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Halo Infinite

Tech Preview 2 Outcomes

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  -  25 days ago

Welcome Halo Insiders! Thanks for playing in another Halo Infinite Tech Preview last month. Our primary goal was to test our online services at scale, but we were still keeping our ear to the ground and collecting feedback on everything we could.

As part of this Outcomes Report, we’re excited to dive into the common themes that emerged across both weekends of your hands-on time with Halo Infinite. The team determines these themes through dedicated user research (UR) surveys and community discussions online in places like Waypoint, Twitter, r/halo, YouTube, etc. If you’d like to learn more about the feedback gathering process, please read the Inside Infinite dedicated to flighting and feedback. 

This report will focus on feedback from the most recent Tech Preview flights (September 24-27 & September 30 - October 4) and is meant to be additive to our first Tech Preview Outcomes report. That means if you don’t see something in this report, but it was mentioned in the last report, please rest assured that it is still on our radar.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at what patterns we saw in the feedback and see what the team’s responses are to each one! 

Accessibility

  • Positive: Friend or Foe (IFF) Outline Color Options 
  • Positive: Full Controller and Keyboard & Mouse remapping continues to receive praise 
  • Positive: Ability to change text size across the entire game 
  • Positive: Subtitles for Multiplayer 
  • Feedback: Desire for an auto-sprint option 
  • Feedback: Desire for more color controls a full color-blind mode 
  • Feedback: Desire customize placement and size of HUD elements 

Accessibility Team Response

We’re so glad to see how much players are taking advantage of and using the additional color options for the Friend or Foe (IFF) system. We will continue to listen to feedback for Accessibility and partner with Sandbox and UXUI to explore more settings in future releases. We’ve continued to see feedback around how Controller and Keyboard & Mouse remapping, the ability to change text size, adjust subtitles, and other options such changing reticle thickness have removed old barriers present in previous titles and made sure the game could play well for everyone.

The three pieces of feedback we saw from this flight were very similar to what we saw in our first Tech Preview, and we agree with all of them. While they won’t be able to make launch, we are keeping these on our list of post-launch priorities and hope to fit them into a future season. Auto-sprint and additional color controls are both likely to come sooner than something like HUD customization, as that would likely take a sizeable overhaul of some systems. They all may take some time, but we want to go after them. We’ll let the UXUI team expand more below!

Audio

  • Positive: Weapons sounded powerful and added to the experience
  • Positive: Needler projectiles sound more glassy/crystal since last flight
  • Positive: Ambient map sounds and details, especially on Fragmentation, were appreciated
  • Positive: People continue to enjoy both menu and multiplayer music
  • Positive: The musical rifts in-game are a nice touch
  • Feedback: Needler supercombine explosion sounds good, but can be too quiet

Audio Team Response

As always, the positive comments are really appreciated. We expanded on legacy sounds where we could, adjusted other sounds based on your feedback in the previous flight, and feel like we’ve landed in a really good place with our sound design. 

It was nice to see people recognize the changes to the Needler from the first flight, though some wished that the volume for the supercombine effect could be a little louder. We’ll take a look at this and see if there’s a way for this to stay sounding great, but feel more impactful and rewarding for the player using the Needler. 

Live

  • Positive: Customization is looking great!
  • Feedback: Many players want to earn per-match XP outside of Challenges
  • Feedback: Concerns around timed Double XP Boost efficiency
  • Feedback: Desire for a “career” ranking system in addition to the Battle Pass

Live Team Response

It’s good to be back, and we’re happy to hear that people were liking the added customization this flight. It wasn’t all high praise though, so let’s dive into the feedback areas. 

We’re aware that there are some desired changes for a broader progression system outside of the Battle Pass. After last flight, we have adjusted our Daily Challenges to be more focused on a per match play model. The other big issue was making Double XP boosts more time-efficient in match on usage, this is something we agree with and are looking at a solution we can provide at a future date. While we explore those changes, which could be larger undertakings, we’re also looking into faster options such as ways to increase how frequently XP is given out via Challenges and potentially tying XP Boosts to matches played rather than time.

