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Halo Infinite Preview: The Master Chief on Xbox Series X


Halo Infinite’s campaign is going to be huge, bigger and longer than Halo 4 and Halo 5 combined. For the first time, the Master Chief is fighting in an open world that allows significantly more verticality thanks to a gripping hook. The enemy are the Banished that were introduced in Halo Wars 2. The War Chief Escharum is now waging a personal revenge campaign against John 117. Halo Infinite in the first gameplay preview.

Glaring sunlight in the cockpit, explosions break up the silence, the pilot looks nervous in the first gameplay scenes of Halo Infinite. He flies towards the Zeta Halo, turrets of the Banished open fire, hit the Pelican transporter, the ship threatens to be smeared. The pilot fights with the wheel, presses his nose down, makes a crash landing, hits his head. A steel hand wakes him up, it is that of the Master Chief: ”

You, you damn … I can’t do this anymore …

Breathe, ”says the chief. “Breathe.

You won’t tell me what to do. Not you. You wouldn’t be here without me. If I hadn’t found you, you would still be alone in space. Do you remember? I thought I was going home …

There will be no home unless we stop the banished

The chief replies in his relaxed, stoic manner.

We particularly like the acting quality and the way 343 Industries almost creates a buddy movie here. The pilot, whose name we don’t yet know, but who speaks with a slightly Spanish accent, is quite upset and energetic, meets the stoic Master Chief Petty Officer John -117. A genetically engineered super soldier. Already at the age of eight, he was drilled on reach, as the Spartans did with their soldiers. Little can shake the chief after 30 years of service and over 200 battles for the UNSC. Halo Infinite promises to tell a more personal story again: the pilot finds the chief in front of his cockpit, floating in space. He brings him in, connects him to his power supply, reboots his suit, his Mjolinir Powered Assault Armor System. He saves his life and has only one request: he wants to go home, to his wife and little daughter, whom we get to know in a short hologram clip. Because the war seems over, the UNSC fleet has been destroyed, the last halo ring has been taken from the enemy.

Master Chief goes Open World: Halo Infinite tells a self-contained story, but wants to offer significantly more locations than we are used to.

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Master Chief goes Open World: Halo Infinite tells a self-contained story, but wants to offer significantly more locations than we are used to.

© Xbox

This gives us hope that Microsoft has a little more ambition for the Xbox Series X. For the Xbox One there were shockingly few narrative high-quality games and generally Microsoft has seldom celebrated really big Triple-A releases in the past few years. This generation has been left to Sony, who mainly tells big stories with their blockbusters like God of War, Spider-Man or The Last of Us Part 2, while Xbox has reduced its ambitions for exclusive games with each passing year. At the same time, however, the industry also revolutionized, because there has never been a better offer than Xbox Game Pass. For the price of a good pizza (10 euros per month), you can access 200 games here, including the ingenious sci-fi epic The Outer Worlds, Gears 5, the new Forza Motorsport 8, the recently unveiled Fable and Halo: Infinite . Xbox gamers therefore play very cheaply and anyone who buys an Xbox Series X will get a free monthly Game Pass anyway, ergo Halo Infinite on top of that for free.

Halo Infinite is free as part of the Xbox Game Pass

Halo Infinite is currently experiencing a shit storm for its graphics. We believe that subsurface scattering and physical based rendering could be used better, but in 4K this looks okay for an unfinished version, just not great.

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Halo Infinite is currently experiencing a shit storm for its graphics. We believe that subsurface scattering and physical based rendering could be used better, but in 4K this looks okay for an unfinished version, just not great.

© Xbox

And back to the demo: The Chief opens the locks, jumps out of the spaceship and pulls out his legendary MA5B, the UNSC’s standard weapon for Spartans, and everything feels really nice after Halo: the weapon feel, the sounds, the Covenants in their brightly colored armor in orange and purple that come out of the bush and hold up their protective shields. Halo is already a special series because of its extremely colorful design, which is completely contrary to the trend of photo realism and subdued colors, we will experience it in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs Legion or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. But something happened here: This place looks like a junkyard, a cemetery for vehicles and spaceships. A huge train seems derailed and rises, a UNSC Pelican, a dropship of the United Nations Space Command lies on its back here, half destroyed, half intact. The war was obviously raging here.

