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Halo Infinite E3 trailer promises epic multiplayer battles when it launches later this year

A new trailer for "Halo Infinite" dropped Sunday (June 13), showing incredible multiplayer battles amid a promise we'll finally explore the franchise's artificial planet-sized ring.

The fresh two-minute sneak peak debuted at major gaming conference E3, running virtually this year due to the pandemic. The Microsoft game, delayed from December 2020 in part due to the pandemic, is now expected to release during the 2021 holiday season for Xbox One, Xbox X|S and Windows 10. 

"Whether you're a returning player ready to check out the Master Chief's new campaign or brand new to the franchise, Halo Infinite builds on the legacy foundations of the series' sandbox-driven gameplay, including Big Team Battle and Arena," the new trailer's description reads. 

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Halo Infinite will include a multiplayer battle mode when it launches over the 2021 holiday season. (Image credit: Xbox/Microsoft)

The trailer shows an arcade-style shooter "capture the flag" scenario between the game's supersoldiers, known as Spartans. The Spartans appear to be fighting on a planet with Earth-like gravity, except that they're jumping unusually high and sustaining large hits with the help of their exoskeletons. (In real life, NASA has also investigated using exoskeletons to give astronauts superhuman strength.)  

Guns, explosions and some sort of mini-aircraft feature in the trailer. You also hear a computerized narrator giving commentary and encouragement as the fight progresses, similar to what millennials and Generation X might remember from arcade shooter games in the 1980s or 1990s like "Mortal Kombat."

"The flag is ours," the narrator says as a Spartan races by a red flag. "Please haul a** at your earliest convenience," adds the narrator while the Spartan attempts to outrace an explosion.

The Halo franchise began in 2001; since then, it has evolved into a complex narrative involving everything from first-person shooter to real-time strategy scenarios. The original trilogy focuses on an interstellar war between aliens (called the Covenant) and humanity, defending themselves with artificial world-sized superweapons called the Halo Array. 

The first "Halo" pulled a little influence from staples of space sci-fi, such as the "Ringworld" series by Larry Niven. A "Ringworld" is a huge structure surrounding a star with the purpose of harvesting energy. A star called KIC 8462852 displayed hard-to-explain dimmings and brightenings after its discovery in 2015. Some people attributed the unusual pattern to a possible Ringworld-like structure – although modeling eventually suggested more plausible clouds of dust or comet-like structures.

We'll get to see the Halo ring up close in the new game, according to Microsoft. "Begin anew and step inside the armor of humanity's greatest hero to experience an epic adventure and finally explore the scale of the Halo ring itself," the game's website says. Long-time players can also anticipate the return of the Master Chief who played a key role in the original trilogy, the site adds.

The game will also feature a new customization system for the Spartan armor and the ability to play in two-modes: "arena" with fair starts and on-map equipment, or "big team battle" allowing you to play with numerous types of equipment and weapons in a more frenzied fighting style.

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.