The game was expected to be launched along with the release of the Xbox Series X console but an underwhelming response to the game’s demo stirred commotion among the game’s developers and forced a retreat back to the drawing board. This delay moved the release of the game to next year.
343’s update on 8 December confirmed that fans were disappointed with what they saw in the demo which is why the developers shared screenshots of the game as proof that the studio has worked hard in making amends.
“The reality is that the art and visuals weren’t at the bar we hold for Halo — even in a work-in-progress state,” said Neill Harrison, 343’s director of art management. “The feedback was humbling, and it also pushed us to look at additional opportunities for improvement.”
The game’s developing team had been battling internal conflicts when Bloomberg learned that 343 has removed director Chris Lee following the ‘demo disaster’ in July. It was then in August that Lee announced that the launch was being moved to 2021 and that “it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday.”
Lee remains under Microsoft’s payroll but isn’t associated with the game anymore.
In terms of the gameplay, 343’s Tuesday statement also highlighted that the game will add a free-to-play multiplayer version. Chris Blohm, a designer for Halo Infinite’s progression system said that “Players that play for free will be able unlock items across a multitude of different customization types to allow them to represent themselves in-game.”
The Halo franchise has been the tentpole for the Xbox and has carried the weight of the company’s gaming division against competing PlayStation titles. So now you can imagine how important it is to Microsoft to get everything right with this game.