The Xbox Series X is confirmed to release this November, but it'll do so without its most anticipated exclusive. And that may have just handed the PS5 the victory in a console war that's already looking overwhelmingly in Sony's favor.
On August 11, developer 343 Industries announced that its delaying the long-awaited Halo Infinite to 2021 in order to take more time to "deliver a Halo game experience that meets our vision." And while 343's decision is understandable on a number of levels, it could give gamers one more reason to pick the PS5 over the Xbox Series X this holiday season.
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The delay of Halo Infinite shouldn't come as a huge surprise to those that have been following recent Xbox events. The game's July gameplay reveal was met with mixed reception, largely from those who felt that Halo Infinite's graphics don't look like those of a true next-gen game. 343 Industries also cited COVID-related development issues as one reason behind the delay, making Halo Infinite just one of many products whose release date has been affected by the global pandemic.
So while Halo Infinite's delay will likely result in a better final product, it leaves a gaping hole in the Xbox Series X launch lineup. While Microsoft is quick to point out that the Xbox Series X will play "thousands" of games at launch thanks to backwards compatibility, many of its hotly anticipated exclusives such as Forza Motorsport and Fable 4 are likely years away.
On top of that, most major titles coming to the console this fall — including Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion and Destiny 2 — are also bound for PS5. When you couple that with the fact that the PS5 has at least one major exclusive set for this holiday with Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sony's next-gen console may end up being the one to buy for the vast majority of gamers looking to upgrade this fall.
The PS5 was already shaping up to be the victor of this holiday, with a recent survey revealing that fans are more likely to pick up Sony's console than Microsoft's new system by an overwhelming 84% to 15%.
There's also a case to be made that Microsoft hasn't truly given fans a reason to pick up a Series X. Most major Microsoft titles releasing over the next few years are also slated to come to Xbox One and PC, and will also be playable over the cloud thanks to Xbox Game Pass streaming. The Xbox Series X has slightly stronger specs than the PS5 on paper, but Microsoft would be wise to hold one last showcase to reveal what that power truly translates to during real-world gaming — especially without a Halo game to boost the system at launch.
Game delays are incredibly common, and 343 Industries deserves props for prioritizing the health of both its game and employees by pushing back Halo Infinite. But without a major launch exclusive, the Xbox Series X may have already lost yet another battle to the PS5.