Ahead of Halo Infinite’s December release, some of the development team at 343 Industries have offered up a few more details on the game’s battle pass system and how it will work as a part of the free-to-play multiplayer.
Back in June of this year, Live Team Design Director, Ryan Paradis, and Lead Progression Designer, Christopher Blohm explained in a Halo Waypoint blog post that the team envisioned a battle pass system that creates more opportunities for players to have fun rather than pushing them into a relentless grind to extract value.
In a new interview with IGN (opens in new tab), Head of Design, Jerry Hook, and Lead Progression Designer, Christopher Blohm, reiterated this goal, saying they understand that Halo Infinite isn’t going to be the only game people play and that it’d be “ludicrous to think otherwise.”
By having battle passes that don’t expire, the intention is to ensure that Halo Infinite won’t be the kind of game that encourages unhealthy player habits. Blohm explains that 343 Industries doesn’t want players who are using the battle pass to feel burnt out and would rather that those who choose to stop playing for a while “feel healthy and come back because they're excited to”, rather than because they feel like they have to grind out a battle pass before its expiry date.
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Between this and the absence of loot boxes, there’s a sense that 343 Industries want players to know exactly what they’re paying for and Jerry Hook adds, “We wanted to be able to say, 'Hey, look, when you put 10 bucks in, you keep that 10 bucks’”.
As far as battle pass rules are concerned, Hook and Blohm reveal that only one battle pass can be active at a time, but that you can switch which battle pass is active any time you want. Players can expect to see Legendary cosmetics appear around every quarter of the battle pass and final battle pass will, apparently, be different to what was shown in the test flight.
Halo Infinite’s first season is called Heroes of Reach and the battle pass will be themed around Reach. Every Halo Infinite multiplayer participant will get the new Mk. VII armor core and be able to customize it with things like visors, helmets, kneepads and more. The battle pass will also provide the opportunity to unlock the Mk. V armour and the customization options tied specifically to that. Other than armor customization, the battle pass will have rewards like Death Effects, armor kits and other armor effects.
According to Hook, Heroes of Reach is “a really great model of how we're trying to tell a visual story with the battle pass of earning characters, basically through all the Reach characters with the battle pass.” With the armor core at the center, players will have a choice over what they add to it. “Do you want Emile's knives? You want Jorge's grenades? Mix and match how you want to create your own, or if you're just like, 'No, I want to look exactly like Jun' then you can do that. And for the first time, you can look exactly like Kat with the prosthetic arm.”
One thing the battle pass definitely won’t have, however, is dancing emotes for Spartans. “We struggled a lot with dance moves for Spartans,” Hook says, “We feel that more traditional players would reject Master Chief flossing.” Personal AI, on the other hand, “can go crazy” and “do what it wants to do”. This is a way to “preserve the militaristic feel without having to break what you would consider canon.”
The battle pass isn’t going to be the only way players can unlock things in Halo Infinite, though, and Hook says the battle pass system is really “just a small part of the overall ecosystem for a season”. It will, for example, sit separate to Event rewards which players can earn by taking part in—you guessed it—Events. Not a huge amount has been revealed about Events but Hook and Blohm do say that Events take place “every few weeks” and are one of the few timed reward systems in Halo Infinite’s multiplayer. They’re not a paid track; each Event will have its own free pass.
“You get a special playlist and you get a new reward track for [each event],” Blohm says. “That's two weeks for an event and one week for the Fracture, but the Fracture comes back every month and it saves your progress. Now that's another case where we had a long talk. We said, 'How much do we expect people to play?' Right? And let's balance it. So you know what, if they're at their parents' house for a week and they don't have their Xbox they still can get everything that is on the reward track.”
Players can also earn items through playing the campaign or by completing weekly challenges. These challenges have apparently undergone some changes since the game’s test flight thanks to player feedback and Hook says the aim is to have them be things that players actually want to do. To make sure of that, the team will monitor challenges and feedback.
Analysis: Feeling rewarded
It’s pretty refreshing to see that 343 Industries is sticking with the plan to create a battle pass system that’s more rewarding than punishing for players. We want Halo Infinite to be the name of the game, not a potential descriptor for our lives going forward.
Respect for player time is key and, personally, nothing sours my relationship with a game faster than a sense that I’m obligated to play it. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s nice when games are fun and 343 Industries appears to be recognizing that, with Hook telling IGN that “we want players anytime they engage in an activity to be able to feel rewarded.” I also can’t even begin to explain how glad I am that no one is going to make me watch Master Chief floss. Or dab.
The real test will, of course, come when Halo Infinite is actually released to the general public and we can try the battle pass and multiplayer out for ourselves. Technical previews and test flights appear to have gone well and 343 Industries has said that player feedback is already being implemented.
Halo Infinite’s release date is set for December 8 on Xbox and PC, though details of an “early access bundle” might have leaked online which could mean some players getting to jump in before that date.