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Halo Infinite - Now Q3 2021


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Wahwah and I were talking about this just yesterday and the Coalition came up as a example of a new studio who took over a franchise from its originator, yet still managed to develop two games for the soon-to-be previous generation (admittedly without significant deviation from previous installments). However, as JPL noted 343 have had five years with a huge number of employees (400 according to wikipedia) and presumably something along the lines of a blank cheque from Microsoft to develop the next-gen installment for their flagship game series. What's been going on over there?

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41 minutes ago, Broker said:

 

Microsoft haven’t been willing to give them the time and space to figure out what they wanted to create and how to do that because the franchise is too important to leave on the back burner for a few years while the devs work out how to really push it forwards.

 

Halo 5 came out in 2015. It's not like this is a FIFA situation. They've had five years to make an open world Halo that doesn't look like trash. I've really liked bits about both 343 releases (Halo 4 single player, Halo 5 multi) but it's clear something just not worked with Infinite. 

 

Edit: what everyone else said. 

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21 minutes ago, Talvalin said:

Wahwah and I were talking about this just yesterday and the Coalition came up as a example of a new studio who took over a franchise from its originator, yet still managed to develop two games for the soon-to-be previous generation (admittedly without significant deviation from previous installments).


I think that’s probably the defining factor here. It’s much easier to give a competent team an existing engine and framework and ask them to do the same thing again than it is to majorly change the focus of a series.

 

18 minutes ago, BitterToad said:

 

Halo 5 came out in 2015. It's not like this is a FIFA situation. They've had five years to make an open world Halo that doesn't look like trash. I've really liked bits about both 343 releases (Halo 4 single player, Halo 5 multi) but it's clear something just not worked with Infinite. 

 

Edit: what everyone else said. 


Since Halo 5 they’ve worked on Halo Online (cancelled), Halo Wars Definitive, Halo Wars 2, Halo Recruit and Fireteam Raven. Though they were all done in collaboration with other studios, that’s still a lot of things for them to have been focused on. I’m guessing that keeping the Halo train rolling and not letting it rest has been a factor.

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It’s a fucking weird situation - you look at the hardware and it’s awesome, top class, Phil Spencer seems like an affable chap, they’ve been buying up studios left right and centre - but still there is nothing to show, leaving behind their most barren generation yet and no real signs of the fruits of their labour. Now the lead on this has left too. 
 

Halo is the only real reason I buy Microsoft consoles and I’m still shattered by what’s happened to it :(

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1 hour ago, Stanley said:

Halo is the only real reason I buy Microsoft consoles and I’m still shattered by what’s happened to it :(

Yep, this was me for just the campaigns (I loved CE, ODST and Reach) but the last MS console I bought was the 360, I just don't need one anymore.

Thing is if a decent Halo did ever come out again I could probably just play it on my PC.

I find the state of Halo Infinite to be completely bizarre.

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Bizarre is the right word. Even with all the various circumstances and reasons we can come up with, facts are that they're a huge studio with an even bigger- if not unlimited - budget, working on a new Halo game since 2015.

 

Don't forget back in 2015 Microsoft already knew that they were going to make a new console and had a rough idea when it might launch. Given the timing of the first reveal, it was decided really early on that Halo 6 was to be a launch title.

 

And even if the studio did side projects, like someone said earlier, it's a certainty that a core team was always focused on the new proper Halo. Pre-production might have begun even before the release of 5, but if not certainly right after. And with a studio of that size with that kind of budget, a sizeable core team will have worked on just that game while other teams within the studio assisted with the other projects.

 

And yes, working for the Bone will hold such a game back BUT in 2015 that would have been their starting point. And look how good 5 looks on the Base Bone (regardless of the quality of the campaign in other areas) with pretty huge maps and vistas.

 

Taking into account all of those factors - what the fuck happened? Alongside Squeenix' Avengers this is the post-mortem I most want to see. The drama must have been epic, maybe they did a Valve and started from scratch umpteen times over after getting a good ways in? Probably, because the demo sure as hell didn't look like the product of 5 years of work from a 400 strong studio.

