Frank O’Connor, Kiki Wolfkill, and Bonnie Ross have all left 343 Industries.
Halo Infinite updates and patches are happening consistently, giving players strong expectations going forward.
New game content is well received, with more on the schedule before summer 2023 begins.
Halo Infinite’s expansive campaign experience is unlikely to see new additions anytime soon.
HCS’ competitive esports scene is thriving with regular gaming tournaments.
Frank O’Connor, Kiki Wolfkill, and Bonnie Ross are the founding members of 343 Industries who brought in players for Halo for over ten years. The Microsoft-created studio oversees every Halo experience released after Bungie left the IP behind in 2010. As of this writing, O'Connor, Wolfkill, and Ross have departed the studio, whether quietly reshuffled in the aftermath of Infinite’s bumpy launch or publicly stepping down, in Ross' case.
343’s public image is mixed, to put it diplomatically. These major departures and the appointment of new studio head Pierre Hintze and general franchise managers Bryan Koski and Elizabeth Van Wyck mark a definitive new era in Halo, a new generation of studio leads and post-founder experience.
A new era for Halo leaves a lot to unpack. Where the franchise stands now is unprecedented, with plenty of room for hope and the harshest criticism, but one thing is certain: 343 remains the shepherd of Haloexperiences going forward, for better or worse.
Halo Infinite is still in active development, with continued support and a plan for regaining players. Check out what to expect from Halo Infinite in 2023.
343’s messaging is clear in this respect: Halo Infinite will have continued support into the future as a live-service multiplayer title. Season 3: Echoes Within brought substantial changes for current and returning players, including new maps, new equipment, the Bandit rifle, and playlists.
Halo Infinite updates are finally experiencing regular rollouts, actively addressing ongoing issues that plague the gameplay experience. Communication from the dev team could use more work, but it's important to acknowledge any step in the right direction. With these regular updates, developers address any issues and improve the gameplay experience so desperately needed in the game’s first year.
"Keeping players informed on things that are happening right now will almost always take priority over things that are happening further down the road," tweeted John "Unyshek" Junyszek, Senior Community Manager at 343 Industries.
Speaking of Halo Infinite’s first year, new game content meant long wait times in between. Season 3 promises quick turnarounds for new modes to play, new toys to play with, and new cosmetics to earn.
Here’s what Season 3 brought in:
New 100-tier Battle Pass, with new perks for purchasers
Halo Infinite is primarily a multiplayer title now and into the future, and as such, multiplayer improvements for matchmaking and competitive parity are now more regular. This season saw tweaks to several guns, for instance. The Bulldog, Heatwave, Shock Rifle, and Stalker Rifle have had their starting ammo reduced. The Plasma Pistol takes longer to charge and had its tracking reduced slightly, and the Commando Rifle’s damage to break shields increased by one bullet, from eight hits to nine.
More importantly, 343 Industries rolled out several networking improvements to address desync issues during online play, including increasing visual fidelity and keeping a live list of known issues the team is working on. Progress is progress, in this case. The list includes more social features like gaming with friends in every playlist, especially free-for-alls. Who doesn’t want to punch their friend sometimes?
Whether you’re returning to the game after an absence (totally understandable) or trying to lure friends into Infinite's hilarity and fun, you have options to play! PC and Xbox compatibility is a huge part of the reason Infinite had 20 million players at launch, making it the largest launch in Halo’s history. If you’re still hankering for more platforms to play on, you also now can stream via Xbox Cloud Gaming to a TV or cell phone. Further, Xbox and Samsung have launched a partnership with Xbox Game Pass pre-installed on Samsung televisions, meaning all you need is a subscription and controller to play!
PC and Xbox compatibility means there are more ways to play than ever, and a supportive gaming community gets Infinite that much closer to where it needs to be. Social features of gaming build audience roots and nurture goodwill.
Halo Infinite’s competitive esports scene (comp) is booming. If you’re a Platinum IV player trying to break into Onyx or wanting to stay updated on what the Halo Championship Series is up to, subscribe to HaloHype. That aside, regular gaming tournaments happen, often once a week, and in person a few times a year. Friendlies run on Discord and other platforms for players looking to squad up and improve.
Infinite likely doesn’t have a more supportive gaming community than comp players. They spend countless hours in the experience, analyzing animations, buying cosmetics in the shop, and grinding playlists to earn a living. Streamers entertain, HCS players need winnings to support themselves, and aspiring pro players find time to improve. 343 Industries understands that comp is a very important audience to cater to, and multiplayer improvements matchmaking or otherwise happen with these players in mind.
Halo Infinite’s campaign is the franchise’s first foray into an open-world experience. Zeta Halo remains an explorative and atmospheric adventure akin to classic Halo games but on a comparative scale to current-gen hits like Far Cry 6 and Horizon Zero Dawn.
The early 2023 layoffs at Microsoft hit 343 Industries hard; reports say that 60-120+ staff got the axe, primarily the art and single-player experience teams. As of this writing, no official reports are available stating whether these teams have been replaced or if more single-player narratives are on the way.
Halo Infinite’s split-screen co-op campaign was canceled in September 2022, after years of promises that it would make a triumphant return. You have the option to play with friends on networked consoles, but there’s no official option to play split-screen with friends. Off the record, savvy players have developed methods to glitch into split-screen which you can learn more about here.
As it stands, Infinite’s campaign is exactly what it will be for the foreseeable future. Expect that Far Cry and Horizon Zero Dawn blend with Halo’s soundscape and sandbox into an expansive campaign experience. It's a whole hell of a lot of fun with friends, too.
“I Told You, It’s Enough”
Halo Infinite is indicative of a new era for the Halo brand. It’s a mix of what Bungie originally created in the early 2000s and what 343 brought with Halo 4 and Halo 5. It's the franchise's first steps into cross-platform play, bringing in thousands of new users. A brand new team leading 343 Industries could go either way, but it still means that someone other than O’Connor, Wolfkill, and Ross is making decisions.
HaloHype wishes all current and former 343 Industries employees well and hopes for the success of Halo well into the twenty-sixth century. Expect more information from 343 Industries on Halo Infinite: Season 4 before June 2023. When news rolls out, you'll hear it here first! Subscribe for all things Halo, HCS, gaming, and gear!
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