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Halo Infinite

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action
Publisher: Xbox Games Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Release Date: Dec. 8, 2021

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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'Halo Infinite' Rolls Out Season 5: Reckoning, Adds New Maps, Battle Pass, Extraction Mode, Forge AI Toolkit And More

by Rainier on Oct. 17, 2023 @ 2:14 p.m. PDT

When all hope is lost and humanity’s fate hangs in the balance, the Master Chief is ready to confront the most ruthless foe he's ever faced.

When all hope is lost and humanity's fate hangs in the balance, the Master Chief is ready to confront the most ruthless foe he's ever faced. The Halo series returns with the most expansive Master Chief story yet and a ground-breaking free-to-play multiplayer experience.

This next chapter in 343 Industries' legendary Halo franchise invites players to join the venerable Master Chief on an all-new adventure as he uncovers the mysteries surrounding the appearance of "The Pilot" and the desolate remains of a Halo ring.

Begin anew and step inside the armor of humanity's greatest hero to experience an epic adventure and finally explore the scale of the Halo ring itself.

Explore the epic expanse of a Halo ring for the first time in the most ambitious Halo game ever made.

Halo Infinite Season 5: Reckoning is now available on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows 10 and Steam.

As the third major update to Halo Infinite this year, Season 5: Reckoning adds to the game’s constantly expanding library of content, with features including:

  • Two new Arena maps – Forbidden and Prism
  • The return of Halo 4’s popular “Extraction” mode
  • New equipment – the Bandit Evo rifle
  • Match XP in Custom Games
  • An all-new “tighter, more efficient” 50-level premium Battle Pass (MORE ON THAT HERE)
  • COMING SOON: Firefight returns with the new Firefight: King of the Hill mode

Lastly, Season 5 brings the new Forge AI Toolkit, which enables players to harness the power of campaign AI to create and share PVE (or even PVPVE) experiences in Halo Infinite

BATTLE PASS, EVOLVED

Since the initial launch, Halo Infinite seasons have featured a 100-tier Battle Pass which offers various rewards and unlocks across both free and premium tracks. Season 5 will once again offer a Battle Pass full of unlockable content, but the way it’s packaged will be more streamlined than prior seasons.

The Season 5 Battle Pass is comparable to what’s been offered in prior seasons in terms of breadth of content, but now consists of 50 total tiers. Thanks to some improvements with our game systems, we can now include multiple content items in a single tier of the pass. Historically, the Battle Pass may offer a Coating for each Armor Core—represented as individual separate offers across separate tiers. With Season 5, you’ll see a Coating offered in a single tier, and it will work and apply to every Armor Core in the game.

Similarly, rather than having to unlock a left and right shoulder across two separate tiers of your pass, in Season 5, you’ll unlock a full set in a single tier. Being able to consolidate this type of multi-use content into a single tier has resulted in a much tighter, more efficient pass that will net you more content with less grinding. And speaking of grinding, you’ll be able to progress your Battle Pass via Match XP by playing the experiences you want to play (including an all-new Custom Game XP system) in addition to supplemental progression via Challenges.

GO PREMIUM

The Premium Battle Pass will still cost 1,000 credits and will still include 1,000 credits to be unlocked across its 50 tiers. The Premium Pass will still include an extra challenge slot and bonus XP while it’s active, and once purchased it never expires. And, similar to Season 4, the Premium Pass will include an exclusive instant-unlock bonus customization item with purchase (more on that closer to launch!)

FREE FOR ALL

The free content in the Battle Pass has also been streamlined to span the first 20 tiers of the pass. This free content is similar to prior seasons and will take players less gameplay to unlock. In general, as you’ll see further below with our approach to “Operations,” our intent is for in-game engagement tracks to include 20 tiers of free rewards.

The free Battle Pass will be available until the new “Operation” begins (more on this below!) and will be denoted in the game UI. Season 5’s free Battle Pass will be active until November 14, 2023. Upon expiration, the 20 free tiers of content will no longer be available to unlock if you haven’t already completed those tiers. Players who would like to finish the pass beyond the stated cut-off date, or decide they want the additional 30 tiers of content, can purchase the Premium Pass in the shop at any point. When the free Battle Pass period ends, players will permanently keep all of the free content they’ve unlocked prior to the cut-off date.

SEASON 5 BATTLE PASS TL;DR:

  • Overall pass is tighter with better-quality content
  • Play the way you want! Progress your pass with Match XP (Matchmaking or Custom Games)
  • 50 total tiers (includes 20 tiers of free content newly streamlined with a similar breadth of content offered in a more efficient manner)
  • Premium Pass:
    • Costs 1,000 credits
    • Includes 1,000 earnable credits over the course of completing the Premium Battle Pass
    • Includes exclusive instant bonus customization item
    • Includes an extra challenge slot and Bonus XP when activated
    • Never expires; yours to keep and complete at your leisure
    • Available for purchase in the Shop at any point after season launch
  • Free Pass:
    • 20 tiers of content
    • Availability and access expires on November 13 with the start of a new Operation
    • Can be converted to Premium at any time

Overall, our hope is that by streamlining the pass and fitting more, high-quality content into fewer tiers, we’re able to reduce friction and make it more obtainable to more players. Additionally, a smaller time commitment coupled with even greater value content hopefully presents a better incentive for players considering a premium upgrade.

The shorter expiration window for the free pass is perhaps one of the biggest changes, but our hope is that providing more content across fewer tiers will offset any potential time pressure. Further, we hope to be able to move the bulk of Halo Infinite’s players forward together, experiencing the same new content at the same time.

ENTER OPERATIONS

Since launch, Halo Infinite has featured numerous “Events” which offer free earnable, themed rewards during a specific window of time. While we have enjoyed playing events and earning cool content, we’ve heard feedback that they often feel too limiting (short windows that may not align with player availability) and once they’re gone, there’s no way to ever obtain that content again.

With Season 5, we’re evolving to “Operations” which are similar to “Events” in spirit but brings a few specific changes we want you to be aware of.

One big thing that’s NOT changing: Operations, like Events before them, will continue to launch as totally free activities. Each Operation will include 20 tiers of free unlockable rewards that can be progressed at your leisure over the specified duration of the Operation.

Unlike prior seasonal Events, a typical Operation will run for approximately 4 to 6 weeks, and the reward track is available to progress and unlock for the entire stated duration. All players will have more time to progress and obtain rewards compared to the old Events system. Like the Season 5 Battle Pass and prior seasons’ Events, when the Operation comes to an end, access to the free Operation Pass goes away and players won’t be able to unlock any further reward tiers (unless they have opted into the Premium Operation offer described below). When a free Operation pass ends, players will retain all of the earned content they’ve unlocked up to that point regardless of whether they choose to go premium.

An Operation will always offer 20 tiers of free earnable rewards, but for players who choose to go premium a few additional options are available. First, players may choose to upgrade an active Operation for 500 credits, which will instantly unlock an exclusive bonus customization item while also making the Operation pass durable (it will not expire) and, when equipped, offers bonus XP and an extra challenge slot during the Operation’s live window.

A second premium option for 2,000 credits instantly unlocks all 20 tiers at purchase as a convenience and additionally includes the exclusive bonus customization item.

To directly address player feedback and provide more flexibility, an Operation won’t disappear forever once it concludes. Once an active Operation has ended, the Operation pass be purchased at any point thereafter via the Switcher or Shop (for both the 500 and 2,000 credits instant-unlock offer).

The way you progress an Operation is also changing compared to how Events used to run. Historically, players had to focus on completing challenges as the only means of unlocking the 10 tiers of free content. Starting with Season 5, Operations progression is based on Match XP so you can play whatever playlist you want (even Custom Games) and make progress across 20 tiers. Challenges are still there as another source of XP for players on top of Match XP.

