The Xbox Games Showcase has come to a close with one of Microsoft's biggest reveals being a first look at the Halo Infinite campaign. Master Chief has returned and it doesn't look like he's taking this ride alone. He's bringing along some new allies, as well as some familiar foes.
Shacknews watched and rewatched today's Halo Infinite campaign gameplay. We also got to check out a narrated version of today's footage alongside some members of 343 Industries. Here are the five biggest things we learned about Halo Infinite's campaign.
1. The campaign mission revealed is set roughly halfway into the game
According to the team at 343, today's campaign footage was taken roughly halfway into the Halo Infinite story. And it is said to be a significantly bigger world to explore. The word from the 343 team is that the Halo Infinite world will be several times larger than their previous efforts combined. So take the Halo 4 and 5 campaigns and then think bigger.
One of the takeaways the team hopes the player at home will have is today's campaign footage shows what they mean when they call Infinite a "spiritual reboot." As Master Chief stepped out to explore the Halo ring, the team wanted to evoke a similar scene from Halo: Combat Evolved, only on a much grander scale and with modern tech. You can see the scale they're aiming for with the Tac Map, which shows off a much more three-dimensional world filled with various objectives.
2. Master Chief's new companion is named The Pilot and he's a normal human
Some Halo fans might have watched the opening of the Halo Infinite footage and wondered who the angry bearded man was in the pilot's seat. He's simply named The Pilot and, according to 343, he'll be the human connection to the Halo Infinite story. In a universe filled with extraordinary warriors like Master Chief, The Pilot is a run-of-the-mill human who has somehow gotten entangled in Chief's mission.
"The Pilot's a very important character for us in Halo Infinite," said Associate Creative Director Paul Crocker. "We wanted to create a character that's kind of a juxtoposition from Chief. Chief is the universe's greatest soldier, Chief protects humanity at every point, and The Pilot is the most human character we have ever created in the franchise. He is basically the most normal guy we could put into this crazy situation."
The origins of The Pilot are unknown. We don't know how he came to get mixed up in this battle or the extent of his role in traveling around with Chief. Will he need to get in the driver's seat of a Warthog at any point? Will he grow and develop over the course of the story? We'll learn more about The Pilot and his role in the months ahead.
3. The Grapple Shot is Master Chief's newest weapon
As Master Chief looks around and finds more and more of gaming's most interesting characters adopting a grappling hook, he thought to himself, "Why not me?"
The Grapple Shot is Halo's take on the grappling hook and it opens up some interesting possibilities for Infinite. It has a number of uses in battle, including bringing Chief closer to a target before cutting them down with a melee weapon, like an Energy Sword. It also allows Chief to try and get the drop on foes by grappling around or underneath in an effort to gain a tactical advantage. It's a new maneuverability tool that adds greatly to Chief's arsenal, one that allows for players to tackle firefights with multiple approaches, especially when he combines it with other new tools, like the Drop Shield.
And given the way Infinite's world is laid out, the Grapple Shot will also have practical uses when it comes to exploration. Chief will now be able to reach new, far out-of-the-way places that he may never have been able to get to before without the aid of something like a vehicle or a jetpack.
4. The composer behind the Ori series is co-composing the Halo Infinite soundtrack
The music and orchestral score has been one of the hallmarks of the Halo franchise. We heard some more of the gorgeous symphony that's set to grace the Halo Infinite soundtrack, but we also learned more about who's bringing it out.
"Music is incredibly important to Halo and to our fans," said 343 Studio Head Chris Lee. "Curtis Schweitzer is a composer that we talked about last year at E3 and this year, we're going to announce our second composer that's joining Curtis in Gareth Coker. Both Gareth and Curtis have been doing an incredible job and throughout the demo today, you've been able to experience the music that Gareth has worked on."
Coker has worked on the score for a number of games with his two biggest credits being Ori and the Blind Forest and its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. The Ori series has become widely recognized for its beautiful art style, which is complemented by its hauntingly memorable score. Coker now looks to bring that same aesthetic to the Halo universe, but 343 isn't stopping there when it comes to the audio experience.
"We also upgraded our audio engine to create a new acoustic system and leverage a lot of the extra processing power and streaming power of the Xbox Series X to be able to really surround the player in a much more realistsic audio experience," Lee added.
5. The Banished are back and looking better than ever
It's been a long while since Halo players encountered the Banished, the splinter faction that ran afoul of the Covenant. Last seen in Halo Wars 2, the Banished look to make a big return in Infinite, with 343 noting that the Brutes were heavily requested by the Halo fanbase.
While it's unknown how much of a role the Banished will play in the overall Infinite narrative, they'll play a major role in the mission in this particular Halo ring. And they're aching for a chance to take on Chief.
"Meet Warchief Escharum, the commander of the forces of the Banished," said Crocker. "They're occupying the ring, they own the ring, they're excited from a purely warmongering way to now have to go up against Chief, who has returned to take the ring back. This is his declaration of how Chief is now his target. Chief has become something that is a personal challenge, vendetta, goal of Escharum."
The Banished are also back with a sleek new look, one that 343 hopes will show off the power of the modern tech they're putting to work.
"The fidelity we've been able to achieve in Halo Infinite is something that was unattainable previously," Lee said. "We've really harnessed a lot of the advanced rendering techniques, but also the immense power of the Xbox Series X."
Lee added that 343 is utilizing ten times the processing power for Infinite that was used in Halo 5, something the team hopes will create a new quintessential Halo experience.
We'll have more to say on Halo Infinite in the months ahead. Halo Infinite is coming to Xbox Series X, as well as Xbox One and PC, and is set for a Holiday 2020 release. For more on today's major gaming news and reveals, be sure to check out our full Xbox Games Showcase recap.