Beyond that, there’s been a large number of requests for an additional career progression system. We want this too and it’s our team’s top priority, but doing it right will take time and that may mean it won’t come as quickly as many of you would like. As we look at what our team needs to build, adding an entirely new progression system on top of everything else is a lot. Building a progression system with solid design, good implementation, top-tier UXUI presentation, thorough testing, and time for polish will take some time and we want to do it right.

While this is a ways away, please understand that outside of continuing to support the basic needs of each Season and finishing up existing work that’s already been started, building additional progression systems and improving the areas mentioned above are the Live Team’s top priorities.

Multiplayer

Training Mode

  • Positive: Training Mode provides a safe place to simply lean back and learn as a beginner 
  • Positive: Training Mode received lots of love from competitive players looking to deliberately practice 
  • Positive: The wide array of options to change the combat situations were also appreciated 
  • Positive: Bots continue to be intelligent, fun, and challenging 
  • Feedback: Players wanted to play on Fragmentation and to have their friends join them 

Multiplayer Team Response

Last flight the reception to Bots blew us away. Seeing nearly the same levels of positivity for Training Mode, another new addition to the Halo multiplayer experience, was just a fantastic validation for our vision of Academy. We’re happy that the experience resonated so well with players of all skill levels and provided a fun and helpful way to learn more about the game.

Training Mode is played locally on your machine, meaning we don’t spin up a server that multiple people can join, but we think the heart of this feedback is solved via Custom Games. At launch, you will be able to play on Big Team Battle maps with friends and a handful of Bots together in the same custom game.

It seemed like there wasn’t too much to dislike, but we do have ideas on how we could improve and expand on what makes Training Mode so special. If you have any other settings or options you’d like to see added, please let us know! 

Combat Sensor (Radar)

  • Positive: Most players appreciated the return to the “Motion Tracker” settings 
  • Feedback: Consistent reports that the range felt too small, especially in Big Team Battle 
  • Note: Height indication was present, but many players did not recognize its implementation 

Multiplayer Team Response

After reading the feedback from the previous flight, it was apparent that most players wanted the legacy “Motion Tracker” properties for our social settings. They came back and it landed really well. We’ll keep an eye on it in case sentiment swings away from this, but we’re confident in this choice for launch.

We did see people say that they still felt like they were being caught off guard due to the radius size of the Combat Sensor, with the majority of these reports coming from Big Team Battle. For Arena’s social settings, we didn’t see enough feedback to want to make a fundamental change here ahead of launch but we will continue to monitor it when we launch. For Big Team Battle, we agree and plan on getting this updated from 18m to 22m shortly after launch. So while you may not see it on launch day, please know that it’s absolutely on the way.

Arena (Maps & Modes)

  • Positive: Behemoth is amazing all-around, some considered it an instant classic 
  • Positive: Capture The Flag is a classic, beloved mode 
  • Positive: Many appreciate the return of Strongholds. Notably, PC players who have not experienced it in Halo 5 found it very enjoyable. 
  • Split Feedback: Some players expressed a desire for the Flag to kill in one melee, others appreciated the current tuning 
  • Note: Some players appreciated the flag visibility rules, others were still unsure how they worked 
  • Note: The bug that allowed vehicles to push Flags was disliked by most 

Multiplayer Team Response

We love Behemoth too! Introducing vehicular gameplay into Arena’s social settings was something we targeted early when thinking about Halo Infinite multiplayer. There’s just something special about having all of the sandbox elements play together in those smaller play spaces that just feels magical.

Flag melee damage is something we’ve tested and tweaked quite a bit internally to get where we landed today. With its current melee tuning the flag takes two hits to kill, but its melee swings are faster than a player who is holding a weapon. Yes, it is satisfying to get a one-hit melee when you’re the carrier, but we believe this new take allows for more interesting battles between both players. That said, we’ll watch this to make sure it’s performing as we intended when the game goes live.

In regards to the flag visibility rules, we’ll continue to watch this one while we’re live to see if there are any specific instances that are confusing people. It’s worth noting that Halo Infinite has different “spotted” rules than Halo 5, so we’d also want to make sure people have time to get more familiar with the new system. The team will keep an eye on this too.

