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Inside Infinite December 2020 - Halo Waypoint News Article

Updated: Feb 12

https://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/news/inside-infinite-december-2020


On Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 343 Industries finally began lifting the veil on more Halo Infinite details in their Inside Infinite news article. Written by Brian Jarrard (ske7ch), John Junyszek (Unyshek), and the legend Joseph Staten, and including interviews from a handful of prominent 343 developers, this article provides us with a ton of information from the Art and Live teams at 343, focusing primarily on improvements to graphical fidelity since the July 2020 demo and on customization options available to Halo Infinite players. There’s a lot to dig into here, and there’s even a bunch of screenshots to look at, so let’s get to it!


“...it’s my honor as creative director to help our team ship Halo Infinite in Fall 2021.” - Joseph Staten

There it is folks. After Halo Infinite was officially delayed in early August 2020, fans had no idea when to expect the game in 2021. Here, we now have confirmation that the title will release in Fall 2021. You can expect it to release around September-November 2021.


Almost immediately in the article, we have our first ever in-game screenshot of a Halo Infinite multiplayer map! Although they haven’t named the map yet, we can see that it takes place in an Axys Hydroelectric building. The first thing to notice is how much detail is visible in this screenshot. The way that the light interacts with the map and the Spartan on the right is impressive, particularly when looking at the reflections in the bottom middle of the screen. There’s also a few details if we zoom in on this image. Let’s look more closely.


The Spartan on the right is wielding the BR75 Battle Rifle. He’s using Mk. VII armor in most places, but his chestpiece seems to be different from the armor we’ve seen so far. He also has a new armor coating with a red right arm and gray on all other parts of the armor.


If we look in the room behind the Spartan, we can see an items with a symbol above it. This item is clearly the Grappleshot, which we know is a map pickup in multiplayer.


Toward the bottom of the screenshot, we can see what is likely Active Camo. Given that it appears the same as the Grappleshot, perhaps the Camo can be picked up and activated on-demand, rather than activating immediately when acquired.


Finally, looking above and behind the yellow servers in the middle of the screenshot reveals this weapon. It’s too grainy to be sure what weapon it is, although it looks like an Assault Rifle or Battle Rifle. It seems like at least some weapons will be highlighted in the same way as the equipment pickups, hovering noticeably above a plate.


As the art team continues discussing the team’s goals behind the July reveal and their learnings from community feedback in the weeks and months that followed, an in-engine render of the M41 SPNKr appears. The fan favorite rocket launcher, once briefly absent from Halo 5: Guardians, will return in Halo Infinite. The coloration on this weapon is new for Halo Infinite, but the design is quite familiar. On the right, we can see a Mk. VII Spartan wearing yet another armor coating, one with a white primary color and orange highlights.


“Some of the key areas of progress include better quality of global illumination, ambient occlusion, shadows, volumetric lighting, sky, and atmosphere. We have also addressed issues with our GPU-driven rendering and texture streaming solution that should mitigate the LOD popping and texture quality issues that were prevalent in the July demo.” - Ani Shastry

The team at 343 has been hard at work improving the game visually in a large variety of ways. If it wasn’t already evident from the screenshot earlier, many of the issues causing the world to appear “flat” have been or are being addressed. One thing is clear from all the discussion with the art and graphics teams: they’re putting in the effort to make Halo Infinite look great.


“We're eager to show the progress the team has made in Campaign as soon we can, but we want to make sure we have all the right pieces coming together and this can be tricky with a lot of moving parts and an expansive world of this scope. We know everyone is keen to see more and we look forward to sharing more in future updates in the months ahead.” - Neill Harrison

Although we don’t get to see any new Campaign screenshots in this article, we will get to see more in the coming months. Additionally, this statement confirms that we will be getting more updates like this one in the future, which is very good news.


We finally have formal confirmation that the S7 Sniper will appear in Halo Infinite. The S7 model of the Sniper Rifle is a new model not seen in Halo canon before. The body of the weapon is similar to the body used in Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, but the scope appears to be different. Again, there are orange highlights in a few areas, and the scope is green, as opposed to the silver/gray of the rest of the weapon. The same Spartan is present on the right as in the M41 SPNKr render, but we can see a few more details on the left. For one, the backmost Warthog on the left seems to be using the Rockethog turret from Halo: Reach or Halo 4, and there seems to be an orange Forklift behind the Warthog.


