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Halo Infinite will launch on Wednesday, December 8—in incomplete fashion [Updated]

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It’s official: Halo Infinite will launch on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows 10 PCs on Wednesday, December 8.

Up until today, the long-awaited game’s release had been pegged to a vague “Holiday 2021” window, but the firm release date slipped out via a Microsoft Store update. The timing was supposed to be confirmed as part of Gamescom’s Opening Night 2021 video presentation, which will begin airing shortly after this article goes live. Soon after the store listing slip-up, The Verge cited “a source familiar with Microsoft’s plans” to confirm that the date was accurate.

[Update, 2:35 pm ET: Halo Infinite team lead Joseph Staten confirmed the release date as part of the video presentation. The presentation also included a peek at a new Xbox Elite Series 2 gamepad and a new Xbox Series X console design, both modeled after Halo and Master Chief iconography.]

On that date, the game will arrive as a split package. One half is a standard retail-priced “campaign” for the first-person series, in which Master Chief teams up with a hapless outer-space survivor and a memory-wiped version of the popular AI character Cortana to land on a wide-open planet and contend with the series’ first “open-world” arrangement of levels. The other half is an entirely free-to-play versus-multiplayer suite of modes that will be supported by a paid “battle pass” system that developer 343 Industries has described as being made up entirely of cosmetic add-ons, with all modes and levels being free for all players. It’s currently unclear whether the paid retail version of the campaign will include any bonuses, cosmetic or otherwise, for use in the free-to-play multiplayer suite.

What’s far clearer, unfortunately, is that both packages will launch in incomplete fashion in December. As we learned late last week, the campaign will not include any cooperative options at launch; instead, the option to play the campaign with friends has been delayed until the game’s “second season” of content, which 343 Industries estimates will arrive “about three months” after the game’s launch. And the multiplayer suite’s “Forge” mode, meant to allow players to create their own levels and modes, has been delayed until the game’s third season of content, which has been estimated to arrive roughly six months after the game’s launch. At this time, neither of those delay estimates is firm.

The game was originally slated for a holiday 2020 release—to align with the launch of the Xbox Series X/S—but it was abruptly delayed in August 2020. 343 Industries insisted as recently as last week that the game is coming out by the end of 2021, hell or high Warthog.

We’re tuning in to today’s Gamescom presentation and will return with any Halo-specific updates upon its completion.

Listing image by Xbox Game Studios

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