OPINION

Thoughts about Halo Infinite: The future of Halo, 343, Multiplayer, and more

Halo Infinite isn’t coming out until sometime next year, but that doesn’t mean the ‘You Had Me At Halo’ podcast hosts aren’t constantly thinking about the game. The hosts were asked a number of questions about Halo Infinite, the future of the franchise, if Halo matters to Xbox as much post-Bethesda, and more.

For more Halo conversations, check out the latest ‘You Had Me At Halo’ episode below!

What are your overall thoughts on Halo Infinite with everything we know? What are you excited about? Is there anything that worries you?

Austin “Proven” Nelson: I think that overall Halo Infinite is the game I have wanted 343 to make for a long time. Halo 4 and 5 felt simultaneously like they played it safe while also straying too far from what makes Halo great. Halo Infinite looks like it will be taking chances by going open world, while also hitting important notes that makes Halo unique. I am very excited about the multiplayer because I think it has a chance to be the best in the series since Halo 3. I am slightly worried that even with a delay the game still isn’t completely finished. 343 has a history of being unable to launch every game with all of the expected content and even with a delay I do not know if everything Halo fans expect will be there day one.

OneBadMutha: I’m optimistic with a little caution.  Most exciting aspect of Halo Infinite is the focus they’re putting on the gameplay sandbox.  What makes Halo CE stand the test of time nearly 2 decades later is how fun it is to play.  The July demo had my imagination run wild with different gameplay scenarios for Halo in a wider world.  With a more malleable engine, I hope this means a lot of creative scenarios where I’m trying multiple approaches each time I fail.

Biggest concern is that it’s the first time Halo has gone semi-open world. I hope 343 can avoid some of the tropes of open world game design. I don’t want to be more focused looking at icons on a map than paying attention to what’s around me.

Mike “Kage Maru” Skiles: My overall thoughts are I really hope 343i come through since it’s clear their hearts are in this project. I’m mostly excited about playing a Halo with a more classic directly and large scope we’ve seen in older titles. I’m a bit worried that the open world design and 60fps target on current gen hardware will make it difficult for the team to design encounters with the same polish and AI dynamics found in the original Halo trilogy. In my opinion, the AI of 343i’s titles have never matched up to what we saw in Halo 1, 2, and 3. Hope I’m wrong here.

Jesse “Doncabesa” Norris: Halo 4 had a great campaign and mediocre (better after a bunch of patches) multiplayer. Halo 5 had a mediocre (though great gameplay) story but fantastic multiplayer. My thought about Infinite is that this one is going to be when they finally nail both at the same time. I am incredibly excited to get my hands on that gameplay after what we saw in July, and honestly I’m not worried about anything.

Aarsal “Soulblazerz” Masoodi”: I believe it’s going to be a historic moment in the Halo franchise and a turning point in the (relatively) waning popularity of the series. With the game being free to play and also available on the Xbox One, it will have a ludicrous number of users at release. Though if I had to pick, I’d say I’m most excited about the potential updates to big team battle, my favourite mode. As for worries, my only real worry is that they spend too much time changing minor things, like one bad frame out of 60.

What is something about Infinite you want to more know about?

Austin “Proven” Nelson: I want to know what their plans are for multiplayer for Infinite. Halo 5 was a solid multiplayer experience and 343 did a great job after what was a poor effort for Halo 4. While Halo 5 was really good, it still didn’t quite meet the original trilogies multiplayer for a number of reasons. 343 needs to do a better job with map design and Playlist management. If they can improve on those things then I think Halo Infinjte will in great shape.

OneBadMutha: I’d prefer to keep the campaign a surprise until I play it so by process of elimination, I want to see more about the multiplayer. Specifically what their philosophies are on map design. Halo 5 has amazing balance however I don’t feel it resonated as well as it should have because the maps weren’t memorable. Seeing that Max Hoberman is back has me hopeful that Infinite’s maps have personality. Both for Arena and Big Team Battle!

Mike “Kage Maru” Skiles: I would like to know more about their content roadmap over the next year or two so we have a better idea of how their 10 year plan will pan out.

Jesse “Doncabesa” Norris: Is there a big endgame co-op style mode to keep me engaged after I complete the campaign. Is there a BR to keep me more engaged in the MP than I normally am.

Aarsal “Soulblazerz” Masoodi”: I’m mostly curious about the story. I’m confident the game will be competently made, gameplay wise, but both Halo 4 and 5 had their own problems regarding the story. I’m hoping they’ve taken the extra time they have to really focus in on a tight, well written story.

What is the next gameplay demo you would like to see? Campaign, Multiplayer, or something else.

Austin “Proven” Nelson: As much as I love multiplayer I want to see campaign for a second time. The first demo was solid but really sold what I think the game will end up being short. I’d like to see a much more polished demo with the promised raytracing and other bells and whistles. I am hoping the next time we see campaign it is a very impressive demo that doesn’t lend itself to surface level criticism.

