You can knock things off the edge of the ring in Halo Infinite, developer 343 has confirmed.
You've never been able to do this in a Halo game before.
In a video Q&A, below, gameplay director Troy Mashburn was asked if the player can knock things off the edge of Zeta Halo, the ring on which Halo Infinite is set.
"The answer is yes!" Mashburn replied, before revealing a situation in which he did just that.
"I can tell you just recently I was playing and I happened to be driving in a Scorpion tank. I came around the corner and I was face to face with a Wraith. Just out of pure luck, pure coincidence, I managed to push the Wraith over the edge and just watched it slowly tilt back and fall into the abyss, which was amazing, unexpected and it was just such a cool moment that happened just by luck, that I managed to come around a different way and catch them off guard."
It's easy to imagine a situation where you're booting bits and bobs off the edge of the ring and watching them fall into space. A Grunt, perhaps? That would be hilarious. Halo has always been a wonderful sandbox for physics-based shenanigans, and I imagine players will have a lot of fun testing this feature out.
The video Q&A, meanwhile, does a fantastic job of giving us a better idea of how Halo Infinite works and plays. I've watched it in full and have highlighted some of the headline quotes from the developers.
There's a wind system that's not just visual but audio, Justin Dinges, campaign art lead, said. There's also a fog system that comes in at different altitudes and times of day. Don't expect storms for launch, but Dinges said he's "really excited for the future".
We know Halo Infinite has a day / night cycle. John Mulkey, lead world designer, explained how the game is slightly different at night, saying in darker periods you will see more patrols of Phantoms moving through the space with their search lights on. This "adds an eerie element". You may see Grunts sleeping on the job, too.
343 uses Shield Jackals, for example, in darker moments simply because they look cool in the dark and it's fun to fight them in those situations. Some of the wildlife have a bioluminescence quality to them and you'll see them come out at night, too.
Speaking of wildlife, Mulkey confirmed there's no hostile wildlife in the game. 343 wanted to focus on the battle between the Banished and the Chief instead. Players have already seen what have been dubbed "space gophers" in previously-released footage. There are some bird-type creatures flying around, too. As an aside, some of the bird creatures will draw your attention to locations. If you see birds circling in the air you might go check it out, Mulkey said.
Dual-wielding is not in Halo Infinite, Quinn Delhoyo, lead sandbox designer, confirmed. "We can't do everything," he said. Also not in Halo Infinite are playable elites. Delhoyo said Halo Infinite is "a Master Chief story and a spartan story in multiplayer". It should feel fair, competitive and balanced.
There are no weapon upgrades in the campaign, either. Mashburn said there are things in the game you can progress, however. Equipment items can be unlocked as you progress and you can upgrade these to improve them as you go. You can also find and unlock weapon variants.
There's a good answer to the question of whether Halo Infinite is open world or semi-open world. Here's Mashburn explaining how it works:
"When you talk about open world or semi-open world, there are a lot of preconceived ideas of what that means. Are you going to be out there gathering leather and crafting and those sorts of things? That's not what we're about.
"We were inspired very early on by missions like Silent Cartographer from Halo: Combat Evolved. This mission, one of the things that stuck with me is how open it was, how much player freedom, player choice you had to decide where you want to go, when to engage, you can go inside, you can go outside, you're driving on your warthog, you're with marines. When we talk about the spiritual reboot of the franchise, we wanted to capture the essence of this feeling of player choice.
"So when we talk about world size, it's good to understand how we got to the size of the world we have. If you think about missions in Halo 5, on Viridian there's a mission where you're driving a Scorpion up a road, and it's cool the space is designed for the Scorpion. Once you complete that mission you leave the Scorpion behind and you go to the next mission.
"What we asked ourselves is, what if you could keep that Scorpion? What if you could drive that Scorpion to the next mission and use it again? And then we started taking that further: what if instead of going through the front gate of that mission, you could drive that Scorpion up on the hill around the back side and blow up that Wraith that's parked there before the enemy even knows you're around?
"This really struck a chord with us. That's what that experience we felt in Silent Cartographer really was about. It was about giving me a bunch of toys to play with, putting me in this world where I can choose how and when and where I want to use those toys, and approaching the situation how I like.
