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!
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.
We're hoping to hear more about Halo Infinite soon, but it probably won't be at Microsoft's Xbox Series X gameplay reveal today, as it seems this stream will focus primarily on third-party Xbox Series X games.
Ready to board the Halo hype train? Here's everything we know so far about Halo Infinite.
[UPDATE: We're not expecting to see more of Halo Infinite today during Microsoft's event today, but here's how to watch the Xbox Series X gameplay reveal. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The sixth game in the main Halo series
- When is it out? "Holiday 2020" (So between October and December 2020)
- What can I play it on? Xbox One, PC and Xbox Series X
- Will Halo Infinite be on Xbox Game Pass? Yes, from day one
- Will Halo 6 have split-screen multiplayer? Yes
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.
Check out the trailer to see what we mean:
Halo Infinite was officially announced during Microsoft's E3 2018 conference.
You can check out the announcement trailer below, but it's a lot more evocative imagery than, say, a clear idea what the game's about. See for yourself:
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?
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Halo Infinite news and features
Microsoft is planning to showcase gameplay for some of the games that will be launching on the Xbox Series X later today, but Halo Infinite probably won't be one of them.
According to Microsoft, the Xbox Series X gameplay reveal is going to be led by third-party studios so we don't expect Halo Infinite to make an appearance.
However, today's event is only the start of Microsoft's next-gen reveal plans. According to the company, this event will kick off Xbox 20/20, a stream which will take place each month throughout the rest of the year in the lead up to the launch of the next-gen console. An Xbox 20/20 stream in July will focus on Xbox Game Studios and we expect to hear more about Halo Infinite then.
Want to tune in for the stream later today? Then check out our handy guide on how to watch the Xbox Series X gameplay reveal.
In an interview with CNBC Phil Spencer has said that the Xbox Series X is still on track for its Holiday 2020 release window and while there could be "some impact" to schedules due to coronavirus he says the team is "in line with where we thought we'd be". Games, however, could face a little more difficulty with teams forced to work from home and adjust to the significant changes made necessary by the ongoing pandemic.
So far, it doesn't seem that Halo Infinite is experiencing any delays but Spencer is exercising caution generally, saying that while he's still confident, the safety and security of his teams is top priority and he won't “push when things just aren’t ready.”
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" (via GamesRadar).
We got our best look yet at Halo Infinite at E3 2019, though even that wasn't very much. Nonetheless, we did get a formal release date (Holiday 2020) as well as a first look at some in-game footage, and confirmation that Halo Infinite will be a launch title for Xbox Series X.
Halo Infinite, and all mainstream Halo games after it, will include split-screen co-op multiplayer. Bonnie Ross, head of 343, confirmed this piece of news in February at DICE 2017.
The decision to remove split-screen co-op from Halo 5, in favor of an online-only version, was met with criticism from fans, as it had been a staple Halo feature that had been around since the first game was released in 2001. Ross said Halo 5’s removal was “painful”, adding that "It erodes trust with the community. [We’ve had a] lot of learnings from that, and I would say for any FPS going out forward we will always have split screen going forward."
Despite this, Franchise Coordinator Frank O’Connor has confirmed that the studio won’t be abandoning the co-op systems that were first introduced in Halo 5. These systems included the option to drop in and out of gameplay at will, four-player cooperative play, and specialized loadouts for the different playable Spartans in the campaign.
Following the troubled launch of The Master Chief Collection back in 2014, Bonnie Ross told Game Informer (via IGN) that all Halo games will have some sort of beta prior to the official release. This is to ensure that many issues that plagued The Master Chief Collection’s multiplayer do not happen again. After successful betas for Halo 5 and Halo Wars 2, there’s no reason to think that the studio would suddenly change its mind for Halo Infinite.
It’s yet to be announced whether the beta will be available to everyone, or just those who receive a code by purchasing a different game.
Despite not knowing much, it’s unlikely that Halo Infinite will be shaking up the formula in any meaningful way. The core mechanics of running around shooting things will likely stay the same, though it’s likely that 343i will be fine-tuning the mechanics to (hopefully) make for a better gameplay experience.
It’s safe to assume that there will be a wide range of multiplayer modes and maps to play on, along with a Forge map editor and a Firefight horde mode.
You can probably expect the game to run at 4K 60FPS on the Xbox One X as well, given its status as a first party title. That likelihood is increased by the fact Halo Wars 2 is already capable of running at 4K, and Halo 5 will be getting a 4K update in the near future.
PC Gaming – confirmed
Microsoft has confirmed Halo will come to PC, as well as console. It's not a huge surprise, as Halo: The Master Chief Collection arrived on PC last year, but it's welcome news as its the first Halo game to launch on PC at the same time as console.
At the end of Halo 5, a revived Cortana and The Created (a group of AI who believe themselves to be superior to organic life) seized control of the galaxy using massive Forerunner constructs known as Guardians. The Created were determined to bring order by force, and had the tools to do it. The last thing we saw was the UNSC Infinity’s crew fleeing Cortana’s forces, heading for parts unknown, and the Master Chief regrouping with allied forces with the intention of fighting back against the new regime.
It’s not clear where Halo Infinite will pick up after this, though the timeline of Halo Wars 2, and the final cutscene, indicates that Halo Infinite is unlikely to be set less than six months after the events of Halo 5. It’ll probably involve humans and elites fighting together again, trying to bring down Cortana and the Created in order to restore freedom to the galaxy.
If you've been hearing rumors that Halo Infinite will be inundated with loot boxes, try not to fret too much. On his podcast, industry reporter Brad Sams' claims that sources had told him Microsoft wanted to include loot boxes in Halo Infinite but was re-evaluating its options after the controversy that Star Wars Battlefront 2 faced.
Franchise Director at 343 Industries, Frank O'Connor, however, has called the rumors "bunk." Taking to the ResetEra forums, O'Connor stated that 343 is "not reevaluating anything (significant)" before adding that "Microsoft' isn't designing anything for the next game – 343 is." O'Connor said that while the team watched the Battlefront 2 backlash "with the curiosity you'd expect", they believe that the req system currently in use Halo 5: Guardians are "player focused and well liked and unintrusive as far as these things go."
"We have made zero announcements about our next projects and continue to work on our next game and technology with player's needs and interests in mind, " O'Connor continued, "However the story as loosely presented as it is – has no bearing on or relation to any current efforts. I suppose you could say 'company x is evaluating feature y' and always have some grain of truth, but we are neither aping nor adapting an unrelated system from another game."
O'Connor finished up by stating that 343 Industries would be evolving its systems and tech "in the future" and that maybe then the emerging stories about changing systems and tech would "have brief applicability. But right now? Nah."
What we want to see from Halo Infinite
What happened to The Didact? If Cortana could survive Halo 4’s final battle, then why couldn’t the big bad?
Unfortunately the Forerunner warlord was completely absent from Halo 5, and while the immediate aftermath of his battle with Master Chief was covered in the comic series Halo Escalation, it was implied that he would eventually return. Of course not all players read the comics, leaving his eventual fate unknown to most. This question also raises the problem of integrating the lesser-known expanded universe canon into the games, which 343i has been wont to do since it took over the franchise from Bungie.
After the cliffhanger ending of Halo 5 Guardians, and a petty lackluster campaign plot, what Halo Infinite really needs is solid story with a satisfying end to the story. The Halo 3 to Halo 5’s Halo 2 if you will. A more equal approach to the campaign/multiplayer balance will also help address some of the issues people had with the previous game.
Speaking of multiplayer, the fact Halo 5 included microtransactions didn’t go down particularly well – especially since the REQ packs could let players unlock more powerful weapons that gave them an unfair advantage. While a lot of games have a lot of success selling cosmetic items (Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch come to mind), players are less enthused about Pay-to-Win systems.
A link to Halo Wars 2 would also be welcome, and finally bring the story of the UNSC Spirit of Fire back into the mainstream canon. That’s not that much out of the question either, given the RTS sequel’s final cutscene.
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