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Halo Infinite - Now Q3 2021


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I don't think Halo has ever been about showcasing what the Xbox can do. It was a visionary, completely never seen before experience on consoles when it first came out, and you had to own an Xbox to play it. Now it has technically been eclipsed by every other platform and if anything looks dated and a bit silly in terms of its design, but after caning the MCC and Halo 5 on the Series X I was reminded that the Halo experience is still very unique to the Xbox platform and not something you can experience anywhere else. I'd definitely missed it.

 

Would I put MCC on to show someone what the Xbox could do, though? No, but that would be the same for any Halo ever. It's not an instantly WOW game that would make you rush out and buy the console. Halo's strength is in its simple on the surface but deep gameplay systems, thanks to its AI, great weapons and level design. Graphically its a very hit and miss series and quite ugly overall.

 

Gears is technically astonishing and would sell the Xbox to someone in seconds, that's why it was always a demo pod favourite and featured so highly in MS' E3 presentations. It plays mostly like absolute shit and doesn't have a fraction of Halo's beautiful subtlety or nuances, but in terms of visual impact it's easy to see why its an important game for MS.

 

The story/characters for both are embarrassing.

 

 

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Around the release of the original Xbox, the demo pods with the Silent Cartographer level on them blew people away not just in terms of design and gameplay, but also visuals and freedom. At that time it was certainly also a graphical showcase as it was way more impressive than anything else out at the time. Just ask anyone about the grass in Halo if you don't believe that it had a graphical wow-factor. I'm not convinced it couldn't be both again - what you describe *and* a visual tour de force showing what the Series X can do.

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Also, imo the Xbox needs something besides Gears as a graphical showcase. I can't think of any other games where there's such a massive gap between graphical prowess and visual appeal. That's a matter of taste of course, but to me at least Gears 5 has zero style and looks very bland. Almost like one of those advanced graphics benchmarks on PC, full of hella impressive technical tricks but looking very ugly at the same time because there's no artistical skill applied - it's all technical.

 

That's what Halo would bring to the table, unlike Gears I think it has a recognizable and appealing unique*style*. 

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I've always felt that even a half decent story elevates a game beyond simple mechanics. Halo is a perfect example, as while the story is a long way from being anything special or even original, it's enough to give you a reason to play beyond a simple desire to beat the game.

 

I'd say the same for action movies. Often those are far more concerned about spectacle than they are about telling a deep story, but they still need to make you care about the characters and the stakes while they're blowing stuff up and showing you cool stunts.

 

I think certain movies are just as guilty as games when it comes to the dissonance thing as well. There are countless films where the "heroes" murder countless nameless henchmen (Bond, Indiana Jones, Star Wars etc), and like those it comes down to the genre of the movie or game in question as to whether it works. Indy can shoot the swordsman in the face while sporting a cocky grin, and we laugh. We're not expected to think he's a sociopath when he fails to spare the guy a single thought after the act, or think any worse of the movie for failing to address its long time psychological impact.

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40 minutes ago, Mogster said:

I've always felt that even a half decent story elevates a game beyond simple mechanics. Halo is a perfect example, as while the story is a long way from being anything special or even original, it's enough to give you a reason to play beyond a simple desire to beat the game.

 

I'd say the same for action movies. Often those are far more concerned about spectacle than they are about telling a deep story, but they still need to make you care about the characters and the stakes while they're blowing stuff up and showing you cool stunts.

 

I think certain movies are just as guilty as games when it comes to the dissonance thing as well. There are countless films where the "heroes" murder countless nameless henchmen (Bond, Indiana Jones, Star Wars etc), and like those it comes down to the genre of the movie or game in question as to whether it works. Indy can shoot the swordsman in the face while sporting a cocky grin, and we laugh. We're not expected to think he's a sociopath when he fails to spare the guy a single thought after the act, or think any worse of the movie for failing to address its long time psychological impact.

I can see what you are saying but can't 100% agree

 

Movies are better than games in this regard as the best action movie examples do make you care about the characters as they go through whatever ridiculous situation it is - I have seen very few game characters that do - this might be due to the fact that games are in their infancy or it might be because games just don't easily lend themselves to it.

 

THe dissonance thing similarly in Bond/Indy etc it is a 2 minute shootout where they down a few bad guys amongst a 2hr film about the characters and story... in Uncharted and Tomb Raider et al we have 1-2hr stretches of violent confrontation mowing down bad guys interspersed with 5 minute cut scenes of wise cracking or feeling bad about it and that is repeated across a 10-20-30hr game. No story is good enough to cover that length of time AND ignore the cognitive dissonance created by giving the player 1-2hr chunks of time regularly to mow down bad guys. It is unsustainable.

