343 Industries is keeping up its monthly updates on Halo Infinite, and the results of just a few months of extra work are really shining through. It’s fair to say that the original showcase let down many who were anticipating the game as a generational leap for Microsoft’s signature FPS franchise. This isn’t what people got at the time, which led to an internal decision to delay the game and improve it. That has seemingly been the right decision, as the new screenshots released by the developer prove that Halo Infinite isn’t just going to be a proper sequel to what’s come before, it might also be a rebirth for a series that has found itself out of the spotlight in recent times.
When 343 Industries took over the Halo franchise, they really wanted to make it their own, but striking a balance between their vision and what original developer Bungie left behind proved difficult. Both Halo 4 and Halo 5 took turns in their narrative that isolated fans, including making Master Chief just one hero in a complex universe. The original trilogy really didn’t support that tweak, especially as 343 tried to humanize John 117 by bringing in elements from the novels and other Halo imgs. By relying too much on supplemental material, 343’s games felt like middle chapters in a season of TV that isolated those who just wanted to play the games.
There were also major launch issues for several games in the franchise in recent times. The ambitious Halo: The Master Chief Collection became notorious for its broken multiplayer at launch and its use of PC ports of the original Xbox games. Halo 5‘s multiplayer at launch was split between a stripped-down deathmatch suite and a large-scale mode called Warzone that some felt was just an excuse to sell trading card packs via microtransactions. Both of these games have been repaired immensely over the years, but there’s no solving a bad first impression.
After the turmoil of the previous generation of releases, the Halo Infinite reveal needed to hit hard. Unfortunately, it just didn’t. Instead of an amazing jump that made the recently-released Xbox Series X look like a powerhouse, some players felt the game looked worse than 343’s past efforts. While the open world nature of the game would generally lead to that type of loss in visual fidelity, leaders at Microsoft still felt it worth taking an extra year to ensure that Infinite is the turnaround that Halo needs. With the screenshots pouring out of the Inside Infinite updates the past couple of months, it’s obvious that this was the right decision.
In these screenshots, it’s clear to see that the faint vision of the open world from the original gameplay reveal is on its way to becoming fully realized. From changes in the environment that manifest depending on the time of day to the realization of an ecosystem of wildlife that was initially set to be in the original Halo, Infinite‘s Zeta Halo seems to be the ultimate expression of Combat Evolved‘s huge outdoor playgrounds. Players want to feel that return to the Bungie era of the franchise and capturing that sandbox feeling better than even Bungie could in subsequent games is a grand way to accomplish that.
There are still plenty of monthly updates to go before Xbox fans can finally play Halo Infinite for themselves. However, what was originally a story about Craig the Brute memes and continuing to tarnish an old franchise is turning into a story of redemption in 2021. It’s very close to the story of a game like No Man’s Sky, except Microsoft knew not to give fans the original half-built experience. In addition, older fans of Halo aren’t being left in the cold, as the Master Chief Collection‘s own turnaround is even starting to introduce previously unreleased content to decades-old games. It’s been a rough few years, but it feels like 343 Industries is ready to show the world this fall why Halo was the original FPS phenomenon all those years ago.