OPERATIONS TL;DR:

  • Free 20-tier reward track
  • Play what you want to progress (including Custom Games)
  • More time to complete than pre-Season 5 “Events”
  • Free access expires at the end of the Operation (but you retain everything you’ve already earned)
  • Premium Upgrade:
    • 500 credits includes special instant unlock bonus cosmetic
    • 2,000 credits includes above + instant unlock all 20 reward tiers
    • Operation Pass never expires
    • Includes Bonus XP and extra challenge slot when active
  • When an Operation has ended, it becomes available for purchase in the Shop.

 SEASON 5 OPERATIONS

Season 5 will include two Operations on the heels of the launch Battle Pass:

  • “Combined Arms” – Begins November 14
  • “Winter Contingency III” – Begins December 19

The Forge AI Toolkit is Going to Change Halo Infinite Forever

Essentially what this means is, the new Forge AI Toolkit will allow Forge players to create and share experiences using Campaign AI in Forge. Creators will soon be able to enable such functions in Forge like spawning AI, control where the AI navigates, and use a node graph to control managing AI.

“Our North Star for the Forge AI Toolkit was wave-based PvE experiences. Firefight, Horde; things like that are what we expect players will lean into first when they create stuff, but it also has the capacity to do more linear experiences,” explains 343 Industries’ Forge Lead Designer Michael Schorr.

“You could make a twisting hallway and around every corner have AI spawn in front of you, and in order to progress you need to kill them. But there’s a lot of cool things you can do; MOBA things you can do. One of our engineers here prototyped a tower defense game with the AI. So, there’s a lot of flexibility in these tools.”

Schorr shared more about the significance of this tool and how it taps into the broader sense of what Halo’s PVE modes have been all about: fighting against AI enemies, whether they’re Elites, Grunts, Brutes – those have all been classic experiences we’ve had from Halo CE up to Infinite. Now 343 is letting players create their own versions of that experience — and that’s massive.

“To me that’s the significance (of the Forge AI Toolkit). It’s the other half of the equation. Forge has been around for a long time, and we’ve seen a lot of cool variations on multiplayer themes, but we’ve never seen what players can do with the AI. We’re going to see people remaking the intro battle when you first land on the Ring. We’re going to see that and that’s huge,” shares Schorr.

“Technically speaking, this is the first time we’ve had campaign AI enemies in multiplayer,” says 343 Industries’ Forge Technical Designer Connor Kennelly. “Which means whatever you make in Forge, they’ll show up in whatever game mode you want. That’s really cool for existing creations because you can go and add [AI enemies] to stuff you’ve already made, or you can create new stuff with them.”

The Forge AI Toolkit has been in the works for roughly 18 months, with more time dedicated to building it out at the start of the year as 343 brought in some Campaign engineers to help, building out an API wrapper (essentially a kit that makes complicated functions easy to use) to help interface with the various internal tools. Once that was in place, the rest of the feature development came together fairly quickly.

“Any time we saw something in the API that we thought would be great for players, we were like, ‘Can we add that to our node graph scripting?’ If the answer was yes, we would put it in there,” shares Kennelly. “I did a count last night and we’re adding over 100 nodes in Season 5. We had about 300 in the game beforehand, so it’s a huge chunk of AI functionality; about 75 just related to AI. We’re just like, ‘Could the players use this to build something wacky?’  If the answer was yes, we’d put it in there so those users could go crazy with all the surprises.”

“It’s not all the bells and whistles that the internal team would use in Campaign. We couldn’t do that. But it is still very powerful,” Schorr adds.

Some of the functionalities the Forge AI Toolkit will allow players to do are things like spawn AI, control where the AI navigates, and use a node graph to control managing AI. So, for example, you can have them come out of the spawner and assign them to run to a specific zone. Then assign that to a second or a third zone – you can start to see how these scripted events for the AI can lead to some greater things.

