The new Halo game is going to be at least a year late, as 343 Industries details the graphical improvements they’ve been making.
The developers of Halo Infinite have offered the first major update on the game’s progress since it was delayed because of the poor fan reaction to its graphics.
That was back in the summer, when the game was intended to be a launch title for the Xbox Series X/S, after which Microsoft moved the release date back to 2021 – now clarified to be autumn 2021.
A lengthy new blog by creative director Joseph Staten goes into considerable detail about the changes made to the game, although the new screenshots are mostly of character models and what looks like a multiplayer map.
Staten states that changes to the game’s graphics engine, specifically its ‘GPU-driven rendering and texture streaming solution’ will ensure that the pop-up and texture problems evident back in July will not be a problem in the final version.
He also promises a, ‘better quality of global illumination, ambient occlusion, shadows, volumetric lighting, sky, and atmosphere’.
‘There’s been a lot of work done re-tuning our dynamic lighting values to add more punch and contrast to the image’, adds director of art management Neill Harrison.
‘These included adjustments to our sun intensity, fog/atmosphere, and the addition of colour grading which did not make it into the July gameplay demo.’
‘We’ve improved some of our materials to get more specular response, more wear-and-tear on weapons/vehicles, more fidelity in our characters, and more macro breakup on large surfaces like rocks, terrain, and the hex walls’, he added.
‘We’re now also getting more of our textural detail coming through to the final frame thanks to a sharpening process that our graphics team have added. This helps offset some of the natural blurring of temporal anti-aliasing and it certainly helps our assets shine.’
The lingering question is how anyone at Microsoft or 343 ever thought the version of the game shown in July would ever impress anyone, but Harrison does address how Craig the Brute became a meme as a result.
‘Facial animation on NPCs was not fully implemented in that build, which resulted in Craig’s incredibly deadpan/lifeless look’, he explains.
‘So, poor old Craig was never intended to be seen in that condition which is not something that was evident during the gameplay. It was only later, in the close-up freeze frame of his one bad moment, where it came to light and the legend of Craig was born.’
There is no indication that the game is going to become an Xbox Series X exclusive and although the issue isn’t addressed the implication is that it will still be released on the Xbox One as well.
Many have worried that the game’s need to run on an Xbox One S is what ensured the less than impressive visuals, but Microsoft has repeatedly stated that there won’t be any Xbox Series X exclusives for at least a year after launch.
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