OneBadMutha: Multiplayer! While my most played game mode is 4v4, I believe 343 needs to show off an incredible Big Team Battle map. What’s Halo Infinite’s Zanzibar reveal equivalent that can both wow us and show potential for sandbox design? I think it’s tempting to shoot for mainstream appeal with a bodacious, large scale new mode but I want to see them win over the core Halo fan first.

Mike “Kage Maru” Skiles: I would prefer to see another, more polished, campaign demo but think we’ll see the multiplayer next.

Jesse “Doncabesa” Norris: A bit of both honestly, maybe have a few MP matches with some of the new E-Sports teams and if there is some sort of co-op mode after the campaign ends I want to see that.

Aarsal “SoulBlazerz” Masoodi: I don’t mind jumping into the campaign blind, so at this point I want to see the multiplayer. If only to make sure they didn’t take too much of a departure from Halo 5, which I consider one of the best multiplayer games released.

It seems like Halo Infinite will be around for a while, mirroring continous games like Rainbow Six Siege, Destiny, etc. How do you feel about that? What are the potential benefits or drawbacks you see from Halo becoming a platform?

Austin “Proven” Nelson: I think that the future of gaming is platforms. While that may sound terrible to some people, I welcome a future where I can play the same game for a decade and see the game progress. If Infinite is a great game, then I think it would help Halo overall. The problem with a game like Call of Duty is that the game cycles every year. Modern Warfare is a great Call of Duty and a year later everyone is being forced to move on to a new game with a new developer. This makes it nearly impossible to see actual strategic developments on the multiplayer side and really hurts the competitive scene. With Infinite likely becoming a platform, this means Halo players can stick with one game and learn everything there is to learn about the game. The success of Halo as a platform depends on how 343 supports and grows Infinite. 343 notoriously dropped major support for Halo 5 very early on. If they are still updating Infinite in year 4, 5, and 6 then Infinite will thrive.

OneBadMutha: I’m very excited about Halo as a platform. It’s my favorite IP of all time so I want to see that there’s something new always on the horizon. Getting too old to wait 3 to 5 years for something exciting to happen!

I understand some of the communities concern that it will somehow cheapen Halo or hold back it’s innovation. I believe with the way game development has been changing, this doesn’t have to be the case. We’re seeing old games receive free graphical updates with next gen features today. We saw a commercially failed AA game in Fortnite help Epic become an industry powerhouse after adding a mode. Keeping Halo agile will allow them to take more chances, not less. Eventually I see modes or additions that will only be technically possible on next gen hardware. Keep iterating based on the community feedback. Keep taking chances knowing that if you shoot and miss, we’re not waiting another 3 to 5 years for another chance to make it right.

Mike “Kage Maru” Skiles: Originally I had my concerns over their “10 year” plan, mostly stemming from similar comments in other games like Destiny. However after discussions with friends and Halo fans, I’m now more open to the potential benefits of this direction. As long as the engine is flexible enough that we see similar advancements to the graphical and design capabilities found in other games over the course of a generation, one of the potential and exciting benefits could be any optimizations or progress made for future content releases could be retroactively applied to the core game or earlier portions of the title. So if the first major story expansion experiences major evolutions in the engine, advances we typically would see in a sequel, those enhancements could then be applied to the first story campaign and give the overall package longer legs than any other game we’ve seen before. I’m excited to see how 343i tackles this direction over the next few years!

Jesse “Doncabesa” Norris: It is everything I ever wanted, give me a shlooter mode for post campaign shenanigans!

Aarsal “Soulblazerz” Masoodi”: My Initial thoughts were lukewarm. I don’t need Halo to be a 10 year platform, I have no issues playing the game, then waiting for the next one. But once I realized that the full force of 343 Industries, over 1000 people, will be on the game for an extended period of time, I started to get excited. The future of this game is uncertain, but I think the extended support will be a good thing in the long run.

Halo has often been seen as THE game for Xbox. Since Halo 5 was released, Xbox has nearly quadrupled its studios and have acquired some studios that release games arguably bigger than Halo. With that in mind, do you see Halo as holding the same importance for Xbox? Can Halo exist without the pressure of carrying Xbox to success?

Austin “Proven” Nelson: I look at this question in two ways. Halo being great is a boost to Xbox, but Halo being bad isn’t as big as a detriment as it would have been a couple of years ago. If Infinite is a great game and pushes players into the Xbox ecosystem that will obviously help the overall brand of Xbox. If Infinite is good not great, or worse simply mediocre or bad, then it will hurt but not break Xbox. Since Xbox has so many studios, and even a few new Bethesda IP that are arguably bigger than Halo, Halo doesn’t have to carry Xbox like it used to. 343 will still have pressure to make a great Halo game, but they won’t the pressure of being the only big game for Xbox.

