343 Industries and Microsoft are planning to launch Halo Infinite later in 2021, and based on what was said during the Xbox E3 2021 show, 343 Industries is planning to use the Halo Insider Program to roll out test flights before the game launches. These test flights help the developers identify and fix bugs that may have otherwise gone unnoticed (check out my spotlight of the Master Chief Collection's incredible 2020 journey to see just how effective Insider flighting has been for 343 Industries thus far), and they also give fans an opportunity to go hands-on with Halo projects before they release.
Considering the game in question is Halo Infinite, that's quite an exciting prospect. You'll need to sign up for the Halo Insider Program to have a chance at participating in Halo Infinite beta playtests, but thankfully the process to do so isn't difficult at all and will only take a few minutes. Here's a quick guide on how to sign up and become a Halo Insider.
What is the Halo Infinite beta and 'flighting'?
Test flights are periods of time in which 343 Industries provides Halo Insiders with access to a test build of a game. These flights usually last about a week or two and are active 24 hours a day, but could be shorter or longer and may also have more specific start and end times. The content available in the flight can vary widely depending on what 343 Industries wants to test. For Halo Infinite, we expect that the flights will focus on the multiplayer primarily, but may include campaign content down the line.
Halo Infinite's flights will operate mostly the same way, with the Halo Infinite team planning to release different technical previews and betas for players to test, each with a different focus. The goal is for 343i to collect information they otherwise wouldn't be able to collect on their own, in order to "stress test" Halo Infinite ahead of a wider launch.
Though these test flights are an opportunity for players to have fun with Halo Infinite, it's important to keep in mind that they are meant to help the developers find and solve issues first and foremost. Therefore, issues can (and likely will) crop up that will impact your experience with the game.
When is the start time and date for the Halo Infinite beta?
- Last flight: The current Halo Infinite beta flight ran from Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 until Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 and Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, until Monday, Oct. 4, 2021.
- Next flight: The date of the next Halo Infinite beta flight is currently unknown.
The first two official Halo Infinite beta test flights recently took place on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, and Windows 10 PCs (via Steam). When future flights occur, Halo Insiders should check their email address and their profile on Halo Waypoint to see if they were chosen to participate in the flight. If so, they should then follow the official instructions on how to download the Halo Infinite beta.
The Halo Infinite Insider program will likely feature multiple flights spread across several weeks or even months in the future, so there is no definitive start or end time for all Halo Infinite testing. Most of the flights will likely live relatively short lives before 343i and the Halo community moves on to the next one, so we'll update this section and our guide below regularly.
If you want to stay up to date with every Halo Infinite flight as it happens, be sure to bookmark our ultimate guide for the Halo Infinite beta schedule and start time, which will include dates and related times for every flight as it happens.
What can I expect from the Halo Infinite beta?
Players can expect Halo Infinite's beta tests to be centered around the game's action-packed and sandbox-driven multiplayer experience. Halo Infinite's multiplayer has been broken down by 343 Industries in a recent overview, with the developers explaining that the core focus of the game is to encourage players to use anything they can find on the map to take down other players skillfully and creatively. Flights will test a lot of aspects of the game, including Halo Infinite's weapons and Halo Infinite's maps and locations.
In terms of game modes, we know that traditional Arena modes, as well as the brand new Halo Infinite Big Team Battle with 24 players will be available for beta testing. Additionally, the beta tests also include access to the game's Academy content suite, which includes both weapon drills and a training mode that players can use to practice before hopping into multiplayer.
There's also a chance that future flights will include campaign content to test out. The developers haven't confirmed that a campaign-focused flight is coming in the future, but given the open-ended nature of Halo Infinite's campaign compared to previous Halo titles, it would make sense for the developers to want to test it. If a campaign flight does launch, it's likely that 343 Industries will curate a small section of one of the campaign's levels for us to playtest.
Every flight will likely focus on a different element of Halo Infinite, with 343i wanting to collate feedback and suggestions to help push Halo Infinite to the finish line. Early flights of the Halo Infinite beta, called technical previews, will focus more on the foundational technologies of the game and will likely be very rough around the edges. To keep track, be sure to bookmark our guide on all the Halo Infinite beta known bugs and issues.
