So, that absolutely stunning trailer has got me thinking. A few on here and in other places on the internet have been speculating that Halo Infinite (or H6 as I will refer to it in the rest of this post) is going to be open world. As a [very independent and insignificant] game developer this prospect has got me thinking on how this could work, and has lead me to think of some pretty exiting ideas (that if aren’t used in H6 I’ll definitely be using myself when I get the budget).
First off, for this to really work, the game has to take place entirely on the Halo, and in terms of tone and pacing feel very similar to Combat Evolved. Think about it, the game starts, as some have speculated, with Infinity crashing on this Halo ring. From there on out you as Master Chief get to explore the ring, uncover it’s secrets and fight the silly bad plot threads left over from Halo 5. It’ll bring back (along with the classic artstyle revival) the same feelings that you had when exploring instillation 04 back in 2001, but with a whole new layer of depth added to the ring, with you being able to truly venture out and explore, instead of being lead down a linear path (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Of course, have an entire Halo ring to explore will be too much of an ask on the dev team, and also a pretty boring gameplay experience as they’ll be a whole lot of nothing sprawling out for miles. So lets condense it down to 4-6 smaller regions, each with their own distinct biomes and plot centric features and encounters. Each one will be it’s own sectioned off map, and fast travel will be required to get from one to another.
When it comes to travel, one thing I’ve always loved in all of the Halo’s has been getting into a pelican at the end of a mission to take me to the next area, something I think was excellently implemented in Combat Evolved with Foe Hammer, having a dedicated pelican pilot for you to give you a ride, or drop of some troops or even a vehicle! Now how about a similar feature in H6? (Including the dropping off of marines and ordinance, but we’ll get to that later…)
So, how about as a fast travel feature, when you say press up on the D-pad you get the chance to call in a pelican, with one of the options being to give you a lift to one of the other regions on the Halo. And, to keep the feeling of exploration and give it a realistic military feel, the pelican can only drop you off in map specific LZs (which you have to find on the map and clear when exploring), which will act as fast travel waypoints.
So lets say the game begins, Infinity crashes on the ring, you start off in one of the regions and your first objective is to find a site for a base. You’ve got say a warthog and some marines with you, and you set out exploring. Maybe you’ll get an objective marker that tells you where the ideal spot is for your base, maybe you get multiple and you can pick (with some giving you different bonuses?). Once your base is established, you get the ability to call in the pelican. Maybe you’ve found some LZs on your travels. From there onwards, you’re free to explore. Maybe to make it a bit more linear, each region of the Halo only unlocks once you’ve got a mission objective there, but can go back and continue exploring, doing secondary objectives, finding collectables ETC.
So, what else should the pelican be able to do apart from act as a cab service? Call in ordinance and back up. As it’s going to be a vast open world to explore, I say you should start off with a Warthog, but hey, warthogs are destructible things, you may need a replacement. Call one in! Need some marines as backup? Call some in! Perhaps implement a way so you only have a finite number of recourses, or some kind of timer so you can’t just spam it. Perhaps as the game goes on and your military presence on the ring increases, you can call in more powerful units, like Scorpions or ODSTs once lets say you’ve got Infinity back in the air or some friendly ships arrive (maybe friendly Covenant forces in some section of the game? Call in a Ghost, a squad of grunts or a pair of Hunters?).
One thing that would be well implemented into the pelican system from Halo 5 is the squad mechanics. Have characters like Blue Team, Arbiter and his two firends from H3 co-op, Osiris, and Red Team all become call in-able squad mates at different points of the game, depending on whats going on in the plot (but only up to three of them at a time) all with different starting weapons. In regards to co-op, lets have it be drop-in drop-out, and when a player 2, 3 or 4 joins the game they get dropped off at your location in the pelican as one of these squadmates, as if you called them in (they have a selection of available characters in the form of loadouts when they join the game, once they pick the pelican spawns and drops them off).
And well that’s all I’ve really thought of so far.
The game should just take place on the Halo
The Halo is an open world made up of 4-6 different maps, each with their own biome.
You start off in one, after Infinity crashes, from their you are to explore that region, establish a base and gather recourses.
Once you are able to, you can call in a pelican to act as an immersive fast travel to take you to the other regions of the Halo.
Pelican can only land in predetermined LZs, which you have to establish on the map when exploring.
As the plot develops and your military presence grows stronger, you can call in different vehicles and marines to help you with completing objectives.
You can also call in squad mates who will either be AI or player controlled using a drop in drop out coop system.
Who/what you can call in with the pelican is dependent on what point you are in the plot and what resources you have gathered.