The Halo Infinite reveal at the Xbox Games Showcase was a long time coming. Developer 343 Industries remained generally tight-lipped about the spiritual reboot of the series since its announcement back in 2018. Small details were occasionally teased via blogs and a few leaks slipped out here and there. One of those leaks mentioned an open-world design, which turned out to be right.
The Halo Infinite campaign trailer showed a map with objectives stretching into the horizon in addition to features like a world map. On that map, were several tagged locations such as the Banished anti-air batteries, as well as some side objectives. While the map itself was a new feature, the aura 343 conveyed in the trailer felt familiar. To call the game “open world” isn’t actually that much of a stretch for the franchise.
The Halo Infinite open world approach dates back to Halo: CE
Recall the second level of the original Halo game, simply called ‘Halo.’ It was a large-scale map for that era, and featured three separate objectives the player could tackle in any order. The enemies even varied slightly, based upon which order you chose. Halo 3 featured some large sandbox-style maps in its campaign as well, though objectives were always linear. When asked about specifics of the open-world approach to the Halo Infinite campaign, 343’s Paul Crocker made several remarks.
“It’s bigger than our previous two games combined, but it’s intrinsically Halo in the way that we have approached it,” Crocker explained. “Our goal wasn’t to make other types of games that you’ve seen, it was to make the best Halo experience, and to take everything about being Halo and put it onto the ring and make the experience that people have been crying out for.”
Crocker also suggested it was “somewhere in between” being a fully open world and adhering to the traditional design approach.
One world, linear mission entry points
While we can only speculate on what this all means, one particular example jumped out immediately to us. Gears 5, another first-party title from Microsoft, followed a similar approach to a partially open-world design in its own campaign. Like Halo, the Gears of War franchise traditionally followed a linear level design, but opted for a grander approach to its latest story.
Some missions were entirely linear, however they required the player to navigate an open world to reach linear access points for those missions. It resulted in exploring options for players, and chances for the developers to tell smaller stories. The premise sounds almost identical to what 343 described as its goal for the Halo Infinite campaign.
Only time will tell what is the case for Halo Infinite and its open world. Thankfully we won’t have to wait that long to learn more. Microsoft intends to show off more of the game in a second Xbox Games Showcase later this year. Halo Infinite will release this holiday season on Steam and the Microsoft Store.