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Don't preorder Halo Infinite

Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Microsoft has settled on a Dec. 8, 2021, release date for Halo Infinite, the next entry in the sci-fi shooter series, and this year's tentpole project for its Xbox Game Studios creative arm. It's the first mainline Halo launch in over half a decade, promising the largest single-player campaign to date and a return to its classic arena multiplayer action. Halo Infinite made its latest on-stage appearance at Geoff Keighley's Opening Night Live show on Wednesday, flexing a new multiplayer trailer and a Halo Infinite-inspired Xbox Series X console to match.

But there's one takeaway I saw after Microsoft's Gamescom showing — "That's it?" The latest Halo showing has only raised fears over its campaign offerings, now almost three months from launch but still shrouded in obscurity. There's a promise of a new open-world approach to Halo, pitched as the most drastic shakeup to the formula on franchise history. But with the campaign still absent this close to launch, 343 Industries hasn't instilled confidence to justify that $60 price tag.

The piling pressure on Halo Infinite's campaign

Halo Infinite

Source: Xbox Game Studios (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios)

Microsoft has positioned Halo Infinite as the "future" of its shooter franchise, both a mainline Halo experience years in the making but also doubling as a platform for years to come. The most significant change comes with its new free-to-play multiplayer model, launching alongside the single-player campaign on Dec. 8, but still detached from the $60 package. It follows a string of free-to-play success stories this generation, likely to welcome a new audience to the established franchise.

But that new pricing model changes how we could perceive Halo Infinite and judgment toward its next chapter. With the multiplayer component now a standalone product, supported by an ecosystem of paid cosmetics and battle passes, those purchasing Halo Infinite are solely investing in the single-player campaign. While Microsoft continues to push Xbox Game Pass for day-one access, there's still a huge market for game sales, including preorders.

That's not to comment on the value of single-player experiences — some of the best modern video games thrive on solo experiences — and it's equally fundamental to the Halo legacy. But the Halo Infinite campaign remains absent, and with Gamescom the latest missed opportunity, it's clear that 343 Industries is holding back whatever is in the pipeline.

Halo Infinite

Source: Xbox Game Studios (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios)

Halo Infinite made its first gameplay debut last summer, once a headline demo to dominate Microsoft's big Xbox Series X showcase, now an infamous chapter in the game's development. The eight-minute demo spurred backlash for subpar visuals, birthing memes now synonymous with the project, and likely one factor behind its delay to 2021. 343 Industries blamed multiple factors, including working from home, but the rocky demo was a symptom of larger issues predating the spread of COVID-19.

The Halo Infinite launch is now only a few months out, with Microsoft committing to a firm early-December launch, and the title is now regularly prevalent in the news cycle. The game resurfaced at E3 2021 with a multiplayer focus, later followed by a multiplayer technical test providing the first public hands-on opportunity. The same theme has continued through Gamescom 2021, once again glossing over its single-player campaign.

With free multiplayer, Halo Infinite asks $60 for a single-player campaign still missing in action.

With Microsoft and various retailers now accepting Halo Infinite preorders, it's been over a year without substantial insight into anything relating to the paid $60 experience. We know Halo Infinite will descend on Zeta Halo, a new ring that serves as an open world for the events that unfold throughout the story. But how the open world and campaign function remains unclear. How big, and more importantly, how dense and varied is the open world? Where do missions and narratives tie into its open-ended structure? Is the campaign in a somewhat polished state?

We also understand Halo Infinite underwent significant behind-the-scenes changes following the departure of former director, Chris Lee, with Halo veteran Joseph Staten taking the wheel. What improvements have been made, if any, since that initial 2020 demo?

Halo Infinite and Schrödinger's campaign

Halo Infinite Multiplayer

Source: Xbox Game Studios (Image credit: Source: Xbox Game Studios)

These questions will continually overshadow the title until we see the campaign running on Xbox Series X, let alone aging Xbox One hardware. Cyberpunk 2077's launch debacle demonstrated the implications of subpar console launches, a similarly anticipated title veiled by a lack of transparency. Recent announcements have amplified those worries, including plans to delay the cooperative campaign and its Forge level-editing modes beyond launch. With Halo Infinite pushing the final few weeks of the year, all signs suggest the project is down to the wire to deliver upon those launch day promises.

While it's generally sound advice never to preorder video games in an increasingly digital market, that's especially true for Halo Infinite. We're going into the campaign blind with little effort to rebuild confidence in the paid $60 experience since that July 2020 demo. Gamescom was the obvious platform to provide more clarity, but now merely a missed opportunity.

Microsoft recently showed off new, limited-edition Halo Infinite hardware, and it's likely safe to take up any preorder opportunities, given the limited supply. But for the campaign, keep that cash set aside for the near-term — or invest in Xbox Game Pass as launch approaches. I have high hopes for Halo Infinite, with years of investment leading up to this moment, but some extra reassurance would go a long way.

Matt Brown is a senior editor at Future for Windows Central. Following six years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Xbox and Windows PCs. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

50 Comments
  • NEVER preorder a game, Halo or not. Preorders promote bad marketing and business practices.
  • Bit general there don't you think? Preorders are the life blood of most industries from gaming, hobbies, housing and cars. About the only thing not pre-ordered is perishable and consumable goods.
  • Lifeblood?
    A bit of a stretch.
    Mind you, pre-orders *are* critical in one (count it, one) content/entertainment business. But it is the mosf retrograde and hidebound business: the big trade publishing business dominated by european multinationals in NYC. The reason they are constantly at war with their biggest distributor (Amazon) because they refuse to let go of hundred-year old "received wisdom" and transition to digital-most. For music, video, and especially gaming, the lifeblood (and higest margins) are in digital and gaming sales are overwhelmingly digital:
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/190225/digital-and-physical-game-sal...
    CD sales, are withering, DVD and BD sales also. Even in books, ebooks are booming but it goes unniticed because the bulk of tbe growth is in the rental and Indie spaces. Print book sales have been flat all century. (Reported numbers purposefully don't account for mergers, price hikes, or inflation and still only manage low single digut growth, typically lower than inflation.) In gaming, as of 2018, a whopping 83% of game sales were digital. And that predates the all-digital XBOXes and playstation. It hasn't gone down.
  • Don't like it? Don't buy it. Do that with every game. I am excited for December 8 and can't wait to play it. 343 has a good track record with Halo 4 and 5, and the next Halo should be a fun one as well.
  • 343 has a good track record? Surely you're joking. I havent even heard that from the fanboys. That should tell you something lol.
  • I enjoyed those Halos more than 3 and reach. Personally I never understood the dropped panties for those 2 games. The people that actually enjoy the games play it, instead of having to explain themselves to people like you.
  • Halo fans are as bad as Star Wars fans. They don't even know what the want. Half want one thing, half want the other, and none of them can be satisfied. They get more enjoyment out of whining like a b**ch.
  • Actually, you seem like the person who is whining. I'd personally never compare Halo fans to Star Wars fans but to each their own. I'm looking forward to it. I enjoyed the original series and I've enjoyed 343's take. I've read several of the Halo books so I do consider myself a fan but I'm not in creative control nor would I want to be. Looking forward to playing it however it comes out.
    The fact I have game pass means I'll enjoy it along with all the other games I enjoy due to having game pass.
  • I don't understand pre-orders for games at all.
  • Never, ever pre-order! The marketing might be great but the real game not.
  • thats bait .gif
  • I fail to see the point here. With Game Pass, what's the point of preordering Halo? What's the point of buying it? And if you're a fan, you will do it anyway. As with preorders, depends of your knowledge of what a game is like, of course it's common practice if a game has little information about it to not preorder it. Otherwise, I don't think it's bad for games you'd buy at day one anyway.
  • Well. I'm getting the limited edition halo console and controller and i'm also getting the game for free.
  • Pre-Order? Why would we do that? Don't you already have Gamepass ultimate bruh?
  • I'm pretty sure the "piling pressure" exists only in your head, Matt. They've already shown campaign gameplay, and they have shown major improvements to the visual presentation of Halo: Infinite (the major concern people expressed) since then, including in the multiplayer beta. Microsoft has its reasons to withhold more campaign details until closer to launch, I'm sure, but implying that Halo: Infinite will launch in a broken state like Cyberpunk: 2077 is unwarranted fear mongering. Many fans already will be getting this day-one on GamePass, and others will pre-order because it's Halo. Those gamers who actually share your level of skepticism will not likely pre-order any game, Halo or otherwise.
