The Master Chief returns in late 2020… on Xbox Series X
Halo Infinite is going to be a pretty big deal. Few video game franchises form as big a part of Xbox’s identity as Halo – and Microsoft knows it. When you think of Xbox, it’s hard not to imagine the algae-green super soldier that is Master Chief and hours spent fending off the Flood.
So it’s no surprise that there’s a massive new entry on the way for the series: Halo Infinite. Not only that, but the latest chapter in Master Chief’s saga is set to release in late 2020 as a launch title for the next-generation Xbox Series X, while also landing on Xbox Game Pass the same day. What a time to be a Halo fan!
The Halo series has had its ups and downs over the years; the latest offering, Halo 5, was a major disappointment for anyone who loved the series’ single-player campaigns. But Halo Infinite could hopefully be a return to form, reminding people why the games have been so highly regarded in the past.
So far we’ve only got so much to go on: a couple of brief trailers, and not much in the way of actual gameplay, though there is some very good news about split-screen multiplayer that should please long-term fans of the franchise (spoiler: Halo Infinite has it!). We also know the series’ protagonist, Master Chief himself, will be taking center stage, exactly where he belongs.
With E3 2020 cancelled, Microsoft has confirmed that it will hold its own digital event instead – with dates and times to be confirmed. We’re hoping to get a closer look at Halo Infinite during this event, as well as the game’s “unique” features enabled by the game’s new Slipspace engine.
Halo Infinite release date
We now know that Halo Infinite is coming at the end of 2020, to coincide with the launch of the Xbox Series X (though it will be a cross-generation title). Microsoft has given a release window of “Holiday 2020”, so we’re expecting the game to release, alongside Series X, sometime between October and December 2020.
We think a November release date is the most likely as that’s when, historically, Microsoft has previously launched new consoles.
It’s a bit longer than we might have expected since the last Halo title – Halo 5: Guardians, back in 2015 – but we don’t blame Microsoft for making sure they have the goods for a new console launch. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all.
Halo Infinite trailers
Microsoft couldn’t resist teasing Halo Infinite during its E3 2019 keynote, showing a trailer that raised more questions than it answered. Yes, Master Chief comes back… but he’s powered down and alone.
At the same presentation, we learned that Halo Infinite will be a launch title for the Xbox Series X console (coming in late 2020).
The Halo Infinite E3 2019 teaser felt appropriate, hearkening back to the original Halo: Combat Evolved with very familiar moments, sights and sounds. We’re hoping it will be a much-need game-changer for the series.
Halo Infinite was officially announced during Microsoft’s E3 2018 conference.
There isn’t much else to take away from the trailer other than establishing, dramatic landscape shots and a glimpse of Master Chief’s helmet. Judging by the appearance of prehistoric-like animals, we wouldn’t be surprised if this next game wasn’t set in the past somehow.
And, of course, the Warthog vehicle is back. Oh, and we see Master Chief jack some sort of chip into the back of his helmet. Who could this new artificial intelligence be if not Cortana?
Halo Infinite news and features
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.”
We can’t wait to see how Halo Infinite developer, 343 Industries, will harness the power of this SSD – even if its not packing as much power as the PS5’s super-fast SSD.
Xbox Series X won’t be delayed for any game
The Xbox Series X is still on track to release in late 2020 and it won’t be delayed any game – not even for its planned launch title, Halo Infinite.
That’s according to Xbox boss, Phil Spencer, who explained in an interview with IGN that, if the console itself was ready, its release would not be delayed for a particular game.
“I do think that if everything was there, for the software, the services, and the hardware, I don’t think I would hold it for any individual game,” Spencer said. “Obviously the one you think about is Halo, it’s iconic with the launch.”
“Bonnie and the team are doing a really good job on Halo: Infinite right now”, Spencer continued. “They’re learning on the job just like we all are. I think we’ll go in eyes wide open on what we’re trying to get done, but I don’t think we would hold the launch of the overall platform on any individual game. I think we just have to be very transparent with people on where we are and how we’re trending.”
Halo Infinite developer, 343 Industries, is working from home to deliver the game in time for its late-2020 release date.
The developer revealed in a blog post that, due to Covid-19 concerns, Microsoft has instructed the studio to work from home, however the team is continuing to work on Halo Infinite remotely to deliver the game for its scheduled release window.
“We’re removing all the obstacles in our path and tracking well, but need to be mindful of our current limitations and understand that the coronavirus situation may get worse before it gets better,” the blog post reads. “Rest assured that every single one of us is doing everything in our power to continue developing and delivering quality Halo experiences while we adjust to this new way of life.”
Xbox Game Pass
We now have confirmation that Halo Infinite will be landing on Xbox Game Pass – from its launch day on Xbox Series X, no less. That means the cheapest way to play as Master Chief in the new entry will be to sign up to Game Pass, especially if you stick with the game on Xbox One rather than the incoming Xbox Series X console.
Microsoft also confirmed that other first-party titles would simultaneously launch on Xbox Game Pass upon release.
‘Unique’ features to come
While we don’t know much about the game itself, a video released by 343 Industries teased some ‘unique’ features enabled by its brand new Slipspace engine – some of which its designers may not even have foreseen.
David Berger, the game’s engineering director, says that Slipspace was specifically designed to allow the introduction of ideas and gameplay features they couldn’t have conceived of earlier in development: “You have to make tools that allow you to make new features that allow you to make features that weren’t thought about. You’ve gotta give the content-creators room to ideate outside of that.”
343 Industries used its blog to deliver an end-of-year update to Halo fans, which is probably greatly appreciated since the last we heard from the game was around E3 time. There aren’t many new details to find in the post but it does suggest that you might want to be a part of the Halo Insider programme if you want to get as-yet-undetailed access to Infinite before its “Holiday 2020” release as there will be early Flighting Programs at some point in 2020.
Further to that, 343 confirmed that splitscreen play is up and running for the game and that the level of armor customization available in Halo: Reach will be reflected in Infinite. Not only that, the Forge editing tool is back and includes Undo and Redo options for the first time.
Halo Infinite will be a cross-generation title
While the launch of Halo Infinite will coincide with release of the next Xbox console, Xbox Series X, the game will also be playable on the current generation of Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X consoles.
Halo Infinite will undoubtedly look better on its newer hardware – we hope so, at least – 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”.