 

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If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Halo 5 effectively ditched and restarted? Or had a lot of content jettisoned late in the day, hence the super weird Mass Effect-lite levels where you need to wander around and talk to people, which in the finished game are only 2 minutes long.

 

Anyway if that’s true then they do have prior form for ambitious plans they can’t quite follow through on. Perhaps the original structure for Halo 5 was closer to what Halo Infinite is aiming for.

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I would hazard a guess that Halo is a victim of high expectations. Bungie never made any revolutionary changes to the game, but they did pretty successfully expand the scope and the scale of the game in the sequels, and toyed with stuff like space combat, open world elements, giant enemies, etc etc. The launches of previous Halo games were such huge events, and there's been such a long time since the last game, that I would imagine that it's difficult to come up with something that will live up to that level of anticipation - the fanbase wants the game to be bigger and better, but also the same as previous entries.

 

Plus, Microsoft and 343 seem pretty unsure as to what they want  Halo to be. Halo 4 was originally going to be a radical departure for the series when the Kojima Productions guy was in charge of development, up until Microsoft got cold feet and went for a relatively safe (albeit really good) pastiche of the previous games; Halo 5 was apparently subject to a lot of reworking during development too. That, plus the (possibly unrealistic) expectations for a next-gen Halo, would potentially mean a kind of creative anxiety and stasis. Plus, Covid. Now must be the worst possible time to try and develop a game of this scale. 

 

Compare that to the Gears series. They're good games, but they're basically all the same. No-one expects a new Gears game to reinvent anything, or to recreate the same feelings of astonishment you had when you first played it in your twenties or teens. It's not easy to make a Gears game given how lavish and spectacular they are, but people's expectations of them seem relatively grounded, so at least the Coalition don't have that to deal with as well.

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Gears is a funny one. Personally I thought they missed their window to ‘God of War 2018’ the franchise with Gears 4, but then you look at the relatively modest changes they made to the structure in Gears 5 (a real return to form and the best since the second imo) and long time fans hated them.

 

Similar problem with Assassins Creed. I hated the old AC games and thought Odyssey was great, but I’ve seen comments online from AC fans about what a mess Odyssey was and how they hope Valhalla goes back to basics. Can’t win.

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I just can't understand that no one higher up in Xbox or MS knew the state Infinite was in prior to that disastrous trailer back in July. Were 343 just left to it with the full trust and backing from Phil with little to no updates or reviews going on? The whole situation just seems utterly bizzare.

 

We all said at the time of that reveal "this game doesnt look ready, it must be early footage" and we were obviously right, there was no way that game was going to make launch this year.

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10 minutes ago, CarloOos said:

If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Halo 5 effectively ditched and restarted? Or had a lot of content jettisoned late in the day, hence the super weird Mass Effect-lite levels where you need to wander around and talk to people, which in the finished game are only 2 minutes long.


I played Halo 5 for the first time this year and was kind of staggered when I first came across one of those levels. Completely pointless and so far away from what you want in a Halo game. 
 

I quit when I got to the first Warden Fight as it was so aggressively unfun and again so contrary to the Halo ethos. But even aside from all the glaring problems, the encounter design was really tedious compared to the Bungie originals.
 

I can only assume Halo 5’s multiplayer was excellent because otherwise I cannot understand how it sits at a mid-80s metacritic - its single player is just flat out not a good FPS campaign. 

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9 minutes ago, Jg15 said:

I just can't understand that no one higher up in Xbox or MS knew the state Infinite was in prior to that disastrous trailer back in July. Were 343 just left to it with the full trust and backing from Phil with little to no updates or reviews going on? The whole situation just seems utterly bizzare.

 

We all said at the time of that reveal "this game doesnt look ready, it must be early footage" and we were obviously right, there was no way that game was going to make launch this year.

It’s kind of worrying isn’t it, and it’s not the first time expectations had to be dialled back - look at all the delays and cuts Crackdown 3 suffered and in the end what they delivered was the very definition of mediocre. 
 

