Halo Infinite is being described by developer 343 Industries as a "spiritual reboot" of the franchise and "the most ambitious Halo game ever made". Now we're getting a clear idea of what that means.
Although more than a dozen sequels and spin-offs have been released since Halo: Combat Evolved launched in 2001, the impact of that original game has arguably never been reached.
People who remember playing it for the first time generally recall being blown away by how big and open the game world was, as a contrast to the generally claustrophobic first-person shooters that came before it.
There was a moment early on in the first Halo where it dawned on the player just how enermoud its world was.
Chris Lee, Halo Infinite's game director and head of 343 Industries, says that moment in the 2001 game is a massive inspiration for the new game.
"We really wanted to capture the magic of the first time you stepped out of the Bumblebee drop-pod on the Halo Ring in Halo: Combat Evolved," Lee told Newshub.
He said the large open world of Halo Infinite is designed to "deliver on the promise" of that moment from the original Halo.
"We have a specific moment in the campaign where we introduce the player to the open, expansive gameplay and that moment is a really special moment. It's crafted so it feels familiar, but different - we really want to hark back to the most iconic moments from previous experiences in Halo."
343 Industries is making a concerted effort to emphasize just how non-linear Halo Infinite is.
"Choice is everything. How you choose to go through the world, what missions you choose to go after and how you choose to approach combat," Jerry Hook, the game's head of design told Newshub.
"In the part of the game you saw in the [campaign gameplay premiere released last week], Master Chief could have gone up the ridge, just walked up the road that was barricaded by the Banished and tackle them head-on. Or he could've gone the way you see in the demo, where he skips that and goes right up to the cliff."
Although Infinite's creators say it offers an open sandbox experience, they're cautious of straying too far from what makes a Halo game a Halo game.
"We're not an RPG, we don't want to have health bars everywhere but we do want to bring in a more visceral feel for combat," Hook said.
He reckons Halo Infinite's combat offers a "broader, more 360 perspective than what [Halo games have] had in the past".
"In the demo video, you saw the player was able to choose where to hit their enemies, and that caused the AI to respond appropriately. So if you focus on the left leg, that prevents the Berserker from being able to charge you so they stumble and fall. Those are clear signs to the player that while they're doing damage and wearing the brutes down, but also the brutes will respond to that."
Halo Infinite will be released as an Xbox Series X launch title later this year.