 

I am playing Gears 5 right now - it gave me some plot then I spent an hr or so killing swarm then I got another bit of story and stuff happened and characters left or changed a bit and then another 1-2hrs of killing locust. The vast chunks of game overwhelm any story telling element to the point where I stop caring about he story or forget what the plot is (in Gears 5 I am vaguely aware they are searching for something as i keep being told to go to places and that is about it)... It'd be like watching a 2hr action film and every 5 minutes pausing it to watch 1 hr of another film. IT will take you 30 hrs to get to the end but you are likely to not give a shit about the 2 hr film you watched in chunks.

 

I realise my opinion is an outlier but I can't see how to square the circle.

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2 hours ago, Clipper said:

I can see what you are saying but can't 100% agree

 

Movies are better than games in this regard as the best action movie examples do make you care about the characters as they go through whatever ridiculous situation it is - I have seen very few game characters that do - this might be due to the fact that games are in their infancy or it might be because games just don't easily lend themselves to it.

 

THe dissonance thing similarly in Bond/Indy etc it is a 2 minute shootout where they down a few bad guys amongst a 2hr film about the characters and story... in Uncharted and Tomb Raider et al we have 1-2hr stretches of violent confrontation mowing down bad guys interspersed with 5 minute cut scenes of wise cracking or feeling bad about it and that is repeated across a 10-20-30hr game. No story is good enough to cover that length of time AND ignore the cognitive dissonance created by giving the player 1-2hr chunks of time regularly to mow down bad guys. It is unsustainable.

 

I am playing Gears 5 right now - it gave me some plot then I spent an hr or so killing swarm then I got another bit of story and stuff happened and characters left or changed a bit and then another 1-2hrs of killing locust. The vast chunks of game overwhelm any story telling element to the point where I stop caring about he story or forget what the plot is (in Gears 5 I am vaguely aware they are searching for something as i keep being told to go to places and that is about it)... It'd be like watching a 2hr action film and every 5 minutes pausing it to watch 1 hr of another film. IT will take you 30 hrs to get to the end but you are likely to not give a shit about the 2 hr film you watched in chunks.

 

I realise my opinion is an outlier but I can't see how to square the circle.

 

I think movies are better at this stuff institutionally partly because of the longer history of the medium and partly because games can get away with having bad stories. Gears 5 is a fun game regardless of the shit story (hilariously shit story - including just lifting its grand revelation from FEAR 2 which still blows my mind). But I don't think that means movies are better at telling stories intrinsically. I think with all the tools you have in games to tell stories there's huge untapped potential.

 

I played Dishonored recently (spoilers):

 

Spoiler

There's a sequence where you go on a mission to infiltrate a costume ball to assassinate a target but before you go one of your allies hands you a note and asks you to give it to one of the guests. When you hand the note over there's a whole sequence where the guest loses his temper, calls your ally chickenshit and asks you to follow him. You've no idea what's going on at this point until you're handed a pair of duellists pistols. Because you need to be incognito you can't break cover or run off, you're trapped in this fucked up situation and you're given this very sudden, jarring insight in to how your so called allies view you (as Corvo) and how disposable you are.

 

That's as good a piece of storytelling as I've ever seen in any medium. It's a scene that would still work well in a film, but it's exceptionally good in a game because you are essentially in Corvo's head as he has that revelation. You're not twigging what's happening before the character in a film does and then seeing his reaction play out, or watching an actor convey that moment and receiving that information second hand. You experience it directly in a way that's unique to games.

 

Dishonored is also a game where you're an elite assassin but you hide under a desk until someone leaves a room, then climb out, loudly knock everything off the desk and then misjudge a jump to an open window while five guards run in and take pot shots at you fannying about in the rafters. But that's by the by.

 

I think with pure action games a big piece of the puzzle is in pacing - both moment to moment in the gameplay and how those gameplay sequences are bookended with cutscenes and how you get from A to B as a result. I've always thought Halo 1 did a great job with this - there's a clear series of events and each major event usually leads to a clear objective. When the objectives aren't clear it's because the character you're controlling is in the dark too. The cutscenes and the gameplay don't conflict with each other, you never see a character do something in a cut scene that contradicts the gameplay. You never do something in gameplay that doesn't make sense narratively, unless you go out of your way to do something like hitting a Hunter's corpse over and over until the sheer number of blood decals on the floor causes the frame rate to crater to single figures. The characterisation is one note but solid and everyone has believable motivations. I'd never single it out as a great story in the telling but they built the solid foundation of a story and got by on that. You don't see that kind of clean narrative structure much in games (or in most blockbuster movies in recent years), never mind the characterisation required to wrap around it and tell a truly great story, but the potential for it is always there.