But yeah how anyone could have let that demo out of the gates as an example of what to expect from next gen hardware is beyond me. 

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I just want an open world Halo that captures the aesthetic and magic of the original’s more open combat encounters. They seem to be on the right track, but they need to get it polished up now.

 

I don’t know why they felt the need to bring the Brutes back though. Everyone knows that fighting the Elites is when Halo is at its best.

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On 09/11/2020 at 13:01, JPL said:

I don’t know why they felt the need to bring the Brutes back though. Everyone knows that fighting the Elites is when Halo is at its best.

 

It's apparently tied to the (I assume) amazing lore that keeps fans interested. Halo Wars 2 has an explanation of why the Brutes are in it. Never cared for the increasingly convoluted storylines of the games myself.

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1 hour ago, mushashi said:

 

It's apparently tied to the (I assume) amazing lore that keeps fans interested. Halo Wars 2 has an explanation of why the Brutes are in it. Never cared for the increasingly convoluted storylines of the games myself.


I couldn’t agree more with you - Halo was so much fun because it didn’t really care about any of that stuff. The world crafted around it felt real and had depth, but it was light on its toes with it and never indulged itself in anything too po-faced.
 

It had all this awesome stuff, like a guy called Master Chief, a massive spaceship named Pillar of Autumn and a wee robot called 343 Guilty Spark - all completely inexplicable, yet undoubtedly cool, and it never explains why they have such weird names. A place called Reach is mentioned - what’s that? Doesn’t matter. It’s got military shooty mans to spare, but they all crack wise and have funny accents - it’s a lark. 
 

Later games lean into the lore, the shooty mans, the ‘character’ of Master Chief, and are less interesting as a result. Complete Star Wars syndrome. I booted up Halo 5 for the first time and it held my interest for about 30 minutes before I went back to play Halo 1 for the umpteenth time. 

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On 09/11/2020 at 13:01, JPL said:

I just want an open world Halo that captures the aesthetic and magic of the original’s more open combat encounters.

 

I think that there's a fundamental incompatibility there though. Halo's large scale fights were just big arenas, which were still intelligently populated to feel like a real fighting force.

 

You entered, you had the fight which was also a bit of a very mild puzzle, with enough slack to tell your own stories. Then you left.

 

The fact that you could get in that Warthog and rip it up back field destroying enemy tanks was amazing, but only possible because of the Warthog and the tanks.

 

Open world stuff always feels much looser and much more sloppily designed. The Halo: Infinite trailer seemed naff because everything was just applied like jam. Stuff was everywhere and it didn't feel at all like you were facing an organised military force with it's shit together.

 

I'm probably just burnt out on open worlds now, but I always liked the idea of Master Chief as a guided missile, who gets sent to do a thing with violent efficiency, not somebody who pisses around just doing stuff in the open world.

 

You don't need to link me to endless videos of people getting Warthogs to where they shouldn't be, by the way.

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11 hours ago, Lying Cat said:

Open world stuff always feels much looser and much more sloppily designed. The Halo: Infinite trailer seemed naff because everything was just applied like jam. Stuff was everywhere and it didn't feel at all like you were facing an organised military force with it's shit together.

 

I think that's partly why I never really loved the hub world sections of Halo 3 ODST. Although it felt like there was some intent in how those enemy patrols were wandering the street, their placement never felt as planned and balanced as in the proper levels.

 

11 hours ago, Lying Cat said:

You don't need to link me to endless videos of people getting Warthogs to where they shouldn't be, by the way.

 

But they're so impressive! :(

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Halo Infinite must have been pretty much in the finishing stages when it was shown in the summer.
 

However MS realised they had totally misread the room, and completely shit the bed when the reactions came in.

 

What they showed looked pretty fun, but nothing special - and it’s either going to have been thrown out completely or just need a team of people prettying the whole thing up.

 

As Next gen launch game reveals go, it doesn’t get anymore disastrous than that. 

