Halo Infinite has a new release window, with the game's project lead Joseph Staten announcing today that fall 2021 is when Master Chief will return. The information was shared in a massive blog post covering the highly-anticipated shooter, going into detail on the graphics improvements being done, multiplayer customization options, and more.
Staten, a Halo veteran who had worked on every Bungie-built Halo, joined 343 Industries to help with Halo Infinite's development in August. While adding that he realized the studio needed more time to build the game, he said the following about the current campaign experience:
My first week on the job, I played the entire Infinite campaign. Twice. I was, in a word, stunned—in the best possible way—by what the team had done. Infinite is, by far, the most expansive and vertical Halo world, ever. Why did the team do this? Because they understand that wonder and freedom are key to the Halo experience.
Regarding the Halo Infinite campaign demo from July that garnered a mixed response due to its graphics, the studio said that although the goal of the demo had been to showcase the gameplay, with key features still in development that didn’t make it into the slice, "the reality is that the art and visuals weren’t at the bar we hold for Halo."
Feedback from the community "aligned with our own views and work we were already committed to doing," added 343 Industries. Global illumination, ambient occlusion, shadows, volumetric lighting, sky, and atmosphere are some of the areas the studio has already improved upon. The texture pop-in and quality problems seen in the demo have also been resolved. Facial animations had also not been implemented on NPCs in the demo, which had been the cause of the blank-faced Brutes that spawned many internet conversations.
The upcoming multiplayer Spartan customization system was also touched on in the blog, where the studio said that the simple primary and secondary color selection available in previous Halo games were deemed not deep enough for Infinite. The new coating system will allow the application of "color, wear and tear, patterns, and materials on a region-by-region basis" across all Spartan armors, weapons, vehicles, and even environment elements.
While microtransactions for cosmetics will be present in this free-to-play endeavor, players will still earn content through playing the campaign, finishing challenges, special events, legacy rewards, the progression system, and more. Loot boxes will not be present. The massive development blog goes into more detail regarding all the systems described above, read the complete post here.
Halo Infinite is headed to PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S consoles, and 343 Industries will kick off Insider Flights for the game before the official launch in fall 2021. This is something that was originally getting skipped if the game had kept its 2020 launch plans. Interestingly, Halo: Combat Evolved originally launched on November 15, 2001, and next year marks its 20th anniversary. This may be a date that the developer is looking to put Halo Infinite's launch on, something that the 343 Industries studio head Bonnie Ross is already hinting at.