We are not surprised. Frankly, we at the Never-Ending Realm were as disappointed as every Halo fan across the world with 343’s July 23rd Halo Infinite’s reveal.
Halo Infinite’s postponement does not affect Microsoft’s Xbox Series X’s Launch date, as the company announced yesterday a November launch for its Next-Gen console. The postponement might be a blow to the Xbox Series X’s sales expectancies at launch. Halo Infinite was supposed to be the game that sold people into a Series X, as opposed to remaining on an Xbox One console (or shifting to the PlayStation 5), and that might be the reason why it was postponed.
Halo Infinite’s reveal was received with controversial backlash from both Xbox fans, and the general video game community due it’s poor visual showcase. Had the game been advertised as an Xbox One game (which the game is), perhaps, the fallout of the reveal wouldn’t have been nearly as harsh.
Most of us took issue with the game showing poor textures, pedestrian lighting, and noticeable amounts of pop-up even though the game was running on PC hardware that was the “equivalent” of Xbox Series X hardware according to Microsoft.
Clearly, the problem didn’t reside on the Xbox Series X hardware (which on paper is superior to Sony’s PS5’s own technical specifications), but with the game itself. Halo Infinite didn’t look optimized for the Xbox Series X, in fact many would say that even as an Xbox One X showcase, the game looked rather average.
Excuses regarding the poor showcase were immediately made in the days following the presentation. The most popular, and absurd one, was the excuse noting that the game showcased was an “Alpha build”. That excuse never made sense, as Halo Infinite had been on the making for at least 4 years, and no developer would ever dare to show up at the most important reveal for a next generation console (that their own game is expected to sell no less) with an “alpha build” 4 months out from launch.
The postponement reinforces the belief that the July 23rd build was truly the latest build that 343 had to show, which was an average to good looking Xbox One game, but an extremely poor showcase of the Xbox Series X hardware. As much as Microsoft might have wanted to save their crown jewel for postponement, a 4-month window is not enough time to overhaul the game’s graphical design, and the company was forced to delay the game.
The following statement was made by the company on their official Xbox site:
“Today, we announced updates to Halo Infinite’s launch timing. Our vision at Xbox and 343 Industries has always been to deliver the most ambitious Halo game ever for our fans, while also balancing the team’s well-being. To do that, we will need some more time to finish the critical work necessary to launch Halo Infinite, which will come in 2021.”- Microsoft
So, is the delay a win for social media and fan outrage? Yes, and it is also a win for those who didn’t mind the pedestrian look. Halo deserves better, under Bungie the game had been a driver of technological advancements, and clearly, Halo Infinite as it was showcased on July was neither. Microsoft announcing a week ago that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer would be free may have also factored into the decision to postpone the game.
A free to play Halo wasn’t (or at least didn’t seem to be) on the cards before, and its announcement almost seemed like a last minute concoction by the company to save face under the bombardment of criticism that the game had received over the past 3 weeks.
All things considered, Microsoft did the right thing. The company understands the importance of its most iconic franchise.
What Can We Expect From Halo Infinite in 2021?
A big leap in visual fidelity certainly. It will be exceedingly difficult to survive another pedestrian visual showcase after delaying the game. So, I expect a Ray Traced single player experience, and the pop up issues to be either vastly improved or eliminated altogether. Ray Tracing might fix a lot of the issues, but the game needs to feature a livelier world.
We live in the post Horizon Zero Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Ghost of Tsushima era, those games ran on sub 2 Tflop machines, Xbox Series X’s games should blow them out of the water, and Halo Infinite should be able to showcase such a leap in visual fidelity.
As a Halo fan I am happy that the game will be given a better chance at being a great one. With the delay, Microsoft will be forced to showcase a long line of 3rd party games, and its Game Pass service in order to sell its next generation console on November.