The new HALO INFINITE trailer dropped yesterday.
I’ll just shut up now and let you absorb the awesomeness:
Right. Here is my sober, calm, carefully weighed, objective, and totally unbiased reaction to this trailer:
The God-Emperor, Donaldus Triumphus Magnus, is such a figure of awesomely awesome awesomeness that he’s even making HALO great again!!!
First and foremost:
THE MASTER (BADASS-IN-) CHIEF IS BACK!!!
And he’s in properly solid-looking emerald green armour again. And the music sounds like the old Martin O’Donnell & Michael Salvatori collaborative scores that made the original HALO trilogy easily the most evocative, emotional, and immersive FPS games of their time – of ALL time. And John-117 is once again the only major playable character. And…
Well, you get the idea.
It’s a return to the greatness and glory of the past, at least based on what we can see here. And that is wonderful to see.
The thing is, HALO 5: GUARDIANS was not the game that I originally thought it was. When I first played through it, I gave it a quite positive review, overall, but I noted that there were a lot of flaws in the game and that it was probably the weakest game in the entire series. The subsequent years and many, many replays of HALO 3 and especially HALO 4 simply confirmed that HALO 5: GUARDIANS was nowhere near as good as it should have been, and that my original review score of 94% was at least 10 percentage points too high.
There is a lot to like about H5:G, but the developers and especially the writers made some huge, and very hard-to-forgive, mistakes that could and should have been avoided. Chief among those mistakes was the fact that the Master Chief was only playable for about 20% of the game; the forced MUH DIVERSITEEEZ inclusions in Fireteam Osiris; the incredibly jarring and stupid MUH WAMENZ moments scattered throughout; and the just plain RETARDED boss battles with the Warden Eternal.
I really hated that character…
Here, though, it looks like 343 Industries has gone back to the roots of the franchise, back to what made the original HALO: Combat Evolved such a landmark in the FPS genre. This is what HALO should be all about – building worlds and exploring ideas that just make your jaw hit the floor and your tongue roll out like you’re in a cartoon:
We will see if that holds true. One ominous sign that I see is the fact that the graphics in that “cinematic trailer” actually look worse, in some ways, than the cutscene cinematics for HALO 4 – a game that is nearly 8 years old at this point and was made with far inferior graphics and computing horsepower:
See what I mean?
The most interesting aspect of this trailer, from a technology perspective, is the fact that Microsoft has decided to use HALO INFINITE as the launch platform for its new console, the Xbox Project Scarlett:
Will the new Xbox console be everything that it is hyped to be? Well, it needs to be.
The Xbox One was, by virtually all accounts, an epic failure for Microsoft. It was released in 2013; the true “killer app” for the console, H5:G, did not see its release until 2015, a full two years after the console was put into the market. The fact remains that Microsoft tried really hard to eat Sony’s lunch by rushing the XB1 to market, in order to replicate some of the success that they had with the Xbox 360 – which really was a brilliant console. I owned one for nearly 8 years and I loved it.
By contrast, the Xbox One was just… stupid, in too many ways to count.
So Microsoft knows damned well that it really has to succeed with the next-gen gaming console. The Xbox One X apparently fixed most of the biggest problems with the XB1 platform, but it was far too little, far too late – and it amounted to a hugely costly redevelopment for Microsoft.
That is why they have gone right back to their roots, by betting that HALO INFINITE will propel sales of the next-gen Xbox through the roof.
And, y’know what?
It just might work.
That is more or less what happened with the original Xbox, nearly 20 years ago. Up until HALO: CE came along, there was no particularly compelling reason to own an Xbox – but then the game was released, and the world of FPS gaming changed forever. Suddenly, you had to have an Xbox simply to experience the sheer brilliance of what was easily the most immersive and compelling FPS game of its generation – and remains even today one of the best and most enjoyable FPS games around.
So… HALO is going back to basics. And I, as a longtime fan and veteran of the series, could not be happier.
Don your power suits and grab your bullpup assault rifles. It’s time to fight.