September 23, 2021

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Is Halo Infinite our first look at a cross-gen Xbox game?

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Microsoft kicked off its E3 2018 media briefing in epic style, revealing a work-in-progress technology demonstration of its next Master Chief series entry, Halo Infinite, accompanied by an honest, revealing blog giving us a little more background on the ideas behind the game, the aim to recapture the style of the Bungie era for modern hardware, and an admission that almost three years on from the release of Halo 5, Infinite is still very early on in production. Naturally, as the current generation draws to a close, the question must be asked whether this is our first tentative look at a game destined for the next Xbox.

343 Industries’ blog doesn’t rule this out, but the current generation hardware is explicitly name-checked with mention of ‘taking advantage of the full power of the Xbox One family’, yet the freshly minted Slipspace Engine is clearly delivering an extreme visual feature set that would certainly sit more easily on whatever hardware Microsoft is cooking up next. A game targeting a cross-gen release, perhaps? The scale and scope of this Infinite teaser combined with 343’s current-gen confirmation certainly suggests so, and what’s clear is that in this two-minute teaser, the studio bombards us with rendering techniques that offer a vast increase in fidelity over anything seen from the series before.

Going in to E3 2018, we were hoping for a Halo 2 moment – a reveal of epic theatre that would be remembered for years to come. Of course, the problem with that classic E3 2003 demo was that although running in real-time on OG Xbox hardware, Bungie’s ideas were too ambitious to roll out into the final game. And for its part, the main concern with the Slipspace engine as revealed on Sunday is the question of whether 343 may be over-promising. Unlike the Bungie demo, there wasn’t a real-time component here – this was an engine demo, meaning it could be run on any hardware 343 might have available, and it needn’t be operating in real-time either. In short,’in-engine’ can cook up extreme visuals impossible on consumer-level hardware for years or even decades to come. However, we suspect that 343 has a point to prove and for its part, the studio tells us that ‘the engine demo is a clear indication of the direction we are heading with our next game and a great snapshot of where our tech is right now.’

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