Microsoft has announced an autumn 2021 release date for Halo Infinite.
The game, which is being developed by 343 Industries, was set to release alongside the Xbox Series X and S consoles as a launch title but was delayed to 2021 due to “development challenges” as the studio felt the date was “not sustainable” for the team’s well-being or for the “overall success of the game”.
This week, several members of the Halo Infinite development team shared an update on the game’s status, confirming that the studio has been working to address various issues and past criticism.
Halo Infinite Creative Director Joseph Staten revealed that he’s played through Halo Infinite’s campaign twice in the post, saying: “I was, in a word, stunned – in the best possible way – by what the team had done. 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.
“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.”
He added: “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.”
When 343 Industries first revealed gameplay footage of Halo Infinite back in July, the studio was hit with a barrage of criticism for its questionable visuals, which many claimed did not look “next-gen”.
In the post, Halo Infinite Director of Art Management Neill Harrison confirmed that the studio has been working hard to improve the game’s graphics, saying: “The primary goal for the Campaign demo in July was showing Halo Infinite gameplay for the first time. While that aspect generally landed as we wanted, the reality is that the art and visuals weren’t at the bar we hold for Halo – even in a work-in-progress state.
“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. Still, the feedback was humbling, and it pushed us to look at additional opportunities for improvement.”
Since the release of the gameplay footage in July, Halo Infinite’s graphics and art teams have been working closely together to “create the best-looking Halo game ever”, and the team published several new screenshots to showcase its improved visuals.
Also in the blog post, 343 Industries addressed Craig, an enemy from the July gameplay footage which became the crutch of memes and criticism for the model’s lifeless animation. According to 343 Industries, the reason for Craig’s lifeless look was because facial animations had not yet been implemented on NPCs by the time the footage was shown.
Harrison said of the brute: “Poor old Craig was never intended to be seen in that condition which is not something that was evident during the gameplay. It was only later, in the close-up freeze frames of his one bad moment, where it came to light and the legend of Craig was born.”
Harrison then confirmed that more variety has been added to the game for brute and enemy faces and that the developers are currently working on adding new hair and beards, with Craig “undergoing a significant makeover”.
Finally, 343 Industries confirmed that Halo Infinite does not have loot boxes nor randomness in rewards including in Infinite’s free-to-play multiplayer. However, the game will feature customisation items which can be bought with real money, although most items can be obtained throughout the campaign as well as through challenges, events, and more.
Halo Infinite is still a long way away, but as already confirmed by the new blog update, this extended delay will provide 343 Industries with additional time to improve the title’s gameplay and visuals. While you’re waiting for the game to release, you can read the full blog post update here, and remember to check back here for all the latest news.