For the block-like rocks that are reminiscent of Minecraft, there could be a story reason. Infinite is playing on a halo ring that hasn't been finished yet - this may be leftovers from Forerunner architecture.

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For the block-like rocks that are reminiscent of Minecraft, there could be a story reason. Infinite is playing on a halo ring that hasn’t been finished yet – this may be leftovers from Forerunner architecture.

© Xbox

The installations, also called halo rings, are basically weapon stations where life is possible. They were built by the bloodswaters as a safeguard for the survival of the human species in space. The bloodsuckers have the same origin as humans – both were created by the Forerunners according to the Halo legend and they experimented on humans to make them viable outside of the earth. Now the Banished are attacking the Zeta Halo and destroying the last large UNSC fleet. We remember the lines in the first second of the demo: “163 days ago we lost”. Halo: Infinite is a direct sequel to Halo 5: Guardians, whoever has played through this part can imagine what will happen. For everyone else, we leave this secret uncovered for a little longer. In the demo, a phantom warship pulls over our heads, but doesn’t seem to notice the chief. And even a Warthog is parked here, as if waiting for the Halo legend to return.

The Halo: Combat Evolved feel for the Xbox Series X.

The Chief now has a drop shield that keeps energy projectiles out and also protects him on the flanks thanks to his curvature.

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The Chief now has a drop shield that keeps energy projectiles out and also protects him on the flanks thanks to his curvature.

© Xbox

What is striking is how strong it all feels after Halo: Combat Evolved. Halo Infinite is being developed by 343 Industries, but they want to resurrect these iconic bungie worlds and are based on the design and style of these classics. The colors are warmer, the ring world looks mystical, it literally says “Explore me.” The driving feeling of the Warthog is also rather old-school: Despite armor and high weight, you drift like a rally car in dirt 5, corners can be turned Take it very closely, keep enemies at a distance with the flanged M41 LAAG machine gun or shoot straight out of the mountain pines. Because this installation was planned for people, it feels very much like our earth: there are plants, grass, mud, small rivers and streams, mountains and rock formations. We open the Tacmap, the digital tactic card, and see three AA Cannon batteries, anti-aircraft guns that would prevent our flight by Pelican, which is already badly damaged. These batteries exist in the north, west and south. Where we want to attack first is up to us. If we hack the consoles in the respective command center, we can take the gun offline.

But the freedom of movement is very different from the classic halos: we can sneak in, on a hill, with a sniper rifle, individually targeting the Covenant. Rush through the gate with the Warthog, jump out, let the Rambo Chief hang out. Or jump over a hill, take two aliens in flight and surprise the Unngoy troops. The gameplay is classic halo, the infantry serve only as a doormat for the MasterChief and go down after a few hits. Respectively explodes in a colorful cloud, after all the Unngoy breathe methane, so they always have an orange tank on their back. The brutes are a bit more of a challenge – heavily armored, with a thick titanium helmet – if we shoot them down, we can draw energy from them. They use jetpacks, catapult themselves into the air, and we have to shoot down their armor step by step.

We strongly hope that 343 Industries will forego a formulaic open world. In Far Cry, the rummaging and taking of bases became quite monotonous at some point.

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We strongly hope that 343 Industries will forego a formulaic open world. In Far Cry, the rummaging and taking of bases became quite monotonous at some point.

© Xbox

This can be done up close or at a certain distance – thanks to the drop shield, the chief builds an energy protection shield that protects him from fire for a few seconds. The Banished can drop-bots directly from spaceships, which is reminiscent of Titanfall. As soon as the brutes kiss the ground, we can grab their Ravager gun that fires red-hot energy projectiles. Our enemy is once again the Alliance of Covenants, probably called for help by Cortana, who had a loving relationship with the Chief and always protected him as his personal AI. After a crash in Halo 4 had errors in the system, turned away, built up their own army in Halo 5 Guardians. Maybe because she thinks she can create a better system than the Forerunner, which ultimately led to much suffering and endless wars.

