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Halo Infinite

Technical Preview Outcomes

Click here to read Technical Preview Outcomes for Halo Infinite
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  -  3 months ago

Welcome back, Halo Insiders! Now that the team has had a chance to process the feedback we received during last month's Halo Infinite Multiplayer Technical Preview it's time to unpack it all with the community. In this blog, we're going to be taking a closer look at the overall key areas of feedback, or themes, we received from the Tech Preview along with the perspectives, or outcomes, from many of the teams working on the game. While this list may not be 100% exhaustive with every single piece of player feedback, it does represent the most common trending topics we observed via forum posts, social media, video content, and official Insider surveys.

Render of a VK78 Commando on white UNSC background

Our goal is to provide transparent follow-up to share the team's response and perspective so players understand what to expect. While some of these feedback topics do have implications involving actual bugs, it's not the intent of this blog to address issues reported via the Halo Insider Support site. Overall, most of the more common and egregious bugs reported during the Technical Preview either already were – or have since – been addressed and we're excited to see many of these improvements roll out in our next public preview. In particular, we know there were a few pain points regarding Halo Waypoint messages and the Xbox Insider app on console at the start and teams have been working on improving these areas before our next flight.

Before we jump into the specific outcomes for key feedback it's important to note where we are on this journey together. Season One for Halo Infinite's free-to-play Multiplayer is launching on December 8 and as you've heard, the team is currently in "shut down mode" focused on bug squashing and polishing. In general, we have three possible outcomes for a given piece of feedback – the item has already been addressed, the item will be investigated and addressed later as possible, or the item in question is behaving as intended and no change is warranted. As you'll read below, the vast majority of outcomes for the Tech Preview feedback falls into one of the first two categories with really only one or two items falling into the bucket of "working as intended." This means that overall, the team's goals and ambitions largely align with those of our players in terms of areas we'd like to see improved or expanded. As we kick off this service and the next chapter of our journey together in a few months, it's important to remind everyone that from our perspective, launch is only the beginning! We can't act on everything everyone wants as quickly as everyone would like but we're committed and eager to improve and evolve the game together over time.

Now, without further ado, let's dive into the key player feedback themes from the Tech Preview and responses from applicable teams around the studio. We're going to tackle this alphabetically by team, starting with our colleagues working on Accessibility.

ACCESSIBILITY

  • Positive: Friend or Foe Outlines
  • Positive: Full Controller and Keyboard & Mouse remapping
  • Feedback: Desire for an auto-sprint option
  • Feedback: Desire to alter the colors of the Damage System Color and Mark System

ACCESSIBILITY TEAM RESPONSE

The Friend and Foe (IFF) system's outlines are a key component of making Halo multiplayer more accessible. As iconic as the Red vs Blue system is, players with colorblindness were always left at a disadvantage in previous titles. We're pleased to see this feature helped so many players out during the Tech Preview. The Sandbox team should have more to share about IFF further below!

While we believe that full controller and keyboard/mouse remapping is great for all players to allow for more player choice and customization, we're specifically excited about how these settings allow players with disabilities to remove barriers that previously existed with a limited set of control schemes. We wanted this title to be fully compatible with the Adaptive controller on Xbox as well.

We're really excited to involve our community in working on improving accessibility. Two pieces of feedback we saw from the flight were to add a "auto-sprint" option so that players don't have to hold the thumbstick forward, which can be difficult and even painful when sprinting longer distances. The other feedback item was to have the colors of the "Damage System Color" and marks from the Mark System have their own color options in settings similar to the IFF colors. We agree and we love these suggestions, and although we won't be able to get them in for launch, we're already tracking them for future accessibility additions post-launch.

Render of a Ravager on dark Banished background

AUDIO

MUSIC

  • Positive: Players loved both menu and Multiplayer music

AUDIO TEAM RESPONSE

We literally love to hear this. We're bringing a fresh style approach for our Multiplayer Modes on Infinite by combining Halo melodies with the post rock genre. We're very pleased to hear that our community loves this new approach, and we can't wait for you to hear even more (yes, there is a lot more) of what is in store for both Campaign and Multiplayer Modes.

IN-GAME AUDIO

  • Positive: Weapons sounded powerful and really added to the experience
  • Feedback: Players wanted the Needler's audio to sound more "crystalized"
  • Feedback: Granular controls of each in-game voice (Personal AI, Spartan Chatter, Multiplayer Announcer)

AUDIO TEAM RESPONSE

The Audio Team has spent a lot of time to deliver impactful gun sounds in a clear soundscape to make the combat experience more fun and immersive, so we're very excited to find many words like "impactful," "satisfying," or "crisp." We also brought back some of the classic Halo sounds such as Shield recharge and Plasma Pistol Charge, and we're glad that many players enjoyed it.