And yes, we agree that pushing the flag with vehicles, while very sandbox-y, is too easy and removes too much of the teamwork aspect we want to see in CTF matches. That was a bug and it has already been fixed for launch.

Big Team Battle (Map & Modes)

  • Positive: Fragmentation is an amazing map with plenty of spaces for vehicle and Spartan combat 
  • Positive: Vaults (Loot Caves) are a fun, unique addition 
  • Positive: Pelican vehicle deliveries looked amazing and added to the experience  
  • Positive: Wildlife was a pleasant surprise for all :) 
  • Positive: Capture The Flag is a classic, and rotating the flag’s position was enjoyed by most 
  • Positive: Total Control received top marks for being both fun and intense. Moving the zones after each score helped keep the gameplay fresh throughout each match. 
  • Feedback: Spawning more powerful vehicles later in the match meant players had fewer opportunities to use them 
  • Feedback: Jeff Steitzer plz 

Multiplayer Team Response

Halo Infinite’s BTB is bigger, it’s better, and we’re thrilled to see so many of you enjoyed it during the second weekend. We took some bigger risks with Big Team Battle’s maps and modes in order to make it feel fresh, such as moving the flag spawn around in CTF, vaults (loot caves), Pelicans dropping off vehicles, and building new modes like Total Control, and it’s great to see them land so well. We’ll continue to expand on, not copy, a lot of these ideas for future as we add more Big Team Battle content over the lifetime of the game.

We did see some players raise concerns around the stronger vehicles arriving later, and in some cases too late, during their matches. We understand the desire for better vehicles more often (who doesn’t want more chances to jump in the Scorpion?) but we believe the progression of power as better and better vehicles spawn in allows for the end of matches to feel like bigger moments. It’s also worth mentioning that there were vehicles, such as the Chopper and Wraith, that weren’t available in the flight that will help further flesh out this vehicle story in each match. Please be sure to let us know what you think of this match progression when the game launches.

Jeff Steitzer’s voice will return in BTB. We weren’t able to get this change in for December 8, but we are looking forward to bringing his voice back in all its glory as soon as we can.

PC

  • Positive: Plethora of settings and options is greatly appreciated 
  • Positive: The update between Weekend 1 and Weekend 2 improved performance drastically 
  • Feedback: Lack of exclusive fullscreen option was missed by some 
  • Feedback: Some players expressed a desire for additional performance optimizations

PC Team Response

The positive reception of Halo Infinite on PC, both from the flight and from the recent PC Overview video, has been very energizing. The positive comments help reaffirm our priorities and investments, and areas of feedback help us prioritize what to work on next. We wanted to pull out a couple of the most common points of feedback and share where we’re at: 

Exclusive Fullscreen is an interesting one. When reading the feedback from most players, they wanted exclusive fullscreen because they believed it would give them significant performance advantages. While that used to be accurate a few years ago, that is actually no longer the case due to some fundamental changes with Windows 10, and it is not applicable to DirectX 12 (Infinite is DirectX 12 only). Not to get too technical here, but you can read up on this update here. If exclusive fullscreen would have increased perf over our current options, we would’ve prioritized it higher on our list and pursued it. However, there are still other use cases for players, such as accessibility and just personal preference, and we do want to give players the choice. It will not be something that comes immediately post-launch, but we will be investigating how to expose this as an option.

Improving performance is always a focus of ours, and we’re happy to say there’s a number of performance optimizations that will be in our final release that were not available in the previews. We work closely with our Graphics and Core Game Systems teams to improve the game’s performance all around, and while most performance optimizations benefit both console and PC, there are specific optimizations we have implemented on PC to improve overall framerate, improve framerate consistency, reduce hitching, reduce video memory usage, and more. The optimizations we’ve made since the last preview should be quite noticeable and will help the game run and feel better on whatever hardware you have.

