Technical Preview July 2021 - Livestream Overview
Updated: Feb 9, 2022
E3, June 2018. That was when we first learned about the Flighting program for Halo Infinite. It has been a very, very long and tumultuous time since then, but congratulations Halo fans. You made it. The first Technical Preview launches Thursday, June 29. If you were invited, you'll be able to download the game on your invited platform, be it Xbox One, Series S/X, or PC starting Thursday afternoon PDT.
If you're wondering what you can expect when you jump into the Tech Preview, look no further than the VOD of 343's first Technical Preview Livestream Overview. Containing an hour and a half of discussions about all the content included in the build, as well as live and prerecorded footage of the build itself on various platforms, this livestream is a great place to learn more about the upcoming flight and the final game releasing this Holiday.
This article is extremely lengthy and took me several days to put together. With more than 100 screenshots from the livestream, it contains a ton of details about Settings, Customization, and gameplay. To help make it easier to jump to a particular section, please use the following links. For a TL;DR, be sure to check out the Summary section.
Xbox One Gameplay
If you were concerned about how the game would look on Xbox One, you'll be particularly interested in the gameplay segment around timestamp 20:30. Although many elements are lower resolution, the game still looks very nice. It is difficult to tell if the performance is as good as would be expected, but it's worth noting that:
This is a 2-month old build lacking the latest performance improvements and
The stream performance quality is likely worse than the actual performance quality.
We now know that the Xbox One is currently limited to 30 FPS in the Tech Preview, but this may be higher in the final build.
We recently learned about the Mark System in a 343 employee interview, and this is the first time we've seen it in action. The player presses a button that generates a waypoint at a location, in this case, Library. In addition to marking it visually, the action is listed in the killfeed as "[Gamertag] [Mark Symbol] [Location]", notifying the team that the system has been used to mark a point of interest.
Here, the player has died and is on the respawn screen. The respawn timer is closer in duration to Halo 5: Guardians than previous Halo games. LB and RB can be used to change the player being spectated, and the callout for the location of the player can be seen underneath their tag on the left (it is admittedly hard to see in this screencap). Finally, and most interestingly, the top of the screen shows who killed the player and how much health and shields that player had left (the white bar above their gamertag is their health).
Unfortunately, the stream quality dips a bit here, so it isn't super clear what this screenshot is showing. The player has just Back Smacked an enemy and earned the Back Smack medal. The small green square to the right of the medal name is the medal icon, which has been added in this build.
As in Halo 5: Guardians, power weapon spawns will be marked ahead of time for players to begin gravitating towards. Here, the M41 SPNKR is spawning in 16 seconds.
Unlike in Halo 5: Guardians, the Overshield, and presumably the Active Camo and other equipment items, is marked with an explicitly shown countdown. Equipment, like Power Weapons, is considered enough of a game changer to be worth fighting for.
Menus and Settings
Here, we can see the main menu of the Technical Preview. The Multiplayer and Academy options are selectable with limited options within each. The menu starts on the Play tab, but there is also a Customize and a Shop menu tab. Pressing "Y" reveals the Season 0 Battle Pass, For Our Tomorrow, and pressing "X" shows Season Progress. Finally, there is a News section with multiple entries notifying players of important information during the Tech Preview.
Pressing the "Menu" button opens the Control Panel. From top to bottom, there is an option for Settings, Season Progress, News, Patch Notes, Support, Credits, and (since this is running on PC) Exit to Desktop. I am particularly excited to see support for Patch Notes within the game, as it makes it easy for players to be aware of what's changed when their build updates.
WARNING: The next several screenshots only show the Settings menus. The discussions for these menus is fairly dry, and while there are a few interesting details here and there, much of it can be skipped without major issue. Scroll down to 32:08 to skip past this section.
At this point, we get our first in-depth look at the Settings on offer for Halo Infinite. There are six Settings categories: Controller, Keyboard/Mouse, Video, Audio, UI, and Accessibility. Within this section of the Controller settings, we can see General options and Movement & Aiming options. Although not shown in this screenshot, the "B" button allows a player to leave the Settings menu, and the "X" button lets them Reset to Defaults.
Under General, we have Button Layout, Thumbstick Layout, and Vibration. Under Movement & Aiming, there are options to toggle Invert Look (Vertical), Invert Look (Horizontal), Invert Flight, and Hold to Crouch. The player can also change the Switcher Control. More on this in a moment.
The other noteworthy item here is the default control scheme, shown on the right. Here,
"LT" is Zoom
"LB" is Throw Grenade
"RT" is Fire Weapon
"RB" is Use Equipment
clicking "LS" is Sprint
clicking "RS" is Melee
"A" is Jump
"B" is Crouch/Slide
"X" is Reload/Vent or Interact if held
"Y" is Switch Weapon or Switch Equipment if held
"View" is Campaign Menu and Scoreboard
"Menu" is Game Menu or Text Chat if held
Up on the D-Pad is Mark/Helmet Light
Left on the D-Pad is Grenade Switcher
Right on the D-Pad is Drop Weapon
Down on the D-Pad is AI Scan
Of particular note are the actions for holding the "Y" button, pressing Right on the D-Pad, and pressing Down on the D-Pad. It seems likely that the Switcher Control mentioned in the settings options is related to switching equipment. Additionally, if players can drop a weapon in their hands without picking up another weapon, this would be a first for the franchise and would answer several questions raised by the Razorback. Finally, it is a bit unclear what "AI Scan" means, but I'm guessing it's that environment scan performed by the Chief right after he picks up the Mangler in the July 2020 Campaign Demo. It is likely a Campaign-only feature.
And, if you don't like any one of these choices, you can fully customize your own control scheme or use a different preset one.
Each setting offers a description in the lower right of the screen. Here is the description for the Switcher Control. Setting it to Tap allows a player to "press the input to open or close the Switcher". If a player holds the input, it switches to the last equipped item. If it's set to Hold, holding the input will open the Switcher until the input is released. Tapping the input switches to the last equipped item. It is interesting that a Switcher would be implemented in Halo Infinite. It's possible that it only plays a role in Campaign, but I will nonetheless be trying to pull this up in Multiplayer just in case.
Here are a few more Controller options under the Movement & Aiming header. Players can toggle Hold to Zoom, Hold to Sprint, Movement Assisted Steering, and Maintain Sprint. Movement Assisted Steering is described on the right as a setting that allows a player to use "LS" to "help steer wheeled vehicles in addition to steering with the camera," yet another first for the series. Maintain Sprint is an option that allows players to automatically start sprinting after performing certain actions, rather than needing to press the Sprint input again every time.
Three more Movement & Aiming settings are shown here: Auto Clamber, Step Jump, and Move Deadzone (Inner). Auto Clamber allows a player to automatically clamber onto ledges in front of them, and is somewhat standard for games with Clamber. Step Jump, on the other hand, will "reduce jump height when jumping onto low ledges." This is an interesting setting, one that I cannot recall seeing in other games. Finally, the Inner Move Deadzone refers to how much input needs to be provided to the movement stick before your character moves. You want this to be as low as possible without causing your character to drift when you release the stick.
There are Inner and Outer Deadzones for both Movement and Looking. The key with adjusting inner deadzones is to make sure they are as low as possible without causing drift when the stick is released. Outer deadzones represent how far from the edge your thumbstick can be before hitting max speed. If you look around at the edge of your thumbstick's range and notice slowness, you should increase this deadzone, again trying to keep it as low as possible without causing excessive slowness at the maximum point.
In addition to Movement & Aiming settings, there are also Sensitivity & Acceleration options. You can choose to modify your Look Acceleration (how quickly you go from zero to maximum look speed when pressing the stick to the edge), Look Sensitivity (horizontal separately from vertical), and your sensitivity at all zoom values.
The 1.4x Zoom is used by all weapons without their own scopes, such as the MA40 AR and the Pulse Carbine. The 2.5x Zoom is used by weapons such as the BR75. Other zooms not shown here include the 3.0x Zoom (e.g. VK78 Commando), the 5.0x Zoom (e.g. first zoom level of S7 Sniper), the 6.0x Zoom (e.g. Stalker Rifle), and the 10.0x Zoom (e.g. second zoom level of S7 Sniper). This also indirectly confirms that the Stalker Rifle has a 6.0x Zoom.
The Keyboard/Mouse settings are obviously similar to the Controller settings. The Movement & Aiming section has many of the same options that the Controller Movement & Aiming section had.
There is one new setting in the Movement & Aiming Section: Enable Mouse Magnetism. Toggling this option on enables a small amount of aim assist for Mouse and Keyboard users, helping to even the playing field with Controller players.
The Keyboard/Mouse settings also provide Sensitivity & Acceleration options. Keyboard/Mouse players have many of the same options that Controller players do, but some, such as the Mouse Sensitivity and Vertical/Horizontal Sensitivity Scales, are unique to the input device.
Also included within the Sensitivity & Acceleration options is Mouse Acceleration, which can be enabled and customized to the user's desire. Players can chose the minimum and maximum acceleration rates and set the acceleration scale and power. Disabling Mouse Acceleration disables all of these options.
There are multiple groups of actions to which players can bind keys. Here are some of the actions available in the On Foot category. Notice that all actions can be bound to up to three different inputs.
Players can hotkey their equipment when they have multiple pieces equipped. This is strictly a Campaign feature, meaning the four pieces of Campaign equipment will be the Grappleshot, the Drop Wall, the Threat Sensor, and, perhaps most intriguingly, the Thruster, not, as would be expected, the Repulsor. We don't know if the Repulsor could still appear in Campaign as a single or limited use item, but it is possible. We can also see that there is a Vehicle settings section.
One of the best quality of life additions in Halo 5: Guardians was the ability to switch seats in vehicles with more than one seat. Thankfully, this addition is returning in Halo Infinite, allowing players to hotswap to a different seat in their vehicle should a vacancy arise.
