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Post by KostaAndreadis @ 02:25pm 31/07/20 | 0 Comments
As the opening salvo to the latest Xbox Games Showcase that was focused on the next-gen Xbox Series X, from the perspective of first-party and other partnered games in development, Halo Infinite's debut was quickly met with negative feedback. Mostly relating to its visual quality and some of its more obscure faces turning into meme machines.

Since the 4K 60fps demo was presented we've also learned a few things. The demo shown was several weeks old and running on PC. Not natively on Series X hardware as many assumed it was. Instead, Series X PC spec - which brings up all manner of questions relating to OS, CPU, GPU, storage, and memory bandwidth. If it were an off the shelf build, the current high end RDNA GPU - the AMD Radeon 5700XT - would have no issue hitting 4K 60 (as it can with an open world game like Forza Horizon 4), though it would explain some of the visual blandness. The RDNA 2 hardware inside the Series X, based on specs, should perform a lot better.

As part of the latest Halo Waypoint cleverly titled 'Infinite Inquiries' the team notes that the look of Halo Infinite is moving the series away from high-fidelity realism and in a very real sense is trying to capture the aesthetic of the first two games.

"Based on our learnings from Halo 4, Halo 5, and Halo Wars 2 – along with strong community feedback – we decided to shift back towards the legacy aesthetics that defined the original trilogy," 343 writes. "With Halo Infinite, we’re returning to a more ‘classic’ art style which was a key message going back to the very first reveal that garnered enthusiastic and positive responses. This translates to a more vibrant palette, “cleaner” models and objects with less “noise”".

That first reveal is this - from E3 2018. An in-engine demo that to be honest looks a lot more impressive and detailed than the gameplay shown at the recent showcase.

Here's the recent gameplay for comparison.

In terms of the detailed criticism, that Infinite's characters and weapons lack definition, look flat and the lighting is fairly poor and not all that dynamic - 343 Industries responds in the best possible way. Bypassing the noise and taking note of some of the finer points raised - as seen in the Digital Foundry deep dive into Halo Infinite's visuals.

"We’ve read your comments, we’ve seen the homemade examples of retouched content, and yes we’ve heard the Digital Foundry assessments," 343 admits. "In many ways we are in agreement here – we do have work to do to address some of these areas and raise the level of fidelity and overall presentation for the final game. The build used to run the campaign demo was work-in-progress from several weeks ago with a variety of graphical elements and game systems still being finished and polished. While some of the feedback was expected and speaks to areas already in progress, other aspects of the feedback have brought new opportunities and considerations to light that the team is taking very seriously and working to assess."

In terms of solutions or additional work to be done (or is being done), there isn't any concrete info - or any sort of word that the launch version of Halo Infinite will see any sort of drastic overhaul to things like lighting.

In terms of the gameplay demo, hitting 4k 60 is impressive as is the scope and size of the world. Thing like pop-in and LOD stuff - we expect that to be addressed before launch. We're just hoping the flat lighting is too. Yeah, we're in agreement with Digital Foundry on that front - and also believe that a ray-traced Global Illumination solution specific to Xbox Series X (and high-end PCs) would do wonders to improve things without the need to go through every single scene. As seen in our own deep dive into Metro Exodus and its use of RTX ray-tracing - the result is a natural, cinematic look to lighting that is kept and felt no matter if you're standing in bright sunlight or walking through shadow.

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