Originally slated to be a launch title for the new Xbox Series X
console, Halo Infinite
's release was postponed after the mixed response to the game's Campaign demo
back in July. The main points of criticism was that visually, it didn't quite look like the next-gen Halo people were expecting. In a new detailed post we get word on what's changing and confirmation on when we can expect to play it.
With Halo Infinite now on track for a 'Fall 2021' release, which would put it in that Q4 sweet spot of around November 2021. In a new and very detailed blog post
, the team at 343 Industries dive into the state of the game, what led to the original campaign demo, and what visual changes are coming.
For the July demo, Ani Shastry the Development Manager for the Graphics team on Halo Infinite, notes that what we saw in July was a "work-in-progress slice of the technology, and a reasonable set of key features from global illumination and dynamic time of day, to GPU-driven rendering and variable rate shading were all in active development". Meaning that a lot of the advanced visual features of the Xbox Series X were yet to be implemented as the team focused on a smooth 60fps showing.
"Visual fidelity is a very important goal for Halo Infinite," Ani adds. "The graphics and art teams have been continually aspiring, and working closely with each other, to create the best-looking Halo game ever."
The team has taken on feedback, and even explain that the infamous shot of Craig the Brute
was the result of incomplete facial animation and static lighting. Since July the team has been improving "global illumination, ambient occlusion, shadows, volumetric lighting, sky, and atmosphere" in addition to better streaming to minimise things like pop-in.
It sounds like there's a massive visual overhaul underway, with Concept Artist and Art Director for 343 Industries Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier noting that even the art side and overall look of the game is improving.
In addition to the graphics tech changes, we have made a lot of improvements on the Art/Content side across all disciplines such as Environment, Lighting, Weapons, FX and more. There is too much to cover here but I’ll just talk through some of the more impactful changes in my mind….
Firstly, there’s been a lot of work done re-tuning our dynamic lighting values to add more punch and contrast to the image. These included adjustments to our sun intensity, fog/atmosphere, and the addition of color grading which did not make it into the July gameplay demo.
We’ve improved some of our materials to get more specular response, more wear-and-tear on weapons/vehicles, more fidelity in our characters, and more macro breakup on large surfaces like rocks, terrain, and the hex walls. We’re now also getting more of our textural detail coming through to the final frame thanks to a sharpening process that our graphics team have added. This helps offset some of the natural blurring of temporal anti-aliasing and it certainly helps our assets shine.
No doubt we'll get to see these changes in the coming months, and we'll be keen to see the differences between the now infamous July demo and the final build of Halo Infinite.