Since Halo: Combat Evolved was released in 2001 with the original Xbox, Master Chief has been the iconic face of the franchise. His iconic MJOLNIR helmet and armor touch a spot in the hearts of the franchise’s fans, and when his presence was rather scarce in Halo 5: Guardians, fans felt cheated out of their favorite Covenant slaying, Flood shredding, Promethean bashing hero. Fortunately, with Halo Infinite, 343 Industries has promised a buzzing return of the Master Chief.
In holiday 2020, alongside Project Scarlett, Xbox fans—Halo fans in particular—will see a return of the franchise’s most beastly UNSC Spartan, locked and loaded once again on the Xbox One and Windows 10.
As mentioned above, Halo Infinite will release on the Xbox One, Windows 10, and Project Scarlett. Reinforcing Microsoft’s push for the competitive edge, Halo Infinite will continue the trend of 4K graphics with HDR compatibility. So, for those Xbox One X users and those who get their hands on Project Scarlett at launch, get ready to witness the Halo universe in a pretty stellar fashion.
The shortness of Halo 4’s campaign and the mundanity of Halo 5: Guardians has done a lot of damage to the storytelling reputation of 343 Industries. Writing an interesting plot with compelling characters isn’t an easy craft, but when one of the primary reasons to invest in a game is the lore and story content, maybe giving fans a huge bang for their buck in that regard should be higher on the priority list.
Not a lot of information has been revealed about the campaign in Halo Infinite, but the story trailer at E3 2019 gave fans a longer glimpse at the Master Chief as he’s rescued from dereliction by a stranded UNSC pilot. At the trailer’s climax, Master Chief prepares for battle against an unknown enemy as a bright light shines into the ship’s cockpit. Whether or not the foe is Covenant, Promethean, or Forerunner is unknown, but one thing’s for sure: Master Chief will find himself on a Halo ring once again.
Created solely for Halo Infinite, 343’s new Slipspace Engine is supposedly a marvel of gaming technology. With the ability to convey facial expressions and character emotion like never before, the goal seems to be to turn Halo Infinite into a hybrid: both video game and cinematic experience.
Moreover, the engine purports to “bring worlds to life,” assumingly able to make environments more reactive. If the Slipspace Engine is as marvelous as 343 Industries claims, Halo Infinite should be the most beautiful game in the franchise, perhaps even on the Xbox brand. If the game’s aesthetics can compete, or even surpass, those of titles like Final Fantasy XV, then 343’s claims should be precise indeed.
So far, 343 hasn’t showcased any Halo Infinite gameplay. However, despite the game being a “spiritual reboot” for the series, if tradition holds true, gameplay shouldn’t be too dissimilar from previous entries. There may be some added mechanics, but it should still feel like a Halo title.
With the current craze surrounding battle royale modes in multiplayer shooters like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII, and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, it’s unknown whether or not Halo Infinite will have a battle royale mode. That said, it’s already been announced that battle royale will not be featured in the game’s launch. Regardless, that doesn’t mean it won’t be implemented at a later date.
One of the most terrifying and fun enemies of the Halo universe is, without a doubt, the Flood. These grotesque parasites feed on any living thing, reanimating the dead and twisting them into a vile repulsion ready to feast on flesh. In Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo Wars, the Flood swarms players with a horde-like charge, some carrying weapons of both human and Covenant designs and shooting them wildly during their charge.
The horror elements introduced to the franchise by the Flood added spice to an already hot series. When the Flood was noticeably missing from Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, the games felt even more incomplete than they already did. While Halo 4 introduced the Prometheans as yet another enemy for the Master Chief to combat, they did not make up for the lack of the Flood’s presence.
While there has been no visual evidence of the Flood’s resurgence in Halo Infinite, an audio teaser was released by 343 Industries on Instagram in which Flood sound effects were speculated to have been heard. Whether or not those sound effects are meant to be the Flood is unclear, but hopefully, the slimy horrors return to the series, as they are some of the most entertaining fights in the franchise.
Weapons and Vehicles
One look at the official Halo Instagram page will show fans several iconic weapons returning to Halo Infinite. The nasty UNSC sniper rifle and brutal Covenant energy sword are both seen in images posted on Instagram with Halo Infinite hashtags. In addition, the renowned UNSC Warthog returns with a vengeance, as does the Pelican transport ship, both of which debuted in Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001.
Halo Infinite, true to 343’s promise of more Master Chief, plasters fans’ favorite Halo protagonist right on the cover in his MJOLNIR armor with his backed turned. He wields the powerful UNSC battle rifle and is overlooking a vast expanse filled with mountains and forestry on a Halo ring. In addition, he appears to be standing on a Pelican’s rear bay, ready to leap into battle.
Perhaps as fundamental to the Halo franchise as Master Chief is his AI partner, Cortana. Throughout the first three Halo games, Cortana is the Master Chief’s guide, their professional relationship gradually developing into a friendship that muddles the debate as to whether or not AIs have feelings and if they should be treated as sentient.
In Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, Cortana slowly descends into madness, with much of the Master Chief’s mission in Halo 5 being to figure out a way to bring her back from the brink of virtual insanity, going so far as to fight other UNSC forces over keeping Cortana in his helmet.
As for Halo Infinite, Cortana’s voice is heard at the end of the campaign teaser trailer, discussing her reasoning for choosing the Master Chief from the beginning, adding more depth to her character. It’s unclear whether or not she returns as the AI embedded in Master Chief’s helmet, but she will obviously make some kind of appearance in the game.
Mysteries are a big part of anything in the science fiction genre. However, major mysteries are par for the course with the Halo universe, but perhaps one of the most curious unknowns in the franchise is what, precisely, does the Master Chief look like under that helmet? It’s a small thing, really, but a matter of intrigue nonetheless.
Whether or not the Master Chief will ever reveal his face on camera is unknown, and there are certainly more pressing mysteries to unravel, such as whether or not Gravemind will return. Halo Infinite is bound to be full of surprises, especially after the lengthy hiatus of the franchise.
If 343 Industries wishes to bring in new fans and keep the loyalty of veterans, they’ll have to make good on their promises and provide one stellar story on top of addictive multiplayer.
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