Halo Infinite is the official name for Halo 6, and it's coming to PC—but not until this autumn. After Infinite's poorly received 2020 gameplay reveal, 343 decided to reassess its planned launch date and push the game back a whole year. That debut did give us a look at Halo Infinite's main enemies, The Banished, and some new gadgets and weapons for Master Chief. There's also that new, much bigger Halo environment we'll be exploring.
Feedback from fans (and poor slack-faced Brute Craig becoming a meme) made it clear Halo Infinite's graphics weren't up to expectations. In late 2020, 343 brought Bungie veteran Joseph Staten onboard to help guide Halo Infinite in its final year, towards a fall 2021 release.
In December, Staten wrote a post calling Infinite's release "just the beginning of the adventure" and saying to expect regular updates "sharing more about what we’re doing and, most importantly, why we’re doing it."
Halo Infinite: Fast facts
- Forge mode: It's back!
- Is there a Halo ring: You bet your ass
- Micro-transactions: "No loot boxes. No randomness or items that influence the sandbox and gameplay."
- Battle royale mode: 343 Industries has said it isn't planning one.
What is the Halo Infinite release date?
Halo Infinite will release in autumn 2021.
It was originally planned as a launch title for the Xbox Series X, with a launch window during the 2020 holidays. Since then, 343 Industries has announced a delay to 2021 "to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo game experience that meets our vision."
Who wants to bet the release date ends up being November 15th, the 20th anniversary of Halo: Combat Evolved's release?
Check out 8 minutes of Halo Infinite gameplay
We got our first look at Halo Infinite in action in a gameplay reveal during Microsoft's Xbox Games showcase for July 2020. There's quite a bit to catch here, from the Banished brute faction, to the new grappling hook, to the more open-world looking objective map for Infinite. 343 have said this section takes place about four hours into Infinite's campaign.
Is that a grappling hook?
Sure is. Who doesn't enjoy a good grapple? The Chief will have access to various upgrades found while exploring. The grapple shot is one possible upgrade, used for grappling towards enemies or pulling them to the Chief, climbing to elevated areas, or pulling some items into your hands.
In an Inside Infinite post from January, one of 343's senior designers let on that there's more to the grappleshot than we've seen so far. "Not only does it just feel fun to use, but there’s additional functionality that hasn’t been revealed yet that adds some more…offense-focused gameplay that I’m super excited to show off."
The grappleshot isn't the only piece of equipment Master Chief will have in Infinite. You'll be able to equip four pieces at once, each with its own abilities. This is what we've seen so far:
Grappleshot: Can be used to climb or cross terrain, grapple towards large enemies, and pull weapons or fusion coils to you. There are still remaining grappleshot functions we have yet to see.
Drop wall: Like Halo 3's drop shield, this protects against enemy projectiles while letting you pass through it. It deploys in the shape of a curved wall rather than a full dome, though.
What new weapons are in Halo Infinite?
Courtesy of IGN, here is a list of new weapons you'll be able to find and fire in Halo Infinite:
Ravager: A Banished three-round burst energy weapon that runs on plasma fuel.
Mangler: A Banished pistol with giant kinetic projectiles that fires more slowly than the UNSC pistol but deals more damage.
CQS48 Bulldog: New UNSC riot shotgun that replaces the classic shotgun.
VK78 Commando: This UNSC rifle can go full auto and is good for mid-long range.
Pulse Carbine: A familiar but not quite identical version of the classic Covenant carbine weapon.
Halo infinite has a more open world
As seen in the gameplay reveal, Halo Infinite will have a more open world than past Halo games. The section we got a look at was several hours into the game, at which point it sounds like Master Chief can tackle various objectives, though 343 says there's still definitely a linear story to follow.
"What you saw in the demo that we showed, you have this map. There's this huge open section of the ring. As you get to that point in the game, this is several hours into the campaign, then you have the ability to traverse that whole area and explore where you want to go on the ring," studio head Chris Lee told IGN.
"That's what we mean by open and explore the different places that you can go to. There's definitely a sense of freedom that you haven't had before [in Halo]. You will get to choose your path there. But we do also want to tell that story, so while you're doing that we want to keep the story moving forward versus like a nonlinear story or something like that."
"You'll be pulled to some of these locations as well, which you could say is story-based. It's also what the franchise is about. We really are trying to make sure there are things for Chief to do that reinforce the heroism and the hope he brings to humanity and those are pretty strong draws around the world," added associate creative director Paul Crocker.
343 is also bringing the Ring to life a bit more with a day/night cycle and wildlife running around the open areas.
In January's Inside Infinite, 343's lead vehicle designer explained how the dream of a bigger and more open Halo has impacted Halo's vehicles too.
"To meet the fantasy of a more expansive Halo, we really needed to unlock our environment artists and level designers to make much more complex terrain. Early on I made the promise to these teams that if they made awesome looking environments, we’d make the vehicles able to traverse them. We have dev builds of all the older Halos (going back to CE), and this terrain is order of magnitude(s) more difficult. While this caused a significant re-tuning of the core vehicles that have been in every Halo, when you see the gorgeous environments of Infinite, I think it’s worth it."