Sandbox

Aiming

  • Positive: The increase in default sensitivity was received well 
  • Feedback: Aiming was difficult on both controller and mouse and keyboard 
  • Feedback: Performance impacting aim 
  • Feedback: Using Scroll Wheel to change weapons on mouse felt inconsistent and could lead a player to accidentally swap back to original weapon 
  • Note: Confusion around red reticle removal in certain instances 

Sandbox Team Response

Aiming was probably the most highly debated topic we saw emerge during the flight. Since we’re a first-person shooter, it’s not something we take lightly, and we monitored it closely across both weekends. Some liked how difficult the aiming was, but many players felt the aiming was too difficult and/or felt bad. We also know that when the game is not fully optimized, which is the case in our tech preview builds, aiming does not “feel” as good as it would at launch. There were also some players who weren’t happy with the removal of red reticle on PC. Overall, there’s a lot of factors to unpack when it comes to this one.

When we started work on Halo Infinite, we did want aiming to require more skill but we also didn’t want it to feel “bad” for anyone. There was a strong focus on raising the skill ceiling without removing the fun, natural aiming feel that you expect from a Halo game. The response from this flight has made us take a closer look at aiming, but we needed to make sure we took a measured approach – especially knowing that performance optimizations will also improve its “feel” in-game.

As a result of this closer look, we’ve made minor changes to the “cone angle” of aim assist on select weapons for launch. To be clear, this is not a change of the “strength/stickiness” of the aim assist, but it should help make aiming feel more natural. A full list of these changes can be seen below:

  • Pulse Carbine: 4 to 6 degrees 
  • VK78 Commando: 5 to 5.5 degrees 
  • BR75: 5 to 5.75 degrees 
  • Heatwave: 5 to 6.25 degrees 
  • Ravager: 6 to 6.75 
  • Mk50 Sidekick: 5 to 6.25 degrees 
  • Skewer: 4.2 to 5.6 degrees 
  • S7 Sniper: 3 to 4 degrees 
  • Shock Rifle: Turned on hip magnetism 

We will be watching this closely, but we hope these changes, along with the performance optimizations, help improve how aiming feels when you go hands on later this year.

Another part of the confusion and frustration around aiming also likely stemmed from the removal of red reticle in online multiplayer on PC. We knew it would be controversial, but we trust our team when they say this will cut out another potential cheating vector. We saw quite a few of people say, “just build a better anti-cheat system,” which isn’t really the right way to look at it. “Building a better anti-cheat system” involves taking preventative measures across the entire game, wherever possible, to reduce the ease of creating cheats. This is one of those small steps that contributes to a larger anti-cheat strategy across the entire game.

There was also feedback that stated red reticle range was needed to determine effective range on weapons, which although it is helpful, we don’t agree that it is a necessity on most weapons. Though, in the case of tracking weapons such as the Plasma Pistol and Pulse Carbine or something that locks on like the Energy Sword, we agree. Red reticle was enabled on those weapons during the flight (and they will stay enabled) so you know when these weapons are ready to track or are locked on to their target.

Lastly, while not directly “aiming” related, we saw a few PC players mention that using the swap weapon input to their mouse’s scroll wheel could cause a double-swap, returning them back to their initial weapon. We saw this too and we’re actively looking closer at this internally.

Friend or Foe (IFF) Recognition (Player Outlines)

  • Positive: Accessibility and customization options continue to be appreciated 
  • Positive: Shield state and Overshield readability improved since last flight, some felt there was still room for improvement 
  • Feedback: Some players felt IFF outlines made it too easy to spot (and be spotted) from far away 
  • Feedback: Desire for more options remains, including the ability to turn them off 

Sandbox Team Response

It was great to see the improvements we implemented since last flight landing well, especially around the readability of a player’s shield state to determine how much health they had left.

During the BTB portion of the flight, some players brought up concerns about the range at which IFF outlines kicked in. It didn’t seem to be a problem for most, but we wanted to acknowledge that we hear this and we’ll monitor it when we launch.

As for turning them off entirely, we’d love to provide this option (and others) down the line, but it’s something we’ll need to balance and prioritize with our other work. We’ll provide updates on this when we have them.

