343 Industries dished on new details around the PC version of Halo Infinite, which won’t be a simple port of the anticipated next-gen Xbox Series X version. Instead, a dedicated team is working on the sequel, making gaming rigs work naturally over Halo Infinite‘s open world and high end visual fidelity. The PC version will also let users tailor the game down to each graphics setting to churn out performance while leaving a door open for ray tracing and DLSS.
In their latest Inside Infinite blog update, the studio sat with project leads Jeff Guy and Mike Romero to specifically talk about what PC users will get. It’s worth noting this is one of the first mainline Halo titles to release with a PC version — something 343 suggests won’t be taken lightly following the game’s delay since the Series X launch. On release, the PC version will also be integrated with cross-progression, Smart Delivery and Xbox Game Pass if players own both systems.
Visually, the game was optimized with the Series X in mind. Though the specs for both PC and next gen consoles are different, Romero explained there would be a solid baseline so players can play “harmoniously”.
“I’m passionate about giving players what they want, taking a great game and making it run the way PC gamers want to play,” he said. “Honouring the hard work they put into their rigs, the settings customization they expect to see, and welcoming all new players who might not have played Halo before if they’re not console players.”
In the same vein of Halo: The Master Chief Collection releasing on PC from 2019 to 2020, PC users will be able to play with controller options. The traditional mouse and keyboard (M&K) setup add a different level of precision than the Xbox Wireless Controllers. Analog stick aiming is traded for a mouse, which relies on a player’s direct input for firing weapons. This can also be adjusted with mouse sensitivity over the in-game settings with some fine-tuning on DPI devices.
Players with gaming mice can program additional bindings over the Mouse 4 and 5 (thumb) buttons on the thumb for grenades, visor modes or the new grappling hook. The controls will also be much more flexible for creators on a potential Forge mode for PC. This allows for faster map building with studio-quality shortcuts on keyboard and mouse manipulation for assets. It’s still unknown if Halo Infinite will let the modding community create additional content for years to come, through open source codes or Steam Workshop (where the PC version will also be distributed).
PC players can program every control through keyboard bindings. Fingers are likely to be rested on WASD, while Halo Infinite‘s sprawling traversal and shooting system can be remapped with the push of a key. This gives players more freedom to use their own tried-and-true layouts for annihilating the Covenant scum. In turn, actions like boosting, melee and armour abilities could add faster dexterity over keyboard. For specific details, it’s still unknown if Halo Infinite will offer RGB profiles for select keyboards, as the feature adds extra lighting according to in-game’s effects.
According to 343, the same mouse and keyboard controls will also be available for Series X players, with options for remapping. Players can also plug in their Xbox Wireless Controller for a more traditional experience over PC. This was evident in The Master Chief Collection, which featured instant swapping between the M&K or gamepad without needing to change settings. The PC also leaves room for more third-party gamepads, as well as accessibility controllers to accommodate players with disabilities. It’s expected that some players will be taking advantage of Halo Infinite for playthroughs with driving wheels, HOTAs, drum sets and other peripherals that are universally compatible on PC.
It’s clear 343 is taking their experience of porting MCC from PC to the next game. The series on PC also offered more options for monitors, fitting resolutions for 1080p, 1440p (2K) and 2160p (4K). This adds a different level of details and crisp behind Halo Infinite‘s graphics. The PC hardware is also extended with ultrawide monitor support — something 343 emphasized in their update. This gives players superhuman peripheral vision when exploring Zeta Halo at the cost of GPU power. Field of View settings will also be back for PC, as are uncapped frame rates to make the most out of hardware acceleration. This lets PC players blow past the targeted 120fps mode set for Xbox Series X with room to grow. It’s worth noting Halo Infinite will be targeted at 60fps for Campaign and 120fps for Multiplayer. PC will instead give players preset caps if they want to avoid screen tearing or run at frames that are bigger than what their monitors can actually handle.
“I explicitly wanted wider aspect ratios to allow you to see more horizontally instead of seeing less vertically. This is harder on performance but provides a more immersive experience. The 3D scene has to support arbitrary window sizes – that’s probably the easiest part,” Romero said.
He added the game’s helmet HUD would fit naturally over any aspect ratio, with players being able to go old-school at 4:3 with lower resolutions. Romero claims the UI and other on-screen information would still be legible through attention to detail. The elements themselves can also be customized to a player’s liking, such as contrasting letters or omitting some HUD items.
“I might need to convince someone that even though 21:9 ultrawide doesn’t exist on console, it’s a very important thing to PC players and we should design our content natively for it,” Guy said.
Visually, PC players can customize their graphics to every detail. They can match the Xbox Series X settings closely, or tweak aspects like Anti-Aliasing (edges), Textures, Terrain, Reflections and Shadows from Low to Ultra range. This ensures Halo Infinite can keep up with performance while looking next-gen. For a 60fps baseline, it’s important for PC players to mind their Lighting, Shadows and Ray Tracing settings which take the heaviest hits for GPUs. But until 343 releases the PC requirements, we can’t make any further suggestions.
343 took some time to reveal Halo Infinite will not include “intrusive DRM,” which ensures the game is purchased at a cost of logging player information. The controversial security measure is usually implemented to keep piracy at bay, while its absence for Infinite adds implications for open distribution.
Unlike the Xbox Series X version of Halo Infinite, players on PC won’t require an online subscription for multiplayer or co-op. This adds another benefit seen from The Master Chief Collection, which significantly ballooned overall player count with PC communities joining the fight. PC players for Infinite will only need an online internet connection, while they can still access crossplay and Steam cloud-saving without a paywall.
As an added bonus, PC players can also play entirely offline and set up LAN parties (just like old times). Matches will also have a ranked/unranked option for incredibly serious or wacky times. In competitive online matches, Halo Infinite will be locking controller settings. This doesn’t let players switch between different inputs in the middle of a match – something games like Black Ops Cold War included to prevent advantages.
It’s worth noting that the PC platform isn’t just extended to PC desktops. Of course, the computer platform works with gaming laptops and other compatible devices with Windows 10. This gives Halo Infinite a portable potential for gamers while making LAN parties an absolute breeze to set up. PC players also have unintended benefits for slaying Brutes at work or school (though CGM doesn’t endorse this).
Updates and additional content will also be regularly fed to the base game through the supported PC launchers. Third party apps like Discord and OBS Studio will also be compatible with Halo Infinite to show game status, live streaming and party chat. Like the Master Chief Collection, the upcoming game will be integrated with Xbox’s online service for achievements. Players earning these on Series X will instantly gain Steam achievements when they log onto the PC version of Halo Infinite.
Halo Infinite is coming to PC and Xbox Series X later in 2021. Players looking to practice ahead can access Halo: The Master Chief Collection for PC on Steam and the Microsoft Store.