‘Halo Infinite’ Season 3 delayed, with Forge arriving in November

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Fans say “Halo Infinite” badly needs new content for its free-to-play multiplayer — but developer 343 Studios has struggled to keep up with its original plans.

In a Halo Waypoint blog posted Thursday morning, 343 and Microsoft announced that Season 3 of “Halo Infinite” would be pushed back to March 7. But it’s not all bad news: Nov. 8, will deliver the long-awaited Forge system, which lets players create their own maps, game modes and rules, elevating the game closer to what “Fortnite” and Microsoft’s own “Minecraft” — two of the largest online games in the world today — offer.

A beta of Forge was originally targeted to release in September, along with the beta for cooperative online play for the campaign, now also delayed to the Nov. 8 date. The original target dates were always marked as “subject to change.”

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As a salve for the Season 3 delay, “Halo Infinite” players will receive two new maps, called Argyle and Detachment, both created by 343 Studios to show off the power of the Forge creative mode. The developer promised that even though Forge will be in beta, it will be “fully featured” in the November release.

Leaks of the mode have been making the rounds for the last few months featuring robust new gameplay types. One player created Andy’s room in “Toy Story” with a fully playable giant-sized version of Jenga.

November may also bring a long-awaited fix demanded by the community: new ways to earn experience points. As of now, the game relies on completing challenges that many (including myself) have criticized as too restrictive for a video game meant to be played at a relaxed pace of our choosing. These challenges force players into modes and play styles that they may not necessarily want to play. Going forward, players will experience a new “Match XP beta,” along with a new free battle pass. The studio did not expand on how this match experience system works, nor did they detail what this non-season battle pass might look like, but promised updates — regularly, and soon.

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The March 7, 2023 launch of Season 3 will also come with a custom game browser for Forge. The custom browser in “Halo Infinite” has famously barely worked since the game’s launch last December — a monument to the not-quite-ready state of the game, and further proof that it could’ve used one more year in development.

Players will also get two more new maps beyond the November ones, two new game modes called VIP and Escalation (a version of “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s” gun game), and a new Bandit Rifle weapon that echoes the DMR rifle from “ Halo: Reach.” A new equipment ability called Shroud Screen will allow players to obscure themselves from radar and vision at the cost of not being able to see out of the screen. It may introduce some interesting tactical plays in objective-based modes.

While the delay of Season 3 and Forge is disappointing, 343 Studios is making the smart move in prioritizing Forge. As a feature introduced in “Halo 3” for the Xbox 360 in 2007, Forge was ahead of its time. The last decade has seen an explosion in popularity of creator-driven game modes, particularly in “Minecraft,” the most popular video game in the world. Many longtime players in the Halo community point to Forge as a possible savior, extending “Halo Infinite’s” life and sparking broader interest in the game.

And while recent leaks have been unauthorized, 343 Studios staff have publicly verified many of the videos as authentic, which has further stoked excitement for the mode.

The sooner Forge drops, the sooner the community will be able to gauge the future of a game many hoped would be a return to form for the series.

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