While the recent Halo Infinite gameplay reveal gave us the gift of Craig the Brute, the overall showcase was met with divisive reactions. On one hand, many die-hard Halo fans (including myself) felt that the visual style was on-brand with Halo's persistent art style, therefore it was enjoyable. Others, however, criticized the showcase for not looking the part of a next-gen title. Understandable, but it's something 343 wanted to address.
While much of the feedback was constructive, that didn't stop some toxicity from seeping through the cracks. Regardless of that, the studio wants fans to know that they've heard that feedback loud and clear. They've mentioned previously that the demo wasn't an accurate portrayal of the final product given that it's not ready to ship yet and it was a live demo. Even still, they did want to clear up a few misconceptions and reiterate the studio's vision for some clarity.
"Based on our learnings from Halo 4, Halo 5, and Halo Wars 2 – along with strong community feedback – we decided to shift back towards the legacy aesthetics that defined the original trilogy. With Halo Infinite, we’re returning to a more ‘classic’ art style which was a key message going back to the very first reveal that garnered enthusiastic and positive responses," reads the studio's latest blog post. "This translates to a more vibrant palette, “cleaner” models and objects with less “noise”, though it doesn’t mean less detail. While we appreciate this may not be everyone’s personal preference, we stand by this decision and are happy to see it resonating with so many fans around the world."
The team also wanted to talk about the criticism regarding visual fidelity and characters looking flat and overly simplistic. "We’ve read your comments, we’ve seen the homemade examples of retouched content, and yes we’ve heard the Digital Foundry assessments. In many ways we are in agreement here – we do have work to do to address some of these areas and raise the level of fidelity and overall presentation for the final game.
"The build used to run the campaign demo was work-in-progress from several weeks ago with a variety of graphical elements and game systems still being finished and polished. While some of the feedback was expected and speaks to areas already in progress, other aspects of the feedback have brought new opportunities and considerations to light that the team is taking very seriously and working to assess. We don’t have firm answers or outcomes to share yet but the team is working as quickly as possible on plans to address some of the feedback around detail, clarity, and overall fidelity. The team is committed and focused on making sure we have a beautiful world for players to explore when we launch."
The thing about Halo is it has always housed "cartoony graphics" and the flatness is nothing new. That being said, this showcase was marketed as showing off the "true power" of the Xbox Series X and that's the bar that was set before the beginning credits rolled. If this was shared independently of a showcase, I don't personally feel it would have been met with quite so heavy blowback, though some concern would still be there. The crux was the hype that Microsoft itself put forward before the showcase that ultimately led to the demo's downfall.
Split reactions aside, this previous Xbox Games Showcase was our first chance to actually see in-game gameplay, which means we are one step closer to launch while the studio continues to work hard to make this baby go gold.
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What do you think about the showcase and their discussion of vision? Hit us up with all of those thoughts over on Twitter @PrimaGames, we'd love to hear what you think!