Halo Infinite will be released on December 8, but in the meantime, IGN has exclusive coverage of Master Chief’s spiritual reboot all month long as part of our editorial IGN First “cover story” initiative. That means we’ll be dropping exclusive content throughout the month of November (and yes, we’ve played the campaign – the first four hours of it), starting with today’s reveal of a brand-new Arena multiplayer map called ‘Streets’.
As you can see in the video above with me and lead multiplayer level designer Cayle George, Streets is a small, asymmetrical battleground set in New Mombasa at night. This immediately sets it apart, visually speaking, from the other Halo Infinite multiplayer maps we’ve seen in the test flights thus far. It’s got numerous subtle artistic touches, such as the “Holodog” advertisement, the retro-style Halo Infinite arcade cabinet that plays a MIDI version of the Halo theme, the skyline you can see in the background from certain vantage points on the map, and the glass railings that you can just smash right through. It’s a very fast map with short sightlines, and I really enjoyed it.
We did the above walkthrough video before we actually played the map competitively; we wanted to capture our actual first impressions of it when walking through it with George. Hilariously, after he politely ribbed me for bringing up CTF on this asymmetrical map, the very first gametype that came up in 343’s internal custom-games test hopper when we sat down to play it was…you guessed it, Capture the Flag. And it was really fun! So it certainly can be done, just don’t expect to see it in ranked playlists.
We learned of at least two more Big Team Battle maps while at 343: ‘Deadlock’ and ‘High Power’
As to other multiplayer tidbits, we sat down with the 343 multiplayer team for over an hour. Among other things, we asked about whether or not we should expect any remakes of classic maps, as has become Halo tradition. “That question is something we actively talk about quite a bit,” said lead multiplayer designer Andrew Witts. “I think that what we’ve done with [the Big Team Battle map] Fragmentation is something we want; we want things to feel new, but we want things to be a bit reminiscent without giving you the exact same layout or the same layout with slight differences, because we’re a different game with different needs.” He cites Valhalla and its remake Ragnarok as influences for Fragmentation. “There are some maps that have been coming out in almost every single iteration of Halo. So I wouldn’t say we would never do a remake, but again, we’re doing a spiritual reboot, so we look at how we kind of put our own twist on it, but still make it feel like a little bit of a nostalgia trip when you kind of run through them.” George added, “We’ve tried the one-to-one ports. They don’t work well.”
Later in our discussion, we also learned that there are at least two more BTB maps that we haven’t seen yet, called ‘Deadlock’ and ‘High Power’, respectively. Multiplayer creative director Tom French described Deadlock as “very dramatic,” saying it feels very “classic Halo.” It has a “very different mood” than the rest of the maps, he told us. High Power, meanwhile, started out as a “test gym” for BTB. And, 343 says, “Test gyms never ship. At all.” But they told a story about doing a BTB playtest on the-map-that-would-eventually-be-known-as-High-Power, and the hooting and hollering was so loud from developers and testers having so much fun that they all looked at each other and asked, “Oh, is this a [real] map?”
We’ll have much more Halo Infinite as November rolls on, including a look at what awaits in Season 1 of the Battle Pass, an IGN Unfiltered conversation with Halo Infinite head of creative and longtime Bungie veteran Joseph Staten, our hands-on impressions from the first few hours of the campaign, and more – starting with raw, full-match gameplay of ‘Streets’ this Wednesday!
Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s executive editor of previews and host of both IGN’s weekly Xbox show, Podcast Unlocked, as well as our monthly(-ish) interview show, IGN Unfiltered. He’s a North Jersey guy, so it’s “Taylor ham,” not “pork roll.” Debate it with him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan.