miss out.
Halo franchise director Frank O’Connor put fears about the quality difference to rest, though, saying at a Halo Outpost event in Orlando (July 2019) that “Xbox One is not going to be a second-class citizen” (via GamesRadar).
Halo Infinite’s audio should be explosive
343 Industries has shared a video that shows its Audio Team hard at work, blowing things up. The explosions will be used to populate Halo Infinite’s audio track, and should provide some pretty impressive and realistic sounds.
Halo Infinite battle royale rumors resurface
A Reddit post from October has resurfaced which points to Halo Infinite getting a battle royale mode. The game mode was tipped to be free and set on Zeta Halo. The Reddit user goes on to say that “343 has wanted to make this BR unlike any to come before and there are some BIG and I mean BIG plans for this”, however, they’ve since come forward to admit that their leak was fake.
Brian Jarrad, 343 Industries community manager took to Twitter to dismiss the rumor, though didn’t explicitly say that a battle royale mode wouldn’t come to the next installment in the series.
Btw yes I’m aware we could help solve this with real news. We certainly have some things we’re overdue on and eager to talk more about. We’re in the process of pulling together a year-end update.November 30, 2020