An energy lasso in the style of Doom Eternal for the open world

The brutes are now dropped directly from orbit with dropships and fight in heavier armor, which we have to shoot down first.

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The brutes are now dropped directly from orbit with dropships and fight in heavier armor, which we have to shoot down first.

© Xbox

The first innovations are evident on a playful level: For example, we can record the Pulse Carbine of an Elite, which has already received two upgrades for increased plasma damage and a burst fire mode. Also new is the VK 78 Commando, an assault rifle with a visor, in other words, the Smartscope from Halo 5 is making a comeback in Halo: Infinite.

The ammunition is displayed directly on the weapon, but if it is visible again in the HUD, it will be interesting to see whether it can be switched off for more immersion. The grappling hook is supposed to provide more verticality, more speed and tactical options: We can pull ourselves up by a watchtower, freeze the sniper, mop his weapon and shoot from an elevated position. Or use your grapple to pull enemies up close to you, almost like in Doom Eternal. Halo: Infinite is definitely faster than all halos before, not just because the chief sprints – the speed with which he catapults through the area, takes headshots, flanked by his enemies portray him as the god-soldier he was created with.

343 gives the all-clear: Despite open world, the story is largely told about high-quality cut scenes. It will be exciting to see how the nameless pilot replaces Cortana as a buddy.

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343 gives the all-clear: Despite open world, the story is largely told about high-quality cut scenes. It will be exciting to see how the nameless pilot replaces Cortana as a buddy.

© Xbox

It is a wonderful spectacle that should bring tears to the eyes of veterans of the series, because back in 2001, at the time of the Xbox, we dreamed of traveling around the halo ring. Back then, neither PCs nor consoles had the processor power to render such a big world, today everything is pretty easy and has a wonderfully immersive effect: there are birds that sit in the canopy and fly away when shots break through the silence. And small animals on the ground that hide when the Warthog spins the wheels. The sun rises and falls, depending on the time of day, like in No Man’s Sky.

Everyone remembers when they first played Halo: Combat Evolved. When he first landed on the mysterious halo ring from the Hummel rescue capsule and how he felt when he looked around the world. And for us that is the feeling, the emotion that the players should experience again. It should feel like coming home, but still fresh, new, inspired. “

– Chris Lee, Studio Manager 343 Industries

Risky decision: Halo Infinite should serve as a platform for the next ten years of Halo, so all new titles will be docked here. Positive thing: As 343 promises, there will be significantly more Halo: The Xbox One era had Halo 5 Gu

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Risky decision: Halo Infinite should serve as a platform for the next ten years of Halo, so all new titles will be docked here. Positive thing: As 343 promises, there will be significantly more Halo: The Xbox One era had Halo 5 Gu

© Xbox

Conclusion:

Halo Infinite feels great: Halo has always been a tremendously good shooter, and that feeling spreads even in the first demo. This is handy, but much faster and more flexible than the last halo parts. A halo ring as an open world, we would only have dreamed of at the beginning of the series. 343 just needs to be careful not to make the Ubisoft mistake and build a formulaic world: nothing would be worse than clearing outposts after outposts and being distracted from the actual story by useless side tasks.

Because telling stories, Halo can do that like no other Xbox technically. The title is welcome to develop even further: The foundation is there, with day / night changes and sunsets that turn the world orange. With an animal world, flora and fauna, as well as massifs that invite you to explore. But the graphic implementation can be significantly better, the textures looked a bit flat, sometimes well-known technologies such as physical based rendering were not used as skilfully as is now standard in the industry.

343 is going to have to pound here now, but we are confident that it will be delivered – the studio had an eternity to prepare for Halo Infinite, they cannot help but bring a technically excellent halo, because you have the plan Using Infinite as a platform on which all new halo parts will be docked within the next ten years – so there will be significantly more halo in the next few years. Halo Infinite should generally be greatly expanded via updates, for example with ray tracing on PC and Xbox Series X shortly after launch.

Halo Infinite will be launched on the Xbox Series X launch in late 2020

Want more Xbox Series X content? These stories are recommended:

Xbox Series X: That’s how fast the new Xbox flagship is

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 in preview: the kings of the air

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