Just before switching over to the Video Settings, we see a few options within the Communication section of the Keyboard/Mouse Settings. It is possible to bind keys to Opening Text Chat and Push to Talk, among more settings not shown.
The next set of Settings shown is the Video settings. Under the Display category, we have Field of View, Display Adapter, Display Monitor, a Borderless Fullscreen toggle, a Window Size selector (if Borderless Fullscreen is disabled), a Resolution Scale, a UI Resolution Scale, Minimum Framerate (resolution will decrease to maintain this if necessary), and Maximum Framerate.
On the right, we can also see a bar indicating statistics related to memory. It is not entirely clear what is being represented, but my best guess is that it shows the amount of RAM currently in use, the ideal amount of RAM to have available (10,280 MB), and the maximum available. That being said, I am unfamiliar with high-end PC gaming, and this assumption could be incorrect.
Finally, although not shown in this screenshot, pressing the "Y" button enters a Screen Calibration mode.
Further down the list of Display Video settings, we can see a toggle for VSync and to Limit Framerate on Loss of Focus. This second setting allows a player to lower the framerate to the minimum while the game is in the background.
Then, in the Graphics section, there are a multitude of options that players can set to their desired level. These include Quality Preset (which is automatically detected based on the user's PC hardware and sets the following settings to appropriate levels), Anti-Aliasing, Texture Filtering, Ambient Occlusion, Texture Quality, Geometry Quality, and Reflections.
Note that many of these settings will only be available to PC players and cannot be seen on the Xbox version of the game.
Further Graphics settings available on PC include Depth of Field, Shadow Quality, Dynamic Lighting, Volumetric Fog, Sky Quality, Dynamic Wind, Decorator Quality, Effects Quality, Decals Quality, and Animation Quality.
The final Graphics Video Settings are Terrain Quality, Simulation Quality, Flocks Quality, an Async Compute toggle, and Shader Quality.
There is also a Sensory section of settings, allowing players to adjust things like Motion Blur, Screen Shake, Exposure, and Full Screen Effects.
The final two Video settings are a Speed Lines toggle and CAS Sharpening. The former is a new option that allows the player to enable or disable the line effects that appear around the edge of the screen when the player is sprinting.
There are also multiple Audio settings that players can tweak. These include Master Volume, Voice Volume, Music Volume, Menu Music Volume, Sound Effects Volume, Environmental Volume, and Hit Detection Volume. That last option is particularly important for players who do not like the chimes and tones that sometimes play alongside hitmarkers. If you don't want to hear it, feel free to turn it all the way down.
Players can also set the Dynamic Range mode, set Subtitles, and toggle which Subtitles to display with the Subtitles Filter.
The remaining Audio Settings include:
Subtitles Font Size
Subtitles Background Opacity
Subtitles Color Mode
Voice Chat Input Device
Voice Chat Mode (Note that this is set to Open Mic by default in the Tech Preview)
Fireteam & Lobby Voice Chat toggle
Match Voice Chat toggle
Incoming Voice Chat Volume slider
Spartan Chatter toggle
Mute Audio on Loss of Focus toggle.
The audio options, alongside all the other settings included in this build, are far more granular than they have ever been before.
The fifth major collection of Settings is the UI Settings. The first category of these settings is Heads-Up-Display (HUD), which includes:
Tips & Tutorials toggle
Text Chat toggle
Horizontal Display Margin
Vertical Display Margin
Multiplayer Scoreboard Control
FPS Counter toggle
Network Statistics toggle
The ability to outright disable the HUD at any time via a Setting toggle is great, as this was previously only possible through the use of the Blind skull in Campaign. Furthermore, the FPS Counter and Network Statistics options are not new features in gaming, but they are new to Halo.
There are several more sections within the UI collection, including Outlines & Colors, where the Enemy, Friendly, and Fireteam outline colors can be set; Markers & Banners, where the Player Marker Display can be changed between Service Tag and Gamertag; and UI Visual Effects, which includes things like Chromatic Aberration and Bloom.
The final set of UI settings is shown here. Under the UI Visual Effects header is the Parallax toggle. Then, under the Theater Interface section, there are toggles for Event Timeline and Controls. Although the Theater will not be included in this Tech Preview, it will be featured in the final game. The Event Timeline might be a new feature within the Theater that allows players to jump to particular moments within a match, but we'll know more in the future.
Finally, under the Weapon Offsets section, players can set the Horizontal, Vertical, and Depth Offsets for various categories of Weapons, including, but not limited to, Melee Weapons.
The final major collection of Settings is Accessibility options. Under Language, players can change the Visual Language in the game. The Menus section offers a Linear Navigation Mode toggle, UI Narration, UI Narration Rate, UI Narration Volume, and UI Text Size options. Finally, the Subtitles & Audio section includes the ability to set the Subtitles mode. This setting value is likely shared with the Audio Subtitles.
The Subtitles & Audio Settings here are identical to those seen in the Audio section, and the first three Visual Settings were seen in the UI section. What's new here are the Reticle Outline Opacity and the Reticle Outline Thickness.