  • >implying that Halo: Infinite will launch in a broken state like Cyberpunk: 2077 is unwarranted fear mongering. Agreed, the whole article boils down to this.
  • They showed a tiny, on-rails demo over a year ago that was received poorly and helped influence the yearlong delay. Since then, we've really gotten no significant GAMEPLAY updates on the campaign. With the broken release schedule that we just got, that adds to the "what are we supposed to expect?" sentiment for the campaign, as they haven't done anything to alleviate concerns. "implying that Halo: Infinite will launch in a broken state like Cyberpunk: 2077 is unwarranted" How so? They promoted this game on "splitscreen campaign is back!" when it was announced. Now, it's been factually stated, by 343, that we're not getting it at launch. We're not getting the online co-op we had with Halo 5 at launch, either. They're taking LARGE chunks of the game and pushing them months down the road (3 months on co-op, 6 on Forge). That suggests they're still needing to commit heavy resources to having the stuff for December 8th as close to ready as possible. None of that makes it sound unreasonable to expect serious issues at launch, and I definitely think we're in for a lot of bugs. This is a new style of game from a team that's not shown it has the task under control, so I'm certainly not leaning towards an optimistic view on what will be launched in December. I expect a LOT of heavy patching.
  • Time to move on to the death threats then.
  • Yes great argument, very mature reply to a person who has made some valid points in his criticism and implying all people with valid criticisms are sending death threats... JFC. Looking at Keiths take on this and yours... I can already tell who the mature one is.
  • I don't think you made a lot of good points either, I just don't feel like wasting time refuting you.
  • I hope that is sarcasm.
  • Here I'll reply to Keith with logic. They aren't going to show campaign until we get little closer to launch, end of story.. The entire game got pushed back because of a semi poor showing and the only bad part was visuals which is actually the LAST thing to come together in game development. Having the game pushed severely messed with marketing which is why things are being unveiled in the way that they are. Also Microsoft has generally shown significantly more mp than sp. I wouldn't worry about the campaign being bad. If it wasn't going to be ready then it would get delayed, it's really that simple. Microsoft can afford to dump unlimited money into a project so delays are no big deal unlike cyberpunk where they were forced to release. As for missing coop, potential split screen and forge... Blame covid. 343 has focused on finishing the campaign and mp. Anything extra will come later and I'd rather it go that way and get coop down the line. It will be a great way to bring people back into the campaign. Also remember that Halo infinite is going to be the "platform" for halo for the next decade. They have already said the game will continue to improve visually, new content, more story etc. Best of all you can test the game for free if you have doubts. I wish I could have tested Last of us 2 before buying it... Because I wouldn't have.
  • Only games I pre-order are Rockstar games. Only company I can trust when it comes to campaigns
  • I'm pre-ordering the SteelBook edition. I want to be sure I get one.
  • I generally agree that I don't see a reason to pre-order just the game. Ig you want the console (and can find it), there's an excuse--you have to buy the game with the console. However, they want you to pay for the campaign on December 8th, but not deliver the full launch content until 3-6 months after launch. If all they're bothering to deliver, speaking to the paid experience, is the solo campaign, then you might as well wait on it. If you're specifically wanting it for co-op campaign, the game will probably go on sale multiple times before the co-op is released. That, or get a month of Game Pass to experience what they're actually releasing (you can definitely finish the solo campaign in a month), then enjoy the free multiplayer. Pre-ordering a game that's announced to not be releasing its content for MONTHS after launch doesn't make sense.
  • Oh, dear.... 8th December?
    That doesn't seem remotely practical.
  • Great article Matt. Very objective article. Bless WC for always keeping it real.
  • If you can't make your own judgment about buying something or not, then you need help.
    Before there was youtube or internet gamer's had to rely on magazines and pictures.
  • Which you have to agree was awful. You're talking about periods of time when publishers had complete power over the market, set the prices, and the consumer response was "deal with it". Honestly pre-orders are just completely behind the times and perpetuated by companies that want to gaurentee full price sales. Even with gameplay videos and in depth reviews you don't fully know if you'd find a game worth more or less or equal to its price because gaming is an individual experience. That's why I LOVE the prospect of "day one on Xbox Game Pass". It allows consumers the oppurnity to play and experience new games and then decide if it's worth buying to own. And you aren't wasting money for gamepass as long as there's at least one full price game you enjoy every 4 months (if you got ultimate). I do agree this article is dumb (the entire pretense is pointless and subjective; you can make an objective argument about not pre-ordering in general, but if it's a single game you already know it's kinda worthless), but I've also always hated the "back in the day it was worse, so deal with it" responses. Things should be constantly improving and people allowed to point out how things could be done better. Though feel free to say that doing X would actually make things worse. I myself have enjoyed the ambiguity on the campaign and lack of spoilers and don't want that to change.
