The negative reaction from fans to the first Halo Infinite campaign demo back in July 2020 apparently caused the complete creative shake-up at developer 343 Industries, with multiple creative leads parting, and was also the reason for the game’s many delays.
Halo Infinite had already lost several high profile developers before 2020, but the poor player reaction to the first-ever campaign gameplay demo – called ‘Ascension’ – at Xbox’s E3 2020 showcase caused the game’s director to depart and ex-Bungie writer Joseph Staten to take their place.
Speaking with IGN, Staten describes how the demo “didn’t land as well as we had hoped” and how his casual offer to help the team turned into “a brand new career” and “a totally different scale of what I thought ‘help’ might be”. Staten joined the Halo Infinite team as head of creative and was apparently the one who insisted on delaying the game after coming on-board and deciding it needed “more time in the oven”.
Aside from the delay, which Staten calls a “player-first decision”, he made sure 343 would “double down” on ten areas – called “epics” – or “those areas we already believe are really really good that we want to make great”. Staten describes the game’s new items as one such ‘epic’, or “what the equipment is, where to find it, and how to use it how to have fun with it” – with the new grapple shot described as a big example of this.
Additionally, Staten wanted to ensure the game could be finished in a way where the team was healthy, not stressed out, and ready to move into a live-service mindset after Infinite ships. “I have seen the bad version of that and I absolutely don’t want that for the studio.” This is part of the reason why co-op was delayed, too. “Co-op just wasn’t ready and we decided to prioritise our effort in other areas.”
So while the first gameplay demo received criticism enough to delay Halo Infinite, cause creative lead changes, and stop the co-op side from being released until next year, it sounds like the campaign – and the team – are better off because of it. We’ll find out if all the drama was worth it when Halo Infinite’s story side launches on December 8.