Microsoft has been gaining plenty of goodwill lately for its impressive next-gen hardware and services (e.g., Xbox Game Pass), but one wrench in the cogs appears to be 343 Industries’ new Halo Infinite title, which aims to reinvent the franchise with open-world gameplay.
According to a Bloomberg report, Halo Infinite has just lost its project director, Chris Lee. Lee happens to be one of the franchise’s biggest overseers, having produced every major Halo game since Halo 3: ODST (i.e., Halo: Reach, Halo 4, Halo 5: Guardians).
His absence is bad news for a flagship game that has already suffered a significant delay (the original plan was to drive Xbox Series X|S sales with a Halo title at launch), but what makes Lee’s departure even worse is that he’s the second director to leave the project in the past two years (creative director Tim Longo departed back in August 2019).
“I have stepped back from Infinite and I am looking at future opportunities,” Lee said. “I believe in the team and am confident they will deliver a great game and now is a good time for me to step away.”
“Chris Lee remains a Microsoft employee and while he has stepped back from Halo: Infinite right now, we appreciate all he has done for the project to date,” Microsoft said in an emailed statement.
It isn’t clear whether Lee left by choice or was urged to take his talents elsewhere, but we’re getting the feeling that the initial reception to Halo Infinite’s gameplay unveil over the summer had changed the direction of the project dramatically.
When that trailer debuted, many Halo fans expressed their disappointment at the graphics, which looked oddly flat and cartoon-like for what was supposed to be a mind-blowing demo of the Xbox Series X’s awesome power.
Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians weren’t exactly well received, but maybe 343 Industries should have just bit the bullet and made a Halo 6, rather than try to reinvent the franchise.