Microsoft held a 90-minute presentation today as part of Gamescom that featured new details on everything from Psychonauts 2 to Age of Empires IV. But one noteworthy game didn’t make an appearance: Halo Infinite. Despite the fact that the shooter is positioned to be a massive holiday game for Xbox, not even a minute of the show was dedicated to it. That has Halo fans worried about what state the game is in following a tumultuous year.
Going into the stream, fans expected to see Halo Infinite appear in some form. One prevailing theory was that Microsoft would finally drop a release date for the game, which still has a vague holiday 2021 window. That didn’t happen, leaving Halo players unsure if the game is coming this year at all. Fans immediately took to Twitter following the show to voice their confusion.
“Y’all, I’m getting more worried for Halo Infinite,” tweeted Halo streamer Jaay Frosty. “Still no release date. I don’t understand the marketing plan right now for 343 and Microsoft, but it seems like they are purposely not building hype.”
Y'all I'm getting more worried for #HaloInfinite Still no release date. I don't understand the marketing plan right now for 343 and Microsoft but it seems like they are purposely not building hype
— Jaay Frosty (@JaayFrosty) August 24, 2021
Another Twitter user, @DaTruthofMikeP, points out that holiday 2021 isn’t very far off at this point, which is a cause for concern. “Not gonna lie, the lack of a release date for Halo Infinite is concerning especially when you consider that September is next week.”
It’s not just paranoia; fans have every right to be skeptical about the game at this point. Initially scheduled to launch alongside the Xbox Series X/S in 2020, the game was indefinitely delayed at the last second, leaving a massive gap in the consoles’ opening day lineup. Since then, we’ve gotten a steady trickle of detail in the form of trailers, blog posts, and even a multiplayer beta. With how much was being shared, the odds of Halo Infinite landing this year seemed positive coming out of E3.
And yet, this week brought more troubling news for fans. The game will no longer launch with campaign co-op play or Forge mode. Both are now scheduled as post-launch content, raising concerns that Microsoft may be rushing the game out in time for the holiday season. The lack of fresh news at Gamescom that would have helped offset that blow gives players another reason to be skeptical.
Looking at the Gamescom stream as a whole, it’s clear that Halo Infinite isn’t Microsoft’s big holiday game anyways: Forza Horizon 5 is. The show’s hosts spent the stream talking up the racing game, which got a massive closing segment complete with eight minutes of new footage. Set to release on November 5, Microsoft is going to great lengths to position the game as Xbox’s ace in the hole. It’s a continuation of a trend we saw at this year’s E3, when Halo Infinite got a small mid-show segment while Forza got a prime-time spotlight at the end. It’s starting to feel as if Microsoft is trying to switch players’ attention over to something that it’s confident will be available in stores (and on Game Pass) before Christmas.
Despite that, Microsoft is still sticking by its holiday 2021 launch window for Halo Infinite, but that feels more unrealistic with each passing day. Release dates for video games this big tend to drop several months out. Bethesda’s Starfield got a firm November 11, 2022 release date at E3, for example. Are we supposed to believe that the biggest video game of the holiday season will get a release date just a month or two before it drops? And more importantly, should we be excited about that following last year’s Cyberpunk 2077 debacle, where the game got a rushed December release that resulted in controversy for developer CD Projekt Red?
Halo infinite isn’t the only game suffering from this last-minute release problem this year. Sony maintains that Horizon Forbidden West is still scheduled for a holiday 2021 release, despite the fact that entire streams dedicated to the game have gone by without a firm date. Reports note that a delay to 2022 is imminent for Horizon Forbidden West, which seems likely at this rate. Halo fans should be prepared for the same.