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And what makes it stand out even more is that they seem to be doing most everything else right. It's unbelievable that nobody at any moment in the run up to that reveal suggested they needed a visual showcase to launch their new most powerful console ever with. And that everyone apparently thought letting a low poly Magilla Gorilla narrate a 5 minute long lore dump as part of the reveal would be a good idea. Even if they were convinced that Infinite looked good enough, that last part seems so badly misjudged.

 

Maybe this is one example where Microsoft's current laissez-faire attitude towards their studios backfired, and 343 left to their own judgment shat the bed completely.

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I thought it looked fun but janky, and also far less ambitious than I’d been expecting. How many games have sent us to disable three AA canons in the last 20 years? It’s the most uninspiring objective imaginable. 
 

I don’t hate 343 like some do, I thought Halo 4 was great, but fuck knows what’s been going on there from Halo 5 onwards. I had this pegged to be a return to form from them.

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What blows my mind is that it has been in development for over 5 years! 5 fucking years!! How can you not have something half decent to reveal after 5 years and the biggest budget ever seen on a video game of over $500 million dollars!! It’s absolute madness and yet also heartbreakingly sad as I love Halo :(

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1 hour ago, Mr. Gerbik said:

And that everyone apparently thought letting a low poly Magilla Gorilla narrate a 5 minute long lore dump as part of the reveal would be a good idea. Even if they were convinced that Infinite looked good enough, that last part seems so badly misjudged.

 

Listening to Halo fans talking about it at the time, they all thought it was some character called Atriox which got them quite excited as he's the new bad ass (see Halo Wars 2 where he was the main protagonist on the non-human side of that game) so I can see why 343i included that. It's like having Darth XXX narrating in the next Star Wars reveal trailer after featuring in a prior side film that only fans had watched.

 

Though it's not actually him, but one of his lieutenants, but his faction is apparently the major enemy in the game.

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4 minutes ago, Mr. Gerbik said:

Apt comparison, because Star Wars also got way less interesting, mysterious, and cool as the lore got increasingly overexplained and focused on.


True in the movies and wider Expanded Universe, but I love some of the old Jedi lore, novels and spin-offs that really flesh out the universe to almost Tolkeinesque levels.

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1 hour ago, womblingfree said:


True in the movies and wider Expanded Universe, but I love some of the old Jedi lore, novels and spin-offs that really flesh out the universe to almost Tolkeinesque levels.

That's fair enough. I'm not a real Star Wars fan, I just enjoy a good sci-fi movie. As such, The Mandalorian is way better than the stuff that preceded it in the two decades prior in my eyes. Unlike the prequels and the sequel trilogy, The Mandalorian isn't a slave to the lore or puts all of the emphasis on it. Reading the thread after watching each episode, it's chockablock with references and callbacks, but crucially it's not to the detriment of the story. Like the original trilogy it all comes across as allusions and hints to a bigger universe and serves to create a certain atmosphere.

 

The original Halo was like A New Hope and its two direct sequels in that regard. Halo 2 onwards it became like the prequels, overexplaining every little important detail, cramming everything full of lore, completely taking away any sense of mystery, and also making the Covenant way less threatening and ominous - they were just goofballs embroiled in some soapy drama on the level of something like Eastenders.

 

Mandalorian proves that it's totally possible to recapture that original feeling though. Halo could do the same.

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9 hours ago, Mr. Gerbik said:

Maybe this is one example where Microsoft's current laissez-faire attitude towards their studios backfired, and 343 left to their own judgment shat the bed completely.


If you consider what happened with Crackdown, Phantom Dust, Scalebound and Sea of Thieves at launch, it’s one example in a long line though really. 
 

Even recently allowing Ninja Theory to turn up empty-handed to their summer presentation was a massive miss-step (although that one is more understandable and I’m just being selfish)
 

Considering much of the Infinite development time was during the Xbox One era, it’s possible things have changed with their software management, but looking at this gen, it’s certainly not a one-off. 

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