Another Halo Infinite Project Director Leaves

Halo screen shot
Deep down inside, Phil Spencer knows that Halo; Infinite will be for better or worse a defining moment for the series.

Project Director Chris Lee has left the Halo Infinite team at 343 Industries. This feels a bit like deja vu since Creative Director Tim Long left 343 Industries only a couple of months ago, followed by Lead Producer Mary Olson.

In a statement to Bloomberg, Microsoft clarified that “Chris Lee remains a Microsoft employee and while he has stepped back from Halo: Infinite right now, we appreciate all he has done for the project to date.”

So, what’s the next step for the franchise? It sounds like the departure of these key figures from Halo Infinite has opened the door for Halo veterans to jump on board the project. Halo Waypoint officially announced that Joseph Staten, a key person in previous Halo and Destiny games, has returned to help with the single-player campaign. He returns right after helping with the launch of Tell Me Why, a narrative adventure game from DONTNOD Entertainment, the same company that brought us Life is Strange. Pierre Hintze, the head of the publishing team for The Master Chief Collection, will focus on the Free-To-Play multiplayer for the game. 

Chris Lee is the latest 343 developer to leave Halo Infinite’s development.

Halo Infinite, the sixth game in the franchise, will be the conclusion to 343 Industries Halo trilogy. Initially scheduled to be an Xbox Series X launch title during the 2020 holidays, the game will be delayed until sometime in 2021. According to the @Halo Twitter account in this official tweet, the game has been delayed not due to personnel changes but in part because of COVID-19 and “development challenges.” They end their tweet optimistically by saying: “The extra time will let us finish critical work necessary to deliver the most ambitious Halo game ever at the quality we know Halo fans expect.”

There were then rumors circulating that the game would be delayed further to 2022 and drop support for the Xbox One, but these rumors were dispelled in a tweet from John Junyszek, who said “there are no plans to change our 2021 release or the devices and platforms we’ll be supporting.” Never Ending Realm goes into more detail about the release date here.

343 Industries has been very upfront about the feedback to the game and delved in-depth into discussing these concerns in this official Halo Waypoint article. They specifically talk about the debates about the “overall art style and visual fidelity.” They stood by their decision to return the art style of the game to a more classic look, but regarding the visual fidelity, they acknowledged players’ concerns about “characters and objects appearing flat, simplistic and plastic-like, lighting feeling dull and flat, and object pop-in.” Since the game is still a work-in-progress and some of these concerns were already being addressed in the development, the company added: “While some of the feedback was expected and speaks to areas already in progress, other aspects of the feedback have brought new opportunities and considerations to light that the team is taking very seriously and working to assess.”

While initially hearing that so many key members of the company have left altogether or stepped away from the game, compiled with the fact that the game was delayed, may at first seem detrimental to the future of Halo Infinite, the company’s response to these events as well as their open-ear to the community’s feedback and brining back of Halo veterans actually makes it sound like Halo Infinite is on track to be much better off than it ever was before. But with things being so up in the air throughout 2020, what do you think of these developments and responses? Are you optimistic about the future of Halo Infinite?

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By Nicole D'Andria

Nicole D'Andria works as a freelance writer/editor specializing in comics. She adapted Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir to comics and writes her own ongoing comic book series, Road Trip to Hell. She works as a freelance comic editor on Tapas Media. Nicole's freelance clients include Action Lab (2015-2020, Submissions Editor/Marketing Director) and scholarly journals such as Clio's Psyche and JASPER. She writes a series of interviews showcasing Kickstarter creators for Comic Frontline and pop culture lists for CBR.