The creative director for the highly anticipated Halo Infinite is no longer working on the game and has left 343 Industries altogether. Halo Infinite is currently in deep development, with a scheduled release window of holiday 2020.
Halo Infinite and its development have been something of an enigma since the game was announced. The company first unveiled the next major Halo title at E3 2018 with a teaser trailer built in the new Slipspace Engine. However, there wasn't much information regarding the actual gameplay of Halo Infinite, other than the fact that it will have 4-player split-screen and will not have a battle royale mode. The next time the game was shown was a full year later at E3 2019, where Microsoft debuted a new Halo Infinite trailer alongside Project Scarlett. Yet, there was still no gameplay, and now the game's development team is getting a substantial shakeup.
Kotaku has confirmed that Tim Longo, creative director for Halo Infinite, has officially left 343 Industries as of this week. Microsoft provided a statement on the leadership change but did not give any reason for Longo's departure. The portion of the statement regarding the shakeup is below.
"Roles and responsibilities of various team members regularly evolve to meet the needs of a game, throughout development. We have recently had two changes to the Halo Infinite development team. Our Executive Producer, Mary Olson will now take charge of the Campaign team on Halo Infinite as the Lead Producer, utilizing her many years of experience at 343 to help craft a great campaign for fans. Additionally, Tim Longo has recently departed our team and we are truly thankful for his many contributions to our games, our studio and the Halo universe. We wish Tim nothing but the best in his future endeavors."
Longo had served as the creative director for Halo 5: Guardians at 343 and was also a veteran of LucasArts and Crystal Dynamics. He was involved in a number of well-regarded Star Wars games including Jedi Knight, Republic Commando, and X-Wing Alliance. He was also the creative director for the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider. Despite Longo leaving 343, Microsoft further said that, "the overall creative vision and production of the game remains led by Chris Lee, Studio Head of Halo Infinite." The company also emphasized that the leadership changes won't have any impact on the release date for the game.
Even with Microsoft's assurances, it's still somewhat disconcerting to see such a secretive game get a big leadership shakeup at this point. As is always the case with a new mainline Halo game, the company is putting a lot of pressure on Halo Infinite to succeed for the future of the Xbox brand. The game is still slated as a launch title for Project Scarlett in just over a year, not to mention the fact that the PC version is set to release at the same time. One can't help but wonder if the game will be truly ready in time - the debacle with The Master Chief Collection is still a vividly bad memory for many fans.