“If you want to make patrol routes, you can just link them up and you can just send your little squad of Elites around the outside of the base. Or send groups into the encampment before the marines kill them,” Kennelly elaborates. “You can also have them appear when the player crosses a trigger volume. Or if you wanted to get deeper into the scripting type of things, you can have a group of Grunts spawn after one of your players died. You have a ton of options via the scripting to really hook into any game event you want and then reassign the squads to different zones. We totally expect players to make those campaign scenarios where you’re taking a base or holding out a location. That’s one of the things we built the features around.”

The numbers of players participating in Forge thus far is significant: 27 million custom matches; 2 million user-generated creations; 40+ user-generated maps have even been added to public matchmaking playlists;. These numbers are telling in that the health of the Halo Infinite community — in particular the Forge community — is incredibly strong nearly two years after release, and nearly one year since Forge dropped.

“It seems like every day on Twitter I see something new. Or at least once a week I see a pretty major map release,” says Schorr. “People announcing it and tagging me in those. I see a lot of it. And it’s not just ‘Hey, I made a box with a ladder in it.’ These are dev-quality creations.”

“Those 40 [user-generated] maps we’ve added [through Forge], each one is on par with our dev-quality maps and that’s what we’re adding into matchmaking,” Kennelly adds. “That’s like a six-month project for a lot of people. The fact there’s so many… we’ve had 24 to 30 maps from just the studio. The point is, we’ve already seen the community in the last 11 months produce even more maps than we’ve produced to date and they’re incredible and it just keeps going.”

All this points to an obvious influence that Forge can have on not just players, but future game designers as well – if you know how to use Forge, you know how to use just about any internal level creation tool. And now, coupled with the Forge AI Toolkit, it’s easy to imagine how robust some portfolios might become in the coming months. In fact, many Forge level designers are now employed by 343 Industries, including Kennelly himself.

“I know a lot of folks who got their start Forging in older Halos and learned basic level design. That can help make an amateur portfolio,” shares Kennelly. “My big interview here was, ‘Here’s all the stuff I Forged, the professional skills I have…’ It’s really cool to see that pipeline. I know folks that work at other companies that got started [in Forge] as well. It’s a cool way to get your feet wet in the [game] industry. What I really love about Forge is, specifically, you have an existing player base. If you go and make your game and engine, you can get maybe five or ten play testers. With Forge you can just put it up in the custom browser, you can get players, find other Forgers, and then your content can get a lot better. I’m super passionate about that.”

Also with Season Five, players can now progress their Battle Pass and Operation Pass when playing eligible custom game matches (e.g. Forge creations). So, if multiplayer isn’t really your thing, you can go in and create a PVE experience, or join a custom game that has one, and earn XP.

“It’s a nice pairing that we’re super excited to get at the same time,” says Schorr. “Because some of our players probably don’t really like multiplayer, this is a good safety net for them to be like, ‘Oh I’m going to go do this and I can still do the Battle Pass thing.’

Key Features:

  • Campaign: When all hope is lost and humanity's fate hangs in the balance, the Master Chief is ready to confront the most ruthless foe he's ever faced. Begin anew and step inside the armor of humanity's greatest hero to experience an epic adventure and finally explore the scale of the Halo ring itself.
  • Multiplayer: Halo's legendary multiplayer combat returns, reimagined and evolving over time with seasonal updates, new modes and maps, and community focused content. Create endless combat possibilities by mixing and matching a rich variety of on-map weapons and equipment to experience unique multiplayer gameplay that's unlike anything but Halo. And for the first time, Halo multiplayer goes free to play inviting millions of gamers across Xbox and PC to join the fight.
  • Cross-Platform Gaming: Halo Infinite provides an amazing experience across the Xbox One and newer family of consoles as well as PC with stunning graphics and world-class cross-platform play. And, on Xbox Series X as well as supported PCs, enjoy enhanced features like up to 120FPS and greatly reduced load times creating seamless gameplay that usher in the next generation of gaming.

Halo Infinite is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC (Microsoft Store / Steam).


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