343 Industries can no longer be trusted with Halo — it needs to go

Halo Infinite
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Halo Infinite has been beleaguered by a series of unfortunate events since it was announced. From being delayed for over a year, the infamous “Craig” meme, numerous online syncing issues, battle pass’ frustrating progression system, to lacking modes like campaign co-op and Forge — Halo Infinite has been all but a complete disaster.

Sure, the latter modes are finally coming, but even that good news has a sour note as split-screen co-op is officially dead. A year later, Halo Infinite's woes are continuing to pile up.

I lay all of this at the feet of 343 Industries. The company took the reigns of the Halo series after original developer Bungie broke off from Microsoft. Over ten years later and it has yet to deliver a truly exceptional Halo entry. I know some folks enjoyed Halo 4, Halo 5: Guardians and Halo Infinite, but even they’d have to admit the series has gone downhill since 343 took charge. This is especially sad considering how Halo was once considered the pinnacle of first person shooters. The series’ fall from grace is disheartening.

343 Industries was given many opportunities to set Halo on the right track but has thus far been unable to accomplish this. To that end, I think a radical step has to be taken. To save Halo, Microsoft needs to hand the franchise over to another developer.

343 Industries and Halo: An inauspicious history

What should have been the ultimate Halo collection and another easy win for 343 turned into an abject disaster that people still talk about nearly nine years later.

To illustrate my point, I want to detail 343's history with the Halo franchise.

Microsoft formed 343 Industries in 2007 after long-time Halo developer Bungie announced it was splitting from the company. Named after Halo character 343 Guilty Spark, the developer was placed in charge of the Halo franchise, to which Microsoft kept the rights. 343 co-developed Halo: Reach content before completely taking over the franchise in 2010.

343 Industries' first Halo project was, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, which was a remake of the original title. Remaking a beloved classic was an easy victory for the company, and it gave people hope that the franchise was in good hands.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was a celebrated remake of a beloved classic and an easy victory for 343 Industries. (Image credit: Microsoft)

The company's first wholly original Halo project arrived in the form of Halo 4. Though some (myself included) thought this game wasn’t as good as the first three installments, it was generally well-received by fans and critics, even if the gameplay felt outdated compared to popular shooters of the time – namely, the Call of Duty franchise, which had overtaken Halo to become the new FPS darling.

To perhaps recapture Halo: Combat Evolve Anniversary’s success, 343 Industries released the Halo: Master Chief Collection, which contained Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4. What should have been the ultimate Halo collection and another easy win for 343 turned into an abject disaster that people still talk about nearly nine years later.

Halo The Master Chief Collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection should have been a stellar collection of Halo games but a broken multiplayer experience ruined it for many players. (Image credit: Microsoft)

What went wrong with the Master Chief Collection? Though the single-player portions of each game were technically sound, the online multiplayer barely functioned. In fact, it was flat-out broken for many years. Considering how Halo games became hugely popular because of their addictive online modes, this was unacceptable. These issues have since been (mostly) resolved, but the persistent online issues marred what is otherwise a stellar collection.

Halo 5: Guardians was 343’s chance to prove it was capable of properly managing the franchise. Though it was an objectively solid game that delivered an enjoyable multiplayer experience, players didn’t care much for its campaign. Halo 5 wasn’t the first entry to feature another protagonist besides Master Chief (see: Halo 2), but, generally speaking, fans didn’t seem to care much for Spartan Locke (played by Marvel’s Luke Cage star, Mike Colter). Halo 5 was a sales success but soon faded into obscurity as fans continued playing Call of Duty and similar FPS titles.

Given 343 Industries' spotty record with the Halo franchise up to that point, people were understandably skeptical about Halo Infinite. It was positioned to be a hit for Microsoft’s then-new “next-gen” console, the Xbox Series X — with the game plastered across Xbox Series X boxes. But as we all know, Halo Infinite failed to deliver the goods. Big time.