On the other hand, we did see some players pointing out that a couple of the weapons feel like they are too far from the legacy sounds. Some players wanted more of a "crystallized" and "glassy" feel on the Needler for example. Thank you for the honest and constructive feedback, we are continuing to iterate on the sound design for the Needler and Plasma Pistol (Primary Fire) along with enhancing the Gravity Hammer sound now. We're preparing to deliver "in-progress version" of these new sounds for next public flight, so we're looking forward to hearing your thoughts on these updates in the next round.

Players also expressed interest in having more granular controls for what sounds they hear in-game, especially when it comes to the various in-game voices. We won't get that granularity until after launch, but we and the Multiplayer Team agree with exposing this option to the player. They'll have a little more to say about this in their section below as well.

Render of a Needler on white Banished background

LIVE

BATTLE PASS & CHALLENGES

  • Positive: Players are still enjoying the idea of a permanent Battle Pass
  • Feedback: Are Challenges the only way to progress?
  • Feedback: Double XP Boost timer counting down while in menus

LIVE TEAM RESPONSE

During the Tech Preview we wanted to test the functionality of our Battle Pass, which leverages our Challenge system’s services. This Battle Pass was not a full Season Battle Pass but rather a much smaller one designed specifically for this flight. From a technical perspective, we discovered that there was a misconfiguration in our Challenge offering, which eventually prevented new Challenges from popping up to players after they completed others. This was not intended and should be addressed before the next flight.

From a player feedback perspective, we heard the requests to earn XP per-match outside of Challenges as well as to have XP Boost timers only count down while in a match. One of the items that wasn’t fully there in the Tech Preview was our Daily Challenge model that provides Challenges along the lines of “Play X Number of Games” that will repeat throughout the day.  These Challenges are replaced after completion and provide a regular XP drop for your Battle Pass just for playing matches and having fun during your sessions with Halo Infinite. The Weekly Challenges are where you will see your more specific challenges that you might recognize from other games; for example, “Get 10 kills with a Battle Rifle.” There is significantly greater depth with the Weekly Challenges than you saw in the Tech Preview that we will go through in the future.

As for the XP boost timers counting down while out of a match, we will be looking at improving this experience post launch.

Progression is an area that we will continue to improve and grow over time, and we’ll have even more to share here later this month.

MULTIPLAYER

BOTS & BOT ARENA

  • Positive: Bots were intelligent, fun, and challenging
  • Positive: Bot Arena is a safe environment to learn. Very helpful for learning the layout and flow of maps
  • Feedback: Bots were too accurate when shooting weapons and throwing grenades
  • Feedback: Bots all went the same way to start, could get confused while moving on the map, and didn't use equipment enough
  • Feedback: Spartan Bots weren't much better than ODST Bots and players wanted them to be difficult

MULTIPLAYER TEAM RESPONSE

The reception to Bots was amazing and almost overwhelming. We were so happy to see our bot combatants land so well with the community, but we recognize there are elements we can make even better.

We'll be toning back those perfectly placed grenade bounces at lower difficulty levels because they were more accurate than we'd like. We're also looking into tweaking the gunfire accuracy a little bit, but not too far to avoid making Bots too easy (especially when a fourth, less challenging "Recruit" difficulty already exists, but wasn't in the Tech Preview).

Players also noted that Bot behavior was not always in line with their expectations in a couple of areas. A common issue people were running into were the initial routes bots were taking off of spawn. While this led to some amazing clips of the bot teams getting wiped early, this was something we knew about going into the flight and we already have some extra logic in the works to help break them up a bit more and perform more like a squad of players would.

We also heard feedback of players wishing the Bots were more effective with equipment. This will be an ongoing area of improvements for them. Replicating all the bonkers behaviors players are capable of pulling off with the equipment is a nearly impossible but we'll continue improving how they replicate player actions with the tools in the sandbox.

Another note was that Bots could get "confused" and stop moving mid-combat. These bugs happen for a wide variety of reasons and is something we are continuing to improve as we push to release. We've resolved a lot of the big ones and will continue to iron out other issues with their movement as they arise. They'll only get better over time!

Lastly, we've heard the desire to have Bots that are even more difficult than our Spartan Bots. There were definitely some tuning off with Spartan Bots that made them underperform, but they are still meant to be training partners – not esports pros. While teaching players is our primary goal of Bots, it would be fair to say in the future we want some bots that are maybe less sparing partners and more fight night contenders.

