With Halo Infinite delayed after a rather shocking showcase earlier this year we finally have an update from Developers at 343 Industries worthy of sharing and teaming with good news for the franchise. Firstly the great news, we have a new release window for Halo Infinite, Autumn 2021, whilst this is a whole year longer than a lot of fans including myself were anticipating, we are sure that this is going to give 343 the time they need to bring a well-polished Halo title to the Xbox Series X/S on the all-new Slipspace Engine in which Halo Infinite is being created on.
This release date update comes as part of a much larger "state of the nation" update from Halo Waypoint, which focusses primarily on the art and graphics for Halo Infinite, Something that is much needed to reassure fans after the Xbox Showcase earlier this year. Unfortunately, there are no new videos to show be it gameplay or cinematic. Still, there are some great screenshots and concept artworks to share for the upcoming game, which we have featured below along with some key features from the art and graphics update.
The first thing addressed in this update was about the gameplay showcase from earlier this year and whilst it did show off some of the general capabilities of the Slipspace Engine, Senior concept artist Nicholas Bouvier stated: "The art and visuals weren't at the bar we hold for Halo – even in a work-in-progress state." The teams are slated to have reviewed feedback from the community, and it has aligned with their views from the footage, bolstering their commitment to improving the quality of Halo Infinite before its launch date. This view seems to be shared by all others involved in the art and graphics update, including Niel Harrison, the Art Director of 343 Industries, Ani Shastry, the Development Manager of Graphics.
The Keynote that they wished to deliver was a return to the old-school, as it not just the feedback from the recent showcase the teams have been monitoring, but also the input from all of 343's Halo releases, including Halo 5, which Bouvier says "despite many successes, didn't take player feedback enough into account, and many felt the game's visuals were deviating off course." A statement I wholeheartedly agree with as a major fan of the Halo Series. As such this update states that they are once again looking at the simpler art designs used in Halo 1 and 2, bringing a balance of superb modern graphics combined with the "classic aesthetic that will definitely speak to all."
Our next update came in the form of Craig, our new favourite Halo Character. This gormless looking Brute became an Internet sensation overnight, and Harrison had this to say about our beloved Brute:
"Firstly, I can confirm that the facial animation on NPCs was not fully implemented in that build, which resulted in Craig's incredibly deadpan/lifeless look. All characters are modelled in a neutral pose, prior to blendshapes & animation being applied. So, poor old Craig was never intended to be seen in that condition which is not something that was evident during the gameplay. It was only later, in the close-up freeze frame of his one bad moment, where it came to light and the legend of Craig was born.
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.
Craig isn't the only model to see improvements though, there have been significant changes to other characters & 3D models as we continue to evolve and polish our content, some of which can be seen in the Spartan and weapon renders being shared today."
With improvements coming to all NPC's and these significant makeovers are along the way I am still secretly hoping that we will see some form of reference or easter egg for this incredible Brute somewhere within Halo Infinite.
On a final update from art and graphics, both departments have stated that whilst a lot of the core details are there in the game already, what is required is a lot of polish, to truly bring every detail to life, from lighting to landscape, 3D Models and textures, every detail is being worked on to the best of the team's ability.
The update/interview then moved onto "Live and Customisation" 2 factors that have always been a big part of the Halo Franchise. This section covered the new free to play multiplayer and character creation/ customisation. It was led by Ryan Paradis, the Design Director for the Live Team and Chris Blohm the lead progression designer.
During the interview, the two team members Paradis and Blohm shared their values for the free to play multiplayer and the most significant factor that stood out to me was the fact that there would be NO LOOT BOXES! None at all, be it through engagement or premium, gameplay or cash to you and me. This is a great move, as the two most recent Halo titles ( Halo 5 and Halo Wars 2) featured game modes that encouraged the purchasing and earning of loot boxes. Halo Wars 2's Blitz mode, in particular, demanded the use of loot boxes to give you units for battle and ultimately have the edge over any other player in the game, so seeing that there is going to be zero loot boxes in Halo infinite is a breath of fresh air and one that makes me extremely happy.
This doesn't mean that Halo infinite will be without reward or micro-transactions; however, as the teams at 343 are going to be bringing Cosmetics to the game. The rewards available, in a variety of different ways, ranging from weapon skins to armours and how we go about unlocking these is currently unknown, but 343 have stated that as part of their values they will do whatever they can to make unlocking these as fun as possible, rather than as a chore.
When it comes to customisation as a whole, it looks like we will be taking a trip back to one of the greatest Halo games of all times, Bungies Swan Song, Halo Reach. The customisation in reach was undoubtedly the most detailed of all the Halo games, with almost every segment of armour being customisable. Blohm went on to say this about the armour customisation:
"One way to look at inventory systems is to look at their breadth and depth. How many things can I customize and how many choices within it do I have? Reach allowed the player a lot of individual customization types on a single armor suit with each type having many options. We knew we had to return to that level, but also do more."
What this more is we do not rightly know yet, but Blohm did go on to say that there will be a few surprises in store for us in a future update from 343.
To finish up this article from our first of many future updates from 343 I would like to add a personal note as a fan of the Halo franchise and that this is the first time I have actually been this excited for a Halo game in a long time. Today 343 have done something that has been so desperately needed for a long time, a detailed update filled with some concrete assurances for the fans. I am rooting for 343 with this Halo title, and I hope that with this extra year they have been given they can truly bring some justice to the Master Chiefs story and Halo's Legendary multiplayer. For all the details from today's Halo Waypoint update follow this link here to read and see everything I have seen, and I hope that you view it with the same enthusiasm I have. Be sure to let us know your thoughts on this Halo Infinite update by joining us on our social media page, (which you can find and follow below) and commenting on this post
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