If any single character is a visual shorthand for Halo Infinite — more than Master Chief, more than Cortana, more than…that other AI — it’s Craig the Brute. A screenshot of his character model served as evidence for the game’s supposed graphical shortcomings last year. He showed up again during this morning’s re-reveal, and with quite the glow-up.
Craig, to be clear, isn’t the character’s official name. Last year, when developer 343 Industries first pulled back the curtain on Halo Infinite’s campaign, viewers paused the showcase at a specific frame — showing a Brute in the middle of getting punched in the face by Master Chief. No matter what you thought of the rest of the showcase, it was hard to deny the low-resolution textures on display, only exacerbated under a close-up framing. Fans used the shot to criticise a game that was supposed to be the pinnacle of next-generation visuals.
The Halo community quickly dubbed the Brute in question “Craig,” opening the floodgates for memes about everything from Shrek to Thanos to ET the Extraterrestrial and beyond. Soon enough, Craig was anointed his very own “know your meme” page. On Twitter, Bryan Jarrard, Halo’s community director, asked folks to send him memes about Craig, a tacit confirmation that, yeah, the Brute that spawned a thousand memes is also canon.
One month later, 343 studio head Chris Lee announced that Halo Infinite would miss its planned 2020 release and land some time in 2021. In October 2020, Bloomberg reported that Lee had stepp back from working on the game. Halo Infinite is currently under the purview of Halo vet Joe Staten, and is planned for a December 8 release on Xbox and PC.
Halo Infinite’s campaign has remained under wraps for the 15 months since its first showing. This morning, Microsoft and 343 re-revealed Halo Infinite’s campaign, with more details about its structure and story, plus an extended look at some impressive visuals. Once again, viewers paused the showcase at a specific frame — showing a Brute in the middle of getting punched in the face by Master Chief.
Craig shows up at around 2:50 in the trailer, shown barreling down a hallway toward Master Chief. Compared to his showing from last year, you’ve gotta admit the Brute’s lookin’ pretty sharp. For one, he’s done up with realistic-looking textures and the gravely wrinkles of a hardened interstellar soldier. For another, he’s framed in angelic light, almost as if bathed in the glow of a halo. And look at that facial hair! Craig, buddy, please tell me where you’re getting trimmed. If nothing else, I imagine it’s at one of those vintage-inspired joints that serves up some stiff bourbon, neat, no matter the time of your appointment.
Fans were similarly impressed. The Halo YouTuber Patman Gaming tweeted a closeup frame of Craig alongside the caption, “Craig has seen the light.” Mint Blitz, an Australian Halo player known for landing impressive trickshots, tweeted a similar frame alongside a drawing of the “Chad” meme. Other players said Craig is “handsome” and “looks better.” Over at The Verge, staff writer Ash Parrish, formerly Kotaku’s hornt correspondent, praised Craig’s glow-up.
It’s clear Halo Infinite has gone through some serious visual improvements over the past 15 months. Some fans shared screenshot frames of Escharum, one of the primary antagonists in Halo Infinite, as further evidence of how good Halo Infinite is looking these days. But as Parrish noted, Halo community manager John Junyszek clarified on Twitter that Escharum was not rendered “in engine.”
Perhaps we’re in store for a Craig 2.0?