E3 is an exciting time for the entire video game industry, but for our team at 343 Industries it also marks a new beginning. Last year we unveiled a first look at Halo Infinite and a glimpse of our new Slipspace Engine; built from the ground up to power the future of our game. This year our story-driven teaser, created with that same engine, unveils the beginning of the narrative marking the next chapter of the Master Chief’s story.
And at E3, we’re also pleased to announce that Halo Infinite will debut in Holiday 2020 on Xbox One, PC and our next generation of consoles, Project Scarlett.
I want to take a moment here to go deeper into the art, science and story of the in-game scene we’ve named “Discover Hope." These elements are not only deeply rooted in the Halo franchise, but illustrate the passion of the entire team to create something more ambitious than anything we’ve done previously. We don’t want to simply build a sequel, we want to build on the story and invention that has gone before and take the gameplay and narrative in bold new directions, while honoring the legacy that fans have fallen in love with for almost twenty years.
So with that immense responsibility in mind, we are building what we internally refer to as a spiritual reboot, a game with a vision set firmly in the future, but a foundation rooted deeply in the things our team and our fans have fallen in love with – the scope, the scale, the heroism and the moments of spectacle and wonder that brought players together on couches, at basement LAN parties, on Xbox Live and in esports arenas for years. The stories of shared adventure and individual discovery that made the first Halo game such a defining moment for millions of gamers – and helped chart the course for countless FPS games ever since. We want to recapture that sense of awe and delighted surprise – and the right way to do that is to lean into the things that are already magical, and build outward from there.
Halo has always been a graphically exciting universe to explore. From the epic sci-fi settings, unforgettable alien threats, and the iconic hero in the Master Chief, there are so many amazing things to discover. You can see glimpses from the video how the team has continued to embrace the art direction we touched on last year, envisioned by our Art Director Nicholas “Sparth” Bouvier. The new design for the Master Chief is, by far, the highest fidelity we have ever created to leverage the power of next generation platforms, but with a design that is Master Chief to the core and takes inspiration from the past, with color and texture and detail unavailable to us till now. This same attention to our design for the Chief is true of everything in Halo Infinite. You can see examples in the interior of our UNSC Pelican, the design of our pilot, and even details down to the UNSC logo on his flight suit. Halo Infinite is intended to embrace all that our fans have grown to love in our franchise, while evolving it to something even more visually stunning for players.
Music is critical to every Halo experience. It has been from the very beginning and in Halo Infinite, we’re taking that tradition very seriously. I am excited to introduce our new Music Supervisor, Joel Yarger, who led the creation of music for major franchises like God of War, Uncharted, and countless other blockbuster video games. Our Audio Director, Sotaro “Tajeen” Tojima, has challenged Joel to find accomplished music composers that can stay true to the musical traditions of Halo -- originally created by maestros Marty O’Donnell and Mike Salvatori -- harness its inherent power, and build on those foundations with new creativity and emotional depth.
Given the enormity of the score’s importance and scope, we wanted to hire a team with a specific working sensibility and skillset. More importantly, a team of talented composers of original music that could work seamlessly with existing melodies and themes to blend the classic and the new – music that will sometimes map to familiar characters and ideas, but also introduce brand new threats, wonders and discoveries in dramatic and immersive ways.
We are excited to introduce Curtis Schweitzer, who composed all of the music in “Discover Hope” and music for Halo Infinite. We have been inspired and impressed by the emotional depth and creativity Curtis has delivered so far. There have been tear-inducing, hair-raising, and spine-tingling moments each time we have listened to his inspired compositions. Joel and Curtis are hard at work on Halo Infinite to bring rich emotion to our experiences, to punctuate the thrilling moments of combat, and to connect players to our universe more deeply than ever before. We look forward to sharing more of this new vision for our music in the future!
THE POWER OF SLIPSPACE
Beneath the hood of every important game rumbles an equally important engine. A game engine can define how a game looks and performs – and that’s incredibly important, but it’s more than a method of putting pixels on a screen and making them dance, it’s also key to a game’s soul. There are millions of lines of code that can be read and understood, but when it’s all running smoothly, those bits create far more than the sum of their parts – they create the soul of a game and the hard-to-describe feeling of holistic fun. The original Halo engine was extremely powerful and, for its time, innovative. It let console players, for the first time, explore worlds at a scale of interaction and visual spectacle that was industry leading in 2001. And elements of that still hold true today.
But as we move forward to Project Scarlett and PC gaming platforms, we have an amazing opportunity to create a powerful new engine to take advantage of new hardware and architecture – and take better advantage of the still-not-fully-tapped power of the Xbox One.
There were some inward facing reasons to do this now. We want better, more flexible tools, so that our artists and engineers have more agility and are taking advantage of more power and performance to iterate on our experiences. To push things further and higher and faster than we have been able to in the past. We want to give our creative teams faster workflows and better control over the creations and concepts that are vital to the player experience.
Slipspace not only empowers our creative teams to reach detail and performance no Halo has ever delivered, but also provides technology and tools – from cameras to facial capture that will let us tell intimate stories like the moments you witness in “Discover Hope” -- and the ability to iterate and update those experiences to compliment gameplay. By harnessing the power of our new Slipspace Engine and combining it with the power and promise of Project Scarlett, we plan to build the Halo game we’ve always dreamed of – and share it with even more players, competitors, adventurers, and creators than ever before.
BEGINNING THE NARRATIVE
The Master Chief is our hero and Halo Infinite will continue his decades long saga. While we plan to introduce important new characters -- like the resilient Pilot you already met in the video -- this story is the Master Chief’s. The universe will continue the continuity of Halo 5 and in that sense contain the adventures that led up to this moment, but in the pursuit of our “spiritual reboot” and the launch of a new console, we also want to make sure that this is a perfect starting point for new players too. This story will mark the beginning of a new chapter and challenge for the Chief, but it will also respect and continue threads that led to this point. If you’ve never played a Halo game before, this will be a great place to jump into the story. You’re arriving in the middle a universe at war, with a sense of history underlying your entry into the world. But it will also feel fresh, full of potential, and new adventure. We will weave in context and guideposts to understand your place in a new universe. But if you’ve invested in Halo for all these years, you’ll feel immediately at home – and some of our story moments will spark a different resonance for your investment.
To tell great stories, you need great storytellers, and great storytelling capabilities. Paul Crocker, our Associate Creative Director, and Dan Chosich, Narrative Experience Director, have done an amazing job weaving story and technology together for Halo Infinite -- and the “Discover Hope” video is just a glimpse of that. Although the content here is ultimately a real part of the game we’re building, the team balanced polishing this moment with the rigor and effort of our mainline game production schedule. This was a labor of love from more folks than we can name, who worked long days to get it right from a place of pure passion. It will change and evolve as the process continues, but simply getting it into a state of readiness and polish separately from the main production pipeline is a herculean effort and we’re extremely grateful to them.
Our new focus on art direction that both advances Halo’s scale and fidelity, while also looking to its history for inspiration and aesthetics, is amplified and augmented by the Slipspace Engine, the Xbox ecosystem, the potential of the PC platform and the incredible opportunities afforded to us by Project Scarlett.
It’s also helping our effort to lean into the core storytelling principles that made Halo so engaging for fans. “Discover Hope” is the first glimpse into this story and sets the stage for the beginning of Halo Infinite, leaving you with a sense of mystery, curiosity and wonder for us to unravel together in the coming months.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Bringing a game to life is incredibly challenging and moments like this, sharing our vision, mean so much to us. I know that many of you will want to see and know more about Halo Infinite and I am excited to share more of our experience with you in the future. As I said last year, we’d love to hear what you think, and we still intend to support an early flighting program that will give you a way to play the game and provide feedback that will directly impact decisions we make for launch and into the future. We aren’t ready to kick this off yet, but you will certainly hear about it when we’re ready to welcome you to the program!
As for what’s next, E3 2020 will be a big moment for Halo Infinite. Until we reach that destination in 2020, we’ll continue to embrace the mystery and wonder of Halo and the endless opportunity and potential of this engine, this hardware and, most of all, this team.
- Chris Lee
Studio Head of Halo Infinite