Microsoft dropped a big surprise (or near-surprise, if it weren't for Friday's leaks (opens in new tab)) during today's 20th anniversary stream for the Xbox: Halo Infinite (opens in new tab) multiplayer is live right now.
"To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the franchise, Halo Infinite’s multiplayer beta is available now and free to play on Xbox and PC," the Steam listing (opens in new tab) states. "Begin your personal Spartan Journey today with Season 1,'Heroes of Reach,' and stay tuned for upcoming, limited-time in-game events and exclusive rewards."
The kickoff of the first season of Halo Infinite's free-to-play multiplayer component, Heroes of Reach, comes well ahead of the launch of the campaign, which is set for December 8. The season will run until May 2022 (opens in new tab), an extended duration (seasons were originally expected to run for three months each) that 343 Industries said will help it "ensure Season 2 meets our high quality bar and so we can finish development for Season 2 in a healthy and sustainable way for our team."
Players who log into Halo Infinite during the first week will unlock a free reward bundle of anniversary-themed cosmetics. On November 23, the season 1 opening event, Fracture: Tenrai, will get underway, giving players the opportunity to earn the seasonal samurai-themed armor and other customization items. (No Spartan dance moves (opens in new tab), though.)
"In January, after all of you have had a chance to play Halo Infinite’s expansive and adventure-filled campaign starting December 8, and all of us on the Halo Infinite team have had an opportunity to recharge our energy shields over the holidays, we will have more details to share about the season 1 event calendar as well as our season 2, campaign co-op, and Forge release plans," Halo Infinite head of creative Joseph Staten said.
The free-to-play shooter is a 26GB download on Steam, but you may have some trouble getting it right away: More than 52,000 people are currently playing but some servers appear to be struggling and download speeds are very slow for some users—we've found that stopping and starting the download might help restore normal download speeds, so maybe give that a try if you're dragging. Some players have also reported a blue screen when trying to launch the game—developers are aware and working on it.
Please be patient, Spartans! We're aware of an issue where players are hitting a blue screen upon trying to launch #HaloInfinite. Beta build is working through our systems and should hit your console as an update shortly. We're working as hard as we can to get you in the game.November 15, 2021