"So, going back to the world size, we expanded the world to account for this kind of combat, to account for Halo combat. So, we have bases that are open - there's a road leading up to the base, but there's also the hillside. And you can follow that road down to another base behind the mountain. But it's all still Halo combat. It's not trying to be anything else. And that's what's really exciting to us: it's that expansive combat area you felt like you had in Silent Cartographer realised now with the cool next-generation consoles."
Halo Infinite has a main biome inspired by the pacific northwest (not a surprise, considering where 343 is based). Within that biome, Dinges explained, are sub-biomes. There are some high-altitude palettes, some wetland palettes, and more swampy wetlands. There are more war-torn areas, too, called the Deadlands. Here you'll see environmental storytelling that reveals what happened on the ring.
There's an interesting chat about the structure of Halo Infinite, and how the open world-ness of it meshes with the linear main story. I'll leave it to Mulkey to start:
"You can't sequence break and break the experience. You might be dropped off in a location from the Pelican, you might see your primary objective, but off to the left there's a UNSC forward operating base that's being overrun by Banished. Do I go down there before I go to the main story beat and take that back and maybe pull in a vehicle I can use? To the right there's some green smoke popped over the ridge. That's probably marines who are fighting for their lives. And then over that ridge there's a big Forerunner tower. Maybe I want to explore that.
"There's always the anchor element of the core story that's driving you through the world. You can't cut ahead on the main storyline. We've crafted the story so it's natural in the way it flows, so it doesn't feel artificial. This flowing, organic feeling."
Over to Mashburn:
"Master Chief's story, the main story of the game does have a linear thread. As you're progressing through the story you unlock new areas to explore and new locations to go inside. That story will progress in a linear fashion.
"In between, as you're driving out and about, there are many other activities out in the world for you to engage in. The bases or outposts are one. If you've progressed the game and unlocked some of these higher tier vehicles, it could be the Scorpion, it could be a flying vehicle, you're absolutely free to take that vehicle to any place you want to go in the game and you can use it to attack a base. Or you can go in on-foot. If you've rescued some marines along the way you can go in there and take some marines with you. The choice is yours.
"Locations are connected in the world - you can drive from one location to the other. Along the way you're going to discover cool elements in the world. You'll see a Pelican that's crashed and skidded across the terrain and it's burnt out an area. You can explore that space. In some of these spaces you'll find things like audio logs, and those audio logs will tell a lot more story about the ring, about what happened, about the battles that took place here, people's personal stories. You can look at a space and really see what's gone on, and when you listen to that audio log it compliments that story."
The Halo ring you see in the sky - that trademark skybox feature of the main Halo games - is an actual 3D model, and this has visual benefits, such as creating an eclipse.
"You'll see it from different angles as you move across the world," Dinges explained. "When you're on the gameplay space island and you're looking off across the world you can see where it connects back to the ring and goes up into the sky. It plays well with the day / night cycle. The light-source sun rises and you can see the shadows on the ring change because it's a 3D model.
"At a certain time in the cycle there's an eclipse. The ring actually eclipses the sun and you get this midnight feel. It's pretty brief, but it's a neat moment while you're playing. Having a 3D model allows us to do interesting things like that."
Now on to cutscenes. These are in-engine, Mulkey explained, and there is a seamless transition between gameplay and cutscenes throughout Halo Infinite.
"We don't do traditional cutscenes," Mulkey said. "There's not pre-rendered things. Everything is done live in the engine. We focused on doing smooth transitions. Chief will move into a particular interaction and the camera pulls from the head and transitions into the scene. Everything is playing out right in the space. So, whatever time of day it is, it's going to be that. Whatever weapons you have in your hands, those are the ones in the cutscene. And then it will transition back out to where you're playing.
"We were looking to present that seamless experience as you're going through, so we didn't have that sort of game, cutscene, back to game, cutscene kind of experience. We wanted it to flow and have the story play out as the experience of the player. So there won't really be any differentiation. It'll be live happening in-engine whenever it happens."
Overall, I reckon this video has done a decent job of giving us a better understanding of how Halo Infinite actually works. I love the idea of booting stuff off the side of the ring, and visual effects such as the eclipse, as well as the day / night cycle, sound interesting, too.
Halo Infinite is due out on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S and PC late 2021.