We are reaching a point where games try to be more and more realistic, which increases workload tremendously on people. I mean compare even a Marine NPC from Infinite with one from Halo 1.
You had way faster turnaround cycles back then. Where back then a designer maybe needed a month on a NPC Model, it’s 3-4 Months now, just because of all the insane details etc. Obviously tools have gotten better too, but complexity is growing exponentially whereas tools are not. That’s why work needs more and more time, and as everything needs longer, the teams aren’t as flexible anymore. Add to that that back in the day, many developers either started out in a garage or on other financial support and had a bigger degree of creative independence. Back then, Bungie was bought and they were tasked to create a launch game for the OG XBOX. In a ViDoc it was revealed that Halo at first didn’t even have a Singleplayer. It was MP only to showcase Xbox Live but they threw in the Singleplayer because they could. Imagine, it was just a afterthought. Where in todays time and age, the higher ups say what they want. Infinite MP has to be F2P, monetized, revenue etc.
The whole industry really needs a shakedown. People wouldn’t mind having more “indie-ish” titles that don’t try to recreate the matrix on our PCs but maybe look a bit dated, but are actually fun to play. But that wont happen as long as people buy every years COD, FIFA etc.