Unless you’ve been living away from The Ark lately, you’ve heard of Craig the Brute (pictured above), a nondescript Jiralhanae enemy from the Halo Infinite campaign gameplay trailer (which premiered at the Xbox Games Showcase back in July). Craig’s unflattering screenshot (and the goofy, deadpan, yet somehow endearing face blankly staring at Master Chief as he was on the receiving end of a series of face-smacks) became a viral sensation — for better or worse.
Leaning towards worse, considering Craig the Brute’s appearance caused a backlash among Halo fans about the game’s graphics which likely was the impetus for the game’s initial delay. Microsoft and 343 Industries handled the backlash against Halo Infinite‘s graphics and, Craig the Brute, as well as they could have — besides making the prudent decision to delay Halo Infinite and shore up certain aspects of the game (graphics included, presumably), Xbox head Phil Spencer even joked on social media that Craig was “our official new mascot.”
Craig was the focal point of myriad memes on social media, including this one on Reddit. Or this Shrek parody on Twitter. Or this God of War one. Or… well you get the point. But despite all the jokes and excoriation, Craig did show that Microsoft and 343 Industries were at least listening to the outcry from fans, in spite of whether the backlash was egregiously overreactive in nature or not. Subsequent photos (like the one below) of the infamous Master Chief/Craig the Brute throwdown, which didn’t look nearly as lacking as the singular, cherry-picked screenshot that the most vociferous backlash proponents decided to focus upon evinced that overreaction was a good way to classify the reaction.
As any aspiring Instagram model will tell you, it’s all about the lighting and angles, right?
Notwithstanding, when asked about the topic of Craig the Brute’s unfortunate appearance, Neill Harrison, Director of Art Management at 343 Industries explained that the character was seen in a manner that was unfinished and unintended, prior to “blendshapes [and] animation being applied.”
“Firstly, I can confirm that the facial animation on NPCs was not fully implemented in that build,” Harrison said in the official Halo Waypoint announcement, “which resulted in Craig’s incredibly deadpan/lifeless look. All characters are modelled in a neutral pose, prior to blendshapes & animation being applied. So, poor old Craig was never intended to be seen in that condition which is not something that was evident during the gameplay. It was only later, in the close-up freeze frame of his one bad moment, where it came to light and the legend of Craig was born.” Harrison went on to divulge that because of Craig, the overall of appearance of Brutes — including their facial features — in Halo Infinite would be getting an overhaul across the board.
“There’s been further work done on the material fidelity and more variety added for Brute faces,” Harrison said. “We’re also working to add some hairdos and beards which was something we hadn’t gotten to in July. So, whilst we have come to love our dear old Craig, he’s certainly undergoing a significant makeover.”
Of course, Brutes won’t be the only models in Halo Infinite seeing their visuals improved.
“Craig isn’t the only model to see improvements though,” Harrison added. “There have been significant changes to other characters & 3D models as we continue to evolve and polish our content.”
What do you think of the tale of the Craig the Brute, already one of Halo Infinite‘s most infamous characters a year before the game’s Fall 2021 release date? With all the visual improvements being added to the game, should the untouched Craig the Brute be housed somewhere within the game for diligent fans to unearth somehow? (We think Craig the Brute should be kept in the game in his original, “unflattering” form as an Easter Egg at the very least.) Or should the jilted Jiralhanae be forgotten to the ages? Tell us what you think in the comments.