  • I'm going to pre-order just for the fact it gets under people's skin. I don't have all these equations in my head that result in whether I will have fun or not based on the amount of money I spend or when. I've always liked Halo and I fail to see why I won't like this one, coop or not. $60 is pocket change to me. The Golden Era of gaming died long ago, now its just whining until you never get what you actually want hand crafted just for your preferences. If you don't think it will be worth getting at launch then please do us all a favor and don't buy it at all. It's going to be a real shame to share the same gaming space with this vocal minority.
  • I hate telling people they're wrong (because in most situations there isn't a right or wrong), but basically your wrong. I hate even more to tell you, because you actually have reasons I WANT to agree wirh, but in this case you're still wrong. I implore you to read the stupid long comment I wrote a the bottom (if you can find it/it's still there). Essentially pre-ordering is objectively and inherently only harmful to the gaming industry and consumers. In the short term it's very helpful to maximize profits for big AAA publishers, but otherwise its very damaging. It incentivizes bad behavior (publishers are virtually encourage to lock content behind a preoder wall, lie in marketing, make empty promises, etc). Consumers get literally nothing out of having pre-ordered. All you're doing is putting power in the people that only care about your wallet (and no, not the developers who may or may care beyond that, but the publishers who have shareholders that make them not care). Not to mention you're just wasting money. And I will tell you right now you'll NEVER waste money as long as you (as an individual) see value in something equal to what you spent. The problem with pre-orders is you don't see that value until AFTER you've spent the money (which can create REAL money waste (not "I'm some random person on the internet who thinks what you enjoy is worth nothing" waste)). The thing is you literally have no idea if you'll enjoy a product of media or art (which video games are creative works and fall under) until after you as an individual have experienced it. Even when you do research post release and watch gameplay videos you still don't actually know how much you'd enjoy/value the experience of playing it until you've played it, but at least then you're making a kinda informed decision (as opposed to going in blind with pre-orders). I would advise against pre-ordering any game. For Halo in particular play the campaign on Gamepass and Then decide if it's worth buying to own (do it day one if you want and pay as much as possible (buy it twice for a friend if you think it's worth it)). Also I do have to touch on the "golden Era" of gaming and completely disagree with it. Games are better than they've ever been... they're also worse and somewhere in between, because they're freaking creative works and it's insane to wrap millions of creative products under a single blanket of "golden Era" or not in any time period. I just want to smash my head against the wall when someone acts like every game of X Era or Y Era was better than the games of the other Eras or vice versa. Not like video games are an individual experience of enjoyment that shouldn't be given a blanket rating or anything. I also hate when people complain about modern audiences wanting more transparency or giving criticisms (though I will say most people don't know how to give constructive criticism). For Halo Infinite's campaign I like the obscurity, but at the same time I see no reason why people who don't shouldn't be allowed to be vocal about it. The vocal minority is only a problem when the company (or often government) they're speaking to forgets their are other opinions out there. Otherwise they're another perspective who may or may not provide helpful feedback.
  • Pre-orders are meaningless in the digital download and cloud gaming era.
    They are a legacy of the brick and mortar past, when you had to get to preorder or get to the store early to make sure the stock didn't run out.
    Today, there is literally infinite (sic) stock just waiting to be downloaded and no shortage of yourtube videos reviews and runthroughs on day one (or earlier) so anybody interested in a game, any game, will know exactly what the game is like immediately. The proper admonition should be more general:
    "Don't preorder *any* game...unless it's on game pass. Then *do* preorder: it'll cost nothing extra and you can always delete it if it doesn't please you."