“There’s been further work done on the material fidelity and more variety added for Brute faces, we’re also working to add some hairdos and beards which was something we hadn’t gotten to in July. So, whilst we have come to love our dear old Craig, he’s certainly undergoing a significant makeover. “ - Neill Harrison

Remember Craig from the July reveal? There’s been a ton of work on Brute faces since then, with the addition of hair and beard variants to make them look more like Brutes. Your typical Brute won’t look like Craig anymore. In fact, many characters and other models have been improved drastically since July.


Another view of the multiplayer map from before shows two more Spartans. The closer Spartan is wielding a BR75 Battle Rifle and wearing armor very similar to that used by Jorge, such as the Halo: Reach Grenadier helmet. In fact, the armor coating used by the Spartan seems to be inspired by Jorge himself. We can also see another Spartan on the bottom left. Let’s take a closer look at them.


This Spartan is very similar to the one shown in the first Multiplayer map screenshot, but there is now an attachment on the Spartan’s thigh. Additionally, the chest armor appears to be the original Mk. VII chestpiece. This Spartan is using the MA40 AR with a prominent yellow stripe on the front, which is a new addition since the July reveal.


Not only do we get to look at weapons and Multiplayer screenshots, we get this in-engine render of the Scorpion Punch Armor Coating on a new set of armor. In fact, the helmet here is Anubis, first revealed on a Mega Construx Halo figure. The rest of the armor is different as well, especially the chestpiece and shoulders. If we look in the background of the image, we can also see the holotable on which the S7 Sniper Rifle and M41 SPNKr appeared, indicating that this is the same room. Perhaps the customization menu is set in this room, with different plates/holotables being used for different customization sections.


“Lastly, we’re working across the studio to form the long-term roadmap for Halo Infinite. What should players look forward to each Season? We’ll be partnering with the community to plan how the game is going to grow and evolve over time.” - Ryan Paradis

As can be expected from most major game releases nowadays, Halo Infinite will have a long-term post-launch roadmap including Seasons. As always, the community’s feedback and suggestions are taken into account for what will appear in subsequent Seasons, so be sure to make your voice heard before, at, and especially after launch.


“Healthy engagement is paramount. We want everyone to play the game in a healthy manner that they enjoy. We’re not trying to build a grind-machine that burns everyone out in an attempt to get more game time from them. Halo Infinite needs to be a place where we all look forward to spending time.” - Ryan Paradis

A significant problem with many modern live-service titles is that they try to force players to play them by making their objectives and rewards extremely tedious and grindy to achieve. The Live team is aiming to make Halo Infinite fun to play, with goals and objectives that require players to work for rewards, but they don’t want it to consume the player’s life or make most rewards effectively unobtainable for those with real-world obligations.


“We maintain a player-first focus. Think of all the games we’ve all played that have random rewards, ask people to play a way they hate just for a new shiny, or weaponize FOMO against the player. There will be limited-time events, but we don’t want to turn free time into a chore. We’re not all about that.  Everyone should enjoy their time in Halo Infinite.” - Ryan Paradis

Many live-service games will offer a bunch of rewards only for a short time in an effort to drive up player engagement during that time. This fear-of-missing-out, or FOMO, is effectively weaponized against the player, demanding that they spend their current free time playing a game they might not otherwise want to play at that time. Although Halo Infinite will feature limited-time events, the Live team is striving to make reward pathways fun and engaging to all players, without trying to weaponize FOMO or have randomized reward drops. In fact, speaking of randomized rewards…


“Unambiguous Value. If someone invests their time or money in the game, they should understand what they’re getting and that it will be worth more than the investment. Examples of this in practice include no lootboxes, either through engagement or any premium route. And we’re not selling power or giving an unfair advantage in-game via any route.” - Ryan Paradis

This Live team pillar emphasizes exactly how rewards will work in Halo Infinite. There will be no lootboxes of any kind in the game. If you want to earn or purchase a reward, you will know how to get it and exactly what you are getting. Yes, there will be premium routes to obtain some items, but you will always know what you are getting for your money. Additionally, unlike Halo 5: Guardians, there will be no sandbox or gameplay-affecting rewards for use in Warzone. Everything will be cosmetic only.


