343 blessed us all with a little over 6-minute long campaign overview video introducing us once again to the world of Zeta Halo and Halo Infinite.
Things start off with Chief holding out his hand as a hologram of a Halo CE style purple Cortana is displayed above his palm. Cortana voice actress Jen Taylor’s voiceover begins and we see the hologram fade away as nothing more than a distant memory. Scenes from the Discover Hope trailer are shown next looking better than ever, including the Pilot finding Chief and powering his suit back up. The Banished have won, and humanity is on the ropes.
The music swells with the classic halo theme as we are introduced to “The Weapon”. As Chief launches himself off a pelican it is immediately clear just how much better looking the game is now than it was at E3 2020. Multiple Banished and Forerunner structures are shown, including what appears to be a downed Guardian in the background. Texture detail, lighting, and level of detail all appear to be hugely improved since the game’s initial campaign demo showing. The ring is teeming with life, and beautiful forerunner architecture that harkens back to the style of Halo: Combat Evolved mixed with the brutal architecture and red coloring of the Banished.
As things cut to Chief he uses his Grappleshot on a pair of Brutes which has been upgraded, more on that later, and shocks them as he flies toward them to land a devastating melee blow. The narration describes this as the biggest halo campaign yet, one filled with true freedom. As we see a Banished Banshee takes flight it’s easy to see that this should easily be by far the biggest “sandbox” yet in the franchise. It appears there maybe be multiple setups for vehicle control, or it’s just a cinematic camera for the video, but the warthog driven does not seem to adhere to the normal Halo control scheme of “going forward wherever the camera is pointed.
The first mission of the game is to locate The Weapon and try to determine what has happened in the six months that have taken place since the UNSC was defeated and Chief was left adrift in space. A brief cutscene shows Cortana looking similar in face and model to her Halo 5 look but in her Halo CE purple hologram coloring and not the hard light body she used in the previous game. She also appears to be looking at a city, which could possibly be the Forerunner capital city that Mendicant Bias attacked with the Zeta Halo ring after they were corrupted.
The Weapon then asks Chief just what Cortana had done to make the UNSC create the Weapon solely to destroy her. In the recent Halo: Shadows of Reach book there is a plot device that would appear to be the basis for just how the Weapon was created, and it will be interesting to see if they mention that mission and just where Blue Team (Kelly, Linda, and Fred) have gone.
Next up is an enormous addition to the series. We are shown weapon and vehicle call-in stations which appear to be available at Forward Operating Bases that you can unlock or FOBs for short. These are described as “fast travel hubs and rally points for UNSC marine support, and provide access to vehicles, weapons, and (very interestingly) weapon variants. Gaining valor unlocks available resources at all captured FOBs…” The weapon variant system sounds similar to what was available in Halo 5, where a small number of the REQ variant weapons could be found in hidden areas of the map during the campaign.
More vistas are shown which showcase the vastness of the map along with far more verticality than any Halo game has had before. As Chief flies above an anti-air battery his wasp is quickly destroyed but not before he jumps out and uses a rocket to obliterate the Banished beneath him. Just like the MP beta, there appears to be no fall damage, at least not from the normal height you’d have in a Halo game, which should lead to some incredibly fun mid-air shenanigans. A beautifully ugly Jackal is shown aiming the new Stalker Rifle, which is a mix between the Covenant Carbine of previous titles and the Covenant Beam Rifle. The lightning and texture work is leagues ahead of what we saw last July, though the depth of field effect does seem to indicate a possible photo mode where things could be set to higher settings.
Previously seen cutscenes are re-shown including Escharum’s hologram which showcases a more finished, higher quality look to it. A cutscene shows off the viciousness of the Brute’s as one tears apart a forerunner door and heaves it towards Chief. After running towards him like a maniac the Brute falls to a heavy melee, and a Craig-like face is nowhere to be found. Hunters are back though less wriggling worm-like than in Halo 5. Their energy weapon is a far brighter and more vivid shade of green as well.
A side activity then showcases how the Banished have captured several UNSC marines and Chief uses the Sniper Rifle to take out a guard and then the energy structure that is holding the soldiers in place. Marines getting in a warthog is back and the Chief thanks them for their trust by immediately driving right off a cliff that is several hundred feet in the air. In a first, a named enemy with a health bar is shown next. His name is Tremonius, and he loves shooting flames as he jumps around the room. He also appears to be using what sounded like a new Banished grenade launcher, but it was tough to get a great look at it.
After Tremonius is dispatched by the Chief we get a look at the Tacmap, with tabs for Upgrades, FOBs, Targets, and Database area seen as well. The Tacmap is a map of the local area in which you can see whatever areas of interest that you have unlocked. To unlock these you must secure a FOB near it, much like the old tower system that Ubisoft drove into the ground. In the bottom left hand of the screen is the “Area Collectables” checklist. Seven icons are representing the various in-game currencies and lore entries that you can find as you clear out each map. After choosing to attack a local banished facility known as “Ransom Keep” Chief pulls out a SPNKr rocket launcher and immediately gets to work destroying it.
The Brute Chopper is back and redder than ever. The video showcase the variety of ways in which you can take the facility down with various explosives or interactable prompts. The big thing we see though is the Upgrade system. There is Grappleshot, Shield Core, Threat Sensor, Drop Wall, and Thruster shown off. Each appears to have 4 upgrades which you use “Spartan Cores” to unlock. The player quickly unlocks the ability to go invisible after using the Thruster and then smashes a Brute in the back of the head with a gravity hammer. As Chief continues his anti-silo rampage we see a counter in the top left that keeps track of the side missions’ progress.
After some tank action Chief jumps into a banshee and pulls off the classic Battlefield maneuver as he jumps out of his vehicle, destroys one of his pursuers with the Spiker, and then grapplejacks the 2nd Banshee all while hovering above a damaged section of the ring which showcases the black emptiness of space all around it. Next, we meet up with an old friend, Craig! Chief quickly murders him with the new Shock rifle as we’re then introduced to the Skimmers. These are smaller vicious little gargoyle-looking aliens that were mentioned in the recently released Halo: Divine Wind novel.
A “sadistic Spartan Killer” elite dual-wields energy weapons as he looks crazed when seeing the Chief. Finally, we get to meet The Harbinger, who was mentioned in passing in the E3 2020 demo. After teleporting around she punches Chief through a portal, tree, and then into a rock while talking about how the Forerunners were liars and that her time has come. Is a third faction imminent? She certainly doesn’t seem to be a member of the Banished.
Things finish up with a gorgeous cutscene featuring Chief jumping off an immense structure just as it begins to explode. After landing in the Pelican things wrap up nicely and we get to wait another month and a half until we can finally play this incredible looking game.
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