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1 hour ago, matt0 said:

 

I think movies are better at this stuff institutionally partly because of the longer history of the medium and partly because games can get away with having bad stories. Gears 5 is a fun game regardless of the shit story (hilariously shit story - including just lifting its grand revelation from FEAR 2 which still blows my mind). But I don't think that means movies are better at telling stories intrinsically. I think with all the tools you have in games to tell stories there's huge untapped potential.

 

I played Dishonored recently (spoilers):

 

  Hide contents

There's a sequence where you go on a mission to infiltrate a costume ball to assassinate a target but before you go one of your allies hands you a note and asks you to give it to one of the guests. When you hand the note over there's a whole sequence where the guest loses his temper, calls your ally chickenshit and asks you to follow him. You've no idea what's going on at this point until you're handed a pair of duellists pistols. Because you need to be incognito you can't break cover or run off, you're trapped in this fucked up situation and you're given this very sudden, jarring insight in to how your so called allies view you (as Corvo) and how disposable you are.

 

That's as good a piece of storytelling as I've ever seen in any medium. It's a scene that would still work well in a film, but it's exceptionally good in a game because you are essentially in Corvo's head as he has that revelation. You're not twigging what's happening before the character in a film does and then seeing his reaction play out, or watching an actor convey that moment and receiving that information second hand. You experience it directly in a way that's unique to games.

 

Dishonored is also a game where you're an elite assassin but you hide under a desk until someone leaves a room, then climb out, loudly knock everything off the desk and then misjudge a jump to an open window while five guards run in and take pot shots at you fannying about in the rafters. But that's by the by.

 

I think with pure action games a big piece of the puzzle is in pacing - both moment to moment in the gameplay and how those gameplay sequences are bookended with cutscenes and how you get from A to B as a result. I've always thought Halo 1 did a great job with this - there's a clear series of events and each major event usually leads to a clear objective. When the objectives aren't clear it's because the character you're controlling is in the dark too. The cutscenes and the gameplay don't conflict with each other, you never see a character do something in a cut scene that contradicts the gameplay. You never do something in gameplay that doesn't make sense narratively, unless you go out of your way to do something like hitting a Hunter's corpse over and over until the sheer number of blood decals on the floor causes the frame rate to crater to single figures. The characterisation is one note but solid and everyone has believable motivations. I'd never single it out as a great story in the telling but they built the solid foundation of a story and got by on that. You don't see that kind of clean narrative structure much in games (or in most blockbuster movies in recent years), never mind the characterisation required to wrap around it and tell a truly great story, but the potential for it is always there.

I agree with a fair amount but the Halo example falls apart a bit as I found it totally disposable scifi silliness - it may have been clear series of events with objectives dotted but I stopped caring about 2 missions in and just played the game because it was a great game.

 

The problem I see is the conflict of interest in constructing a good AAA "game" with a good "story". You need a 10 hr+ experience with plenty of player agency and yet a good story as well that interweaves the game action. The two are usually in conflict, Trevor in GTAV would be a shocking character as part of the overarching story if the players themselves didn't do far worse themselves allllll the time when not in a cut scene. If you give players agency then it is hard to strap them into a satisfying narrative... and then you have the problem of sustaining a story for 10-20-30 hrs - Mass Effect 2 was the most successful I have seen as it did it by basically seeming like a new series of Star Trek with bitsized missions/episodes and an overarching story. Maybe that is one way forward for AAA game story telling.

 

It is a shame because there are many talented voice actors and physical actors (through mocap) in the AAA games environment and I give them all the plaudits for their efforts in supporting that art but the shit they have to work with 99% of the time is disappointing. Let's hope as the medium evolves the storytelling finds it's niche.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 weeks later...

It does look nice. I wonder if they've reworked or removed those big, chunky Lego-esque structures from the earlier material, or whether they're just releasing screenshots of stuff that looks more like classic Halo.

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22 minutes ago, Wahwah* said:

Looks good, I wonder how it'll look on Xbox One.

I expect it won't be that bad. Frame rate will take a hit and they'll be less shinies but the core mechanics will still be there. As I have found out recently* when you have nothing to compare against then you are happy with what you are playing on. 

 

*Recently being playing on a Xbox 360 again and enjoying Forza Horizon 2 on that. As well as some other racers. 

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9 minutes ago, K said:

It does look nice. I wonder if they've reworked or removed those big, chunky Lego-esque structures from the earlier material, or whether they're just releasing screenshots of stuff that looks more like classic Halo.

