Halo Infinite's ringworld isn't open-world, but it is teeming with gophers

Halo Infinite's world isn't quite as open as some have speculated, according to an in-depth Ask343 developer stream posted last night.

That was just one of dozens of insights provided during the 40-minute AMA, which covered everything from weather systems and vehicle reworks to the tiny critters that'll populate the ringworld's ecosystem. Speaking to tensions raised by a very Ubisoft-looking map screen in last year's reveal, gameplay director Troy Mashburn explained that Master Chief won't be out "gathering leather" or crafting new items.

Instead, he cites missions like The Silent Cartographer, a level in the first Halo that effectively gave you free reign over a small island—letting you approach fights from different angles or else avoid them entirely. The team wants to stretch this ethos across the entire game. Citing an instance in Halo 5 where a level transition would take a Scorpion tank away from you at a gate, Mashburn explains that Infinite imagines a scenario where not only do you get to keep the tank, but you could use it to bypass the gate entirely—sneaking around to blow up enemy armour before they even know you're around.

If you find yourself in a banshee, no invisible walls will stop you from nipping ahead and finding new marines to rescue, Banished to fight, or caves to spelunk. But it doesn't sound like a game brimming with countless, sprawling side-quests, and the main plot will always drag you back to an "anchor" point. The world still sounds quite open—just not in the checklist-clearing way that's come to define the term "open world."

The devlog does make it feel like the world will feel alive and grounded, mind. The setting of Zeta Halo will feature proper weather patterns, and the ring itself is a 3D model that may occasionally eclipse the sun during day/night rotations. There won't be hostile fauna to deal with, but the ring is teeming with adorable "space gophers," and bioluminescent creatures that skitter in the dark.

Sadly, for fans of Halo 3's akimbo SMGs, duel-wielding won't be making a return. 343 would prefer to focus on the guns/grenades/melee/equipment loop, and duel-wielding simply didn't fit. There also won't be any playable Elites, sorry. 343 said Infinite is purely a "Master Chief and Spartan story", though didn't write off making the leathery aliens playable in future. Remember, Halo Infinite is meant to stick around for the next ten years. Who knows what'll happen?

Halo Infinite is due this autumn.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.