Halo Infinite Controversy
Halo Infinite gameplay was recently shown off at the Xbox’s games’ showcase. The game looked impressive in a number of ways, but gamers have been in an uproar over the graphics not looking as impressive as they expected. After all with over 12 teraflops of graphical computing power, shouldn’t the game look almost real?
I don’t want to make excuses for Halo not looking real, however, there may be some good reasons the game doesn’t look as good as many expected it to. Let’s start with 2 player split-screen and the larger open world this game provides. Having a large open world is already something that would cause the game to maybe need a bit of a downgrade in graphics, especially when it comes to rendering distance. But with all the extra power of the Xbox Series X, this shouldn’t be a problem, unless it had to render two areas at once. By this I mean if you are playing 2 player split-screen with a sibling or friend, and they wander off to the far side of the map. Your single Xbox has to render twice as much of that open world along with more enemies, objects with physics, distant objects, etc. Even for a very strong piece of hardware that can be a lot. Especially trying to do this at 60fps at 4k.
Next, is the art style and lighting. If we’ve learned anything from Zelda Breath of the Wild, it’s that less detail, fewer polygons, but amazing lighting, can make a game run smoothly and look good doing it. Halo Infinite looks to be taking a slightly simplified look as opposed to trying to look ultra-realistic. Halo is, after all, an arcade-style, sci-fi shooter. There is no need for the game to look as real as possible, especially not at the expense of smooth framerate, higher field of view, split-screen, or resolution. Now this choice in art direction may have been because they couldn’t get the performance and features they wanted and have ultra-realistic graphics. Either way, most players I’m sure would agree that graphics don’t make the game and we’d rather have split-screen, among other performance and features. But can we talk about the lighting in this game? The gameplay show recently took place during arguably the least flattering time of day, and yet the lighting looks great. Apparently, this wasn’t using Raytracing, but it will soon after launch. Impressive to say the least. Like I said earlier about Breath of the Wild, good lighting helps make a game look really good, regardless of polygon count.
As a PC gamer, myself and all my friends always turn down the graphics to make sure we have great performance, however, if possible the settings we like to keep as high as we can, is the lighting. Beautiful and dynamic lighting makes any game look and feels great to be in. Just look at Minecraft with Raytracing, it’s stunning.
There is more to this discussion which many people aren’t talking about. Halo Infinite is coming to the original Xbox from 2013, let me remind you that, that hardware is 7 years old. Of course, that version of the game will be downgraded in a number of ways, but still, this may have an effect on the Xbox Series X version. With each game console’s version being compatible together, then polygons used to construct objects and the game world may have to be reduced in order to make sure that a player on the original Xbox One is seeing the same objects as those on a Series X to keep this fair and not deceive an Xbox One player as to what they can and can not shot through or past.
At the end of the day, I think the game looks pretty darn good and has loads of great features, especially the return of 2 player split-screen and 4-player split-screen PvP multiplayer. I also think the open world should suit Halo’s game mechanics well. The graphics may not be ultra-realistic but they still look great, my main criticism is the render distance. Textures do pop in a less than ideal way, along with some very simple textures when looking off to the distance. However, I’ve played many open-world games, and honestly, you don’t usually notice these things while actually playing the game. I think we should be happy that 343 Industries is using the extra power of the Xbox Series X to make sure the game delivers good features and performance rather than just better graphics.