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Halo Infinite: release date, plot, gameplay and more

Halo Infinite Xbox Series X
(Image credit: 343 Industries)

Halo Infinite may have lost out on being the big launch title with the Xbox Series X, but we are finally getting the game before the end of 2021.

343 Industries, the development team behind the game, has given us incredibly detailed reports on progress and it's clear the game needed all of this extra time to hopefully make this a Halo game that fans and newcomers will appreciate. 

While there are still months to go before launch, here's a look at everything that we know about Halo Infinite including the expected release date, plot, gameplay, multiplayer mode and more. 

Halo Infinite release date

Halo Infinite is now confirmed for a December 8 release date, which certainly doesn't fall into the "Fall 2021" timeframe, but Halo fans will just be thrilled to finally get their hands on the game.

Notably, a couple of features have been removed in order to hit that date. Multiplayer co-op and Forge aren't coming until a later update sometime in early 2022. 

You can pre-order Halo Infinite to make sure you have it on day one.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Halo Infinite on Xbox Game Pass

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, confirmed in February 2020 that Halo Infinite will be available at launch to Xbox Game Pass subscribers and this was reaffirmed in the trailer for the game screened during the July 23 Xbox Series X games event. PS5 is still praised for its superior lineup of exclusives, but Game Pass remains a massive difference-maker for the Xbox and this shows how much weight Microsoft is willing to put behind it.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Halo Infinite Smart Delivery

Halo infinite is also going to be part of Smart Delivery, as are all Xbox Game Studios titles, which means that if you buy the game for Xbox One, you will still have access to it if you eventually upgrade to an Xbox Series X.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Halo Infinite trailer and plot (Potential spoilers!)

Given the already lengthy and extended development cycle for this game it's a certainty that there have been changes over time, but here's everything that we've seen to date. There were two teaser trailers for Halo Infinite, the first came at E3 2018 and the second at E3 2019, which was a doozy at nearly 6 minutes long. As you would expect, given that these were so far out from launch, both were entirely cinematic trailers with no actual gameplay shown. If you are looking to stay 100% spoiler-free then don’t keep reading this section, but really, what are you doing reading an article about Halo Infinite in the first place?!

In the trailer from E3 2018, we basically have a series of cuts appreciating nature on a seemingly tranquil world that eventually reveals evidence of a recent battle on the planet. Towards the end, the camera pulls back from wounded soldiers to reveal Master Chief standing on a hill. At that point, it picks up for the last few seconds with a vehicle speeding across the landscape towards an enemy base.

While I have no doubt that the general plot was already fleshed out by then, it’s hard to infer too much from this trailer apart from the return of Master Chief.

The E3 2019 trailer could still fit with what we saw in the 2018 trailer, but it would make for a slightly confusing timeline.

The 2019 trailer opens with a sole survivor on a ship who is starting to lose his grip on reality when he stumbles on Master Chief drifting in space. He brings him in and powers the suit back on to bring Master Chief back from an emergency cryo sleep.

Just as the survivor reveals to Master Chief that they lost the battle, the ship comes under attack and Master Chief rushes out to join the fight. One of the few things we know about the plot of Halo Infinite is that it is going to be entirely centered around Master Chief; The team at 343 Industries acknowledged that fans weren’t thrilled with the split in Halo 5.

Finally, at the July 23, 2020, Xbox Series X games event we got a real gameplay trailer for the Halo Infinite campaign.

Beyond another discussion with our pilot pal from the previous trailer, we got a substantial look at the gameplay and the reveal of at least one of the villains in Halo Infinite, the leader of a new race known as the Banished. Now as we know just a couple of weeks later the game was delayed. The graphics were chief among the complaints regarding the trailer and have also been a strong focus in the subsequent updates from 343 Industries, so it's hard to infer too much beyond the story from this final trailer.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Halo Infinite gameplay

We still have a lot to learn about the game, but we did get a substantial look at the campaign mode in the gameplay trailer and this is also a frequent subject of discussion in 343 Industries' monthly "Inside Infinite" series of blog posts that it started in December to give some insight into the ongoing game development.

The rumored addition of the grappling hook was real and its spectacular, Master Chief uses it to pull objects towards him, to traverse the landscape and to pull himself into enemies for close quarters finishes. And while zipping around with your grappling hook looks like a blast, don't worry we got a good look at some Warthog driving included some impressive drifts and we imagine more vehicles will be present.

Some other details that have been revealed in the blog posts include the day/night cycle for the ring having an impact on the look and behavior of the enemies, dynamic weather will include wind and fog, and while there will be some wildlife on the ring it will not be hostile.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The array of enemies and weapons both familiar and new definitely grabbed our attention too with Master Chief laying waste to a host of grunts including some airborne grunts hurtling through the sky along with Jackals, Elite and more. The team has unfortunately given a strong no to dual-wielding weapons making a comeback in Infinite, but you will be able to upgrade your equipment and find new weapon variants during the campaign.

For those that are deeply interested in the audio of Halo Infinite, the March Inside Infinite blog covered it extensively. This includes insights into the soundtrack, which is meant to be a mix of hope blended with mystery, but also more concrete information regarding how the team is making the game more immersive with complex acoustic simulations and spatial audio. They even offered a behind-the-scenes look at how they make some of the sounds for the game. 

Halo Infinite multiplayer

Multiplayer appears to be another major focus during the extended development period as Phil Spencer claimed in an October 2020 interview that the campaign may be released first with the multiplayer to follow. According to 343 Industries multiplayer will be available at launch, but multiplayer co-op and Forge won't be coming until 2022.

Some details that have been offered in the Inside Infinite updates include a look at the Spartan customization available. The team described it as going even further than what was possible in Halo: Reach which included "Helmet, Helmet Attachment, Chest Gear, Shoulder Pads, Knee Guards, Wrist Gear, and Utility and Visor Color. "

They have also offered a few glimpses at multiplayer maps in various stages of development. Some details regarding weapons in multiplayer have included that there won't be upgrade options here as in the campaign, it will be a flat set of weapons with of course the ability to scavenge in-game. The team has added a new shotgun called "The Bulldog" that is "fast-firing and fast-loading" to open for some new gameplay styles. 

During the technical preview for Halo Infinite, we took a close look at Halo Infinite vs. Halo 5 Guardians including player movement, equipment, and gunplay. 

Halo Infinite multiplayer map debug view

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

Halo Infinite cross-play and cross-progression across console and PC

At the end of April Microsoft confirmed that Halo Infinite will support both cross-play and cross-progression on Xbox Series X, Xbox One and PC. This is particularly great news for those that haven't taken the plunge on an Xbox Series X yet as regardless of which platform you are playing on you'll still be able to play your friends. Further, if you upgrade to an Xbox Series X later you'll keep all of your progress.

Earlier this summer we took a look at why Halo Infinite's multiplayer is the most ambitious Xbox and PC experience.

Halo Infinite PC support

The April Inside Infinite report from the 343 Industries was largely centered around the PC version of the game. Some enhancements that PC players can look forward to is support for ultrawide and super ultrawide monitor support. Triple keybinds support will also be present along with extensive input options and customizability. 

Microsoft has also considered accessibility on the PC version with effects to reduce motion sickness and photosensitivity cited as two examples. While the team didn't get into details, efforts to minimize both harassment and cheating have also been front of mind for them.

Halo Infinite PC settings screen for video settings

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

The overarching theme of the discussion was that the game needed to be designed with PC players in mind as well to create a "native, first-class PC experience" rather than a simple port. That meant considering at its creation how content would be viewed on a 21:9 or wider monitor not simply making sure that it looked ok in the port after the fact. 

Customizability was also a huge theme for the PC discussion as you would expect allowing you to tune the game perfectly for your system and your control methods. 

Halo Infinite

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Halo Infinite game engine

343 Industries developed a new game engine called Slipspace for Halo Infinite. One of the focuses of this game engine, as reported by Gamesradar back in January, is to allow new features that weren’t originally planned to be introduced later in the development process than previously possible.

It’s a slightly terrifying thought, as it sounds like the sort of thing that may have you second-guessing your decisions for a game until late in the process, but it also leaves the studio open to pivot if necessary, even after the game’s release. 

The other goal with Slipspace, which aligns nicely with the previous focus, is to enable much faster prototyping than what was available previously. So when they do decide to make a change based on internal or community feedback, it can happen quickly.

Whether the game engine was in any way responsible for the need to delay the launch of the game is unknown, but it is presumably helping the team as it works to deliver the game this fall. Moreover, it should make it much easier to add more content with post-launch updates as was suggested following the July Xbox Games Showcase.

Sean Riley

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.