Screenshot of Live Fire map with a sign that reads Live Firing Area

WEAPON DRILLS

  • Positive: Provided a great environment for learning weapons
  • Positive: Players had fun and enjoyed sharing their Weapon Drill scores
  • Feedback: Desire to teach alt-fire modes more clearly
  • Feedback: Some wanted a way swap between Weapon Drills more easily
  • Feedback: Some players wanted untimed Weapon Drills
  • Feedback: Many Players wanted Equipment and Movement Drills

MULTIPLAYER TEAM RESPONSE

Weapon Drills, similar to Bots, were a new addition to the multiplayer experience for this game. It was cool to see the community engaging with the feature; learning the toys and pushing their skills.

Improved teaching about alt-fire modes? Yup, we agree. We are going to be doing a pass on the information in the quick tips to better explain the elements of the different weapons in each drill. Post-launch we are already investigating options to better explain the nuances of each weapon in the drills.

Swapping between different weapons is something we plan on working with our UXUI team post launch to find ways to reduce friction there. There's also another Academy feature called Training Mode that will be in our next flight that will let players quickly swap their loadouts (via in-game menu) that will provide another avenue for players to be able to experiment with weapons (and more) while fighting bots in maps.

Untimed Weapon Drills? Yep, already slated in our post-release list.

Drills for Equipment & Movement? Post-launch we are plotting various drills for a lot of other mechanics such as grenades, melee weapons, equipment, and vehicles. Basically, we want drills to let players test everything in the sandbox.

It's reassuring to hear the community enjoyed Weapon Drills so much that they wanted more of just about every aspect of them. Rest assured, we'll continue to deliver that "more" here during the lifetime of the game.

COMBAT SENSOR (RADAR)

  • Feedback: Some liked the Combat Sensor, though most found it confusing
  • Feedback: Some wanted height indicators as well

MULTIPLAYER TEAM RESPONSE

The Combat Sensor, or radar, that sits in the bottom left of your HUD followed a different set of rules than previous Halo titles. It only displayed enemies when they were sprinting or shooting, which was more in line with Halo 5's "Threat Tracker." We knew that this implementation was going to feel different, maybe even a little contentious, and that's why we wanted to get feedback on it as soon as possible in the Tech Preview.

While some appreciated the new approach, we found that most players missed the old properties in these social matches. We've updated the Combat Sensor to feel more like the "Motion Tracker" of old, which shows all movement besides crouch-walking, and should have that ready for folks to test in the next flight. Be sure to keep an eye on it and let us know how it plays!

Render of an orange Spartan IV holding up a Fret Personal AI on a dark UNSC background

PERSONAL AI

  • Positive: People loved having their own Personal AI for the first time
  • Positive: People loved customizing their Personal AI
  • Feedback: Desire for more customization options (separate voice from body, more shapes, more voices, more colors)
  • Feedback: Desire to preview a Personal AI's voice and personality in the lobby
  • Feedback: Desire to increase the variety of their lines
  • Feedback: Desire to control how much the Personal AI talks (including turn them off)

MULTIPLAYER TEAM RESPONSE

When the Tech Preview launched and everyone started sharing their Personal AI, it was a blast to see which one everyone picked. We love them all and it was great to see the different personalities resonating with each of you.

As the flight progressed throughout the weekend though, we started to see themes and feedback emerge about their current implementation. Luckily, most of the feedback centered on a desire to have more control and customization of the Personal AI experience.

In terms of more customization, we're looking to support different models for the Personal AI as well as different customization options to make them more personalized from the core shapes such as hats, props, etc. We also plan to continue to expand the roster of AI over time and have a few in for launch that the world hasn't seen yet.

We agree that previewing a Personal AI's voice and personality before you take them on the battlefield just makes sense. Fortunately, we've already been working on this, and it should be in our next flighting build so be sure to test it out in the lobby beforehand!

There was also feedback around the same lines popping up repeatedly, and we agree. After the Tech Preview, we looked at the frequency of Personal AI lines (as well as Spartan Chatter lines like "Over Yonder!") and have already made adjustments to reduce how often they are repeated. This work should be reflected in the next flight. We're also interested in adding additional line variants for each AI post-launch to keep their lines from becoming too repetitive.

Lastly, players expressed an interest in controlling how often their Personal AI spoke and what kind of information they spoke about. This isn't something we'd be able to do for launch, but we'd like to give more control to players over the frequency of flavor lines as well as increase/decrease informational lines, such as weapon pickup lines. This has a lot of benefit for players wanting more to help make the game more accessible to them or even to just turn different types of feedback off all up.