What are all the flights in the Halo Infinite beta?
We're expecting Halo Infinite to feature multiple flights and beta builds on the road to launch later this year, and it could become easy to lose track of them over time. We're going to update this section regularly with every Halo Infinite flight, what content they covered, and how Halo Infinite has evolved with the help of the passionate Halo community.
The first flight
Halo Infinite's first flight was a technical preview that focused on early stress tests for Halo Infinite's servers and commerce engines, and various elements of the game, including:
- Arena maps. Three maps (Bazaar, Recharge, and Live Fire) from the Arena game mode were introduced in the first Halo Infinite test, letting players explore the environments for themselves.
- Gameplay vs. bots. On the three aforementioned maps, players were able to square up against the newly introduced bots, which are positioned as a way for new players to become accustomed to the game through the new Halo Academy.
- Gameplay vs. players. During the evening of Aug. 1, the developers briefly enabled Arena PvP between players.
- Weapon drills. Players were also able to use an assortment of Halo Infinite weapons for the first time through the Halo Academy weapon drills. The weapons featured included:
- MA40 AR
- MK50 Sidekick
- CQS48 Bulldog
- VK78 Commando
- S7 Sniper
- Plasma Pistol
- Pulse Carbine
- Battle Pass and menu UI. An important aspect of any game is the UI players use to navigate, and 343i is looking for feedback here. Players were able to test the Halo Infinite menus, customization, and Battle Pass UI. Players were even given a bit of Halo Infinite currency to help with the testing, although anything that was unlocked will not carry over to the main game.
- New Halo Waypoint. Halo Waypoint is being rebuilt from the ground up for Halo Infinite, including a new mobile app. The first Halo Infinite technical preview included the first tests for the new Waypoint experience on web, Android, and iOS.
If you want to learn more about the first Halo Infinite flight, you can check out the stream above (which also includes plenty of hands-on footage of Halo Infinite, including debut Halo Infinite footage on Xbox One and a full match played on Xbox Series X).
The first Halo Infinite flight ran from July 29 to Aug. 2, 2021, and was available through Steam for PC players. Because this was the first Halo Infinite flight, the number of players that were invited to participate is relatively small.
The second flight
The second Halo Infinite beta flight was primarily focused on testing the game's Arena and Big Team Battle PvP modes while simultaneously stressing the game's servers significantly more than the first flight did. This was achieved by giving many more players access to the build, and also by limiting matchmaking hours so that players would be encouraged to all play at specific times.
- Arena PvP. The second flight included a longer and more focused test of Halo Infinite's Arena PvP modes.
- Big Team Battle. 343 Industries tested Big Team Battle, Halo Infinite's premiere 12v12 game mode, in the second test flight.
- Training Mode. The second flight gave players access to a new training mode that allows them to play against bots in an offline environment, with "training wheels" options such as invincibility and infinite ammo.
- Behemoth and Fragmentation maps. The two new maps in the second flight were Behemoth and Fragmentation. Behemoth is an Arena map that features sandy terrain that reminds us of Zanzibar/Last Resort from Halo 2 and 3, while Fragmentation is a Big Team Battle map that looks a lot like Valhalla from Halo 3 and 4.
- Vehicle combat. Big Team Battle wouldn't be Big Team Battle without vehicles, so they were included in the flight. Light vehicles appeared in Arena tests as well, and the developers have confirmed that they'll be in some of the game's Arena maps. Some of the vehicles seen included:
- Expanded customization test. Though the initial Halo Infinite flight only included a small number of customization items to unlock and use, the second flight expanded what was available to beta players.
Compared to the first flight in July, the second flight had significantly more players due to the fact that all Halo Insiders who signed up for the program before Sept. 13, 2021, were given access to it. Open access was also given to Xbox players during the second weekend of testing.
How can I sign up for the Halo Infinite beta?
