343 Industries promised an update on Halo Infinite's development this month, and last night it delivered one. Infinite, which was originally set to be a launch title for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, is now set to arrive about a year from now. With that hefty delay, though, it seems 343 is again planning to put it through its paces with public testing ahead of launch.
In a new "Inside Infinite" blog post at Halo Waypoint, the first in a series of updates that will chronicle Infinite's ongoing development, new campaign creative director Joseph Staten (formerly of Bungie during its decade of Halo development) starts things off by confirming that Infinite will ship in Fall 2021.
"Yep, that's when the game is coming out," Staten writes. "And from now until then, every one of us at 343i and our great partner teams will be building, testing, and polishing an experience we hope all of you love."
While that suggests a pretty significant overhaul for at least parts of Infinite's experience and is by no means a guarantee that the coming year will avoid crunch, the added time will give 343 time for public testing, which it had previously all-but-abandoned prior to the delay. "We can't wait for you to join us on the Halo Infinite adventure, first with Insider flighting later next year," says Staten "and then when we ship in Fall 2021."
The development update also includes two lengthy sections on Infinite's visuals and on its suite of multiplayer armor customization options. From Craig the Brute to the noticeably chunky level of detail pop-in apparent in July's campaign demo, 343's top artists and graphics engineers say they've made considerable progress already toward upping the game's fidelity over the past few months. As for what Infinite's multiplayer going free-to-play means for armor cosmetics, 343 promises that there will be no randomized loot boxes whatsoever, but adds that there will be premium cosmetic options on offer beyond what can be earned through gameplay.
All in all, the move to Fall 2021 is as big for Infinite as it is unsurprising. Xbox Head Phil Spencer spoke candidly about the possibility of a Halo delay well in advance of the actual decision, and last year's 343 departures suggested development hardship at play before 343 had to contend with a shift to work-from-home due to the pandemic. The recent post-delay exit of former campaign director Chris Lee also came as a sign that an early 2021 launch was unlikely. Still, Staten insists that Infinite's campaign was in an exciting place by the time he joined its team.
"I could feel the classic Halo '30 seconds of fun' beating at the heart of Infinite's world," he says. "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."
Halo Infinite will launch on Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC.