A Bloomberg report from yesterday has revealed new details on the state of the Halo franchise and the turmoil at developer 343 Industries. This news comes after 95 employees lost their jobs, following mass layoffs across Microsoft. The layoffs affected long-time 343 devs, as well as contractors who only had a few days' notice. Halo Infinite has been trying to find its footing after a rocky first year, but this report doesn’t inspire much hope from fans, at least for the series’ short-term future. The report delves into the studio’s switch to a different engine, an upcoming battle royale game, and most importantly, the lack of any single-player content in development.
After Microsoft’s promises that Halo Infinite would be supported for 10 years, fans expected new story content alongside updates to Infinite’s live-service multiplayer. According to Bloomberg, single-player content was never actually planned for the game. Instead, developers had been prototyping and pitching ideas for new Halo games, although nothing was in active development. Since most of the layoffs at 343 affected their single-player team, no new story content is being worked on at the moment, sending Master Chief back into cryo-sleep. Halo’s campaigns have always been a major aspect of the series, so this news is a little disheartening. After the layoffs, 343 were quick to reiterate their focus on the series “including epic stories,” but those stories look to be on the back burner, for now.
Much of the turbulence at the studio reportedly comes from engine problems. 343 publicly calls their engine Slipspace, which is an iteration of the Blam Engine that Bungie used to develop their old Halo games. Slipspace has seemingly slowed down development. Extraction and Assault were named as two popular series modes that are “nearly ready,” but struggling to make it across the finish line due to the unreliable engine. The studio has apparently been moving toward Unreal Engine since studio boss Bonnie Ross left the company late last year. The long-rumoured, Certain Affinity developed battle royale - codenamed Tatanka - is going to be the first Halo title built with Unreal. It seems like Slipspace wasn’t the only issue during Infinite’s dev cycle, though. Former multiplayer lead Patrick Wren pointed the finger at “incompetent leadership up top.”
In an email to employees, the head of 343 Pierre Hintze said the studio’s focus was to support a “robust live offering” for Infinite and “greenlighting our new tech stack” for future games in the series.
Halo Infinite’s third season is due on March 7th, but we don’t know much about what it’ll include. In fairness, Forge mode has been a delightful addition to the game since November. Fan-made recreations of Skyrim’s Whiterun City and Mario Kart’s DK Mountain brought a smile to my face, at least. Aside from that, the future of Infinite is anyone’s guess.