I read online that those parts are supposed to represent the halo having been damaged and those areas are construction/ repair sites. 

 

If that's correct then, I assume so.

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6 minutes ago, K said:

It does look nice. I wonder if they've reworked or removed those big, chunky Lego-esque structures from the earlier material, or whether they're just releasing screenshots of stuff that looks more like classic Halo.

I think it was mentioned that those big bits jutting out of the ground were meant to be parts of the Halo base materials breaking through the terraformed landscape or something.

 

Either way I want to know if you can walk to the 'edge' of the Halo and fall off into space, Discworld or flat Earth style!

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Just now, MattyP said:

I expect it won't be that bad. Frame rate will take a hit and they'll be less shinies but the core mechanics will still be there. As I have found out recently* when you have nothing to compare against then you are happy with what you are playing on. 

 

*Recently being playing on a Xbox 360 again and enjoying Forza Horizon 2 on that. As well as some other racers. 

I think so too. I assume it'll be lower res, shorter draw distance, less effects but still at it's core the same game. I wouldn't bet on framerate not being 60 throughout though. 

 

Interesting what you say about point of reference. I played the original Titanfall recently. I pumped hours into it and was really surprised how rough it looked. I remember it looking fine.

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3 minutes ago, Wahwah* said:

I read online that those parts are supposed to represent the halo having been damaged and those areas are construction/ repair sites. 

 

If that's correct then, I assume so.

 

Lore reasons to justify unpopular design choices? Classic Halo.

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20 minutes ago, Jg15 said:

I think it was mentioned that those big bits jutting out of the ground were meant to be parts of the Halo base materials breaking through the terraformed landscape or something.

 

Either way I want to know if you can walk to the 'edge' of the Halo and fall off into space, Discworld or flat Earth style!

 

I think part of the plan for the original Halo was being able to go to the walls at the edge of the Halo, and use some kind of mass transit system that was located there. It'd be good if there was more of a sense of the Halo being an actual location, with boundaries and a large-scale structure in Infinite.

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It looks a little better, but not dramatically.

 

The distant terrain in that banshee image still looks awful, a lot worse than even last-gen games, with those really bad imposter trees from the infamous image before. Even the close range terrain doesn't look great in terms of geometry detail or textures. And it's still concerning that this is now 3 months past it's original launch date and there's no screenshots or footage of it actually running on its target console.

 

They have at least fixed everything looking like plastic.

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It's deffo an improvement over this.

 

spacer.png

 

Still absolutely bonkers that when deciding what to send out to the press they decided, yes, this is the shot that should represent our flagship game. Even funnier was some people unconvincingly going what are you all on about looks good to me.

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It’s definitely looking better and getting closer to the reveal trailer from a few years back. I can’t wait to see it in motion now.

 

19 minutes ago, Harsin said:

It's deffo an improvement over this.

 

spacer.png

 

Still absolutely bonkers that when deciding what to send out to thr press they decided, yes, this is the shot that should represent our flagship game. Even funnier was some people unconvingly going what are you all on about looks good to me.


I thought the gameplay reveal last year looked decent enough, if definitely still a massive work in progress, but I can’t remember anyone defending that shot you posted*. I don’t think it’s as bad as some people make out, but compositionally it’s a complete mess and the lighting isn’t doing it any favours. Still really weird they released it as a promo shot. The new stuff looks way better.

 

 *This is where you trawl back through the thread and show evidence of me defending it! :lol:

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 26/02/2021 at 10:53, Jg15 said:

Either way I want to know if you can walk to the 'edge' of the Halo and fall off into space, Discworld or flat Earth style!


Allegedly, yes. Sounds like the rumours about a God of War style no cuts/seamless experience are also true.
 

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2021-03-12-yes-you-can-knock-things-off-the-edge-of-the-ring-in-halo-infinite

 

God help me, reading that actually has me Hyped™ again.

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2 hours ago, CarloOos said:


Allegedly, yes. Sounds like the rumours about a God of War style no cuts/seamless experience are also true.
 

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2021-03-12-yes-you-can-knock-things-off-the-edge-of-the-ring-in-halo-infinite

 

God help me, reading that actually has me Hyped™ again.

That does sound excellent. I just really want to see what they’ve been up to since last summer now. Do you think it’ll be around E3 time before we see their progress?

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Bungie’s Halo games are still some of the best games out there, even though the graphics are dated.

 

I’m more concerned that 343 have yet to produce any Halo game even approaching the gameplay quality of Bungie. But I live in hope.

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