In the intro to a detailed blog post for Halo Infinite posted today, 343 Industries wrote that the game is now scheduled to release in Fall 2021. The introduction, written by Bungie veteran Joseph Staten, who joined Halo Infinite's production this August as a new project lead, calls Infinite's release "just the beginning of the adventure."
"After Reach shipped, I became a Halo fan, cheering-on 343i from the sidelines," Staten wrote. "But I’ve spent the last four months immersing myself back into the Halo universe, and it’s my honor as creative director to help our team ship Halo Infinite in Fall 2021."
Staten goes on to say that based on feedback from Halo Infinite's July demo, "discussion boiled down to one fundamental truth: we needed more time to do things right."
Since Infinite's demo, former Infinite studio head Chris Lee has left the project. Microsoft has also confirmed that Infinite's multiplayer will be free-to-play. Despite the common practice in free-to-play design, the post reiterates that Halo Infinite will not use a loot box system. "No loot boxes. No randomness or items that influence the sandbox and gameplay," wrote progression designer Chris Blohm.
The blog post about Infinite's development includes discussion of the July demo's graphics, which were criticized as underwhelming on release. 343's director of art management Neill Harrison called the reaction "humbling," and said "the reality is that the art and visuals weren’t at the bar we hold for Halo—even in a work-in-progress state. Much of the feedback we heard from the community aligned with our own views and work we were already committed to doing around things like indirect lighting, material response, foliage and tree rendering, clouds, level-of-detail transitions, and character fidelity."
Harrison added that they were also looking at "additional opportunities for improvement," and called out some improvements the developers have already made since July: adjusted dynamic lighting "to add more punch and contrast to the image" and higher character fidelity.
The post also touches on Halo Infinite's slack-faced brute, who was quickly nicknamed Craig and became a meme that summed up Infinite's lacking graphics. Harrison says that "facial animation on NPCs was not fully implemented in that build… poor old Craig was never intended to be seen in that condition." Our thoughts go out to Craig and his family at this difficult time.
Screenshots later in the blog offer an early look at multiplayer customization options in Infinite, which forego the classic Halo system of primary/secondary armor colors in favor of more varied "coatings." The new system should allow for more varied armor loadouts, but will also be easier and faster for the developers to create.
As with its regular updates for the Master Chief Collection, 343 Industries is now planning consistent "Inside Infinite" posts like this one. "Starting with this update, we’re going to be sharing more about what we’re doing and, most importantly, why we’re doing it," said Staten.