343 Industries have released an almost 45-minute Q&A video, detailing the features of upcoming first person shooter Halo Infinite.
Four of the game’s developers- Lead Sandbox Designer Quinn DelHoyo, Lead World Designer John Mulkey, Gameplay Director Troy Mashburn, and Campaign Art Lead Justin Dinges- discussed questions asked by fans via Twitter about Zeta Halo and the game.
For starters; Along with dynamic day and night cycles, there would be wind and fog systems, and hinted at future updates adding rain, snow, and thunder storms.
It was also revealed that the day and night cycle can change enemy behavior, such as Grunts that are asleep at night, and increased patrols by Phantoms with searchlights. Enemies and moments that look cool in the dark are also implemented, such as Jackals and their energy shields.
The day and night cycle is also honored in cutscenes, but they are not cutscenes in the traditional sense. Scenes transition straight from gameplay, no matter the time of day, and what weapon Master Chief is holding.
The Q&A was also candid about what would not be in the game. While Wildlife is in the game, it will not be hostile to players or foes. Nonetheless, they help bring the world to life, and draw players to certain areas.
Dual-wielding and customized weapons are not planned to be brought back in Halo Infinite, as the developers focused on the core gameplay, shooting, and gear. Elites are not going to be playable for the same reason, as the story if focused on Master Chief and Spartans (even in multiplayer), along with keeping balance. However, it was not ruled out as something that could happen in the future.
While customized weapons are not part of the game, equipment items will be unlocked as the player progresses. These can also be upgraded, along with weapon variants being unlocked.
While players can hold multiple pieces of equipment in the campaign, by default players can only carry one equipment in multiplayer. However, custom multiplayer matches will let players hold more.
When asked if the game is open world or semi-open world, it was quickly emphasized the game is not about gathering crafting materials. The developers were inspired by the Silent Cartographer mission from the original Halo: Combat Evolved, as it was open in how it was completed.
As such, the developers want to recapture this feeling of player choice. The world is therefore open for multiple options to deal varying scenarios and “Halo combat.”
When asked how missions and objectives are separated from one another, the example given was “What is stopping me from grabbing a Banshee and flying it to the objective 3 missions ahead in the story?” Mulkey replied “Do it!”
While the narrative is designed to prevent certain sequence breaking, as aforementioned players can tackle most objectives in whatever order they want, however they want, and take away the weapons, vehicles, and allies they found along the way. These non-main story locations will also have Audio Logs, lore, and environmental story elements.
There will also be patrols of enemies, and a system that reacts to choices the player makes. If you are on foot or in a vehicle, you are likely to encounter foes and scenarios that are fun when on foot or in that vehicle.
The Zeta Halo will feature not just the Pacific-Northwest inspired landscapes (the main biome), but a diversity of sub-biomes (or pallets) such as high-altitude areas, wetlands, and war-torn deadlands are also included. The game will also feature cave systems and Forerunner and Banished architecture.
These are all melded together naturally, rather than feeling like “Disneyland.” More natural elements such as trees and grass also help convey how large some of the more alien structures are, and the titanic size of Zeta Halo.
Hexagonal pillars are still in the game, despite not being seen in screenshots and gameplay so far. They make up the underlying structure of the ring, and thanks to it being damaged shift around. This creates raised chunks of landmass, and large gaps in the landscape. These hexes also have improved rendering, and have contributed to designing levels thanks to their shape.
The skybox is also a 3D model, allowing it to be seen from different angles and parallax (rather than a flat image “sky painting” as other games typically do). This also helps how shadows are cast in the changing day and night cycle; along with an eclipse during a certain time of the day.
The design philosophy behind the Banished is to continue what they had in Halo Wars; heavy metal-inspired armor, red war paint, and brutish attitude. Their fortifications are even dropped from orbit, and slammed into the ground- held down by spikes. Classic alien vehicles and weapons have heavy metal plates and keep the Banished aesthetic.
It was also confirmed that players can knock things off the edge of Zeta Halo. Even so, this can be difficult, and may require ambushing foes, and using vehicles.
343 Industries had previously sated they had “work to do” with the game’s graphics, after some disliked them during the game’s gameplay premiere. The Q&A featured a question if this reaction contributed to the improvements to visuals versus having more time to improve them.
Dinges explains that the feedback was taken to heart, and gave them a list of things to improve. As stated at the time, the developers also “completely agreed with” that feedback.
You can find the full #Ask343 | Halo Infinite – Zeta Halo Q&A video below.
Halo Infinite launches Fall 2021 on Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.