There is little to nothing we know about Halo: Infinite, apart from the fact that it was revealed at Microsoft’s E3 2018 press conference. Halo is in a very different place in the hands of 343 Industries to where it was 12 years ago when Bungie had just released Halo 3.
Halo was the game to play on Xbox. Always has been, until now. We could go into the issues with the franchise since Bungie have passed the mantle of responsibility onto 343’s shoulders, and we will briefly, but I want to focus on why I am excited for Halo: Infinite and the potential it has as a reboot for the franchise, despite my disappointment with Halo 5: Guardians’ campaign.
Halo Anniversaries and Halo 4
The two best things 343 Industries have produced thus far are the remakes for Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. These are some of the best remakes to have ever been produced because of the attention to detail they have: from the sound design of each weapon to the lighting effects, 343 should be very proud of the work they did with remaking these two classics.
343 then began to work on Halo 4, to continue the story of the Master Chief and Cortana. Halo 4 is a great game. For a new studio to produce a title with this much franchise burden and anticipation, they did a lot of things well with this unforeseen entry. This marked the dawn of the Forerunner trilogy: three new games looking to expand Halo’s world and lore, to uncover new enemies and worlds, and more intriguingly, to discover more about the characters we’ve been playing as for so long now.
Halo 4 was the most different Halo yet (including Halo: Reach). It looked and felt different. It played different. It was a completely different type of experience to what Halo fans knew and loved. Those classic Martin O’Donnell compositions as well as that space-like FPS gameplay. Instead, the game felt isolated and strange, with most of it taking place over one planet and its nearby vicinity in space, introducing characters 3-4 missions into the game rather than in the very first cutscene like the previous games.
Props to 343 for differentiating their type of Halo game from Bungie. You can’t make something great by pretending to copy a product, you have to make it your own. And that is exactly what 343 Industries did. They made Halo their own and doubled-down on their vision for the future of Halo. I liked the campaign of Halo 4 a lot, and although I never really got into the multiplayer, I didn’t hear great things despite their weekly updates which added a mission in Spartan-Ops mode.
Halo 4 had issues. But considering 343 were breaking their eggshell, it was a mighty fine effort. Unfortunately, it seems like the road from now on was only going to become more confusing and twisted than ever.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection was a mixed bag, to say the least, when it comes to how well 343 can execute on a product. While the game is still very broken with its multiplayer playlists, achievement pops, and playlist continuity, it still delivered on one of the most ambitious packages to ever be assembled. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3 and Halo 4 combined into one video game. Each including their respective multiplayer maps and modes (some even remade for Halo 2: Anniversary), 400 achievements in total, playlists galore and enough content to play for the rest of time itself.
While the campaigns all worked fairly well, the multiplayer was a mess. And while they have since been updating the game due to upgrading its capabilities to Xbox One X and PC hardware, as well as adding the highly requested Halo: Reach to the package, the game is still not working perfectly. This would have been a love story for the ages if 343 weren’t overambitious with this product. Moreover, they were developing the next mainline Halo title during the development of this broken yet excellent package. What we now know to be Halo 5: Guardians.
Halo 5: Guardians
‘Hunt the Truth’. This was the marketing campaign behind the launch of Halo 5: Guardians. And may I say, one of the best marketing campaigns in recent memory. The goal was to confuse the fans of Halo into wondering whether the Master Chief had done something terrible. A new spartan was on the scene; Locke and his Osiris team were hunting the Master Chief and his blue team to discover ‘what had happened’.
Listening to the ‘Hunt the Truth’ podcast, you will begin to understand why everyone was so excited for Halo 5. The podcast is still one of the best I have ever listened to. Creating the background lore for the game, or what we thought was the game, the podcast demonstrated 343’s ability to speak directly to the fans in the best way. It is sad to say, four years later, that almost none of what was promised came to pass.
The marketing campaign reflected very little of the actual campaign. Playing as Locke for most of the missions – who is unbearable by the way – the campaign is repetitive and, dare I say it, slightly boring, all despite some amazing set pieces and plot set-up for the next chapter of the Halo franchise. There just isn’t enough innovation to keep the player engaged in playing through this story.
In short, it was a disappointment.
The multiplayer however still remains fantastic. Warzone is incredibly fun to play and feels like a spiritual brother to Titanfall’s Attrition mode. Updated regularly years after its release, Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer knows what it needs to be and acts on that promise almost perfectly.
This extremely short summary of 343’s venture with the Halo franchise brings us to Halo: Infinite, and what most would consider a pivotal moment for the franchise having lost fan’s faith with Halo 4’s multiplayer and Halo: 5 Guardian’s campaign. 343 have their biggest test yet.
They have to show us that they have what it takes to not just make a great Halo game, but one of the best Halo games. I have faith in 343, and I’ll tell you for why.
The 2-minute teaser is just a demonstration of 343’s new slipspace engine. With this information, we now know that 343 won’t be developing technology alongside making the game as they tried with Halo 5. A tactic which head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross now admits didn’t work in the development of Halo 5. They’ve developed the technology they’re going to use, and now they are making their game with their new engine.
The other main takeaway from the teaser is that it all feels like Halo. The naturalness of the animals existing on the Halo ring, and the caveman paintings showing us the history of this mysterious place, all contribute to a feeling of what Halo: Infinite will be like. And it all feels like a natural progression forward for Halo.
While you might think this being basis to why I’m excited for Halo: Infinite is absolutely insane, it is pretty much the only information we have right now regarding the game, apart from Bonnie Ross’s comments on the campaign and multiplayer combining at their peak for the studio in Halo: Infinite.
I have faith in Halo: Infinite because I don’t know what will happen to the franchise if it doesn’t smash expectations, despite this being a seemingly impossible task. I’m excited because of what we’ve seen so far, and I’m excited for 343 to flex their muscles after developing a few AAA games of their own now.
They’ve worked out the kinks, they’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t, and now it’s time for them to show us what Halo means to them, and what it means moving forward. I would be shocked if we don’t see more at E3 2019, but what’s more exciting than that prospect is Microsoft allowing 343 to take their time with this game. It’s already past the 3-year development cycle they stuck to for Halo 4 and 5, and with Gears 5 coming later this year, it looks like it might even be released early next year.
With this much development time, a new engine, a promising teaser trailer, and development issues kinked out, I would be surprised if Halo: Infinite wasn’t one of the best Halo games yet.