MEDALS

  • Positive: New medal events such as Ninja, 360, and Bank Shot were loved 
  • Positive: Players loved that certain medals get called out in the event feed
  • Feedback: Many players were worried about the size, placement, and art style of the medals

MULTIPLAYER & UXUI TEAM RESPONSE

We were glad to hear that the Medal events, especially the ones that get called out in the event feed, were received so well. However, we can't talk about Medals and not acknowledge the feedback and chatter about the overall appearance of them in the game. A lot of the focus was the size, placement, and overall art style. We agree that there is more work to be done here and we'll be going after what we can before launch.

We are also doing a revision now that preserves our difficulty tiering (colors) and iconography, but nudges the visual treatment towards a more classic Halo skeuomorphic Medal design. You may not see these new "metal-fied" Medals in the next flight, but we're pushing to get them in for launch.

A side by side comparison of old medal designs and new medal designs

SANDBOX

FRIEND OR FOE RECOGNITION (PLAYER OUTLINES)

  • Pro: Accessibility and customization options
  • Feedback: Impacted shield (and Overshield) readability
  • Feedback: Desire for more options, including the ability to turn them off
  • Feedback: Desire to have an opponent's gamertag appear above their head

SANDBOX TEAM RESPONSE

Going into the Tech Preview we really wanted to get feedback on our Friend or Foe (IFF) system, so we were happy to hear everyone's thoughts online and in our surveys. Considering this was one of our larger changes in the game, we were delighted to hear that the increased accessibility and player expression landed as well as it did. It wasn't perfect though, and we know it.

We've already made significant FX changes to better communicate the health of a target. You should always know if you're fighting a player who has an Overshield, full shields, weakened shields, or broken shields. You'll be able to see these improvements in our next flight.

As for more options, such as turning outlines off entirely, we'll need to explore how realistic this is given our timelines for launch. We're always in favor of providing more options to our players, but it's very likely we won't be able to provide this until after launch.

A common note was to have player's Gamertag's appear above their head when looking at them. We completely agree and can confirm that names weren't showing up due to a bug. A few of you noticed that we had an option to display Gamertag or Service Tag in game, but it just wasn't working in this build. This fix may or may not make it into our next flight, but it will be in for launch.

AIMING

  • Feedback: Performance impacting aim
  • Feedback: Some felt the default sensitivity was too low
  • Feedback: Desire for Axial deadzone controls
  • Note: Confusion around zoom/smart scope

SANDBOX TEAM RESPONSE

Aiming, similar to IFF, was another area we really wanted to dive into with the Tech Preview. While we know performance in this build wasn't great and impacted aiming, we still received tons of valuable input from all you. The data and feedback from the Tech Preview has directly informed decisions and improvements we've made to aiming.

First, we've increased the default sensitivities for both M&K and controller players, including while zoomed in on weapons with 5x scopes and above. Second, we have since exposed Axial Deadzones controls in the settings. You should see these improvements, as well as performance increases, in the next flight.

A last note here was that there was confusion around the zoom function on weapons without scopes. Many of you were curious if it changed a weapon's aiming traits or increased its effectiveness at range, similar to Halo 5's Smart Scope. That is not the case for unscoped weapons in Halo Infinite. Similar to many previous Halo titles, scoped weapons will have benefits due to their scopes but unscoped weapons will perform the same regardless of its zoom state. Players will see a decrease in FOV, but no there is no underlying change to these weapons when zoomed in.

WEAPONS

  • Positive: Overall weapon balance felt great
  • Positive: Ability to drop weapons is appreciated
  • Feedback: S7 Sniper & Skewer were difficult to use
  • Split Feedback: Hammer feels too strong but also too slow

SANDBOX TEAM RESPONSE

The positive reception of the overall weapon balance was great to see. We will continue to tune the weapons throughout the lifetime of the game and this work is never really "done." We were also happy to see so many of you enjoyed having the ability to drop/toss a weapon to a teammate without needing to find a weapon to swap out for first.

The two weapons we saw the most chatter about were the S7 Sniper and Skewer, with a focus on how difficult it was to aim while scoped in. The performance and aiming improvements mentioned above should help here, but we'll also be tuning some of the aiming on the S7 Sniper for this next flight and look forward to hearing your feedback on it.

Lastly, we saw the Gravity Hammer get a lot of attention on Recharge. Some players enjoyed that it had its own unique role in the sandbox and "wasn't just another Sword," but others felt the change made it too slow. Overall, the feedback for this weapon was split down the middle between it being too effective and not effective enough. As a result, we don't plan on making any major changes, but we'll continue to monitor it.