Weapons

  • Positive: Overall weapon balance continues to feel great 
  • Positive: Throwing Fusion Coils (aka Noob Cube) is a fantastic addition to the gameplay loop 
  • Feedback: Many players expressed concern that the Plasma Pistol underperformed in most situations 
  • Feedback: Some players were worried about bloom on the VK78 Commando & Mk50 Sidekick 
  • Feedback: Some players dislike the S7 Sniper’s level of accuracy when out of scope 

Sandbox Team Response

Weapons are Halo’s bread and butter, so we’re glad to see the overall balance is landing well. Since Halo Infinite is a live game though, that work is never done, and we’ll constantly monitor how all the weapons interact with one another and make balance changes when needed. And seeing people share clips of them throwing Fusion Coils put smiles on all our faces.

The conversations around the Plasma Pistol were good to read over the course of the flight. It went from near outrage at the removal of its ability to EMP vehicles, to mild dislike, and then shifted to constructive criticism about its role in the Arena and Big Team Battle gameplay loop. We expected a bit of shock when that change came into play, but we were happy to see the conversation shift towards feedback - because we agreed with a lot of it. We also noticed it wasn’t performing well in its intended role against Spartans. Thanks to your feedback, we’ll be looking at some targeted changes to address its shortcomings against Spartans. We can’t guarantee these changes will make launch, but they are in-progress and will make their way to the game soon.

Bloom, or accuracy decay due to poor trigger discipline, especially on precision weapons, is always a lively conversation. During this Tech Preview we saw people not mind bloom and others dislike it, with most of the talk focusing on the VK78 Commando and the Mk50 Sidekick. From what we saw in people’s gameplay and in the data, both performed well in their intended ranges, but the VK78 actually started to do a little too well. The Mk50 really is meant to be a sidearm, not a primary utility weapon like many expect coming off the heels of Halo 5, and we believe it is fulfilling its role with its current tunings. In the case of the VK78, we reduced the damage on it so now it requires one more bullet to secure a kill. Given that can be a pretty large change, we opted not to alter its bloom and will continue to monitor how it plays. We aren’t making adjustments to bloom on these weapons for launch, but like all weapons, we will continue to monitor and make changes if needed.

No-scoping with the S7 Sniper was one we saw a little bit of traction on during the first flight, with a slight increase this flight. Eagle-eyed marksman noticed that hip-fired shots with the S7 Sniper are not always dead-center, even though they always stay within its small reticle. This is intended for a few reasons with the most notable being ensuring the S7 is used as a long-range weapon. And, since we’d know people will ask, our tuning is in-line with previous Halo titles that also had this effect on their UNSC Sniper Rifles. Right now, it is intended for hip-firing with the S7 to be accurate and consistent within a certain range. Beyond that range, players should scope in. Again, this behavior is not new to Snipers in Halo or even to other precision weapons in Halo. We understand where you are coming from, but we’d like for you to try to get used to the ranges for no-scoping and scoping-in before we make any changes here.

Movement

  • Positive: Overall movement speed and feel continues to be received well 
  • Feedback: Desire for increased physics impulses to help with grenade jumping, etc. 
  • Split Feedback: Some players like no player collision, others would like it to return 

Sandbox Team Response

These two feedback items have popped up here and there, so let’s talk about them.

A desire for increased knockback and physics impulses is one that we agree with. The two areas of focus for us on this topic are grenade explosions (to allow for grenade jumping) and the Gravity Hammer (for cool gravity effects and to have a more satisfying smash). There are lots of creative plays that can be made when physics impulses enter the mix, and that’s exactly what we want in Halo Infinite. We may not get these increases in for launch, but we’re on the same page and will be working to get them implemented as soon as we can.

Player collision, which is split in the community, is one that we believe is better to keep as is for the time being. We recognize that there are fun moments that can come from having it enabled, but we see far more benefits to the core gameplay loop for the majority of our players when teammates aren’t bumping one another. Running into a teammate at the start of a match, during normal gameplay, while trying to back down because you’re weak, when running the flag and trying to get around a corner, and more - these are common pain points that we’ve eliminated with this one decision. It does mean losing the ability to buddy jump and stack on top of your friends, but we believe removing the frustration of not being able to move where you want, when you want, is worth that change. That said, since we understand its use cases and value in some situations, we aren’t going to ignore this and will ensure that we monitor it closely and collect more data.

