Halo Infinite was originally planned to feature a Breath of the Wild-like open world before 343 Industries decided to cut two-thirds of the game’s content, according to a report from Jason Schreier at Bloomberg that discusses some behind-the-scenes information of the game’s development. The decision to cut content from Halo Infinite was reportedly made in the summer of 2019 as the studio aimed to regain stable footing amid troubled development.
Scope creep was apparently only one of several challenges 343 Industries faced. Staffing at the company was reportedly unstable at this time, with nearly half of the staff said to be contract workers, and a Microsoft policy prevented contractors to stay in one position for more than a year and a half. This paired with uneven creative direction had some developers describing development as “four to five games being developed simultaneously.” A lack of focus resulted in conflicting visions for Halo Infinite.
On Twitter, Schreier elaborated on some of the issues that emerged during Halo Infinite development. One of the largest obstacles the team had to overcome was Faber, an outdated development toolset 343 Industries used. Apparently, Faber was so buggy and difficult to use that the studio at one point considered switching to Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. The studio also internally delayed the project multiple times. In fact, one release plan would have seen Halo Infinite multiplayer launching as a standalone product in 2019, while the campaign would have launched the following year. Of course, 343 and Microsoft opted out of this schedule for a number of reasons.
Microsoft was adamant that Halo Infinite needed to launch alongside Xbox Series X | S until the infamous 2020 campaign demo spawned an uncountable number of complaints, criticisms, and memes. Soon, Joseph Staten, one of the developers instrumental in originally building the franchise, joined the team and pushed Microsoft to allow 343 the time necessary to enhance Halo Infinite. Eventually, 343 was granted the leeway to arrive past the next-gen console launch to get the project back on track.
Halo Infinite launched its campaign today despite development woes, bringing longtime fans back to Master Chief after Halo 5: Guardians received a mixed reception in 2015. Its multiplayer component was surprise-released last month. Work on the game is far from complete, however. In addition to more updates in the future, we’re still waiting to find out more about the next version of the series’s co-op and Forge modes.