There’s been some speculation as to what type of sequel Halo: Infinite will be. Ever since Microsoft opened it’s E3 Expo with the teaser / tech-demo on June 10th, 2018, fans and influencers alike have been suggesting all manner of things. There’ve been rumors that Halo: Infinite, like Halo 4, may take place several years following the explosive (and controversial) final few missions of Halo 5: Guardians. Not to mention statements from studio-heads suggesting that Infinite may be an excellent place to jump into the Halo franchise for newcomers. So the fans have wondered, in the three years since the latest release in the long-running franchise: Is Halo: Infinite a soft-reboot? Or a direct continuation of 343i’s Reclaimer Saga?

Today, according to a new article by Katri Marcell on website VGR, 343 Industries has confirmed that the game will be a direct sequel to Halo 5: Guardians. In it she runs down a few things that are obvious from the Infinite “trailer” shown at E3:

  • The game will focus on our boy, Master Chief, rather than split the narrative with (underrated) Spartan Jameson Locke.
  • The game takes place on a new Halo Ring
  • The game is being developed using 343i’s new Slipspace Engine – ostensibly something that will allow them to utilize newer hardware, such as Xbox One X or whatever Microsoft’s Head of Gaming, Phil Spencer, was teasing at E3.
  • Marcell even brings up what many fans and outlets have speculated, that Infinite will take place on Zeta Halo, but urges that there has yet to be any confirmation from 343i about much of the game’s setting and narrative-content. Except…

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According to Marcell, in a talk with GMT 343i studio head Chris Lee let slip that Infinite will indeed be a direct sequel to Halo 5: Guardians. It’s not entirely certain what the nature of the discussion was, as read in the article, but developers and studio heads have a long track-record of leaking significant information in obscure press-conferences or by shooting a Twitter DM to a single reporter. This could mean something. But let’s extrapolate on that for just a second.

Spoilers for Halo 5: Guardians ahead.

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Alright, so at the end of Halo 5 Cortana essentailly hijacked the entirety of the UNSC infrastructure, recruited all ship-bound AIs, nearly kidnapped Chief and Blue Team, then plotted a new course for the UNSC Infinity: a Halo Ring. All of this is exciting stuff, or it would have been had Halo 5 managed a consistently paced or engaging narrative. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Should Infinite be a direct sequel, though? It’s obvious from the E3 trailer (which was more a tech demo mirroring 343i’s first E3 teaser of Halo 5, though they’ve smartly removed his poncho this time around) that Chief is back and in center focus this time around. This new narrative will be his narrative. And following reports from a few outlets – this may not be the last in the Reclaimer Saga, either. But it’s no secret that Halo 5, while pushing boundaries in gameplay and graphics, offered a truly divisive narrative experience; something they couldn’t afford to do after the underwhelming response to Halo 4 following their acquisition of the franchise from Bungie.

It might be a good idea to distance themselves from Halo 5, gain a little breathing room and not have to worry about tying up every loose end from that game’s narrative. They could bridge the game with a novel, which they’ve been nearly reliant on to convey the overarching plot of this new saga. But, seeing as the game isn’t coming out anytime soon (it’s already been three years since the last one), there’s nothing for us to do besides speculate and keep our eyes on Halo: Waypoint for updates.

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I, for one, am excited for Halo: Infinite. 343 Industries seems to have listened to fan feedback regarding the art-style of their earlier entries, and want to take the franchise back to its roots. And that might be the best way they could distance themselves from Halo 5. There’s plenty to ponder, however. Will Spartan Abilities be returning? Will Locke? What about Arbiter? Is the Civil War on Sanghelios officially over? Are there Promethians and Covenant fighting on this new Halo Ring? What the hell was the Domain? Will the next installment leave us with more questions than it bothers to answer? Is the Didact really dead? Like, really really?

All we have to go on, for now, is a tech-demo featuring some massive, lush environments and wildlife, a tiny Warthog zipping across a field, and the towering remains of Forerunner spires. It does feel very Bungie-ish. Let’s see if they pull this off, direct sequel or not. It’d be arrogant of me to suggest that 343 Industries is in a last-chance scenario. Halo 5 is still making money and people are scouring the internet for news on Infinite. The love for this franchise runs deeps, and it does look like the series is headed back in the right direction. That’s enough for me, for now.

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