“We are always looking for more ways to customize in-game personas and give the players options. My team knows that our long-term players have favorites that they love and may have for two decades. We want to make sure that Halo Infinite players will be able to get their old favorites, as well as find new favorites at launch and as we expand over the months post-launch. Much like MCC, I want to bring everything to Infinite (eventually).” - Chris Blohm

Regarding armor customization, the team is not only looking to bring new armors and customization options to the game but also returning favorites, such as that Reach Grenadier helmet shown earlier. In fact, it is the hope of Chris Blohm and the others on the Live team that most or even all of the original armors eventually find their way into Infinite, although that will likely not be the case immediately at launch.


“Yes, being free-to-play does mean that there will be some premium cosmetics, but players will still obtain tons of customization content through things like playing campaign, challenges, skill, special events, legacy rewards (such as the Halo 5 SR 152 reward), the progression system, and more.” - Chris Blohm

As one might expect, there are some cosmetic items that will likely only be available through premium, monetary means, due to the free-to-play nature of the multiplayer. Even so, there will be plenty of earnable cosmetics obtainable through just about every part of the game, including Campaign and skill-based modes. This is a significant improvement over Halo 5: Guardians, which offered little, if any reward for playing the Campaign.


“Players that play for free will be able unlock items across a multitude of different customization types to allow them to represent themselves in-game.” - Chris Blohm

Luckily, cosmetics are not limited only to people who purchase them or who buy the Campaign. Even players playing for free will have an assortment of cosmetic items available for them to unlock.


“Halo 5 didn’t do a great job at rewarding our most engaged players (SR 152s), so we’ve added a few tokens of appreciation in Halo Infinite to help make up for that. Below you can see two of those tokens in the form of an exclusive armor coating and weapon coating.” - Chris Blohm

The rewards for reaching SR152 in Halo 5: Guardians are perhaps more significant than expected. Players will receive several rewards for reaching this Halo 5: Guardians rank when they start up Halo Infinite, including, but not limited to, an exclusive armor coating and weapon coating. In fact, let’s take a look at those now.


The Watchdog Armor Coating, and the corresponding Weapon Coating on the MA40, are shown on this Mk. VII Spartan. The coating features predominantly white armor, with black in several areas and a few red highlights. The Weapon Coating is similar, but features more black than white. Both rewards can only be obtained by reaching SR152 in Halo 5: Guardians, and there will even be more rewards for reaching that rank than just these two coatings. Before we move on, make sure to note the color of the visor shown here.


“The coating system allows us to define color, wear and tear, patterns, and materials on a region-by-region basis on the Spartan or anything in the game be it armor, weapons, vehicles, or even environment elements like fuel barrels.” - Chris Blohm

Although we’ve already heard a bit about the coating system in the past, this is the first time we’ve seen it mentioned in relation to environmental elements. The new coating system allows anything in the game to take on new color, pattern, and material presets, including items in the environment. We don’t yet know whether players will be able to assign coatings to, say, Forge objects, but this description of the system makes it seem likely.


The Splinter Desert Armor Coating is shown here on yet another new set of armor. This helmet is entirely new to Halo, although it fits right in with the existing armor from the Bungie era. Additionally, we can see an attachment on the thigh armor, and various other parts of the armor set are unique as well.


“In addition to getting better variation, we can also create coatings much faster than we could create weapon skins in Halo 5, which will allow for even better variation over time. Additionally, with coatings now being their own customization option, we can also use them as rewards for player accomplishments or even create bespoke ones for certain occasions. Lastly, coatings use smaller digital footprint and let us add new ones to the game without massive patches or taking up tons of disk space, which was a learning from Halo 5.” - Chris Blohm

The good news with coatings is that they are much easier to create, finalize, and deploy into the game, meaning there will be an ample set of coatings available both at launch and over time.


