The first Halo was originally meant to be an open-world game

Halo: Combat Evolved was originally conceived as being open world, its art director has said

Master Chief hefting a battle rifle

Halo Infinite is now out in the wild, and it’s the first large scale open-world game in the long-running series of FPS games. But it turns out that Halo was originally conceived of as having an open-world setting – its developers, however, had to pare things back for the hardware available 20 years ago.

Marcus Lehto was the art director for Halo: Combat Evolved during its development at Bungie back in the late ’90s, and in a recent exchange on Twitter, he said that Halo: Infinite – developed by 343 Industries while Lehto himself has started working on the Battlefield series – “brings back the magic of Halo.”

A fan repled, asking Lehto if he wished Halo: Combat Evolved could have had a more open-world structure. Lehto says that the original plans for Halo were indeed to make it an open-world game. “When building the first demo the intent then was to make it open world,” he explains. “Closest we got was The Silent Cartographer.”

The fourth level in Halo: Combat Evolved’s campaign, the Silent Cartographer was a showstopper when it debuted in 2001. In it, Master Chief and a group of UNSC marines land on a small island to try to find a map room hidden in one of the structures.

You’re given a huge amount of room to move around, across beaches and hills, and it made Halo stand out in a field of FPS games that generally featured narrow corridors and constrained arena fights.

Here’s how long it takes to complete the Halo Infinite campaign, if you’re just starting out.