343 Industries posted a nice, long 45 minute Q&A session this morning, giving a lot of insight into the company’s designs and process for creating Halo Infinite. It touched on a lot of different topics, revealing new information about the Zeta Halo, the day-night cycle, the structure of the game world, and even elements that impact the free-to-play multiplayer side of the game.
You can watch the full stream here:
One of the most intriguing elements about Halo Infinite is the shift to a more open world design. A part of that is the day-night cycle, which will impact the enemies that you see – “When you’re moving through the world in the darker periods, you’re gonna end up seeing more patrols of Phantoms moving through the space with searchlights and that kind of thing,” explained lead world designer John Mulkey – and give you different gameplay opportunities. There will also be certain nighttime wildlife (nont of which is currently hostile), with bioluminescence adding to the atmosphere of the world.
In addition to shifting times of day, there will also be dynamic weather, including wind, though at launch these do not include rain or snow storms, though they said they are “excited about the future” in that regard, potentially leading toward post-release expansions.
While many have described the game as being open world, it’s not fully open and the story is still a linear experience. There are large-scale sandbox areas to explore, containing multiple story missions, side objectives and possibilities. This was inspired by the Silent Cartographer level from the original game, but taken to the next level with options. Mulkey explained, “The way that the game is structured and the way that the primary narrative moves through the game, there’s certain things that […] you don’t have the opportunity to jump ahead and sequence break and break the experience. The game embraces this to a degree.
“But on top of that […] the way it’s going to play out is you might be dropped off in a location from the Pelican and there’s a primary objective – you can see over the ridge there’s a location you’re heading to – but then off to the left, there’s a UNSC forward operating base that’s been overrun by Banished. Do I go down there before I go to the main story beat?”
In other words, you can just follow the main story, but whether it’s curiosity, completionism, or wanting to improve your chances and options in the next battle, you might want to take on side-missions. There is still a linear story, a “golden path” running through the game, part of which will be defined by reaching new areas on the ring.
Additionally, the things you encounter while playing will adapt to your particular circumstance. If you rock up in a tank, expect heavier enemies to spawn in on patrols to offer a bit more of a challenge.
Other elements discussed and answered included:
- Dual-wielding is not in the game – 343i want to focus on the core weapons, grenades, melee and equipment.
- You can only hold one piece of equipment in Multiplayer at a time – this could be tweaked in custom games.
- Weapon upgrades were considered, but ultimately decided as being too far from the Halo formula. Progression is found through equipment items you unlock.
- There are no playable Elites in multiplayer because “this is a Master Chief and Spartan story.”
- The “Pacific Northwest” is the game’s primary biome, but there are other areas including swampy wetlands, wartorn “Deadlands” and more.
- The controversial hexagonal pillars from the gameplay reveal remain, but rendering and shading techniques aim to make them look better. They represent that the Halo is being destroyed and torn apart, acting as the ring’s underlying structure.
- Audio logs will be used to tell stories in a “cool radio drama” fashion.
- The ring in the skybox is actually a 3D model, which can affect the day night cycle.
- Cutscenes are rendered in-game, and will be affected by the day-night cycle, and Master Chief will be carrying the correct weapon.
- You can knock things off the edge of Zeta Halo.
Finally, 343 Industries are quite thankful that they’ve been afforded the opportunity to take more time while developing Halo Infinite. Justin Dinges, Campaign Art Lead said “A lot of what was brought up from the community based on that gameplay reveal last year was a lot of stuff we had on our list of ‘Hey, we need to improve these things.’ We’re so grateful that we now have more time to do that.”
343 Industries has been a lot more open about Halo Infinite’s development since the turn of the year. They’ve committed to posting monthly updates through the game’s final year of development – February’s Halo Infinite blog dove into the graphical and world building side of things, leading to many of the questions asked in the video – and are building up to Halo Infinite’s release window in Fall 2021.
Halo Infinite will be coming to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming platforms in late 2021.