Come hell or high water, it seems like Halo Infinite will indeed make its promised holiday launch window and be released alongside the Xbox Series X. After a somewhat odd gameplay debut at the Xbox Games Showcase, 343 is trying to better explain the glimpse we saw.
And the more I hear about this game, the more it sounds like Bungie’s Destiny. And while I would not consider that a bad thing at all, it’s certainly interesting to see.
The first aspect of this was something we learned right around the debut, that 343 is not making another full Halo game for a very, very long time (hence the “Infinite”) and that Halo Infinite will serve as a “platform” for delivery of future Halo content, whether that’s new campaigns, multiplayer modes, etc.
That sounds almost identical to the strategy Bungie has adopted for Destiny 2, forgoing a Destiny 3 (which in a parallel universe, might have been released this fall) and instead continuing to make content for Destiny 2 for the indefinite future, using the base game as a platform. We are already three years into Destiny 2, and we have another three years (at least) of content and expansions scheduled for the game, as Bungie has already mapped out Beyond Light, The Witch Queen and Lightfall for 2020, 2021 and 2022. While Halo hasn’t gotten that specific, it’s clear it’s a similar concept.
And then there’s the game itself. Speaking at a press Q and A, 343 Industries Studio Head Chris Lee talked more about what the new open world will be like for Halo (via WCCFtech):
“The campaign in Halo Infinite is the most ambitious campaign we have ever created in a Halo game. It’s this open, expansive experience for players, and it’s several times larger than our last two campaigns put together. I think the way to think about it is this is Halo’s take on open gameplay and what kind of providing the player with unprecedented levels of freedom can feel like. We really wanted to capture that moment of players being able to kind of feel what it would be like to be on a foreigner ring and unlock secrets and kind of new equipment or upgrades along the way as they’re playing through the campaign. And I have one way to kind of give them more concrete examples when you’re looking at the demo. We showed and you’re on the elevator looking out over that vista. There’s a ton of the ring that you can see there and that is just part of the space that players will be able to explore and where Master Chief’s story will take you throughout our campaign experience.”
“One way to think about it that we talked about sometimes is to think about taking Halo CE, knocking the walls down and then giving players the freedom to explore. And while we have that kind of open experience, we do want there to be equipment and upgrades that you can find in the world along the way, so there are things that you can engage with along the way to do that as you traverse the world and continue Master Chief’s story.”
So they’re comparing it to Halo CE, though all I’m hearing about how this sounds similar to Destiny’s sprawling patrol zones which contain everything from campaign missions to strikes to world events, and are obviously full of secrets you can find through exploration as well. I am not sure if the entire game is simply exploring one giant zone on the ring, or if there are multiple zones, but this may be the whole “platform” thing coming into effect, and more zones could be added later.
The difference, of course, is that Halo is still mainly an action FPS and not an MMO or ARPG. There is talk about “equipment and upgrades” that you find in the world as you play, but obviously we are not talking about “loot” in the traditional Destiny sense here. No randomly rolled Needlers or Battle Rifles are incoming, clearly.
If this sounds like I’m continuing to slag on Halo Infinite, I’m not. I actually think that it’s a good idea for the franchise to evolve past its mostly linear campaigns, and exploring an open world in Halo, particularly with Warthogs and new movement tools like a grappling hook, sounds like a lot of fun. And no, I would not expect Halo to go full loot shooter like Destiny, but I think they obvious have looked to Bungie a little bit for inspiration and formatting, both in terms of the game operating as an ongoing platform, and being focused on large, open world zones for the campaign and other potential activities. If anything, this makes me feel a bit better about Infinite than I was feeling just based on that early footage.
We’ll see what the final product is like, but this does feel like a significant evolution for the franchise, and hopefully that proves to be a good thing.
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