Microsoft decided to start of its E3 2018 presentation with a bang, showing a teaser for the next entry in the Halo series. It was enticing, but left gamers with a lot of questions. What type of game is it? When does it take place in the Halo timeline? And when is it even coming out? While some of these questions were answered in post-show interviews, the release date still remains unclear. One rumor, however, claims to know it. Halo Infinite will release as a single-player game in 2019, then get multiplayer in 2020.
The rumor comes courtesy of Brad Sams at Thurott. In his post, he reminds readers that he accurately predicted Halo Infinite's appearance at E3 thanks to a "reliable insider." This same insider also told him that the game will release as a single-player only experience near the end of 2019. The multiplayer component will be like its own separate game, and will come out in 2020.
The reason for the split is that 343 Industries is creating an entirely new engine for the game, called SlipSpace. This was confirmed by the studio's head, Chris Lee. Lee also said that the game will take place after Halo 5, and that the story's next chapter is so ambitious that it warrants a new engine.
We are continuing the story after the events of Halo 5. #HaloInfinite is an ambitious new game and we needed to build a new engine to support that.— Chris Lee (@tefferlee) June 12, 2018
343 Industries probably wants to be cautious with how it handles development of Infinite, since it will be the initial run of a new engine using a beloved franchise. That's why the split release rumor might have some weight to it. It would be beneficial to test out the engine on a single-player game before unleashing hordes of players on it all at once.
Sams speculates in his article that the multiplayer portion could be delayed to showcase the next piece of Microsoft hardware. That isn't based on anything his source said, but Phil Spencer did give a small hint that the next Xbox was on its way. 2020 is a viable year for release, and a new Halo multiplayer experience would definitely sell some systems.
Of course, it's all speculation and rumor. All fans have at the moment is a vague teaser ending with Master Chief holding his helmet. And that's probably all they'll get until E3 2019.