MOVEMENT

  • Positive: Sprint's balance was positively received
  • Split Feedback: Players wanted it to feel smoother movement, and less warping
  • Note: Screenshake was too much, even when turned off in settings

SANDBOX TEAM RESPONSE

Movement, with Sprint in particular, has been a hot topic in Halo for quite some time now. In Halo Infinite we took a different approach to balancing it. We're happy that the current speed and balance is playing well, but rest assured we'll always be keeping a close eye on movement.

While we did see some players say the movement was smooth, there were also some players that noted that it felt clunky. We've seen this feedback come in due to the movement itself or as a result of warping during online matches. We're constantly improving our network model to reduce warping, and we'll continue to monitor this feedback as that work continues.

And, for the players who noticed that screenshake was present even after setting it to "0," don't worry – that was a bug. It should be smooth sailing in the next flighting build.

EQUIPMENT

  • Positive: Grappleshot was loved by all
  • Feedback: Drop Wall felt too slow and too weak

SANDBOX TEAM RESPONSE

We're thrilled to hear players are enjoying our take on equipment in Halo Infinite so far. We saw incredible Grappleshot plays during the Tech Preview weekend and we can't wait to see what you're able to pull off in the next one.

One consistent piece of feedback we saw around equipment was that many players felt the Drop Wall wasn't effective enough given its current tuning. The intent behind this delay was to make it a piece of equipment that we use proactively when preparing for engagements, rather than reactive once a fight has already broken out. We also didn't want to make it too durable, causing players to always win when they used a Drop Wall in a fight. It's meant to cause a slight "wrinkle" in the fight, not manufacture a full stop in the combat loop.

That said, we have reduced the Drop Wall's deployment time. We're taking a closer look at the durability, but want to assess how the faster deployment impacts gameplay before committing to increasing the health of its panels just yet. This update should be reflected in the next flight, so please keep an eye out for it and let us know what you think.

Concept art of Drop Wall equipment item

UXUI

HUD

  • Positive: HUD clean/streamline approach was appreciated
  • Feedback: Some felt the weapon cradle was small
  • Feedback: Inability to see second grenade type
  • Feedback: Some would like HUD customization options

UXUI TEAM RESPONSE

Feedback around the HUD was interesting to read. Some players loved the new streamlined look, some wanted a more classic design, but most seemed not to mind as long as it was doing its job.

We agree that the weapon cradle in the bottom right of your screen did seem a little small. We will be exploring improvements to help make sure it is more legible at a glance post-launch.

There was also good feedback about not being able to see your secondary grenade type. The team agrees that this information is extremely valuable, especially in the heat of battle. This UI change will land in a future update.

Anytime we change things in Halo, there are always some players who want the option to keep things the way they used to be. The HUD is no different. This feedback was expected, we saw tons of fan mock-ups, and we agree with providing more HUD customization options down the road. It's not something we can pursue for launch, but it is something we're interested in continuing to evolve over the lifetime of the game.

MENUS

  • Positive: Overall presentation received positive feedback
  • Feedback: Scrolling in customization
  • Feedback: Customization items were difficult to equip

UXUI TEAM RESPONSE

It was great to see people sharing pictures of their Spartans hanging out by the Pelican while waiting in the lobby. It was also good to see players navigating the entire game, without limitation, while searching for matches.

That said, we did notice that there was plenty of feedback around the Customization menu in particular. We saw a desire to have vertical navigation or a grid layout similar to Halo 5 instead of horizontal scrolling. We also had many players call out that the flow to ‘equip' customization elements was not as smooth as they would have liked.

There were some bugs impacting these menus, such as "equip" not always equipping items, but we recognize there's room for improvement in the overall Customization presentation. While the current layout will be what you see at launch, it will continuously evolve with each season.

Render of the CQS48 Bulldog on a white UNSC background

Thank you again to everyone who participated and took time to share feedback during Halo Infinite's first Multiplayer Technical Preview!

Partnering with Halo Insiders to playtest and gather feedback is a critical part of our development process that began in the early days of the Master Chief Collection updates and will continue even beyond the launch of Halo Infinite. For more insights into Halo Infinite flighting and Multiplayer, be sure to check out our Inside Infinite blog series.

If you want to join us for our next Halo Infinite flight, which will feature 4v4 Arena and Big Team Battle, be sure to register for the Halo Insider program! And, if you're already registered, it never hurts to quickly double check your profile to ensure everything is complete and verified – remember you can update your preferences and/or opt-out out any time.

As a reminder, Halo Infinite multiplayer is free to play on Xbox and PC and we just opened up pre-orders for our most expansive Campaign yet. You can play them both later this year when they launch on December 8, 2021.

Thanks for reading and we hope to see you in our next multiplayer preview!