The latest update comes from 343 creative director Chris Lee, who has revealed that the Halo ring where the game is set is Installation 07, which is also known as “Zeta Halo” in Halo lore. Installation 07 is actually one of the rings that have yet to appear in the games besides a few brief mentions, although it has appeared in some of the tie-in books. It’s regarded in the books as one of the most mysterious Halo rings of all and has been the subject of much speculation among fans.
Lee revealed the title’s setting in an interview with Games Radar in which he called Halo Infinite “the most ambitious Halo game ever made” and a “love letter” to the franchise. Certainly, returning to a Halo ring for the first time since Halo 3 is part of this love letter to Halo.
We saw hints of the new Halo ring in the gameplay footage, which teased more open environments as well as a world map players can pull up to track objectives and points of interest. The new map feature is called a “TACMAP.”
“We want to create something that’s familiar, but different,” Lee told Games Radar, explaining that, “the TACMAP gives you an idea of the size and scale, and some of the objectives that you will find in Halo Infinite…It gives players a lot of choice and freedom as they play through the world. You’ll be running into objectives, setting points on your map, and kind of navigating and exploring as you go.”
“While players will experience the core storyline in a certain order, they’ll have the freedom to explore the Halo Infinite world to uncover secrets and incorporate their own playstyle along the way,” Lee continued.
Another big question on fans’ minds since the project was announced is whether the new installment will have a local split-screen mode, a feature that was notably absent from Halo 5: Guardians, much to the dismay of players who’d come to expect local cooperative play from the series. Fortunately, 343 head of design Jerry Hook has confirmed that players will be able to enjoy Halo Infinite‘s campaign with two-player local split-screen and four-player online co-op.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise since 343 has long said that omitting split-screen mode from Halo 5 was a mistake. Adding it back in for the next Halo game always seemed like a priority for the team. In fact, returning to many of the elements that made the franchise’s early years great seems to be the major focus of Halo Infinite, which sports not only a familiar setting but also classic enemies, weapons, and even an art style that harkens back to earlier installments.
The game’s art style has actually become the subject of much debate among Halo fans. Some think that the retro art style that recalls the more colorful world of Halo: Combat Evolved and its direct sequels is subpar, while others have defended it, saying it looks more like Halo than 343’s other installments. The developers at 343 say the art style is deliberate and is all part of making Halo Infinite feel more like the Halo games you love and remember.
“We really want people to feel the way they did when they first played Halo: Combat Evolved,” associate creative director Paul Crocker told Games Radar. “Everyone remembers when they first crashed onto the mysterious Halo ring and how they felt as they looked around that world. That’s the feeling and emotion we want players to experience again. Capturing that has been our goal ever since we started this. We want Halo Infinite to feel different, new, and fresh… but we really want to bring back that sense of wonder, mystery, and hope.”
Halo Infinite is out in Holiday 2020 for Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC.