Campaign Gameplay Premiere
Updated: Feb 9, 2022
After years of waiting, watching for information, combing through Reddit and Twitter just to find even a morsel of knowledge on the game, Halo Infinite was shown at the Xbox Games Showcase on July 23, 2020. Although there were numerous positives and negatives to what we saw, it was nice to finally have a look at what 343 has been working on over the last several years. Let’s jump in!
The landing page of the Halo Infinite demo looks awesome. There are birds moving about on the grass, and the effects in the ring are intriguing as well. The music playing during this screen is a reinvention of the original Halo theme, and it sounds darker than we might expect while still remaining familiar.
The gameplay demo takes place on May 28, 2560. If we go back 167 days from this date, the day of loss is December 13, 2559, which is only two months after the events of Halo: Shadows of Reach. Since we know Cortana is still a major threat at that time, it is unlikely that the entire Created force has been completely thwarted in merely two months, so they likely play a role in Infinite, although we do not yet know how.
The demo opens with the Chief and the Pilot taking fire from Banished AA Turrets on the Halo ring. Their Pelican takes several shots and crashlands on the ring, briefly knocking out the Pilot. Chief, of course, seems mostly unfazed.
The Pilot has not been having a good day. After coming back to consciousness, he expresses his dissatisfaction at the Chief’s continued dedication to the mission, even in the face of danger. He’s frustrated, angry, and just wants to go home.
“There won’t be a home if we don’t stop the Banished.” While the Pilot wants to be done with the fighting and leave, the Master Chief recognizes the dangerous reality of the Banished controlling a Halo ring. They have to be stopped, nothing short of that is acceptable.
In one of the more touching moments between Chief and the Pilot, the Chief insists that they can look for Condors together once he finishes his mission. He seems to care about the safety of this Pilot, even though they are deep in enemy territory. It is interesting that Condors are mentioned, since they have only appeared in Halo: Nightfall and Halo Wars 2 until now.
In a seamless transition from cutscene to gameplay, we finally get to see what it will be like to play as the Master Chief in Halo Infinite. From this first look at the HUD, we can see several features. For one, the mission title is Gun Battery, as seen on the left. There are also three AA guns to neutralize, as referenced in the cutscene.
The radar is 31 m in radius, as opposed to the historically 25-m radars in several previous Halo titles. The central ping, representing the player, is blue instead of yellow, although it is unconfirmed if the color would be yellow for nearby allies. On the top, we can see a Halo 3-esque shield bar which at first glance does not appear to display the user’s health.
On the bottom right, we can see that there are two slots next to the weapon information. While the left slot is empty, the right slot has a new icon which looks vaguely like a grappling hook. It has a number next to it, likely indicating the number of charges available, and it seems to be activated by pressing the RB button (later gameplay suggests this button prompt is a bug, and it is actually LB that activates the grappling hook).
In the weapon readout, which is now located on the bottom right instead of the top right, we can see that the weapon outline has been maintained from the previous installments, but instead of a visual depiction of the magazine, we have a simple number representing the number of rounds left in the magazine, in this case 36. Beneath that number is the reserve ammunition, which is also represented by a number, as it was in previous games. Finally, the secondary weapon schematic is displayed above the current weapon.
The weapon that Master Chief is using is the MA40 Assault Rifle. Unlike the MA37 from Halo: Reach, this weapon has a 36-round magazine, making it closer to the Halo 5: Guardians Assault Rifle in functionality.
After looking up at the ring’s arching silhouette and the Forerunner pillars supporting the broken landscape, the player’s focus returns to the ground. The wildlife running around in front of the Chief, coupled by the sounds of birds chirping around the player, gives the impression that this ring is a living environment with more than just enemy combatants.
The player immediately comes under fire from several Grunts. Although hard to tell in this screenshot, the Grunt he attacks is a Grunt Assault wearing blue armor, as seen in the Mega Construx sets. The other two Grunts are Grunt Conscripts, wearing orange armor with one having some gray on his backpack. All three are armed with Plasma Pistols.
Also, interestingly enough, the shield bar seems to be covering a second, smaller bar representing the player’s health. Additionally, hitmarkers in a similar style to Halo 5: Guardians can be seen in the corners around the reticle. Finally, this weapon, and most of the others in the demo, feature reticle bloom, although it is unknown if the bloom is significant enough to drastically affect precision weapon accuracy.
A Banished Phantom then flies overhead. The design of this vehicle seems very similar to how it looked in Halo Wars 2, which had a unique interpretation of the dropship. Also, notice how the sun is high in the sky at this point. It will be important to note the sun’s location later in the demo.
