Halo is one of the largest names in gaming and has a place in history as a title that moved the FPS genre forward on consoles. It also remains a flagship title for Microsoft, although it is a franchise that struggles in terms of quality. Ever since Bungie gave up the reigns to move onto making Destiny, the games have been met with lukewarm critical reception and pretty consistently disappoint fans. The upcoming Halo Infinite, however, might be poised to change all that. If 343 Industries, the current developer, can do this right, then I might be playing Halo Infinite for a while now.
One thing about the games is that the campaigns have failed to grasp people emotionally. To be certain, there is a large portion of the player base who primarily care about the multiplayer, but one thing Bungie has consistently done well, and this remains true in Destiny, is world building. Not only can the main campaigns be thrilling, with only the occasional mistake, but the lore is attractive to a group of hardcore fans. The series has even spawned a series of novels. A quote from Dan Chosich, the Narrative Experiences Director at 343 Industries, inspired hope. In fact, the quote is all about hope.
“One thing we really wanted to change in coming out with Infinite was the perception,” he says. “Instead of starting around fear like with Halo 4 and Halo 5, we really wanted to focus Infinite’s campaign around hope.” This is assuring because it reveals a degree of self-awareness and insight that is important in creating a fulfilling story. It is also a good idea for the story to harken back to the themes and feelings that helped make the original games impactful. Even the music in those titles contain hopeful sounding motifs.
Halo 5 was, perhaps, the worst game in the series. One element that the game was strangely missing was the presence of 4-player split-screen. 4-player was an exciting part of both Halo 3 and Halo ODST so, even though games rarely allow for this these days, it was still an unfortunate omission. I’m sure its return will be more than welcome.
343 Industries will also, supposedly, focus on the world of the Zeta Halo ring where the game is set. A recent stream showed the developer speaking about open environments which was a crucial part of the original Halo. Subsequent games, including some made by Bungie, have felt like more of a railroad experience although Halo 3 did encourage players to stop and take in the scenery by hiding skulls around the levels. This addition to the game made the game feel like it had a degree of puzzle mechanics and hunting down these skulls was a simple idea that added significantly to the replay value.
It will also be interesting to see what current technology brings to the table. Now that the Xbox One X is a consideration for developers, 343 Industries might be able to surprise gamers with the consoles capabilities. Another possibility, since we don’t yet have a release date, is that the game might just release for Microsoft’s next generation hardware, whatever that is. This idea is supported, to a degree, by the fact that the developers realized that they would need a new engine to support their ambitions. This is why they worked on something called the Slipspace Engine. The game is also reported to be fairly early in development, three years after the release of Halo 5, so it seems like a safe assumption that this game will really be a product of a developer who felt inclined to return to the drawing board and rebuild with a renewed purpose.
At this point, I’m tempering my expectations. After all, we’ve been hurt before and broken promises aren’t exactly irregular in gaming. But hope is a justifiable thing to possess as we look forward and that hope might just swell as more information is revealed in the approach to launch. This could be the game that reestablishes Halo as a powerhouse but it will have to work hard to accomplish that. It’s also going to be a game that I won’t be purchasing at launch. For once, I’ll wait on the review scores.