Microsoft showed gameplay footage of their upcoming flagship FPS, Halo Infinite, for the first time at an event that took a first look at what’s special about the upcoming next-generation console, the Xbox Series X. That didn’t quite work out where the game looked fine, but certainly nothing groundbreaking. After Microsoft spent months calling the Xbox Series X “the most powerful console ever,” people expected that they would at least have something that demonstrated this performance, and Halo Infinite wasn’t.
In response to this backlash, developer 343 Industries has posted a blog post that deals directly with the topic. Along with a variety of different themes, 343 acknowledges the criticism of the graphics and promises that the final game will look a lot better.
“First of all, we would like to acknowledge that we received feedback from parts of the community about the graphics in the Halo Infinite campaign demo. While we see and hear a lot more positively than negatively, we want to share a bit more context. From our perspective there are two key areas discussed in the community – general art style and visual fidelity. ”
This seems about right to me. Part of the criticism focused on deciding not to try a new style with graphics. At a glance, the location we saw in Halo Infinite’s first gameplay footage could very easily have been set in some of the same places as in previous Halo games. It may have been thought of as a back-to-basics approach to get the series back to its roots, but many people might have hoped to see more evidence of how the series evolved rather than repeating what worked in the past. Of course, this is a matter of personal preference, but I can see that people are somewhat disappointed that they are grunts and elites spread across part of The Silent Cartographer.
“With Halo Infinite, we are returning to a more“ classic ”art style that was a key message that stems from the very first revelation that generated enthusiastic and positive reactions. This results in a more vivid palette, “cleaner” models and objects with less “noise”, although this means no less detail. While we appreciate that this is not everyone’s personal preference, we stand by this decision and are pleased that it has been well received by so many fans around the world. “
In terms of visual fidelity, it may be more difficult to decline for personal reasons only. Perhaps it suffers somewhat from the fact that it was billed as the strongest reason to spend a lot of money on the most powerful console ever made, and instead looked just like a regular Halo regular game. We don’t know exactly how long it will take to release, but they will have most of the rest of the year to continue working on Halo Infinite, and they say it will look better at the time of release:
“Negative feedback in this area includes comments on characters and objects that appear flat, simple and plastic, dull lighting and a pop-up object. We read your comments, we saw the homemade examples of retouched content and yes, we heard the digital foundry reviews. In many ways, we agree on this – we still need to address some of these areas and improve fidelity and overall appearance for the endgame. The build that ran the campaign demo had been in the works for a few weeks. A large number of graphic elements and game systems were still finished and polished. While some of the feedback has been expected and relates to areas that are already running, other aspects of the feedback have brought to light new opportunities and considerations that the team takes very seriously and is working on evaluating. We don’t have firm answers or results yet, but the team is working on plans as soon as possible to take into account some of the feedback on detail, clarity, and overall fidelity. The team is committed and focused on ensuring that we have a beautiful world that players can explore at launch. “
It feels like they wanted to use the restriction, “Oh, that’s old, don’t worry that the graphics need more work”. It might have been a better idea to mention this before showing the footage than after. The game is not far from the release and they have already said that effects like ray tracing will only be added after the release. There is still time for improvement, but the graphics are unlikely to change fundamentally.
Microsoft looks a little disorganized because the date for the release of Halo Infinite gameplay footage has been set, but it doesn’t appear to have been checked first to see if it was actually ready to be viewed.
However, the graphics are not the only area for which we are getting an update. Some additional details about other elements in the game are also covered in this blog post.