New Halo Infinite screenshots revealed, showcasing the Zeta Halo semi-open world

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343 Industries have posted their second Inside Infinite developer blog charting the progress of Halo Infinite’s development through the year to its release window in Fall 2021. The February update dove into the graphical and world building side of things, a key talking point after the disappointing Halo Infinite gameplay reveal in July 2020.

The blog focussed on how 343i have tackled building the broader semi-open world, and also how they’ve managed the game’s art direction. Campaign Art Lead Justin Dinges speaks about the two key themes of “Legacy” to recall the fond memories players have of the original Halo: Combat Evolved, and “Simplicity” after criticism that Halo 5 was too “noisy” in its design. A key inspiration for Halo Infinite’s visual direction is the Pacific Northwest, with 343 taking the mountains, forests and valleys as reference material, and then stuffing it with Forerunner gubbins.

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All of the screenshots were taken from the PC version of the game, with 343 discussing the Xbox versions in more detail in future blogs.

One of the key factors in the game’s art direction is the decision to have the game feature large sandbox environments to explore and fight in – the Banished have set up bases, and you’ll be able to come at these from many directions. In addition to creating gameplay tools like the Grappleshot, it also necessitated a shift to a dynamic day-night cycle with the sun giving real-time lighting. It’s theorised that this was a key factor in how the game looked relatively flat and unspectacular back in July, and a tipping point for the game’s delay to 2021.

343i are sticking with that notion and working to enhance and revise that look, showcasing the changing lighting in this blog:

“Coming across a mysterious Forerunner obelisk during the day may feel peaceful and serene, where at night it might feel much more ominous and threatening,” Dinges says. They discuss Halo Zeta being a “character” in the game as well.

World Design Lead John Mulkey says, “There are missions that will pull you through the “Golden Path” of the primary narrative, but more than any previous game, we are breaking down the walls to create a more open play space offering exploration and discovery. What is that odd tower in the distance, I see a smoke signal over that ridge, what is the source of the odd hum? Go find out.”

So where is Halo Infinite’s development at right now? Seemingly close to entering the final stages of content creation so they can head into bug fixing and polish. Dinges says “The Art Team, like most of the development teams, are quickly wrapping up all of our remaining tasks and polish items as we approach our bug-fix and performance stage of the game’s production. We will be spending the final months fixing bugs ranging from floating trees to T-posing enemies, as well as ensuring that the game runs smoothly across all the platforms. While not the most glamorous phase of development, it is the most technical and crucial to shipping.”

It still feels like there’s quite a long time between now and an expected November release – this would tie in nicely with the series’ 20th anniversary on 15th November – but in reality it’s not much more than half a year before 343 should be putting the finishing touches to the day one version of the game.

Source: Halo Waypoint

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