Infinite problems

After a year-long delay, you’d think Halo Infinite would be in a better state. As things stand, it’s difficult seeing how, or if, this game can ever recover

Halo Infinite faced criticism even before it launched when Microsoft posted an eight-minute gameplay trailer in July 2020. Fans and critics accused the game of having dated graphics, especially for a title meant to launch alongside a brand-new Xbox system. Its performance issues, which included background pop-in, were also lambasted.

The only silver lining came in the form of the now-infamous “Craig” meme, which at least provided some unexpected levity to the rough reveal. Following the backlash, Microsoft announced Halo Infinite would be delayed to 2021. It eventually released on December 8 of that year.

With a year of extra development, folks assumed Halo Infinite would be the killer app for Xbox Series X. Unfortunately, that still hasn’t happened, and likely won’t.

Halo Infinite

The dead-eyed "Craig" was an unintentional bright spot for Halo Infinite's troubled reveal. (Image credit: Microsoft)

We’ve documented many of Halo Infinite’s glaring problems, including (but not limited to) the aforementioned lack of co-op and Forge at launch, a broken battle pass system and a host of technical issues. Season 3 being delayed and removing split-screen co-op are just the latest problems for the game.

After a year-long delay, you’d think Halo Infinite would be in a better state. As things stand, it’s difficult seeing how, or if, this game can ever recover. Sure, games like Fallout 76, Sea of Thieves and No Man’s Sky overcame their rocky beginnings and found success, but I’m not sure if the same will happen with Halo Infinite. It may be too little too late.

Halo deserves a better steward

343 Industries has shepherded the Halo series for over ten years. Despite its great start with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, the studio has failed to return the franchise to its original glory. Everything shared here illustrates 343’s mismanagement of Xbox’s once-flagship franchise. Yes, the competition is fiercer now thanks to games like Call of Duty, Apex Legends, Overwatch and even Fortnite. But there’s no reason Halo shouldn’t stand alongside the current crop of successful shooters.

Microsoft has many studios under its proverbial belt. It acquired Bethesda and will soon finalize its purchase of Activision Blizzard. It’s not unreasonable to wonder what would happen if developers like id Software or Infinity Ward were given the Halo franchise.

Granted, just because these studios have made great games like Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein: The New Order and Call of Duty: Vanguard doesn’t automatically mean they can knock out a killer Halo game. But considering the current state of affairs, I don’t see how these established studios could do any worse than 343.

I’m not sure when or if Microsoft can relieve 343 Industries of the Halo series. But if such a thing is possible, it’d be wise to make it happen sooner rather than later. And if not, perhaps replacing 343 head Bonnie Ross with someone with a clearer vision for the franchise is in order. But whatever action Microsoft decides to take, it has to be drastic. If it ultimately means taking Halo away from 343, then so be it.

Read next: 5 ways Assassin’s Creed Mirage could fix the series

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.

  • d0x360
    I'd absolutely agree if they hadn't finally nailed the perfect mix of feeling like classic halo while also feeling modernized. That's not an admirable feat and let's not forget that cods overall feel hasn't really changed much since cod2 launched with the 360. New paint, more pay to win aspects sure... But gameplay? They tried stuff and people hated it so they always reverted back to more pretty more MTX same feel.

    The thing that makes halo so unique is even if you are a gust of stinky wind away from death you can still win with the right tactics but in cod it's basically whoever shoots first wins and whoever has 100 hours a week to game gets better gear so even if you shoot first they win until you hop over to the store, buy some cod points for $20 and get... 1 useful gun, 1 meh gun if you even get 2 and a skin with a avatar. Then a few weeks go buy and they silently nerf the stuff that you bought and the stuff that's a month old on the battlepass.

    Yeah 343i messed up Halo MCC but I blame gearbox for that and I have my reasons! Halo 4 wasnt bad and neither was 5 except I think they forgot to put half the triggers for cinemas and someone pasted warden eternal over at least 3 bosses.