Here, we can see the player Sprint towards a Warthog. We now know that Sprinting is confirmed for Campaign, although its presence in Multiplayer is still unknown. Interestingly, this Warthog does not look like the Warthog shown in the Mega Construx set. This Warthog is missing the roll bars, and it has a square turret rather than a hexagonal one.
Thanks to u/SilverPit, we now know that Halo Infinite will likely feature Fast Travel, allowing the player to quickly move from one point of interest to another without having to walk, sprint, or drive the whole way. This suggests that the Campaign will be very open and large, especially moreso than previous games.
This feature is very exciting, as it confirms that the levels in Halo Infinite are vast and open for exploration in ways never before seen in a Halo game. The tacmap shown here has a wide array of objectives and markers, although most disappear almost immediately. I’ll show these icons in greater detail in the next few screenshots. The map also shows the player’s current location and the current mission objectives: the three AA guns that Chief is supposed to take out.
In the upper left part of this screen, we can see that there is also an Upgrades page and a Database page. Although we have not heard anything about the Database, the Upgrades page is apparently a place where the player can select an upgrade, like the grappling hook we saw earlier, to use in their playthrough. Apparently, these upgrades will be found through exploration, encouraging players to look carefully for these items.
On the bottom of this screen, we can see some of the map controls. Most are fairly typical, such as pressing B to close the screen or using LT and RT to zoom in and out. The player can also set a waypoint using the A button and snap to their location by clicking the Right Stick. Interestingly, the Y button allows the player to view missions, which makes sense since the Campaign is still technically linear, and the X button allows the player to start a mission. Perhaps this map functions as the mission select as well as a way to find objectives in the world. There may even be side missions that can be completed alongside the linear Campaign.
Although it is a bit difficult to see, most of the icons in this screenshot are labeled. In the top left, underneath the Tacmap selection, the icon’s label is Marine Rescue K, implying that there may be side objectives to rescue Marines from the Banished.
On the right, above the Database selection, the icon is labeled as Conservatory, which sounds like an important location on the Halo ring.
The topmost blue icon is labeled Echo Base, and the other blue icon is labeled Golf Base. It looks like some friendly forces may have survived the Banished onslaught for some time.
The red icon in the middle right of the screenshot is labeled Green Spire, which could be an important Banished location. This icon seems to have loaded later than the others, which is why it appears smaller than the other icons.
The larger red icon in the middle of the screenshot is called The Tower, and it has a padlock symbol. Perhaps it is an unlockable region? It’s hard to say at this time.
Finally, the red icon at the bottom of the screenshot with the targeting reticle is labeled Okro Vagaduun, which sounds like the name of some Banished leader that we might get to take down as a side objective.
Ultimately, these icons are numerous and varied, implying that the large, open segments of the Campaign are going to be filled with interesting things to see and do.
When the player hovers over the Gun Battery mission icon, in yellow, this information appears. There are four symbols associated with the mission, although little is known about them at this time. The first symbol could be some form of XP, but since we don’t know for sure, I will avoid speculating further. The second symbol is the Normal difficulty symbol. It has been confirmed that difficulty is selected from the Main Menu, just as it was in previous games, so this difficulty symbol is likely just a reminder of the selected difficulty. The third symbol appears to represent some sort of collectibles, as does the fourth symbol. However, it is difficult to know whether they represent Upgrades and Database collectibles or something else we haven’t seen yet.
The mission objectives are then listed below these symbols, tasking the Chief with destroying the three AA guns in order to leave the island. From the map, we can tell that the ring has been significantly segmented in this region, likely from the destruction we saw in the Discover Hope trailer, thereby creating a bunch of islands supported by hexagonal columns.
When the player hovers over one of the AA guns, this pop-up appears. These symbols are the same as the first two symbols that appeared for the mission pop-up, and the value of the first symbol is also identical. Interestingly, the text here says, “Use the weapon to hack into the console and destroy them.” Why might this text refer to “the weapon”? Personally, I think the weapon is the AI in the chip we saw in Discover Hope. Remember how Chief’s VISR system displayed “Weapon Containment System Inserted” when he inserted that chip? Now, it’s purely speculation, but I think it’s possible that “the weapon” is the new Cortana model. Chief might reunite with this model at some point between Discover Hope and this demo, which takes place around halfway through the Campaign. Even if I am wrong about the identity of “the weapon,” it’s clearly something they’re trying to keep secret for now.
Although it is a bit hard to tell in this screenshot, directional markers for getting shot are represented by small red dashes in the direction of the attacker, as can be seen near the rear right wheel of the Warthog. Additionally, the Grunt can be heard speaking English as the player drives by.
