Everyone who’s been chomping at the bit to join Master Chief on his latest sci-fi adventure will be happy to know that Xbox today announced a firm release window for the Xbox Series X: this November. However, like a monkey’s paw granting a wish, the company also announced that Halo Infinite- the system’s biggest title- is getting delayed to 2021.
In some ways, this news isn’t wholly surprising. Both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One launched in November, and despite Master Chief being the de facto Xbox mascot, neither console had new, exclusive Halo games at launch. Still, the 360 differentiated itself from competition by coming out before the PS3 and for less money. But Halo Infinite was intended to bridge the gap between the Xbox One and Xbox Series X, and that game was likely to be a system seller.
Still, with the pandemic having hit supply lines hard earlier this year, many of us were wondering if the next generation of consoles would be delayed. Sony said earlier this year that it was planning to hit its expected PS5 launch window on time, and now it seems that Microsoft is one-upping them by announcing a specific release window, and one that matches its history.
Additionally, while Microsoft seems to have taken a backseat on exclusivity compared to Sony this generation, eventually allowing players to play its newer Xbox exclusives on PC while collaborating with other companies to bring former exclusives like Cuphead to their consoles, Halo Infinite was the only announced Xbox Series X launch game with a tie to Microsoft’s history, and so felt like its key point of difference when compared to other options. Without it, it’s tough to settle on a unique identity for the system’s launch library, or a reason why one would buy it over the PS5 or new components for their PC.
Still, Microsoft is promising “thousands of games” at launch, largely thanks to the Xbox Series X's impressive backwards compatibility. Backwards compatibility doesn’t necessarily present a strong reason for upgrading to new hardware right away, though some older titles- those bearing “optimized for Xbox Series X” branding- are expected to play better on the new console.
Halo fans will likely appreciate the 343 getting more time to tune up the game, as Halo: Infinite’s graphical fidelity earned it some fan backlash after Microsoft streamed a recent gameplay demo.