Equipment

  • Positive: Grappleshot continues to be a fan-favorite 
  • Positive: Repulsor’s versatility received lots of praise during both weekends 
  • Feedback: Players wanted Drop Wall to deploy faster and be more durable 
  • Feedback: Players felt Threat Sensor’s radius and duration were underwhelming 

Sandbox Team Response

The Grappleshot and Repulsor seem to be everyone’s favorites. We’re happy that these are feeling exciting, skillful, and fun.

After last flight, we did decrease the amount of time it takes to deploy the Drop Wall but we saw people still wanted more – with many folks wanting it to be more like the Bubble Shield. In this case, we disagree on buffing it any further right now. We’re confident in its ability to perform when deployed proactively before engagements rather than reactively or defensively once an engagement has started. We’ll monitor this in the live game, but we want to be cautious because increasing its durability could slow combat down too much and decreasing its deploy time could diminish the intended counterplay.

The Threat Sensor seems to be in a similar spot right now with the community feeling underwhelmed by its effectiveness. However, information is vital in Halo, and the Threat Sensor fits a unique role in the Sandbox that can be very powerful – possibly too powerful – if utilized effectively and once meta strategies develop around it. There are no updates planned for the Threat Sensor right now, but we’ll continue to monitor it when it goes live.

Vehicles

  • Positive: Vehicles felt fun to use overall 
  • Positive: Location specific damage, both in art and functionality, was an appreciated addition 
  • Feedback: Ghost felt too strong in terms of damage output and in vehicle health 
  • Feedback: Banshee did not feel effective enough, with concerns around Banshee bomb’s damage output, ineffectiveness of aerial maneuvers, and total vehicle health 
  • Feedback: Scorpion’s driving was too difficult and unintuitive 

Sandbox Team Response

It was great seeing people drive and ride around in vehicles for the first time during this Tech Preview. It’d been a long time coming, but we’re happy the overall feel and balance of them was well received. There is always room for improvement though and we agree with just about all the feedback above, so let’s break it down.

Ghosts were crazy fun to use, but they were menaces to take down in Arena and Big Team Battle. We’re pretty happy with the damage it can dish out, but do think it was able to tank a bit more damage than it should. So, we’re starting longer term conversations on how we can either reduce the durability of the vehicle or the protection it provides the driver.

In this flight, the Banshee didn’t feel like a dominant force that terrorized the sky. While that is intended to some extent, we agree that we can do more to make it more viable. The team is working on increasing the durability and effectiveness of the Banshee bomb.

The Scorpion is a meant to be a slow-moving tank, but that doesn’t mean we want its movement to feel unintuitive. It should still feel good, smooth, and go where you intend to go. We’re investigating a way to tighten the turn radius without reducing the turn rate.

We agree with all this vehicle feedback but since we’re focusing on closing out bugs for launch, these tuning changes may need to come later on down the road. Let us know what you think as they make their way in-game.

UXUI

  • Positive: HUD’s clean and streamline approach was appreciated 
  • Feedback: Inability to see second grenade type in HUD left some disappointed 
  • Feedback: Some would like HUD customization options 
  • Note: The flow to "mute" a player takes more steps than previous Halos, causing some confusion 
  • Note: Due to lack of in-game messaging, players didn't know why they were banned or for how long – causing frustration

UXUI Team Response

Overall, we’re pretty happy with the feedback we saw in this flight. It’s mostly positive, with a few feedback areas that we are already targeting for future releases.

We agree that the layout of the player’s inventory can be improved and will address both its size and layout in an upcoming release. This change will also include persistent visibility into the second grenade type for multiplayer gameplay and new settings to adjust the inventory layout.

We noticed a few people point out that muting and ban-messaging was not as clear or intuitive as they had hoped. We are working with our Live and Services teams to ensure that information is timely and easy to find; we will provide more updates when we have them.

Closing

Thank you for playing and providing feedback on Halo Infinite’s multiplayer experience throughout the summer. If you didn’t get a chance to join us for these Tech Previews, make sure you’re registered as a Halo Insider so that you can provide feedback via surveys to help shape the future of the franchise and participate in more Halo Infinite flights later on down the road. 

As a reminder, Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is free to play on Xbox and PC, and our most expansive Campaign to date is also available for pre-order now

We can't wait for you all to go hands on with the full game later this year!