    Seriously though they did screw up infinite and it's gotta be hurting because they know they finally nailed the core gameplay without needing gimmicky crap but they had a huge lack of content for some unknown reason... So perhaps Instead of the entire team we just says that the people already fired (I mean quit yes they definitely quit) and maybe whoever is in charge of 343i also gets the boot.

    I know what they have in store for us, it's not what people think... Well some is but it's actually more than that and I know it's frustratingly hard to believe but it will be worth it.

    Plus they did right and at the same time as fixing everything, making a forge mode that still hasn't shown all it can do, new modes, new maps, new secret stuff, new events, improved visuals as time goes on and we begin ditching last gen which should have been something they did say 1 considering how much time and effort was wasted getting it working and still doing so especially after they watched the damage it did to cyberpunk... But they also remade all the armor assets in the game so they could work anywhere which is something we asked for over the theme kinda armor core setup they were doing which was actually supposed to be tied into... Stuff I can't mention and honestly that must have been brutal.

    Hey guys... Everyone is super pissed at us and even halos biggest fans are justified in wanting the studio closed, especially the ones that saw that tv show but on top of S3 content, forge assets, assets for these new things and those new things and that other cool thing plus some of season 4 so there's a buffer.. could you also remake every piece of armor that's in the game and also make it so it doesn't clip through things it wasn't meant to go with or on?

    Awesome thanks!

    I hate being this guy because I know it makes me look like the biggest shill in history and to make myself feel less dirty I bought TLOUS Remastered Remaster of the Remaster even though I said no effin way after doing Amy Hennig dirty (I'm looking at you Druckman you hack, without her the studio wouldn't exist and probably won't for many more games with your writing & direction) but that countdown clock big 11 hours and 30 min and I got a blast of excitement to play the game looking all fancy at 4k60...so I'm not super thrilled you didn't scale it down just enough to hit that performance Target.

    Didn't you call insomnias and ask them to use their upscaling tech? Did you forget about checkerboard rendering? Seriously performance mode is 1440p40? How?! You had a magic SSD remember? You could literally load the level as the user moved the camera or so I was told.

    I hope MW2 is good and the new mode really is like Tarkov but more accessible because I play that game and I refuse to use tricks to cheat like make night look like day or make day look absurd just to see enemies better.. Although a couple weeks ago I spawned in pitch back and I have an OLED so I might as well have just turned it off. I heard guys like 50 feet away so I took a step forward but they obviously couldn't see me because they ran back and forth right next to me for like 7 min.

    Everytime they would get far enough away I'd move a bit and since it was by the railroad and I kept changing sides of the train...well it worked out for me in the end and I have genuine surround sound to thank because headphones pretending doesn't cut it for blind aim in the pitch black. I got one of them roughly 30 feet away, ads and pray I'm right and down he went then his friend saw the last of my muzzle flash so I quickly moved to the right and just aimed at his.

    One of them had a flashlight! I'm guessing he didn't know because we only had 6 min to escape when they died and I made it out basically as the screen began fading...

    Yup... I ramble when I'm tired. So?
  • Videogamechick
    I agree completely. Halo is now a disposable game with an unmemorable campaign, which was the lifeblood of it's existence.

    Now there's zero ambiance to it's gameplay, confusing characters, a whole floodworld that's been ditched (whole reason why the halos exist), lack of thrill/gore/mystery, and a boring Cortana.

    I can't hum a song from any of the new Halos and no gamer girl wants to look like the new Cortana and her spacesuit getup. Halo 4 was a decent try, Halo 5 was a disaster, and Infinite is proving an infinite amount of problems us loyal halo players can point out.

    I'd be cool if the game was given to someone else and then completely redone starting from Halo 4 onward.

    Thank God someone finally said it and wrote this article! WAKE UP Microsoft. We need you to fix this.