Inside Infinite July 2021 - Halo Waypoint News Article
With the exception of May 2021, we have gotten an Inside Infinite article every month since December 2020. Each article sheds some light on the work performed by various teams collaborating to finish up Halo Infinite for its launch this Holiday. This month, we heard from the team behind the upcoming Halo Infinite Technical Preview, and they had some very good news for us.
"This month, we’re diving into efforts supporting the upcoming multiplayer technical preview, often referred to as 'flighting', to share insights into our goals, process, and what Insiders should expect. We’ll also take a closer look at the content and experiences included in this inaugural tech preview which will focus on Bots and Weapon Drills – two brand new additions to Halo."
The upcoming Halo Infinite Tech Preview will feature Bots and Weapon Drills as the primary focus. These are completely new elements of Halo Infinite multiplayer, and it will be exciting to see how well they work and welcome new players into the fold. As an important, if not belabored, reminder, please make sure you've signed up and ensured your Halo Insider profile is up to date with the proper information. Even though you are not guaranteed to be invited if you sign up, not having accurate information or disallowing Communication Updates will prevent you from receiving any invites.
"For the tech preview, we have concurrency targets tied to our overall goals that will inform how many total Insiders should be invited. Within that pool of players, our first priority will be ensuring we have a broad distribution of platforms (Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and different PC configurations) and then we will look at overall tenure in the program, prioritizing our longest standing Insiders, until we've allocated every invitation."
The best data comes from a varied and diverse hardware pool, so the top priority for selecting players is to make sure as many different Xbox and PC configurations are represented as possible. From there, the goal will be to choose players who have been with the Insider program the longest. So, if you have a unique hardware configuration or have been actively contributing to the Insider program for a long time, you will be more likely to secure an invite in the upcoming Tech Preview.
"Our goal is to offer additional technical preview opportunities ahead of launch with increases in scope for content and participants. So, if you don’t receive an invitation this time, we ask that you please hang in there – future opportunities are on the horizon."
As with Halo: MCC, the Tech Previews for Halo Infinite will start relatively small and include more players with each subsequent flight until the game launches. Not only does this confirm that there will be multiple Tech Previews leading up to launch this Holiday, it also means that even if you don't get invited to this first flight, you may still be invited to a future one.
"We also want to be very up front and transparent about the fact that we will certainly have some bumps and rough edges in this build... For further context, this technical preview is a couple months behind where the development team and ‘main’ game build currently is given the process and time it takes to go through all the gates and steps before releasing to the public."
If you've never participated in a Halo flight before, it's worth noting that you will notice some bugs and other issues while playing. This is to be expected, as the build is still a work-in-progress. In this case, it will be a few months behind the current build, so there may be multiple issues that the team has already fixed for release. That being said, if you encounter an issue not listed in the Known Issues article that will come out alongside the tech preview, you should submit a ticket for the issue so that 343 can learn about it and prioritize a fix for it.
"Core gameplay: We want to know how you feel about the core combat experience. How do you feel about player movement, weapon balance, equipment, etc.? How fun is it to engage in a battle in Halo Infinite?
"Maps & Modes: How did you feel about the design and flow of the maps? Are the maps and mode both fun and fair?
"Academy’s Weapon Drills: Did Weapon Drills give you a good understanding of how a weapon functions? How fun were the various Weapon Drills?
"Menu & Battle Pass UI: How intuitive was the menu navigation? Were you able to understand your progression through the Battle Pass? Were you able to find and equip customization items easily?"
Here, 343 lists their feedback points for the upcoming Tech Preview. They are looking for feedback along the lines of the core gameplay, the basic gameplay common to all the playable modes in the game; the specific maps and modes available; the Weapon Drills in the Academy, where players can experiment with various sandbox weapons against bots; and the menu and Battle Pass UI. If you are invited to the Tech Preview, these are the points you should keep in mind to provide effective feedback.
"Meet the Threat Detector."
The Threat Detector equipment is shown above in its dormant state. This piece of equipment highlights all enemies within range of a projectile launched by the user, even if they are behind a wall.
"This technical preview is intentionally focused on these specific areas to help us gather some scale data as we bring these new experiences to Halo for the first time. As we look further ahead, we plan for future flights to expand into more content including traditional PVP Arena and Big Team Battle.
"With this and our higher-level feedback goals noted up above, we land on the following specific focal points. With this in mind, the focus areas for our technical preview are:
Arena gameplay vs. Bots
Academy’s Weapon Drills
Menu & Battle Pass UI
New Waypoint experiences on web, iOS, and Android"
Although future flights will contain traditional Arena and Big Team PvP content, this flight will only contain player vs. bot gameplay. That being said, the Tech Preview will feature Arena gameplay vs. Bots on multiple Arena maps, Academy Weapon Drills, Menu and Battle Pass UI, and the integrated Waypoint experience on the website, iOS, and Android.
