As part of its Xbox 20th anniversary celebration livestream today, Microsoft announced the surprise launch of Halo Infinite‘s free-to-play multiplayer mode, which is available now for Xbox One, Series S/X, and PC (the game will be available on Xbox Cloud Streaming “later today”).
Today’s launch, which comes after two limited multiplayer “technical preview” test weekends in recent months, is still being described as a beta launch ahead of the full release planned for December 8. That’s when the game’s single-player campaign is also expected to launch (though co-op mode will have to wait).
As such, 343 Industries warns that “you may experience some bumps and bugs during this beta period.” That said, the company sees today’s roll out as the official launch of the game’s “Season One,” which is titled “Heroes of Reach” and will run through May 2, 2022 (subsequent seasons will run for three months). Any progress made in the beta will carry over to the full launch.
Today’s launch includes access to all of the game’s day-one maps and the tutorial-filled Academy mode, as well as access to paid and unlockable cosmetic add-ons via the “battle pass” system. The matchmaking system supports 4v4 Arena modes, 12v12 Big Team battles on larger maps, a “Bot Bootcamp” against computer-controlled opponents, or custom games with settings and maps of your choice. More details are available on Halo Waypoint.
Both the multiplayer and single-player versions of Halo Infinite were delayed from an initial plan for a “Holiday 2020” launch alongside the Xbox Series S/X.
Elsewhere in the stream, Microsoft announced that 70 additional titles from the original Xbox and Xbox 360 are now available for backward-compatible play on more recent Xbox consoles. This includes more than 20 original Xbox titles and all the games from the Max Payne and F.E.A.R. franchises, to name just a few.
All of these titles will be enhanced with Auto HDR on compatible hardware, while 11 will also have FPS Boost. The full list of newly available titles is available on Major Nelson’s blog.
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Listing image by Xbox Game Studios