After one metric infinity of waiting, Halo Infinite finally has a release date. The next chapter in Master Chief’s saga will come out on December 8 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC, according to a since taken-down listing on the Microsoft store, as spotted by the Italian site Aggiornamenti Lumia.
Microsoft is expected to officially unveil the date at the Gamescom Opening Night Live stream early Thursday morning. [Update: 343 Industries’ Joseph Staten confirmed the date during Gamescom Opening Night Live.]
Oh, fun bit of trivia: That’s nearly two decades to the day after the release of Halo: Combat Evolved, which landed on the original Xbox on November 15, 2001.
There is, however, still a catch. As Kotaku previously noted, Halo Infinite will launch piecemeal. It won’t initially feature cooperative play for the campaign — not in local splitscreen, and not in online matchmaking. Also missing will be the popular Forge mode, which allows players to create, share, and fight on custom multiplayer stages. (Historically, the crème de la crème of player creations are sometimes cycled into Halo’s mainline competitive playlists.) Both of those features are planned for inclusion several months down the line, once the game’s second season rolls out.
That doesn’t mean there’s not a whole, whole lot to look forward to. For one, the campaign looks phenomenal. Picking up after the events of Halo 5: Guardians — a game that made no narrative sense and also barely featured Chief for some reason — Halo Infinite sends Chief to Zeta Halo, where he’ll fight the Banished, a rogue group of brutes who played a major role in the real-time strategy game Halo Wars 2. Though developer 343 Industries hasn’t officially called Halo Infinite an “open-world game,” a peek last summer revealed a large-scale level with multiple objectives that you could knock out at your own leisure.
There’s also the multiplayer. In a series first, Halo Infinite features multiplayer bots. Late last month, 343 hosted a technical test, meant to both poke at server stability and to see how the bots would hold up in real-world conditions. They performed shockingly well. Fighting against Infinite’s bots felt like fighting against actual flesh-and-blood players, which makes sense, seeing as they were modelled after IRL human behaviour. (Infinite’s player-vs.-player is also a blast. For a couple hours during the flight, 343 opened the floor for competitive matches. It ruled.)
Halo Infinite was long-planned as a launch title for Microsoft’s next-gen consoles; initial packaging for the Xbox Series X shows art featuring Master Chief and a Halo landscape. Then, last August, 343 delayed the game to an unspecified date in 2021, citing complications resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic as one of the reasons.