Now that Halo Infinite has been delayed out of the Xbox Series X’s launch lineup, developer 343 Industries is bringing in a veteran of the series to help shepherd the game to its new 2021 release. Joseph Staten — one of the developers responsible for the original Halo trilogy’s characters, story, and cutscenes — is returning to the franchise as project lead on the Halo Infinite campaign, 343 announced late Wednesday.
Bloomberg originally broke the news of Staten’s return on Wednesday night, and 343’s official announcement was published less than an hour later on Halo Waypoint.
Staten will serve as project lead on the Halo Infinite campaign. Pierre Hintze of Halo: The Master Chief Collection has also jumped ship to help finish Halo Infinite; he will be the project lead for the game’s multiplayer component, which will be free-to-play.
In its Halo Infinite delay announcement earlier this month, 343 Industries cited the global pandemic and working-from-home conditions as factors in pushing the game back. But the announcement came a little under three weeks after Halo Infinite’s first gameplay showing, which did not go over well with longtime fans.
The return of Staten suggests 343 is looking to do more than improve its work-from-home conditions from now until launch. Staten will now lead the campaign team for the final year of development — a role seemingly similar to Rod Fergusson's position as the “closer” for BioShock Infinite in its final push for release. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Staten is a beloved figure in the Halo community, a person the fans trust because of his association with Bungie’s trilogy; this is the kind of good news that 343 needs at the moment (and it appears to be well-received by fans already).
Staten worked alongside Bungie and the Halo team for years, leaving the studio a year ahead of Destiny’s launch in 2014. Staten joined Microsoft’s publishing group a year after his departure, and has worked on other internal projects like Tell Me Why. This will be Staten’s first Halo work since 343 took over the franchise with 2012’s Halo 4.
Halo Infinite is 343 Industries’ third major Halo game, after Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians (the studio is also responsible for spin-offs like Halo Wars 2). Halo Infinite follows the story of Master Chief on yet another Halo Ring, battling against The Banished — the primary antagonists from Halo Wars 2. The gameplay reveal looked like classic Halo, but showed Master Chief wielding some major upgrades, like a new grappling hook.