The Halo Insider Program is 343 Industries' official system for testing upcoming Halo experiences, and it proved itself very effective with the Master Chief Collection. Both Xbox and PC players (through Steam and the Windows 10 Store) can sign up for the program, and since Halo Infinite will be released on both of those platforms, testing will likely be done on both platforms for the game.
To get started with your registration, follow the steps below.
- Visit the Halo Insider page on Halo Waypoint.
- Click Signup.
- Under "Sign in to your Xbox Live account," click Sign In.
Sign in with your Microsoft Account credentials.
- Grant Halo Waypoint access to your Xbox Live information if requested.
- Confirm that you are 18 or older.
- Confirm that you agree to the Halo Insider Program Confidentiality Statement.
Click Join the Program.
- In the provided fields, enter your preferred email, location, time zone, and experience with Halo games.
- Click Continue.
- If you're an Xbox player, click Yes when asked if you'd like to be considered for console flighting.
Fill out your console ownership and setup details and then click Continue.
- If you're a PC player, click Yes when asked if you'd like to be considered for PC flighting.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to obtain and upload your PC specifications with Windows 10's DirectX Diagnostic.
- If you use Steam, click the Link Steam Account button and login with your Steam credentials.
- When asked about flight availability, select the days and times you are typically available for test sessions.
- Click Complete Signup.
- Open the Halo Insider email sent to your provided address.
- Click Verify my Email Address in the email.
You're done! Your Halo Insider profile will automatically pop up once you're finished, and your information can be edited at any time if something changes. Keep in mind that the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles haven't been listed as consoles you can say you use yet, so if you own one of these consoles, check back frequently and select the appropriate option when it's added. You'll also need to sign up for the Xbox Insider Program if you play on Xbox since you'll need access to the Xbox Insider Hub application.
Will there be rewards in the Halo Infinite beta?
Previous Halo betas and flights have granted certain rewards to testers, like unique nameplates and other cosmetic items, but it's not been clear whether that will be the case for Halo Infinite.
What we do know is that players should assume that any progression or unlocks in a Halo Infinite flight will not carry over to the main game, including purchases and cosmetic items. In fact, the first Halo Infinite flight gives players a load of in-game currency and encourages them to buy everything they can (to test the commerce engine).
It has been confirmed that Halo Infinite Insiders will get a unique nameplate when Halo Infinite launches that was also present in Halo 5 and partially in Halo: The MCC, so there's at least one reward heading our way for helping to shape Halo Infinite. Additionally, players could also earn the Sol Testing Grounds emblem (pictured above) for completing 10 matches during the second test flight. This emblem will carry over into the main game, unlike the rest of the unlocks available during the beta.
Will there be an open beta for Halo Infinite?
While Insider test flighting is confirmed, many wonder if a traditional public beta will be held for the game. At the time of writing, this is unclear. Many believe that 343 Industries will hold a beta because, in a 2015 interview with Game Informer, Head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross stated that all future Halo titles would have a beta following the disastrous launch of The Master Chief Collection.
"Going forward, you will never see a Halo game coming out without a beta. It (The Master Chief Collection) was obviously painful for our fans and for us," Ross said. "But it won't happen again."
However, it's also entirely possible that 343 Industries considers Insider test flighting to fit the definition of what a "beta" is. It's also important to keep in mind that Ross's comments were made years before the Halo Insider Program was created; the Insider Program may be a system that 343 Industries developed for long-term use to keep its word. Ultimately, only time will tell whether Halo Infinite will have a traditional-style open beta.
Notably, the test on the weekend of Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 was a semi-open beta, as the test could be accessed by all Xbox players but had a player cap. Therefore, all players were able to download and install the beta, but not everyone was able to play it at one time.
When is the release date for Halo Infinite?
Halo Infinite is expected to release on Dec. 8, 2021, on the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One consoles, and Windows 10 PCs. The campaign costs $60 (the multiplayer is free to play) and it will hopefully end up being one of the best Xbox games. It's worth noting that Halo Infinite preorders are live now, but until the game officially launches in December, we highly recommend the Master Chief Collection, which bundles all of the pre-Xbox One Halo shooters for an incredible price.
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