Xbox marketing lead Aaron Greenberg specified in a tweet that Thursday’s show would only showcase games. While the Xbox Series X is planned for a Christmas launch, Microsoft is expanding the Xbox brand to be more of a service. But for now, the content takes center stage.
What follows is a series of updates provided by Launcher’s staff from the livestream, with the most recent updates at the top.
The “Halo Infinite” reveal started with the construction of Master Chief’s armor. It was narrated by the armor’s creator, Dr. Catherine Halsey (voiced by Jen Taylor, who also voices AI partner Cortana).
It then led to a demo, taking place two years after the end of “Halo 5.” It started with a crash landing on a Halo structure. Master Chief seems to be partnered with a man who found him; they appear to be up against The Banished, a rebellion faction of the former Covenant that has been at war with humans. Their story was told during the “Halo Wars” strategy spinoffs.
The gameplay showed the return of the iconic “Halo” assault rifle and Warthog vehicles, immediately conjuring memories of the first and third games of the series, two fan favorites. And then there’s a “tactical map” feature along with a visible “upgrades” tab.
It also showed off Master Chief’s new and possibly controversial grappling hook feature. It showed him getting close to a Brute enemy, mirroring the use of a similar tool in this year’s “Doom Eternal.” The grappling hook was also used to navigate the map. Chief used it to reach higher ground, where he was met with more classic enemies of the series, including Brutes, Grunts and Jackals.
Story sequences were shown using the in-game engine, moving away from 343 Industries’s past use of pre-rendered cutscenes to tell its story and back to the series roots of telling the story within the game.
Matching the gameplay speed of its current “Halo” titles, “Infinite” will be moving at 60 frames per second. The game also promises players “the freedom to explore a Halo ring that is several times larger than the last two ‘Halo’ games combined.”
Some background on the event
It comes at a precarious time for the Xbox brand. Sony’s PlayStation is currently celebrating a summer of two successful exclusive hits in “The Last of Us Part II” and “Ghost of Tsushima.” For the last seven years, the Xbox One console struggled to create captivating exclusive hits. Xbox chief Phil Spencer has said that the company is less focused on platform exclusivity, which is why it’s touting its Xbox Game Pass and upcoming cloud gaming service as part of the entire Xbox package.
Still, “Halo” (originally created by now independent studio Bungie) was the game that almost single-handedly sparked all goodwill toward Microsoft in the games industry due to its popularity, influence and success. The series continued to lift the Xbox 360 console, while it struggled to maintain relevance during the Xbox One generation. “Halo Infinite” has its chance to prove itself, and the Xbox brand, today.
We’ll be updating this piece with new info as it happens during the showcase.
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