And just like that, the dreams of Halo: Infinite leading the charge for the Xbox Series X are spent. Microsoft officially delayed Halo: Infinite today, noting on Twitter that the game wouldn’t be released until 2021. Citing ongoing staff issues related to COVID-19 and a desire to make the game as good as possible, 343 Studios head Chris Lee announced the delay. So with Halo: Infinite being delayed in 2021, what does that mean for the Xbox Series X?
A match made in heaven
There is no franchise more synonymous with the Xbox than Halo. When the Xbox first arrived, looking to carve out a foothold against titans like Sony and Nintendo, Halo was the beacon. Halo: Combat Evolved first released for the Xbox in November of 2001. The game became a smash hit, inspiring an entirely new generation of gamers. What Goldeneye was to the Nintendo 64 era, Halo was to the Xbox era.
Since then, Halo games have been a staple of every Xbox console generation. And while I’ve lost a lot of the passion I once had for the series, I was a huge Halo geek at one time. During the Halo 2 era, I spent nigh countless hours grinding on Xbox Live. When others played Counter-Strike, my friends all held Halo LAN parties. Truly, much of who I am as a gamer today is owed to the Halo franchise.
Too little, too late
Despite my falling out with the Halo series, it has remained incredibly popular over the years. So following a difficult console generation that saw Sony and Nintendo once again establish themselves as the dominant brand, it made sense that Microsoft would turn to Halo to launch the Series X. Only, that’s not what’s going to happen. With Halo: Infinite now delayed into 2021, and without even a firm date in 2021, a lot of the early appeal for the Series X is gone. Games move consoles. It’s the harsh truth that stunted the PlayStation 3 into relative obscurity, while also making the PS4 king.
Games were the major struggle of the previous-gen for Microsoft. That’s not to say they don’t have any good games under their belt. Quite the opposite is true in fact. They have a massive library of successful games, but the problem is most of them are available on PC. There’s very little reason to actually invest in the console hardware. The irony is that Microsoft’s approach is killing its console business while being the most consumer-friendly model in the gaming industry. I fear they’re not going to be rewarded for it.
When will it come out and will it be any good?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we’re going to be waiting an eternity for Halo: Infinite. I expect that when they say 2021, they still mean the first quarter of 2021. However, it does raise the question. Why not specify the first quarter of 2021? Is the game further behind than we think? Is COVID-19 affecting the development practices at 434 more than they’re letting on? When game delays happen, the developer is usually well served to be as specific as possible. Each time Cyberpunk has been delayed, CDPR has been quick to give us an updated release date.
I have a lot of concerns about Halo: Infinite, and I haven’t been shy about voicing them. I don’t like that the videos we’re seeing of it aren’t showing us a lot, and frankly don’t look like what I’d expect a next-gen game to look like. Sometimes a game is delayed and I feel confident that we’re going to get a good product at the end of that delay. Meanwhile, sometimes it feels like it’s being delayed and that wait is not going to be worth it. I fear we’re about to experience the latter. Maybe I’ll be wrong, and I really hope I am. A good Halo game is just what the doctor ordered to get through COVID this Winter.
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Photo Courtesy of 343 Industries