The Grunt just in front of the Warthog just entered his suicide mode, confirming the return of this Grunt behavior. Additionally, the Jackals in the distance have two notches on their shields, returning to the original design from Combat Evolved through ODST.
Boom! The Grunt detonates in a brilliant display of blue blood and plasma, striking the Warthog directly. Despite this destructive act, the player’s shields are barely touched, and the Warthog seems mostly unscathed...mostly.
At this point, we see a Grunt Conscript on the left using a Needler, confirming this weapon’s appearance in Halo Infinite’s sandbox.
Here, we can clearly see that the red X indicating a kill has also returned from Halo 5: Guardians.
There’s surprisingly a lot of information in the span of only a few seconds. The details here are small but rather interesting. On the right, we can now see that the previously empty spot next to the grappling hook has been filled by two Frag Grenades, throwable using the Left Trigger. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the visible wheel on the Warthog is completely missing its tire! The suicide Grunt from earlier blew it completely off the Warthog, but it was still drivable. This level of destructibility has not yet been seen in a Halo game, so it will be exciting to see how it affects the drivability of the Warthog.
After destroying a Grunt Assault, the player switches to a new weapon, the MK50 Sidekick. Interestingly, this gun is not called a Magnum, which means this new weapon is either a replacement for the Magnum or a new addition to the sandbox. It is currently unknown whether it is actually a replacement or not, but the weapon itself has not been seen before. Although this screenshot does not show a full magazine, the magazine size is twelve rounds.
This Grunt is using an armor set that has not been seen before, although it bears similarities to the Halo: Reach Grunt Ultra armor. It is possible that this Grunt is also an Ultra. At this point, we also hear the Elite on the left speaking English, so this behavior has also returned from the previous game.
Not only is this Elite wearing an armor set that is heavily inspired by the classic Elite armor, he performs a roll to close the distance between him and the Chief quickly, which is an interesting new behavior.
Right after the Master Chief kills the Elite, the Elite drops his weapon, a Pulse Carbine. This weapon is new for Infinite, and interestingly, it has a detailed description underneath, describing the weapon as an Assault Rifle that fires plasma rounds in a burst fashion. Although uncertain, this description might imply that weapon variants exist in the game.
Earlier, we saw a blue Fusion Coil detonate next to a Grunt. Interestingly, this cloud of blue plasma is still present and likely indicates a field that damages things over time.
Here we have another new weapon: the VK78 Commando. According to the description, this weapon is a type of automatic tactical rifle that fires kinetic rounds. The tactical rifle descriptor seems to indicate that this weapon can do precision damage.
The Assault Rifle is no longer referred to simply as “Assault Rifle” but as “MA40 AR.” The inclusion of the model number when referring to the weapons seems to be a new addition in Halo Infinite.
The VK78 Commando has a 20-round magazine, and, interestingly, it has a magazine located in front of the trigger, which has not been seen on many UNSC rifles.
As in Halo 5: Guardians, the hitmarker for a critical hit is depicted in red. However, unlike Halo 5: Guardians, this red hitmarker does not seem to appear for precision hits with weapons like the MA40 AR. It seems that, unless the weapon is a precision weapon, headshots and other critical hits do not deliver increased damage to their targets.
Here, the player zooms in with the Commando. Unlike Halo 5: Guardians, which favored the more ADS-like Smart Scope, Halo Infinite seems to be a return to the more classic scoping appearance. Additionally, descope occurs upon damage, as it did in Halo 5: Guardians. Finally, this moment is the only time in the entire demo where the player zooms in with a weapon, implying that the ability to zoom in with all weapons has been removed in favor of the emphasis on shooting from the hip in Halo games prior to Halo 5.
After looking at the Banished elevator up ahead and watching a flock of birds fly above, a drop pod suddenly comes crashing down following a red laser. Inside is a rather aggressive Banished Brute. He has no weapons besides his Brutish strength, but he is eager to use it. As he shouts at the Chief in English, the player throws a Plasma Grenade at the Brute, sticking him and blowing him up before turning to the second weaponless Brute that dropped shortly afterward. Meanwhile, the drop pod quickly begins burning more ferociously and eventually explodes.
As the second Brute (Craig) charges toward the player in a full sprint, the player shoots the Brute several times in the knee, causing him to stumble, something that is a new behavior in Halo.
The player then start’s shooting at the Brute’s head, breaking off his mask. In Infinite, it seems as though the player can damage individual pieces of armor on the Brutes, making them interesting to attack in various ways. There is also a prompt for reloading when the weapon in use is low on ammo in the magazine.
After meleeing the Brute, the player turns toward a nearby weapons cache with a Drop Wall item and picks it up.