With Halo Infinite's latest feature cancellation, and the expected backlash that's followed, we're left wondering about the future of Xbox's flagship IP. Halo has long been the poster child for Xbox - heck, Infinite was supposed to celebrate the series' 20th anniversary in style following the game's delay from 2020. However, things haven't really panned out that way for the developer, with the series' most dedicated fans feeling disillusioned by 343's recent moves.
If you've not seen the news by now, Halo Infinite's local split-screen co-op has been canned, so the team can prioritize other elements of Halo Infinite's live service. Split-screen is a feature that's been promised since the game launched — along with online co-op which is still coming — and its cancellation has disappointed fans across the Halo community. Not only for the loss of the feature itself, but for the precedent being set by 343.
Halo Infinite has long been labelled a 'live service' game, i.e., a release that gets near-constant updates to keep folks invested. The idea in principle is a sound one, it's worked well for other shooters, but it hasn't clicked into gear for Halo Infinite. Updates are still coming, and fairly substantial ones at that, but until now 343 hasn't delivered the goods fast enough to keep people not only playing, but invested in the game's future. This latest cancellation is just the next Halo Infinite setback.
To be honest, we'll cut 343 a bit of slack based purely on Halo Infinite. The game was released during a pandemic, and not only that, but it was a really solid product at launch in late 2021, albeit with a few missing features. Its lack of post-launch updates, as frustrating as it's been, hasn't turned a great game into a bad one overnight. However, the delays and missing features unfortunately started quite a long time before Halo Infinite.
Remember the Master Chief Collection? Nowadays it's broadly labelled a success story; it's still getting updates almost a decade later! However, roll the clock back to 2014 and Halo's compilation launched in a really, really rough state. To be honest it didn't work as advertised at all, and it took years and years for 343 to fix it.
Then, we move to Halo 5. While criticisms were levelled at the game's story, the product worked as intended for the most part, so we have to give credit where credit's due on that front (we enjoyed Halo 5 MP quite a bit too). However, the promise of split-screen started there, with 343 saying it'd never ship another Halo game without the feature after Halo 5 launched. Seven years on, and the feature never made it to Halo Infinite, after months of promises regarding its arrival.
We're now a decade on from 343's first Halo outing with Halo 4, and we feel no clearer on the future of the series in 2022. Each of the studio's entries have been divisive in some fashion, but that's to be expected with a franchise followed by such a large, hardcore fanbase. However, the borked launches, broken promises and missing features? They're starting to become a recurring theme at this stage in Halo's life.
This begs the question, can 343 Industries deliver on what's right for Halo? The developer certainly has the chops to make great first-person shooters; Infinite is evidence of that. However, it's getting to the stage where the studio has 'baggage' from its history with Halo, and it's never been able to really step out of Bungie's shadow. We've long supported 343 and its Halo journey, and we've enjoyed most of the games it's released, but a fresh approach may well be needed at this point, to finish the fight.
Can 343 turn things around for Halo? What's next for the series in general? Drop your thoughts down below.