On Monday, a jaw-dropping Halo Infinite video kept showing up on my Twitter feed that looked like something out of a Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild speedrun.
The video, from Australian YouTuber “Mint Blitz,” begins with Master Chief armed with a massive hammer behind a Warthog vehicle. In an impressive sequence taking place over a matter of seconds, Mint Blitz swings the hammer to send the Warthog flying while almost simultaneously using Master Chief’s new grappling hook on the vehicle to slingshot himself into the air like Spider-Man. As he’s soaring high above Zeta Halo’s treetops, he uses the thruster powerup — and then, inexplicably, just keeps flying forward. After 39 seconds in the air, he finally lands, gracefully setting down on top of a tall tower that’s likely supposed to otherwise be inaccessible.
Mint Blitz is almost assuredly doing something Halo Infinite developer 343 Industries never specifically intended. I can’t imagine that players are supposed to be able to fly straight forward without falling for more than half a minute. But based on a conversation I had with 343 Industries, it seems like the studio is fine with letting players figure out how to do similarly outlandish stunts and doesn’t plan to patch those sorts of things out.
“It would actually have to be something that causes the game to lock up for us to be wanting to stop it,” 343 Industries associate creative director Paul Crocker tells The Verge. “I’d love it if someone managed to speedrun the game by using some crazy combination of mechanics to get there.”
“Unless it’s brick-blocking player progression or their ability to enjoy the game, we’ll fix it,” adds character director Stephen Dyck. “Those are the types of things we patch. Otherwise, we love seeing that kind of stuff.”
Dyck argues that pushing the boundaries is something that’s “part of Halo’s DNA.” He gave an example of trying to squeeze a vehicle where you technically aren’t supposed to. “If the player wants to invest time and energy into doing that, and then ultimately they’re successful, and they get the vehicle where they technically weren’t supposed to? Awesome,” he says.
Crocker shared the story of a time the development team spent two hours trying to get a Ghost (kind of an alien hovercraft speeder) into a certain building. “When they wrote up this huge bug [report] about, ‘I can get a Ghost in, we need to fix this,’ we went, ‘Nope. You’re totally able to do that,’” Crocker said.
Seeing the things players end up doing also inspires the team for things they make down the line, according to Dyck. “We’ll see interesting things that players are gravitating towards, and we’re like, ‘Cool, yeah, we’ll lean into that one.’”
Pushing worlds to their limits can give games extended lives. People are still actively shaving time off Breath of the Wild speedruns more than four and a half years after its original release, for example. And Halo fans have already shown they’re a persistent bunch, having spent seven years trying to get into a cutscene room in Halo: Reach.
343 Industries hasn’t said what’s next for Halo Infinite’s campaign, so we don’t know how the next chapter on Zeta Halo may unfold. But while we’re waiting for what’s to come, I’m looking forward to seeing whatever tricks top Mint Blitz’s epic flight across the map — and it seems like 343 will be, too.