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Last week the multiplayer shooter Infinite Halo, which makes headlines more often for its stumbles than its successes, suffered its biggest publicity stunt yet: Couch co-op, a feature film premiered half a decade ago, would not come out as expected. It has not been delayed, as with most features planned for Infinite Halo. It was canceled outright. For fans who hope Infinite would eventually turn into a title worthy of its legacy, the news was a huge disappointment. Today, the community suspends its last hopes on a feature: Forge, Halomode of creation.

Indeed, even though Forge is (officially) unavailable, players are already using it to supplant content they feel is missing from Infinite Halo.

Forge has long been a staple for Halohaving been introduced for the first time (well, in a rudimentary state) in 2007 Halo 3, where it allowed players to modify existing maps. For Halo: scope, developer Bungie, then steward of the sci-fi shooter series, pulled out all the stops. The prequel featured a multiplayer level called Forge World, where players could craft new levels totally from scratch. Forge was somewhat improved in 2012 Halo 4then significantly in 2015 Halo 5: Guardians. Both games were developed by 343 Industries, the current studio behind Infinite Haloand both had Forge functionality at or shortly after launch.

This was not the case for Infinite Halo. If you count its slew of public multiplayer tests, the shooter has been out for about a year now. As a free-to-play game, it’s based on the seasonal model, with new “seasons” content rotating every few months. As Infinite Halo chief creative officer Joe Staten said Eurogamer last year, Forge was originally slated for release in May — the end of the game’s first season — at the earliest. Then, earlier this year, 343 gave a Forge beta a late August release date, before pushing it back to November 8, 2022 – originally the planned start of the game’s third season. (The third season has now been delayed four additional months).

That said, the mode has leaked like a senator’s office all year. A flurry of footage released in February suggested Infinite Halo would easily include the most robust suite of Halo authoring tools to date. The amount of items you can place – marked by a “budget” meter – on a single map far exceeds anything possible in previous iterations. That’s to say nothing of the ways you can modify these items, even coming up with dizzying innovations (like the one who transforms explosive barrels in teleportation machines). Following the 343 test of the game’s online co-op campaign this summer, some players were able to use the build to access Infinite‘s Forge mode – a move that resulted, to use a technical term, in a tonne some wild shit from dedicated members of the community.

“After seeing all the features of Forge and the forge canvases come out, I can say that Forge lacks nothing,” Rebs gamean eminent Halo community member who runs a popular Twitter account focused on gaming news, said Kotaku. “I think the current wave of Forge designs has what it takes to revive Infinite Halo. The number of people who [have] seeing, sharing and leaving positive feedback is astounding.

Over the last month or so, Rebs has become Forge’s de facto public champion. Between news coverage of upcoming games, his feed is a repository for some of the most stunning designs made in the editor. Scroll and you will see Minecraft villages, Borderlands pedestalsand, uh, the city of Sponge Bob SquarePants. You’ll also see how players have used the mode to create content that by all accounts should to be in Infinite Haloincluding the popular Asymmetric Infection mode, which spawns one player with energy swords, the rest with pistols, and moves pistol players into the sword user’s team on each kill.

The coolest creations, Rebs noted, tend to involve custom scripts that modify existing objects. One of these scripts, designed by YouTuber Foregium, allows players to summon a bridge of floating rocks with the push of a button; after a few seconds, the rocks will then succumb to gravity. Another, from YouTuber Artifice, reverses the logic of Infinite‘s Repulsor gear, transforming gear from “essentially Force Push” to “essentially Force Pull”.

But nothing beats the most immediately playable map yet: a life-size recreation of Guardian, the close-quarters map of Halo 3 which is widely hailed as one of the best multiplayer levels in the entire series. This is courtesy of Uneeq, an eminent Halo Blacksmith artist. Fruit of 100 hours of work, the version of Infinite Halo‘s Guardian is already fully playable — and it looks like an explosion. (UneeQ is also working on a Foundry reconstructionanother excellent, though less beloved, Halo 3 level. The foundry was perhaps best used as a playground for this game’s Forge mode.)

Infinite Halo is the first Halo game to throw without some sort of reimagining of old maps, whether it’s the circumferential Haven leaping from Halo 4 at Halo 5 or the purple-hued Midship that essentially exists throughout the franchise. But Halo fans are sadly wedded to tradition. Adding one of the series’ most popular tiers to the roster would attract dedicated players.

“People like old people Halo games and their cards,” Rebs said. “[Or maybe] players don’t like Infinite Halo as many cards.

The big question, of course, is whether 343 Industries will support the implementation of Guardian – and other already completed creations – into the full version of Forge.

You would think the answer would be an obvious “yes”. Facing a notoriously floundering number of players, Infinite Halo needs as many wins as possible. Supporting existing content would make a lot of money from the creators who worked hard in these designs. It would also satisfy gamers who crave new playing cards and tools to play with. Last week, Forge lead designer Michael Schor tweeted a “100” emoji in response to a former 343 staffer wondering if things like the Guardian reimagining would indeed come Infinite. Many observers took the answer as confirmation that yes, it would. Schor quickly clarified that his statement did not necessarily mean that such support was coming.

“The counterfeiters spent a lot of time making these amazing creations, and it would be a shame if they couldn’t share them with everyone,” Rebs said.

When contacted for comment, a representative from 343 Industries was redirected Kotaku to the information shared last week regarding Infinitethe winter roadmap.

Yes, Forge is about to be a huge boon for Infinite Haloplayer base expired. (“The only thing [343] could do to stop its momentum is to delay it again,” Rebs said.) But that’s not the only thing you can do to Infinite at present. This week marked the launch of the limited-time “The Yappening” event, which spawns 24 players with mostly random loadouts on large-scale maps. It’s pure mayhem, representative of the low-stakes casual game that earlier defined Halo Games. So far, the praise from the community has been unanimously positive. (It also paid off for player interest: According to the Steam tracking database Steamcharts, following the rollout of “The Yappening”, Infinite Halo saw its first increase in player numbers since May.) The event ends on September 20.

There’s even light in the tunnel for split-screen co-op. Earlier this year, engineer Alexis “Zeny” Bize, the founder of HaloDotAPI, an unofficial backend stat tracker for Infinite Halodiscovered a method to brute-force split-screen co-op. The Workaround use a bug in Infiniteand is by no means officially sanctioned, but it is, in the strictest sense of the word, possible.

It’s stuff like this that keeps me — and, I like to believe, anyone who still devotes dozens of hours a week to this messy, fascinating, and sometimes infuriating game — coming back. Despite the shifting goalposts, the stark outlook, the almost contagious negativity among certain subsets of the community, there is still at least some hope of being a Halo fan: You can see the earth on the horizon, wherever you are. Look up.