HALO GOES BACK TO THE PAST BEFORE GETTING BACK TO THE FUTURE
First things first: As much as we hate to dash hopes, this is not a hip-hop style collaboration between 343 and Irrational Games in which Master Chief fights a floating racist city. Sorry about that. This is, however, a new game from that most hallowed of Xbox franchises, the one from which a simple glimmer off a reflective helmet visor can weaken knees. Ladies, gentlemen, and rogue AIs: There’s a new Halo on the way.
A new Halo with a bespoke engine, moreover. The Slipspace engine has already been in development for years, and you can immediately see the fruits of that labor in the raw and shocking fidelity of space-rhinoceros nostrils and unusually muscular space-deer lapping water by the lake. Whatever 343’s ambitions for the next Halo, they apparently exceeded the existing tech, and that’s led some to hypothesize that Infinite will be a departure from the traditional shooter formula. That subtitle, ‘Infinite’, in place of a nice neat ‘6’, also suggests there might be something leftfield from the gameplay, but these are early days to be pinning the game down. By the developer’s own admission, the release is a long way off.
343 has emphasized that this game renews its focus on Master Chief after an increasing number of spin-offs and dual protagonist experiments like Halo 5: Guardians, in which the series OG shared half the screen time with Spartan Locke. That chimes with an overall feeling of nostalgia that permeates the entire trailer.
Other than its aptitude for rendering exotic fauna in knee-weakening detail, 343 haven’t shown much else of Halo Infinite and its new engine. But there are hints throughout the in-engine footage that paint a picture of the game it might become. We see a flash of a ruined Pelican transport vessel which looks like it’s been grounded a long time, and a longer, more pointed shot of Master Chief’s helmet. It’s a different design to what we’ve seen thus far in the series’ primary bloodline, which has led some to speculate that it isn’t Master Chief, but a female Spartan Commando who’s been stranded on the ringworld for many years. Rest assured though: Master Chief’s the protagonist. 343 has also confirmed that the events of the game take place directly after Halo 5, so
don’t expect a prequel digging into pre-Halo 1 lore or anything.
The fact that its developers have made it clear release is a long way off tells us that this might be a next-gen project. The fidelity levels of that in-engine footage certainly lend credence to the idea, and if Infinite’s ambitions really are so high it needs an all-new engine, perhaps it also needs the next incarnation of Xbox hardware to realize it too. 343 made no mention of a release date, while any mention of platforms was conspicuously absent. We have a feeling in our bones that if there was a new Halo coming to rock the Xbox One X, Microsoft would be shouting about it. There are rumors circulating that the single-player component will arrive before multiplayer too, but we’ve never been one to take stock in the games industry sewer’s circle. This isn’t stable ground to base assumptions on—it’s in-engine, not in-game, and as such it’s subject to all kinds of change at 343’s whim in the coming months and—in all likelihood— years. Rest assured, we’ll be telling you more when we hear it.
above The cinematography recalls Halo’s early showings in 1999, all zoomed-out tracking shots and dramatic vistas.