Here's an early look at new Halo Infinite's raytracing features, per AMD

Halo Infinite co-op.
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

What you need to know

  • Raytracing is a technique that adds physics-based lighting and shadows to give video game scenery greater dynamism. 
  • Halo Infinite, Microsoft's flagship shooter, was promised raytracing all the way back in 2020. 
  • Finally, AMD has revealed during a live stream that Halo Infinite will get raytracing when Season 3 drops sometime in early 2023. 

Long-promised, Halo Infinite is finally getting ray tracing, according to a new stream from chip giant AMD. 

Back in 2020, Microsoft promised that the latest installment of its flagship competitive shooter would pick up ray tracing, but it has yet to materialize. Raytracing is a technique that creates physics-based lighting, which adds dynamism and realism to scenes where it's used correctly. The technique can also be used to produce advanced surround soundscapes, among other things. 

Raytracing was the oft-promised advancement that the new-gen Xbox Series X would bring in, although as of writing, the implementation hasn't exactly set the world on fire. Even NVIDIA's best graphics cards in the early days with features for raytracing didn't exactly deliver, as the intensive processing creates overheads that reduce visual quality in other areas. Advances in machine learning and other algorithmic techniques have helped elevate the quality of raytracing in recent years, and it seems like AMD may have figured out a way to offer it in Halo Infinite, without creating a performance deficit in other areas. 

In the stream, AMD demonstrated its Halo Infinite raytracing techniques as part of its advance_gaming event. Although the stream's compression is not a particularly great way to present graphics features like this online, it does offer a glimpse at what Halo fans can expect in the near future. 

The new technique shows how AMD's cards can produce higher-quality, more defined shadows with raytracing turned on. Right now, Halo Infinite's shadows look very soft by comparison. It's not a particularly great representation of how it will look in-game, but it should elevate the scenery as you're going for those killtacular headshots while in motion. Hopefully, we can get a look at it during live gameplay in the near future. 

Supposedly, the new raytracing features are coming to Halo Infinite Season 3, which is slated for some time next year. The next major Halo Infinite update, dubbed the Winter Update, is supposed to bring a range of improvements, including the long-awaited Forge mode. Unfortunately, AMD fell short of confirming whether or not it would hit Xbox consoles with their custom AMD chips, or would simply be for those with "RX 7000 series" platforms as described in the video. We've reached out to Microsoft for clarity there. 

Coincidentally (or not), Forza Horizon 5 also announced that raytracing features are on the way over there too, giving Microsoft another feather in its beautifully-shadowed cap. 

Thanks a ton to Brad Sams and ShatroGames for the tips!

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!