Last night, Microsoft kicked off its Xbox Series X showcase with Halo: Infinite. In motion it looks pretty decent but, when the action gets held up, something seems a little... simple about the visuals.
The campaign footage has received a generally positive reception, but official screenshots that 343 Industries shared after the showcase have been less rapturously received. The photo below - seemingly taken in the midst of a firefight, from the way everyone's standing - has a definite 'toybox' aesthetic, all primary colours and beefy chunks of armour. It's not exactly representative of the finished product, and it's arguable that the style reflects Infinite returning to a more 'classic' aesthetic, but it's not a fantastic look.
Yeah, not really impressed by the visuals. Somebody posted a screenshot of Halo while it isn't in motion and it just looks like everything is made of cheap plastic. pic.twitter.com/wcbTCaMgsT
— CDL Gaming (@CDL_Gaming) July 24, 2020
After that came several images captured from the trailer that focus in on the Brute models up-close. It's important to say that these are screenshots of split-second moments, something that you wouldn't ever notice unless you were going through the footage frame-by-frame. But at the same time, there's no denying this does look like Master Chief coming face-to-face with a waxwork model of a gorilla.
You know what I’m really looking forward to? Seeing this screenshot in every popular tweet regarding Halo for the next few months /s pic.twitter.com/8jJ9kx9496
— Elite King?? (@Eliteking717) July 24, 2020
Particularly cruel are the comparisons with PlayStation games from the last generation, highlighting the amount of detail that's gone into games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Death Stranding, and The Last of Us Part 2. Halo Infinite does look better than this, but anything can be made to look bad with carefully chosen screens. What the official screenshot in particular shows is a degree of honesty on 343's part: how many times have you looked at a promotional screenshot that bears scant resemblance to the final product? Halo Infinite might not look amazing in oddly-posed stills but, in motion, it's something else.