343 Industries has unveiled some new details about the second season of Halo Infinite’s multiplayer, including a launch date of May 3 2022 and a title: Lone Wolves.
In a post on Halo Waypoint (opens in new tab), Joseph Staten, Head of Creative on Halo Infinite, explains that Lone Wolves is Season 2’s official theme as well as its title, with “much, but not all,” of the season’s content guided by the idea that “Lone Wolf Spartans are hunters. Trackers. They’re resourceful improvisers, operating deep in enemy territory without resupply or support. They’re fierce, rugged, and prefer to work alone – but they’re still loyal to the Spartan pack.”
The post includes concept art for two of Halo Infinite’s Lone Wolves – Spartan Sigrid Eklund and Spartan Hieu Dinh – with a promise that players will learn more about them and Spartan Commander Laurette Agryna as they work their way through Season 2’s story which will be “a mix of cinematics, story-themed Events, Battle Pass items and more that embody the Lone Wolves theme."
Staten also says that Season 2 will include “playlist updates, balance changes, new modes, and maps”, highlighting a new Arena map called “Catalyst” and a BTB map called “Breaker.”
New modes include "Last Spartan Standing", described as “a free-for-all elimination mode” and another called “Land Grab”. “King of the Hill” will also return.
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343 Industries has previously said (opens in new tab) that players could expect campaign co-op to arrive around Season 2 but, in this update, Staten clarifies that it won’t be ready right as the new season launches on May 3.
Staten explains in the post that “it’s going to take more time to land a high-quality, full-featured 4-player network co-op experience in the massive, wide-open world of Halo Infinite.”
He adds that the team is also working on 2-player split-screen co-op "on all Xbox consoles, from the original Xbox One through Xbox One Series X" but that the "non-linear, wide-open sections of the Campaign present some big challenges for split-screen that have taken us more time to solve.”
The team does, however, still expect campaign network co-op to launch "later in Season 2" and Staten says the team will announce a release date for that and split-screen co-op "as soon as we can".
Looking further ahead, Staten says that Forge still aims to launch in Season 3, with the team "already flighting Forge to a small group of community creators and working closely with them to ensure that all of you have a terrific experience creating, sharing, browsing, and playing Forge content." Public flights are planned for "later this year".
Staten confirms in the post that 343 is already hard at work on Season 3 but shares no further details on what it will involve or when we should expect it. With Season 1 scheduled to end on May 2, Lone Wolves will launch on May 3 and Staten promises that 343 Industries will reveal more about the new season's "maps, modes, customization options, and narrative content" in April.
Analysis: A work in progress
When Halo Infinite launched late last year, it was a hugely popular release for Microsoft and Xbox. Since then, it’s had its ups and downs, having drawn criticism for things like its battle pass progression and its store prices.
Last month it was reported that, despite being the “biggest launch in Halo franchise history”, attracting 20 million total players by January 25, the game has struggled to retain the players it initially attracted. On PC, for instance, Business Insider (opens in new tab) reported that the player count was peaking at around 30,000 daily concurrent players on Steam. Around the game’s November launch, its daily concurrent player count peaked above 250,000 players (opens in new tab).
That’s a pretty hefty drop and while a decline in players isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to Halo Infinite, a lengthy first season probably hasn't helped. Originally hoping to have a new season every three months, 343 Industries extended Season 1 (opens in new tab) in order to create more time "to ensure Season 2 meets our high quality bar and so we can finish development for Season 2 in a healthy and sustainable way for our team."
The launch of a new season and all that comes with that certainly seems like a good way to draw players back and give Halo Infinite a boost. However, it seems more likely that the launch of long-awaited modes like co-op and Forge will prove to be the biggest draw for lapsed players.