Halo Infinite multiplayer will 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
This will be a big deal for Infinite's multiplayer longevity. With more and more of the most popular multiplayer games going free-to-play (or cheap to get started), making Halo Infinite's multiplayer free from the get-go is a very savvy move from Microsoft. Of course, any member of the increasingly great Game Pass service will get the full game anyway.
Considering that Halo's campaigns are still a huge draw among fans, it's smart to frame its multiplayer as an advertisement for the full game.
Halo Infinite's release was almost split into Campaign and MP
In an interview on the Animal Talking talk show, Xbox boss Phil Spencer explained that Halo Infinite's release was almost split into to two dates: one for the campaign, and one for multiplayer. He said that ultimately, a divided release "didn't feel, to all of us, like the Halo release that we would want."
Instead of the split, Microsoft decided to delay the game into 2021, news that hit fans hard considering Infinite was poised to be the marque launch game of the Xbox Series X.
Since then, Spencer has told Kotaku that "Bonnie [Ross, head of the Halo franchise] and the team will go drive those decisions.” And that, “I think we want to make sure people feel like they have a Halo experience. I think we can look at options like that."
It sounds like the concept of splitting the singleplayer campaign launch from the multiplayer could still be on the table after all.
Halo Infinite is the platform for the next 10 years of Halo
"We want Infinite to grow over time, versus going to those numbered titles and having all that segmentation that we had before," Halo Infinite studio head Chris Lee said in an interview with IGN. "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."
Lee called Infinite a "platform for the future," but we aren't quite sure yet what that means. Apparently 343's intention isn't to create a live service game, though how it plans to substitute new standalone releases with Halo Infinite isn't clear yet. One way or another, they say that there won't be a sequel to Halo Infinite, meaning no Halo 7.
The Banished are back as Halo Infinite's enemies
Our first hint at The Banished came in a transmission video published by 343 Industries includes an audio message from the rebellious faction of Brute mercenaries from Halo Wars 2. Here's the transcript from their message:
“The hour approaches. Our forces occupy the ring. Within hours it will be under our control. Humanity will burn—their brazen defiance will be all but a memory. No more Prophets, no more lies. We stand together, brothers to the end. We are his will. We are his legacy. We are The Banished.”
So why did 343 choose The Banished? “Because they’re super cool and everyone likes them,” developer Paul Crocker joked with IGN. More seriously, he said “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.”
The first gameplay reveal also introduced who a Banished leader named War Chief Escharum, the leader of The Banished on this Halo ring who appears to be the main antagonist. 343 told IGN that Escharum “is connected to The Banished in a fundamental way,” and calls this Halo ring his lats stand.
“This is my last fight, a true test of legends,” Escharum says at the end of the gameplay reveal. “Our story will outlive us both. Set a fire in your heart, Spartan. Bare your fangs. Fight hard. Die well.”
What about Cortana though? Twitter user Xepyal noticed something from the E3 2019 trailer: a series of red flashes in Master Chief's visor that, when spliced together, form a QR code. The code led them to this audio clip. At the end of the clip, we hear Cortana say "This...this is part of me. I don't know why, I don't know how, but it is me." Rogue Cortana may yet play into the plot, though that may be a reveal 343 are looking to save for launch.
Will Forge mode return in Halo Infinite?
Forge is back in Halo Infinite. This time, Forge is being mainly developed by co-developer Skybox Labs, the studio behind Halo 5's PC map making tool Halo 5: Forge. Skybox also handled the Xbox One X enhancements for Halo 5, so it's clear they know their way around a Master Chief.
With every new iteration of Forge, its capabilities grow enormously. From what we can tell, Halo Infinite will be no exception. With regards to a rumored battle royale mode, director Frank O'Connor said it's not included in Infinite, but "you can probably make your own battle royale mode in Forge even right now."
Is a Halo Infinite beta coming?
Yes. In a December 2020 post, 343 said that "we can’t wait for you to join us on the Halo Infinite adventure, first with Insider flighting later next year, and then when we ship in Fall 2021."
Studio director Chris Lee has left the project
Studio director Chris Lee is no longer working on Halo Infinite, according to a report by Bloomberg. The report claims that Lee decided to step away from the game after the July gameplay showcase that drew ire from fans for the game's art style and graphical performance. Lee is reportedly still an employee at Microsoft, but is no longer working on the game.
We're just learning about Lee's departure now, but the shift coincides with the August announcement that Joseph Staten, a Bungie veteran who worked on the first Halo games and Destiny, would be joining the 343 as the new campaign lead on Halo Infinite. This also isn't the first high profile departure from 343 in the last year. Back in August 2019, creative director Tim Longo left the studio while Mary Olson moved onto lead campaign producer. Olson then left the studio just a few months later.
So yea, lots of shakeup happening at 343 lately. With no official release date or window in sight, I'd be interested to know if Infinite is in its final stages of development or undergoing more fundamental changes and edits.
For what it's worth, Phil Spencer says everything is fine.
Let's go out with a bang
If you like big booms, here's a recent clip from 343 showing off some footage of their audio recording team at work. Looks like they got out in the field, very literally in some cases, to record some big explosions for Halo Infinite's space warfare.