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Developer 343 announced during an Xbox 20th anniversary live stream on Monday that the free-to-play multiplayer part of Infinite would be releasing that day, instead of on December 8.
Although figures have yet to be confirmed for the Xbox consoles and PC app, the Steam version alone hit a peak of 272,586 concurrent players eight hours after launch, according to SteamDB.
Although the early multiplayer launch is technically a beta, players have access to all maps and content, plus the full Season One Battle Pass to unlock, with progression carrying over to the game’s official release on December 8.
Coinciding with the early multiplayer launch, Halo Infinite head of creative Joseph Staten revealed that the Season 1 Battle Pass has been extended to May 2022, a change from 343’s original goal of shipping a new season every three months.
“We made the decision to extend Season 1 to give ourselves more time to ensure Season 2 meets our high quality bar and so we can finish development for Season 2 in a healthy and sustainable way for our team,” he said.
“Importantly, with the Season 1 extension, we aren’t just stretching-out our original Season 1 plan. Indeed, we took this opportunity to add additional events, customization items and other content to Season 1 to make it an even richer experience from start to finish.
“For example, starting today and through the first week, you can log-in to Halo Infinite to unlock a free collection of 20th anniversary themed cosmetics.
“Following this free reward period, the start of our Season 1 opening event, ‘Fracture: Tenrai’, will kick off on November 23. This will be your first of multiple opportunities to earn Season 1’s samurai-themed armour pieces and other customization items.”
Halo Infinite Season 1, which is titled ‘Heroes of Reach’, features free and premium tracks offering over 100 unlockable items including armour pieces, weapon charms, visors, coatings, emblems and armour FX.
Microsoft previously confirmed that Halo Infinite’s battle passes won’t expire, meaning that in future seasons, players can purchase old battle passes as well as the current one and choose which pass to put their progression towards.