OneBadMutha: Halo will continue to be the face of Xbox but won’t have as much resting on it’s shoulders long term. Best example I can think of is Mario with Nintendo. Mario has been the face of their platform for 35 years despite the fact there’s been other mega IPs created in that time. I think Halo will always represent a statement of quality for the platform and continue to hold high importance. It’s simple logic that when you add more Stars and Superstars to a team, the Superstar who’s been there doesn’t have to do as much for the team to win. At the same time, all these studios work together to form a tractor beam towards the Xbox ecosystem. These other studios will bring new people to the Halo franchise and vice versa.

Mike “Kage Maru” Skiles: Yes, I think Halo is just as important to Xbox as it has always been. The only difference now is that there should be less pressure now on Halo, along with other AAA IPs, to carry the platform. Even with there being less pressure, I think Halo is and should still be one of the premiere franchises for the Xbox platform. Halo is one of the few IPs that has evolved to have an engrossing narrative, dynamic game design, exciting MP, and a level of customization/modding rarely seen in a console title, as long as 343i stick the landing. The potential of Halo’s widespread appeal may have diminished a touch, but a quality title will always get people talking.

Jesse “Doncabesa” Norris: Yes, but only in the sense that Halo is enormous and now Xbox is poised to become far bigger than it ever has before. Halo still matters, it’s the first big next-gen release for this Series X/S renaissance and it needs to land well to get things started hot.

Aarsal “Soulblazerz” Masoodi”: Even though I agree Halo, and by extension 343, have less pressure on them then before, I still firmly believe that Halo is a critical franchise for Xbox Game Studios. One look at the recent advertising and you’ll see MS thinks the same. While sure, Halo Infinite doesn’t necessarily need to be the slam dunk it needed to before the Bethesda acquisition, the game still needs to be a good success.

If you had to make a prediction, how do you see Halo being perceived overall? Will it be a critical darling? A game fans love but critics are mixed on? 343s masterpiece? Somewhere in between?

Austin “Proven” Nelson: I think Halo Infinite will be far and away 343s best Halo game. I know Halo fans will love it and old school fans will probably like it a lot more than Halo 4 and 5. I don’t know exactly how critics will feel. I know it will be revieved very well, but I do not know if Halo will have it’s God of War 2018 moment. It probably all depends on how much 343 is able to evolve the series without impacting what Halo fans love about the series.

OneBadMutha: Unless something shocking happens, Halo’s Metacritic potential reception has a high floor and a lowered ceiling. I don’t see it competing for game of the year or gaining upper 9 scores. It’s in a crowded AAA genre, it’s cross gen and I don’t think the campaign is trying to reinvent the wheel (nor do many Halo fans want it to…yet). Ironically I believe in order for 343 to chase Metacritic and Game of the Year nominees, it would need to agitate the core fanbase with an aggressive re-imagining. Maybe a few years from now when 343 is able to cut the cord from the Xbox One, they’ll be able to do something technically innovative and industry changing while still pleasing the base. Until then, critical reception isn’t that important. What’s important is that Halo fans want to keep playing Halo Infinite. My gut says this will be 343’s best Halo by a clear margin.

Mike “Kage Maru” Skiles: Seeing how 343i never really made a bad game and so far Halo 4 and Halo 5 could be perceived as “good”, my predictions are that Halo Infinite stands a good chance of being great and could turn out to be a critical darling. Time will tell, but I think 343i are on the right path by delaying Infinite and doing what they could to make sure it’s the game all Halo fans will be happy with.

Jesse “Doncabesa” Norris: I have high hopes for it, but honestly meta and open critic are so limited in who they list and reviews are all subjective anyways that I don’t give a damn about review scores. I just want a fun game to play with my friends and family.

Aarsal “Soulblazerz” Masoodi”: I believe Halo Infinite will do very, very well financially, and by extension number of users. I don’t believe, however, that the game will crack that giant 90+ Metacritic wall. I know plenty of people want it to, and some even believe that it has to, but I don’t think so. Halo Infinite doesn’t need to review as well as people think. It simply needs to be a good, fun game that’s easily accessible and, of course, memorable. I do believe it will be 343’s best game by a long shot.

Austin "Proven" Nelson

Writer and Host of "You Had Me At Halo Podcast" for XboxEra. Halo 3 apologist.

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2 Comments

    1. I think the delay is a good thing for all of us. For MS to delay Halo Infinite, their flagship launch title, there had to be more to it than just the craig memes and the demo reception.

      I know it’s already been five years, which is kind of crazy to think about, but hopefully they use these extra months to give the game a level of polish rarely seen in the industry. At least, that’s my hope.

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