The Noble Defender Armor Coating is clearly designed to make the Spartan appear as similar to Jorge as possible, something notably unachievable even in Halo: Reach. The armor set here is obviously chosen to resemble Jorge as much as possible, although the helmet and chest are different. Even so, the return of the Halo: Reach Grenadier helmet and the armor on the arms show that returning favorites will indeed be featured alongside the new options in the game.


“To dial it in a little, the geo that could be changed or added to in Reach was: Helmet, Helmet Attachment, Chest Gear, Shoulder Pads (left and right), Knee Guards, Wrist Gear, and Utility as well as Visor Color. These will all be back, and we will go further. Personally, I have always loved visors and we have a surprise to show soon.” - Chris Blohm

The per-piece armor customization offered in Halo Infinite will go beyond the options available in Halo: Reach. In particular, Chris mentions Visor Color as something they’re excited about, which suggests that they might go beyond just color changing for the visor.


“We’re showing some cool Spartan customizations and armors in this update – but we’re not done showing players what they can do there. Likewise, players have seen coatings for weapons and vehicles – they know about that. But that’s not all they’ll be able to customize there either.
And then there’s things that don’t fall into those three areas that players will be able to get via engagement and premium paths too. We have a lot left to talk about!” - Ryan Paradis

Ryan explicitly mentions Spartan, weapon, and vehicle customization and how we don’t yet know everything planned for those three areas. He also mentions that there are other areas of customization to discuss, likely including player emblems and other such things, but they’re still saving some things for a major reveal in the future. For now, we’ll have to wait, but I expect that wait won’t last too much longer.


Right before closing the section with the Live team, Unyshek provides one final in-engine render of the Watchdog Armor Coating, this time on a different Spartan armor. The red is more prominent on this armor set than on the previous set shown, but otherwise the color scheme is still very similar. However, it is worth noting that the visor color on this Spartan is different from the previous Spartan with the same Armor Coating. Thus, Visor Color is entirely separate from the Armor Coating and can be customized independently from the color scheme used for the rest of the Spartan.


“My first week on the job, I played the entire Infinite campaign. Twice. I was, in a word, stunned—in the best possible way—by what the team had done. Infinite is, by far, the most expansive and vertical Halo world, ever.” - Joseph Staten

Joseph Staten joined the team at 343 Industries shortly after the July Campaign demo. Given that his role at Bungie during the Halo era was as a Campaign lead/writer, his reaction to Halo Infinite’s Campaign is very reassuring.


“I could feel the classic Halo ‘30 seconds of fun’ beating at the heart of Infinite’s world. But I had never felt more powerful, more mobile, more in command of a rich set of tactical choices. This was the Halo we imagined back in 2000, finally come to life, after 20 years of technical and creative innovation.” - Joseph Staten

Honestly, this quote speaks for itself. Halo has built such a profound legacy built on the limitless imagination of the original Bungie Halo team, and to hear Joseph Staten compare Halo Infinite’s possibilities and offerings to their original dream makes me extremely hopeful for the game’s Campaign mode. While I normally try to avoid being too biased in my analyses and summaries, in this case, as a fan of Halo since Halo: Combat Evolved, I feel obligated to express my enthusiasm at Staten’s reaction.


“Do I explore off the golden path? Assault that Banished war base guarding the valley pass? Follow a flight of Forerunner Sentinels into that unexpected cavern? Rescue a squad of marines dug-in and desperate halfway up that mountain? Or do I keep pulling the mainline story thread that feels epic and intimate at the exact same time?” - Joseph Staten

While playing the Campaign, Staten reflects on some of the choices available to him. At the core of Halo Infinite’s Campaign seems to be the notion of freedom: freedom to explore, to fight, and to save. In addition, Staten mentions Sentinels, confirming their obvious presence in the game.


“We can’t wait for you to join us on the Halo Infinite adventure, first with Insider flighting later next year, and then when we ship in Fall 2021.” - Joseph Staten

Good news, everyone! Although flighting was jeopardized initially with the original 2020 launch date, the new Fall 2021 launch date makes it possible to have Insider flighting for Halo Infinite. Expect to see this begin later next year prior to the launch of Halo Infinite.


Summary

We’ve been waiting for a long time to hear more about Halo Infinite, but we’ve finally started to arrive at the end of the drought. Here’s a summary of what we learned in this article.

  • Halo Infinite will release in Fall 2021.

  • The first two in-game screenshots of a multiplayer map have been revealed. The map takes place in an Axys Hydroelectrics building, and it shows drastic graphical improvement over the July demo.

  • Equipment in multiplayer will be available as map pickups and includes Active Camo and the new Grappleshot.

  • Weapon spawns are highlighted by having the weapon hover above a plate on the ground.

  • The M41 SPNKr rocket launcher is officially returning in Infinite.

  • The in-game graphics have been and will continue to be improved massively over those shown in the July 2020 demo.

  • Campaign improvements will be shown in the next few months.

  • More updates such as this one will arrive in the coming months.

  • The S7 Sniper Rifle, a new model, will appear in Halo Infinite. The body of the weapon is very similar to that of the Halo 4/Halo 5: Guardians Sniper Rifle, but the scope is different.

  • Brutes will have more variety than shown in July and even have a range of hairdos and beards. Other characters and 3D models have also been drastically altered since the July demo.

  • Some armor from Halo: Reach, such as the Grenadier helmet, will be making a return in Halo Infinite.

  • Leg armor attachments are also returning from Halo: Reach, as seen on several of the Spartans in this article.

  • The MA40 AR now has a prominent yellow stripe and much more visible detail.

  • The in-engine renders provided in the article seem to be screenshots taken from a customization menu, which takes place thematically in a UNSC-controlled room with Warthogs and holotables.

  • The Scorpion Punch Armor Coating features black in most areas, with red armor on the right arm and red details on the helmet.

  • Halo Infinite will have Seasons as part of its post-launch support. Community feedback will shape these Seasons following the release of the game.

  • Halo Infinite is being designed to encourage healthy interaction with the game. Namely, the Live team wants to avoid making the game too grindy, aiming to allow players to play the game as they want, when they want, without feeling unnecessarily forced to play it.

  • Halo Infinite will feature limited-time events with unique rewards, but the primary goal is to limit FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) with the main suite of rewards. That means making most rewards available for the player to earn at any time.

  • Some player rewards will be available through premium (paid) means only, but there will be no randomized rewards or gameplay/sandbox-affecting rewards. All items will be cosmetic only, and players will know exactly how to get a particular reward, be it earned in-game or paid.

  • The team hopes to bring not only new armor sets to Halo Infinite but also as many old favorites as possible, including the Halo: Reach Grenadier armor.

  • Rewards will be available through almost everything in the game, including skill-based goals, Campaign, Challenges, and progression.

  • Even players who take advantage of the free-to-play Multiplayer will be able to earn a lot of cosmetic rewards without having to pay.

  • Players who reach SR152 in Halo 5: Guardians will receive, among other things, the Watchdog Armor Coating and Weapon Coating. These coatings feature white and black in most places, with red detailing in a few areas.

  • The coating system applies to more than just armor, weapons, and vehicles; even environment pieces, such as fuel barrels, can accept coatings, although they do not specify how the player will be able to work with the coating system.

  • The Splinter Desert Armor Coating was also shown in this article. Featuring a desert camo pattern for the first time on a Spartan, this coating is applied to Spartan armor not seen before in any previous game or Halo Infinite merchandise.

  • The development team can make new coatings even faster than weapon skins in Halo 5: Guardians, suggesting they will be extremely numerous and varied at launch and in future expansions.

  • The Noble Defender armor coating works with several returning Halo: Reach armor pieces to give the Spartan an almost exact replica of Jorge-052’s armor set in Halo: Reach.

  • The per-piece armor customization offered in Halo Infinite will allow the player to change every piece that could be changed in Halo: Reach, but it will go even further than that.

  • Visor Color is customizable separately from the Armor Coatings, and there will be some surprises around this feature to be revealed later.

  • Joseph Staten has played the Halo Infinite Campaign twice and describes it as living up to the original dream for Halo held by Bungie devs in 2000.

  • Forerunner Sentinels will, of course, be returning in Infinite.

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