Today Microsoft announced a November release month for their upcoming console, the Xbox Series X. In their blog post, the company doubled down on previous hardware promises, including 120 frames per second gameplay, ray tracing, and faster load times. They also stressed the appeal of Xbox Game Pass, their subscription service which guarantees subscribers access to all Microsoft published games at release, along with a slew of third-party titles.
But this announcement came in tandem with some unfortunate news. Halo Infinite, the console’s flagship title, has been delayed until 2021. Citing the COVID pandemic among other concerns, 343’s Studio Head Chris Lee explained that the title could not have feasibly come out this year. This announcement followed the somewhat negative fan reaction to the much-anticipated gameplay reveal. While first-party launch titles often serve as graphical showcases for new consoles, many derided Halo Infinite‘s graphical fidelity as unimpressive.
These aren’t the first indications of development troubles. About one year ago it was announced that Halo: Infinite‘s Creative Director, Tim Longo, had left the company part way through development. A few months later Executive Producer Mary Olson also left the company.
After Bungie parted ways with Microsoft in 2007, 343 Studios was assembled to continue development on the Halo series. 343 has released two entries and handled development on Halo: The Master Chief Collection, an HD compilation of the original games with modern matchmaking for multiplayer. Although the Master Chief Collection had an exceedingly bumpy launch, the studio managed to largely address these issues over time. Eventually, this compilation delivered exactly what most longstanding fans of the series wanted, more old-school Halo.
But 343 studio’s most recent title, Halo 5, was met with a far more lukewarm response from fans. This is likely what caused 343 to pitch Halo Infinite as a spiritual followup to the original games, an attempt to revitalizing this fading cultural phenomenon. We will have to wait until 2021 to see if the studio can pull it off.
Until then, we await the arrival of the Xbox Series X in November, so make sure to stay tuned for all the latest news until then.