Are you a Halo noob feeling a bit overwhelmed by the storied history of the franchise heading into Halo Infinite‘s campaign mode? Is Halo Infinite going to be your first experience with the series? Worry not: according to 343 Industries, the latest installment in the series should be one of the most accessible games yet, with Halo Infinite‘s campaign mode designed around Normal difficulty (instead of the inverse) for the first time ever.
“Traditionally, Halo’s always been developed on the Heroic difficulty, and we did the same thing for 4 and 5,” character director Stephen Dyck said in an interview with the media (including sit-down with VGC) this week.
“So usually we look at Heroic, we’re tuning everything here, everything is scaled down a little bit for Normal and Easy and then scaled up a little bit for Legendary. This time, we spent much more time on the Normal difficulty, expecting new players to come in.”
Dyck explained that while Halo Infinite‘s campaign was designed primarily from a Normal difficulty perspective, the design approach will not mitigate the higher levels of difficulty, such as Heroic or Legendary in any way.
“That doesn’t mean that Heroic isn’t hard and that Legendary isn’t very punishing,” Dyck added, “those are things that are still just part of Halo, but we did spend more time on Normal difficulty from the standpoint of, ‘what if you were a new player and you’d never fought the covenant before or you’ve never fought anything in Halo before and it’s your first time using an AR?’
“We want those players to have fun and success and not immediately be hit with a wall from a gameplay standpoint where they’re like, ‘aw man, I haven’t played this, I don’t get it… am I supposed to use a specific damage type here?’ Or, ‘that grenade didn’t do anything, why didn’t it do anything?’
“So one of the philosophies we’ve had is, the player’s always right or the game says ‘yes’. If the player wants to use something or a certain type of weapon, while certain weapons will be more successful, we’re never going to say, ‘you’re just wrong, you can’t do that’.
“That’s where I’d say from a gameplay standpoint our philosophy was a little bit different, we were just kind of like – come in, play, we’ll ease into things, we’ll tutorialize things for you especially with the addition of things like equipment and things like that. So ideally, the player has a smoother ramp into the Halo world of gameplay.”
Paul Crocker, the associate creative director for the game pointed out that Halo Infinite‘s campaign mode will have an implicit “golden path” that players should roughly follow to progress, although it’s not a path that’s set in stone; that is, players who veer outside the “golden path” will still be able to progress through campaign mode but could be met with in-game encounters that are far more difficult.
“The golden path is very curated by us,” Crocker said. “The further away from the golden path you travel, you’ll hit difficulty spikes which are challenges to return to if you fail when you first encounter them. As you engage with equipment upgrades, as you capture more FOBs, as you bring marines, you can bring help with you for those encounters.
“Anecdotally, some of the people on the team actually found Normal difficulty a bit harder because it was more open and more 360 degrees of combat, whereas players who play a lot of other titles were finding it very easy, so the balance was making sure it was inviting to all players on Normal difficulty, then a guarantee that if you bump up the difficulty, it gets more challenging.”
Halo Infinite‘s campaign art lead Justin Dinges added that the Normal-centric narrative design stemmed from feedback from newcomers to the franchise, particularly with Halo 5, released in 2015.
“We got a lot of feedback on 5 that there was a high price of entry into that game of knowing things,” Dinges said. “So we wanted to make the price of entry into the franchise more available to people, so they didn’t feel that they had to [know things]. That doesn’t mean all that information isn’t there… hopefully, it just doesn’t require you to know that stuff.”
Halo Infinite will be releasing on December 8th for the PC, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One platforms. As previously stated by 343, the Halo Infinite co-op and Forge modes won’t be available at the game’s launch; the developers are planning to release co-op sometime after Season 2 of Halo Infinite, which will be approximately three months after the game’s initial launch and Forge in Season 3, approximately six months after launch.
Do you think Halo Infinite‘s campaign mode being built around Normal mode for the first time in franchise history will be a boon or detriment to the game? Sound off in the comments.