"To provide a totally new multiplayer experience for players and to gather feedback on Bot behavior and online performance, we’ll be debuting the Bot Arena playlist, which puts 4 players against 4 Bots on Arena maps.
"For this technical preview, the Bot Arena experience will feature Slayer across three maps in this build:
Bot Slayer on Bazaar, Recharge, and Live Fire"
The only playlist in this first flight will be Bot Arena, which will allow 4 players to matchmake and fight against 4 Bots on three Arena maps seen in the Multiplayer Announcement Trailer: Bazaar, Recharge, and Live Fire. The game mode will be Slayer.
"To keep players on their toes and keep the experience engaging, we’re planning for a daily content offering that will evolve over the course of the flight based on the overall engagement of participants. We’re going to intentionally start things off slow to help everyone get acclimated but as the community gets up to speed and slays copious amount of Bots our goal is to crank things up to provide greater challenge and variety."
The tricky thing with Bots is tuning their difficulty. It is easy to make them too easy or too difficult to fight, but making them engaging and challenging without being impossible to beat is an art. Halo Infinite will feature multiple Bot difficulty settings, and it seems that they will be adjusted to be more difficult as the flight continues.
"As part of the Academy experience, another first for Halo, Weapon Drills offer players a brand-new way to learn how each weapon functions before entering the heat of battle. Dropping you into a firing range area, that features moving and strafing Bots for target practice, Weapon Drills feature different levels of difficulty and a star rating system. The more damage you deal to the Bots, the higher you’ll score."
Weapon Drills have actually been seen before in the Multiplayer Overview video. Bots will move and strafe to avoid your fire, testing your ability to stay on target and finish a kill. There's even a slight competitive element to them, where you can earn more points by dealing more damage to the Bots.
"In this upcoming technical preview, we’re planning to include the following subset of Weapon Drills:
Each weapon featured in the Tech Preview will have its own Weapon Drill. The list of weapons here is nothing new, save for the Heatwave mentioned on the second to last line. Given how unlikely it would be to be able to use a weapon we haven't seen yet, the Heatwave is likely the weapon that fired the ricocheting projectiles in the Multiplayer Announcement Trailer.
"In order to allow Halo Insiders to unlock their Battle Passes and unlock various customization options, we’ll be granting invited accounts a set amount of in-game credits (cR). Players will be free to use their cR how they see fit, but customization items unlocked during technical previews will not carry over when the game releases later this year."
Since they are trying to test how intuitive their UI flow is, players will get some in-game credits to use on customization items. Although players can use them however they like, whether on the truncated Battle Pass or within the Store, items earned within the Tech Preview will not be unlocked within the final game, preserving fairness for those who were not invited.
"Lastly, in coordination with these Halo Infinite technical previews, we will also flighting our new Halo Waypoint web and mobile app experiences. Halo Insiders should be able to view their Battle Pass progression, Challenges, and even customize their Spartans. All Halo Insiders that were invited to the technical preview will be able to view, access, and take advantage of these experiences, which will be directly connected to their profiles in the flight."
Alongside the Halo Infinite Tech Preview, the new Halo Waypoint app/website experience will be flighting, including full Halo Infinite integration for those invited to the Tech Preview.
"...we’ve been given the okay to say our first Bot-focused technical preview could happen as soon as next weekend. Prior to the flight starting, we’re planning a live stream where we’ll dive into the actual build and walk through nearly every facet of the technical preview. Stay tuned."
It's nice to know what's coming up soon, but the question on everyone's mind is "When?" Turns out, the answer is soon. Really soon. Like, as early as next weekend (7/30/21-8/1/21) soon. Granted, this date could be postponed if any last-minute unexpected blockers arise, so don't be too upset if it doesn't end up happening next weekend. Once we finally get our hands on it, the wait will have been worth it.
The other noteworthy piece of information is that prior to the launch of the flight, there will be a live stream where 343 will do a deep dive into the actual content of the flight build to show everything invited players will be able to experience once it launches. We're almost there, friends.
"We’ll be hosting hundreds of thousands of Halo Insiders during the first technical preview and then, if all goes well, we’ll invite even more eligible Halo Insiders for the next flight. We want to start at a reasonable number of participants before potentially going to a much larger player pool, but our goal is to eventually get every eligible Halo Insider a chance to go hands-on and help us achieve our goals on the road to launch."
Even though this first Tech Preview will be relatively small in scale, there will still be hundreds of thousands of players invited at the start. As more flights launch, more players will be invited to each flight until, if everything goes according to plan, every eligible Insider will be able to participate in at least one flight prior to launch. So if you don't get in immediately, don't worry. Watch some gameplay videos on YouTube, watch for more news here, and prepare for your opportunity to help shape Halo Infinite for its launch this Holiday.
"And yes, the technical preview will be all good to stream and create content around."
As is usually the case for publicly announced flights, all content in the flight can be streamed or used for content creation. Go nuts! Those of us who don't receive an invite will be extremely grateful for your videos, screenshots, and montages.
