Halo Infinite is going open-world, but not that open-world. A round of campaign previews from various outlets have dropped today, and the game’s broad structure is starting to make sense. While early looks at the campaign suggested something akin to a Far Cry, it sounds like Halo Infinite is essentially going to be in the same format as previous series campaigns, just with all the individual missions stitched together into a larger whole.
Zeta Halo, the game’s setting, is made up of discrete landmasses divided by impassable terrain like canyons, as detailed in IGN’s video preview. You’ll gain access to new chunks of the world as you play, and as Game Informer’s preview suggests, you’ll be able to return to previously-unlocked areas to search out new secrets.
Things will likely become more open-ended as you acquire things like flying vehicles, but it looks like Infinite will play like a fairly traditional Halo campaign as you’re progressing the story. Major story encounters will take you into discrete, mostly linear areas, which IGN likens to dungeons.
So if you imagine a version of Combat Evolved where open-ended missions like Halo and Silent Cartographer are stitched into a connected map, with missions like Truth and Reconciliation or the Library furthering the story in-between, it seems like that’s basically what we’re getting with the Infinite campaign.
That’s not to say Halo Infinite has none of the accoutrements that generally accompany true open-world games. Completing optional activities like destroying enemy towers or rescuing marines will get you valor. As you reach new tiers of valor, you’ll be able to call in progressively more powerful support items, from a Mongoose or pistol to a VTOL Wasp.
You’ll also be able to pick up an upgrade item called Spartan Cores. These will improve things like your shield strength, or can be put into equipment like the grappleshot and threat sensor to give those bits of gear more powerful abilities.
But the previews agree that Halo Infinite’s upgrade systems seem entirely optional, so if you want to power through the story as a base-level Master Chief, that challenge is open to you. The upgrades seem to be there to simply offer rewards for exploration.
So if you were afraid Halo Infinite would turn into a Ubisoft game with towers to climb and a zillion collectables to check off, it seems that’s not the case. The levels are just bigger, interconnected, and offer more rewards for exploring off the beaten path.
The Halo Infinite release date is set for December 9. The campaign will be available as a standalone purchase or as part of Xbox Game Pass, which you can sign up for here. The multiplayer will be free-to-play.