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Master Chief was supposed to help Microsoft debut its sizzling-fast Xbox Series X last month with a flagship Halo title; the kind of blockbuster that could flood (ahem) the new console generation might’ve been one of the biggest launch games ever. But not long after showing off a lengthy first look at Halo Infinite in action earlier this year, developer 343 Industries dialed back the hype, announcing in August that the game would instead be delayed until sometime in 2021.
Now, thanks to a freshly fired-up official blog that’s poised to start updating fans on all things Halo Infinite, 343 is zeroing in on when the game will finally appear. Creative director Joseph Staten used the premiere issue of 343’s newly-launched "Inside Infinite" blog to reveal that Halo Infinite is coming in the Fall of 2021, though we’ll have to wait for a future update to get a specific release date.
Staten and 343 also used the occasion to show off some new looks at the next-gen weapons, suits, and environments that the studio is creating during the game’s extended development time. Take a peek at a pair of images from the game’s upcoming multiplayer map, as well as some of the costume tweaks (via Infinite's new "coating" feature) that players will be able to make for a custom spin on their highly evolved combat mascot:
The nearly year-long delay stems in part from fan reaction to the meaty slice of Halo Infinite gameplay that Microsoft and 343 shared with fans in July. Though the footage looked persuasively next-gen and showed off a generous slice of early story gameplay, fan reaction on social media was mixed, compelling the studio (already preoccupied with COVID-19 related distractions surrounding development on the upcoming Halo TV series) to prioritize honing the game’s graphics and polish — even if it meant postponing its release.
“The primary goal for the Campaign demo in July was showing Halo Infinite gameplay for the first time. While that aspect generally landed as we wanted, the reality is that the art and visuals weren’t at the bar we hold for Halo — even in a work-in-progress state,” explained director of art management Neil Harrison in today’s blog post.
“Much of the feedback we heard from the community aligned with our own views and work we were already committed to doing around things like indirect lighting, material response, foliage and tree rendering, clouds, level-of-detail transitions, and character fidelity," he continued. "Still, the feedback was humbling, and it also pushed us to look at additional opportunities for improvement.”
If nailing the look and feel of the next sequel in one of the most iconic FPS franchises ever to grace a gaming console means putting Master Chief back in stasis just a little while longer, we’re here for it. Watch for more updates from 343 Industries as we round the corner on 2021, and await final confirmation of a firm Halo Infinite release date.