343 Industries has promised the Halo community monthly updates on the development of Halo Infinite and the company is sticking to its word. The latest Inside Infinite blog post is here for players to comb through, providing players with insights into what it means when the team use words like “Spiritual Reboot” to focus their efforts, what kind of environments and tactical decisions players will be making, and a look at the astounding lighting system.
Inside Infinite – February
If you missed last month’s Inside Infinite write-up, make sure you check it out. This month the Inside Infinite blog talks with Justin Dinges the Campaign Art Lead, Troy Mashburn the Gameplay Director, and John Mulkey the World Design Lead. There’s also reference to the Ask343 streams where a developer answers some community questions. You can check that out below.
The discussion about art direction within Halo Infinite is going to be an important one for all Halo fans regardless of where they entered their journey. For a lot of fans of the original trilogy, the complicated designs of the recent titles were too much. Justin Dinges states that the team is focused on two themes, Legacy and Simplicity.
“We really want players to feel like they are experiencing a game that they remember fondly (Halo: Combat Evolved),” Dinges writes. “But with modernized graphics of course.” Dinges goes on to state that the team is avoiding “overly noisy designs and details”.
Part of this focus on simplicity and legacy is reflected in the phrases the team use to focus their efforts. As Mashburn expands, the team uses words like “Super Soldier”, “Story Driven”, and “Spiritual Reboot” as a way to reflect upon what they are creating.
The phrase “Spiritual Reboot” will no doubt resonate deeply with fans. The Inside Infinite blog goes on to talk about what this means and how the team is working to ensure the game feels like the originals while also making it a modern experience, as opposed to one that feels dated or stuck in the past – a problem I noted in my Crackdown 3 review from 2019.
For Mashburn, The Silent Cartographer is a massive point of inspiration when it comes to tackling gameplay direction. As far as Halo missions go, Silent Cartographer is often lauded as one of the best in the franchise, so to hear it as a main point of inspiration is reassuring.
As part of Dinges’ role as Campaign Art Lead, the decision to start Halo Infinite in a Pacific Northwest biome is the artistic take on this “Spiritual Reboot” idea. In Halo: Combat Evolved, the first time you step foot on Halo – in the mission literally called Halo – you enter a forest-like canyon, complete with giant trees and rolling green hills. While there were technical limitations back in 2001, the idea of larger than life environments could be felt in the mission. Mulkey notes this and states that the team is looking to “deliver on the promise” that was set up in the original titles. That is to say, the limitations of the early 2000s are no longer a factor and players may actually be in for the experience that Bungie circa 2000 could only dream of delivering.
On the topic of art direction, an important aspect to note is that Halo Infinite isn’t going for photorealism. According to Dinges, Halo Infinite is an “artistic interpretation of a beautiful world to exist within”. Much like how no one would argue Sea of Thieves is photorealistic but everyone can agree that it is a gorgeous game.
Following on from this, the trio dive into the Time-of-Day lighting system that has been implemented into the Slipspace Engine over the past few years. The results can be seen in the above image that showcases a Forerunner structure at varying points during the day as well as under different cloud coverage. It’s subtle yet powerful imagery.
Storytelling isn’t just something that takes place in cutscenes. For Halo Infinite, the team has worked hard to ensure that stories are told through the environment. As Mashburn puts it, “I am more of a ‘show me don’t tell me’ kind of player. I find that discovering things and figuring things out for myself go much further to immerse me in this world”. It would seem as if Halo may get the Soulsborne treatment of stories behind knitted together out of what players can see in the scenery and construction of the playspace.
One thing that has plagued Halo games in the past is invisible barriers. These line the playspace, preventing players from climbing a rise or attacking a Covenant group from another angle. With Halo Infinite, the Grappleshot has seemingly had a major impact on how 343i designs the levels. Dinges comments, “The art team has had the added challenge of ensuring that we do allow for players to get to spots and areas that in previous titles we may have prevented them from getting to.” Deeper in the post, UI Designer Eric Richter states that there exists an Out of Bounds HUD warning, but they think not many people will see it given how large the world is. However, to those players that do see it, Richter hopes they enjoy the “dorky humor” as it is “equal parts informative and immersive”.
While players knew there were other bits of equipment outside of the Grappleshot, Mulkey reveals that players can carry around “another three pieces of equipment” that can be swapped between at any time. This is bound to result in some rather great combat moments and plenty of YouTube highlight videos.
To tie off the Inside Infinite post, Head of Creative Joseph Staten gives a rundown of what kind of game Halo Infinite is but he also reveals that players can “capture a Banshee and fly to a floating ring fragment across a gap of stars”. Though players are no doubt happy to wait for a finished and polished product, statements like these and the monthly Inside Infinite posts are bound to make it harder to wait for Halo Infinite’s release date. Be sure to keep it locked to Shacknews as we keep you up to date on the latest news, rumors, and more surrounding Halo Infinite.
Sam Chandler posted a new article, Halo Infinite team discusses what it means to be a 'Spiritual Reboot'