Halo Infinite is removing traditional color customization, and fans aren't happy

Halo Infinite's Red Shift and Monarch armor coatings.
Halo Infinite's Red Shift and Monarch armor coatings. (Image credit: 343 Industries)

Recently, following 343 Industries' showcase of the Monarch armor coating, the Halo developer wrote a blog post that (in addition to teasing the Red Shift armor coating) contained an explanation about how Halo Infinite's coating customization system will work in detail. Specifically, coatings were defined as special shaders that change the color, material, and/or pattern of an armor piece, weapon, or vehicle. Considering the fact that material and pattern customizations haven't been options in Halo before, this initially got people excited.

343 Industries then confirmed these coatings are replacing the primary and secondary color system that has traditionally always been in the Halo games. This means players can't freely pick what colors their armor has; instead, you'll have to pick from the color combinations that are available in the coatings you unlock. Most fans (myself included) are not happy about this change. Here's why, and also some suggestions on how the coating system could be made better.

The problems with Halo Infinite coatings

Source: Windows Central Halo 5: Guardians color customization. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Ultimately, the community's biggest problem with the coating system is that because color preferences are such a uniquely specific thing to each individual player, it's highly unlikely that there will be enough coatings in the game to give every player the type of color combination they want. I expect there will be coatings for common color combos like black and red or gray and green, but what about weird ones like brown and orange? If you think that would look ugly, I would agree with you, but that's not the point. People should have the choice and freedom to use that combination right out of the gate just like you could in all previous Halo games, rather than be forced to hope the developers make a coating that suits their very specific taste.

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The second concern I and many others have with the coating system is that it looks like you won't be able to use the colors of a specific coating without using the armor material and pattern of that coating as well. So, for example, let's say that the brown and orange coating is in the game after all. However, to use those colors, you'll also have to make your armor look worn down and chipped — and you want your armor to look normal. In this situation, you'd forced to choose between the colors you want or the armor texture you want.

Considering the point of Halo's customization system is to allow players to make their Spartan look the way they want, this "one or the other" situation would be terrible. Colors should not be tied to the other things coatings change, as this limits a player's options and forces them to make annoying compromises.

How could the coating system be improved?

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

In terms of how the coating system could be improved upon, I think a compromise would be to separate color options from coatings entirely, at least for armor. This way, players will be able to choose the colors they want freely like they could in previous Halo games. Additionally, this change would allow for people to come up with more creative combinations, since you'd be able to use different types of colors with each texture and pattern, which are currently locked to one color scheme.

If the developers aren't willing to budge on coatings affecting color, than I think it would be ideal for the coating colors to at least be separate from a player's main colors. Maybe a coating could give your armor white accents on the plates, for instance, so players retain the freedom to choose their main colors while the developers can still incorporate color into coating designs in interesting ways.

Your thoughts

What do you think of the coating system coming to Halo Infinite? Do you agree with me and the wider Halo community that the removal of the traditional color system isn't a healthy change? Let me know.

Halo Infinite is currently expected to release in 2021 on the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One family of consoles, and on WIndows 10 PCs. While you wait, we highly recommend checking out the Master Chief Collection.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.

  • Never cared for customizations... Especially when I play a dude 😂 But I see your point if you care.... But that's not really an important issue for a game quality imho
  • They want only coatings so they can sell you special ones. Can't let you just make whatever color you want.
  • Can't say that I haven't thought about this possibility quite a lot, especially with the game's MP being free. :/
  • The coating system could also be improved by implementing a painting mechanic to infuse the color from another armor into your preferred piece. This game will be developed alongside its community so I bet the Devs will make changes if enough people ask.
  • How you described it was just how I assumed it was going to be, you can choose your colours, and you could choose your materials, but you're saying that isn't? That's weird.
  • Maybe it's just me but this is such a silly thing to be upset about without seeing it in action. It's not as if customization options haven't been changed before. Luckily armor piece customization is back... That's way more important imo.
  • We have sort of seen it in action, though. The Monarch and Red Shift coatings show how colors work, which 343 described as “baked into the coating”
  • It's not necessarily trivial to separate color from material. Depending on their implementation it could be very difficult even. But at minimum, in order to get a color to look exactly right for a given material, it needs to be adjusted specifically for that material. It's not as simple as just changing an RBG value. Something that looks like a specific kind of red, for instance, may not translate in a way that looks like the same color when you move from something very glossy to something very matte. So you need to tweak the settings for each color option to make it look good, for each material type. The more colors and materials, the larger the set of combinations you need to cover. That's an exponential amount of work as either or both categories increase in size. For a GaaS title, that creates complications for long term support. Fixed coatings don't have this problem. What feature are you okay with not having in the game at launch so that they can adjust this? Are you okay with there being fewer colors and materials overall, and with fewer of them being added to the game over time?
  • You make fair points. But I ultimately feel that infringing on Halo’s history of being able to change colors as you please is a bad idea. Given the choice I would take fewer armor material options if it meant we could have the freedom to choose color out of the gate
  • It's different, not necessarily worse. And not all "fans" are concerned about it. It's 2020. There are other, more important things to be worried about.
  • I think my biggest issue is going to be how you earn them and if you have a say in which one you get. In reach you could see just what you needed to do to unlock each individual armor piece. If you had certain items you wanted you knew exactly what you needed to do to get them. But if it's a random loot box style, kind of like what 5 had, then it's gonna be a nightmare and people will be mad. If I want the same colors I've been using since Halo 2 I should be able to do that from launch or at the least be able to look up exactly what I need to do to earn them. If I have to play and play and play so I can earn lootboxes and then hope and pray I get the colors I want to drop then I'll be pissed. I've played too many games where it is just random lootbox style mechanics and I have never been able to get the items I've wanted.