  • The thing is they purpose of pre-orders have drastically changed BECAUSE we're in the digital era. Back when you waited in line for X new popular AAA game, pre-ordering as a necessary tool used by consumers to preserve their copy. Today pre-orders have become a predatory tool to guarantee as many sales as possible at full price (consumer interest and price drops within months of a new game's release). There's objectively zero merit to consumers to pre-order (at most for multiplayer games a day one buy ensures you play with the most people but you can still buy it day one after seeing in depth gameplay. For single player games if you don't want spoilers just don't go looking for them (I will say there is always that one person on YouTube that puts the full description in the title) and even then you can buy day one before any videos are up without pre-ordering). But there's a ton of benefit in it for companies to use it for maximizing profits, even more so because in the digital world they could (theoretically) have EVERYONE pre-order a game and pay full price without worrying about running out of stock. That's why they incentivize it (usually with dlc items you can't get otherwise) or push the narrative of "pre-orders are awesome" in every ad.
  • But...
    Digital sales are always full price at launch and for months afterwards.
    And digital is well over 70% of sales. Preorders, hype-driven or not, only matter for a minority of Disk buyers.
    More, pre-orders can be cancelled and as I said, real bad releases are exposed by launch day, often before. You really have to go out of your way to get burned.
  • Make that "over 80% of sales are digital".
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/190225/digital-and-physical-game-sal...
  • This is an interesting take, because I have honestly massively enjoyed how they've marketed Halo Infinite and chose to be obscurity on campaign. They can show off multiplayer as much as possible to give us full insight on gameplay, but be completely mysterious about the campaign to avoid all the potential spoilers and theory crafters (though the internet never quits). I hate that I can't just go into games blind anymore and need to know everything to make a purchase. This bleeds into my second point of it just doesn't matter. You honestly shouldn't pre-order ANY game. The problem with pre-ordering is your paying full price for a mystery box EVERY SINGLE TIME. It's virtually impossible (without a time machine and becoming a walking paradox) to know if you'll enjoy something before you've experienced it. The really funny thing is this doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the product, but individual takes on it (which can be literally anything for the billions of different people in the world). A movie can be loved by critics and literally every other person in the universe, but you have no idea whether you like it or not until you buy a ticket and watch it, and if you don't that's however much money gone either way (why I don't go to the theaters). Media (for that matter any art or creative work) isn't a tech product where you're told the full specs, shown the inside, and given full breakdowns before it releases (I mean yes you're told technical capabilities but doesn't tell you how you'll feel about playing the game).  This is one of the biggest problems (if not the biggest) with the gaming industry today. For major publishers, the name of the game has become to push day one sales and pre-orders as much as possible. To do this they've thrown promises, spoilers, inaccurate trailers, straight up lies, and worse at us. It's awful. One of the main reasons I had started to feel so disconnected from the gaming industry before Xbox Game Pass. Day one on Xbox Game Pass paints a beautiful future (considering things go well). Imagine games that are bought solely based on their own merit, because players enjoyed the game itself (not the hype), none were rushed out the door, and consumers had the power to discriminate between choices based on their own experiences. I would love (and hope) to see a time where no one pre-orders (and those awful pre-order bonuses go away). A game is released day one on game pass, gamers try it, decided if they enjoyed it or not (enough to value it at the price tag), and then buy it.  The other thing is pre-order is just a waste of money economically speaking. Now, no one can ever tell you a product you bought was a waste of money. Only you can, because value is based on how an individual perceives it on a case by case basis. The problem is that you don't have enough information to determine value on a pre-order. After you've actually played it you may determine it to be worth more or less than you paid. This is why some economists argue buying a gift is a waste of money (you don't know how much the person in question would have valued X item for and end up spending too much or too little). Companies love it though because they only see the increased sells and never bother to look at the big picture. I'm also just putting it out there, but Cyberpunk showed a lot about its campaign, showed off a mission, showed off gameplay, talked about the setting and made promises... and we saw how that ended. Suffice to say, whether Halo Infinite is awesome or not, don't pre-order it or any game. Get 3 months of gamepass in November (they'll probably do a better special for the 20th xbox anniversary) or way more for $90 and a gold exploit, play it day one on game pass, and decide if the campaign is worth buying it to own or not AFTER you've experienced it. And personally I hope to the stars they don't spoil or tease for sales.
  • This is a silly, hyperbolic article. The game is on gamepass, and the multiplayer is free. So why would you preorder it? In fact, why preorder any game?
  • Not everyone has Game Pass or even wants to use it.
  • I have Game Pass, and I think it’s an amazing value, and it’s actually saved me some money with games that really looked appealing to me and then ended up not being my cup of tea, but I will always prefer to own games I enjoy. Just look at the Forza series. How many are lost to time because of expired licensing agreements? Forza Horizon 2 is so far, to me, the peak of the series, yet good luck playing it if you don’t already own it, Game Pass or not.
  • I can understand reserving a physical copy but pre-ordering digital content is dumb, especially if the refund policy is draconian and doesn't benefit the consumer.
  • You know what, I'm going to preorder it just to spite you.
  • Eh, I'll keep repeating, Hello Infinite is going to be a dumpster fire of epic proportions. Nothing with this many development woes and push backs has ever released in a decent state. But hey, maybe six months after launch after god knows how many big fixes there'll be a salvageable game. But this is AAA development now, people need to deal with it or buy indie because that's the only place you'll find decent development these days.
  • Silly post. I'm definitely preordering. Loved halo5. #Save Locke
  • I preordered the game based on the gameplay shown. The visuals.... I’m straight up not expecting to be blown away by, but the gameplay shown in last year’s demo looked fun as heck. For visuals (as well as fun), I’ll play Forza Horizon 5 at launch, and I expect that that game will even exceed the visual punch of a game like Flight Sim. I actually think that so far FH5 is looking like the new graphical high bar. I’m not worried about Halo’s gameplay, and that’s why I don’t have any reservations about giving them my money before seeing how the graphics have been upgraded. Cyberpunk level bugs and such... I just don’t think 343 would release a game in that state. I would be genuinely shocked if they do. As for the Game Pass comments, I will always prefer to own games. Yes, Game Pass is an incredible value, and it’s actually saved me from buying games where my interest was piqued and then the game just ended up not being my cup of tea, but, as I’ve said elsewhere on here, good luck playing a game like Forza Horizon 2 if you don’t own it. In regards to Halo Infinite, I already know that it’s gonna play like a Halo game, so I’m not worried about putting money down.
  • And you have every right to do so! This article is more directed towards those on the fence or those who aren't deeply looped into every Halo announcement out there. With the campaign absent for some time, and continued comments that 343 wants to finish up the campaign before showing more footage, it's only that the project is clearly down to the wire, and it wants to deliver a good impression with whatever it shows. I just hope it can deliver on those promises and deliver a fun and refined product. The digital age makes preordering mostly unnecessary, and those who aren't subscribed to Game Pass can easily purchase the title on launch day, without worrying about potential shortages, etc. For right now, preordering isn't a necessity. But if you feel like doing so, obviously up to you, and there's no problem in doing so.
  • Typically I wouldn't but Best Buy is offering a $10 pre-order bonus. I'll take it.
  • Pre-order cancel culture. I personally don't recommend pre-ordering, but telling others how to spend their money is pretty poor in taste.
  • The point of this article isn't to dictate how people spend their money — but rather, if you read the whole article beyond the headline, it's explaining what a preorder gets you for this game, and how it differs from most other FPS releases on the market. Furthermore, the part you're preordering has been absent for a decade. While yes, I personally wouldn't recommend buying the title right now, until we see more campaign footage, Halo diehards, or those wanting to reserve a copy have... every right to do so? Nobody is stopping you in the slightest. It's not black and white, rather just some additional thoughts, based on what we've seen.
  • While pre-ordering isn't a bad thing necessarily, why would you? Halo launches on Game Pass, does it not make more sense just to pay for game pass for the release month, a 1/6th of the cost for full access. Sure if they do another full size collectable like the first one I might go for it. I rarely buy any game these days, the cost is too high and even triple A titles have left me soured with their £60+ prices for a mediocre experience.
  • Pre-ordering digital content makes no sense. It's a totally different situation from the days when you went to a game store and had to reserve a physical copy that might sell out before you got to the store...