It has been a bit of a dry period for new Halo news, but that period has ended, as developer 343 Industries has posted an interview-focused blog post for Halo Infinite. The post shows off some gorgeous screenshots for the game's setting, Zeta Halo. You can see them below and judge for yourself just how much things have improved since the game was shown last year.
In the blog post, Halo Infinite campaign art lead Justin Dinges said that one of the largest challenges of creating the space was honoring the nostalgic feel of Halo, while creating something that feels brand-new.
"With Halo Infinite, we wanted to take this new adventure back to its roots and create a visually pleasing experience that doesn't overwhelm with unnecessary complexity where readability and clear artistic composition prevail," Dinges said. "This is our artistic interpretation of a beautiful world to exist within--rather than something that is purely grounded in photo realism. Both goals have been a true challenge to balance, especially against the expectations of what it means to be a 'next-gen' title."
Part of honoring the appeal of Halo's roots comes from Zeta Halo's layout. As an open world, Zeta Halo invokes the same sensation of Halo: Combat Evolved's opening hours when you could approach problems in different ways depending on what weapons you have, vehicles you're driving, or pathways you uncover. In that original game, you crash onto the ring world with little idea of where you are--or what the ring truly is.
"I love the agency we are creating that really doubles down on that premise of delivering on the promise of Halo: CE," Halo Infinite world design lead John Mulkey said. "Enemy strongholds can be approached from any direction and there are so many options available for how you take on the challenges at hand."
Part of this new freedom of movement comes from the Grappleshot, Halo's take on a grappling hook. The new mechanic will allow you to drag smaller enemies to you, propel yourself into larger targets, and reach seemingly inaccessible areas.
"Having a tool like the Grappleshot definitely challenged us to rethink the way we build our environments because it's such a versatile and fun mechanic that allows players to get nearly anywhere that they can reach," Dinges said.
With that in mind, we can expect Halo Infinite's levels to further shy away from the linear manner seen in the more recent entries in the series--with a tool like the Grappleshot, you'd be able to circumnavigate almost every obstacle in your path and just reach the end without needing to fight. It would take the fun out of a linear first-person shooter.
Halo Infinite gameplay director Troy Mashburn said that from a development standpoint, this change is "both terrifying and completely liberating" as this adjustment has "helped the team break out of the single path design mindset and evolve into something much more exciting." Currently slated to launch for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC in Fall 2021,
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