2018 has come and gone, and with it we have seen the end of HCS Halo 5 tournaments and a resurgence of Classic Halo. We’ve seen joys and we’ve seen pains and after E3, we had hope again with the Halo Infinite Slip-Space trailer. Though the next iteration of Halo is still most likely more than a year away, we are seeing the development of the game reach several key milestones.

December 19th, we got to watch the Happy Holidays 343 Social Stream on which they answered many questions and gave us more of an idea of where Halo Infinite is at. The first update is 343 now has multiplayer map builds. How do we know this? Well, in the stream they mentioned the 343 Industries Holiday Staff Studio Tournament which is taking place after everyone returns from Christmas break. Now this normally isn’t anything big enough to warrant an article being written about it. However, they mentioned that the tournament will be played on builds of Halo Infinite.

What this means, is Halo Infinite’s development might be much farther along than we originally thought. If they can have an inter-studio holiday tournament on Infinite builds, then multiplayer maps are well into development with design and layout, though not yet fully fleshed out.

Now for those who may not remember, Halo 5 had a pro team assembled to test out the playability of multiplayer maps on rudimentary versions of current Halo 5 maps. As of the holiday stream, a Halo Infinite Pro Team is currently being assembled. Yet another reason to believe development is humming along. The Infinite Pro Team will be key in assessing the multiplayer maps before the insider flight program goes live later this year. This is the first time in the history of the Halo franchise that a flight program has been used for an initial release. We have seen multiplayer betas come out, but the scale of multiplayer flights that are being planned for Infinite is a good sign that 343 Industries is continuing to focus on “Building Alongside the Community”. This, coupled with the Halo Grassroots movement, show how in touch the developers have become with the community and the everyday gamer.

Community focus is a much-needed step for 343, especially after the first year following the Halo 5 release, where many agree that the game was heavily lacking. To illustrate how successful community involvement is, all we must do is to look at the overwhelming success of Epic Games’ Fortnite, with constant updates and modifications based on their gaming community.

The importance of a complete multiplayer experience can’t be minimized for Halo Infinite’s release. The mechanics and playability need to be rock solid, with a humble ear tuned to the community from the moment it hits stores. The combination of the Pro Team, massive scaling insider flights, and focus on the community are going to be pivotal in achieving success. And after the holiday stream, I must say, I have more confidence they will succeed.