"Bots come in four flavors: Recruit, Marine, ODST and Spartan, with each level representing an increase in Bot skill." - Joseph Staten
There are four difficulty levels for Bots, with each one providing a greater challenge for their opponents.
"Some more examples of Bot behavior: ODST and Spartan Bots will effectively dodge grenades and rockets (Recruits and Marines will not). All Bots use equipment, and higher-level Bots will Grappleshot to you to finish you with a melee kill (I’ve seen them do this with Energy Swords which is amazing and terrifying). Bots keep track of power weapon spawns and sprint to claim them. But most importantly: Bots are fair; we don’t change their health and damage values per difficulty level; they just get smarter and more resourceful the higher you go." - Joseph Staten
Here, Joseph Staten gives some examples of how Bots can interact with the sandbox to gain an edge on unsuspecting players. Higher-tier Bots can avoid explosives and use equipment in more advanced ways. All bots take full advantage of the sandbox and will react to weapon and equipment spawns by rushing to grab them. Finally, no Bot will have additional health or deal more damage. The only difference between Recruit and Spartan Bots is how they interact with the maps, the sandbox, incoming fire, and player actions.
"And that's exactly what we’re going to do in our tech preview flight: start the Bots on Marine difficulty and then let you work your way up to Spartan." - Joseph Staten
As mentioned earlier, Bots in the flight will start at lower difficulties and go up over the course of the flight. More specifically, they will initially be set to Marine and eventually end up at Spartan.
We are nearing the beginning of Halo Infinite Technical Previews, with the first possibly coming as soon as the weekend of July 30 through Aug. 1. In this Inside Infinite, we got our first details on the contents of this initial Technical Preview.
The upcoming Technical Preview will focus primarily on Bots and Academy Weapon Drills.
Players need to be members of the Halo Insider program in order to be eligible for invites. Make sure you've signed up and agreed to receiving all communications from 343.
The initial player set will be selected primarily to ensure diversity of hardware setups, but the second priority is to prioritize those players that have been part of Halo Insider the longest.
There will be multiple Technical Previews leading up to launch, with each one including more Insiders than the last.
Because Technical Previews are intended to ensure the technical systems are designed properly and to locate and diagnose issues, there will be bugs and glitches in the build released to players. Make sure to report any issues encountered by submitting a ticket to Halo Insider Support, provided they aren't already on the Known Issues list.
The build in the first Technical Preview is several months old, so it may not look as finalized as it will at release.
343i wants feedback on four key areas for this first flight: Core Gameplay, Maps and Modes, Academy's Weapon Drills, and Menu and Battle Pass UI.
The in-game model for the Threat Detector equipment is shown above.
The first Technical Preview will contain Arena gameplay against Bots, Arena maps, Academy's Weapon Drills, Menu and Battle Pass UI, and new Waypoint experiences and integration with Halo Infinite.
Player will search in the Bot Arena playlist to fight as a team of four against four Bots in Slayer. They will play on Bazaar, Recharge, and Live Fire.
As the flight progresses, Bots will scale up in difficulty from Marine, the second tier, to Spartan, the fourth and highest tier.
Academy Weapon Drills offer players the ability to practice using specific weapons against moving and strafing Bots.
The following weapons will be available for use in the Academy Weapon Drills: MA40 AR, BR75, MK50 Sidekick, CQS48 Bulldog, Needler, VK78 Commando, S7 Sniper, Plasma Pistol, Pulse Carbine, Ravager, Heatwave, and Skewer.
The Heatwave is likely the new weapon shown in the Multiplayer Announcement Trailer that had multiple firing modes and fired ricocheting projectiles.
Weapon Drills will award points for damage dealt, giving them a casually competitive element.
Players will be able to interact with the customization systems in the game, such as the Battle Pass and the Store. Players will be given a set amount of Credits (cR) that they can then use as they see fit.
The Battle Pass will be truncated and there will be a small fraction of the launch customization content included in the flight. Cosmetics earned in the flights will not carry over to the final game, however.
The Halo Waypoint app and website will be flighted alongside the Technical Preview. While the app can be downloaded by anyone, only those invited to the Technical Preview will be able to experience the Halo Infinite integration.
This first Technical Preview will become available as early as the weekend of July 30 through August 1, 2021.
There will be a live stream prior to the release of the flight showcasing everything that invited players will be able to experience.
The first Tech Preview will include hundreds of thousands of invitees, but not everyone will be invited. However, 343 hopes to be able to eventually include every eligible Halo Insider in at least one Tech Preview prior to launch.
All content in the Technical Preview can be streamed or used for content creation.
Bots have four difficulty settings: Recruit, Marine, ODST, and Spartan.
ODST and Spartan bots can dodge explosives and use equipment in advanced ways (e.g. Grappleshotting into a melee attack).
All Bots can use equipment and will run for power weapons when they spawn.
Increasing Bot difficulty does not make them have more health, take less damage, or deal more damage. It only improves their competency.