There seems to be a credible rumor going around that Microsoft has moved Halo to the Unreal engine.
Several sources, including ACG AKA Jeremy Penter, Sean W Dubs, and Jez Corden, publicly discussed between each other that their sources confirmed that this rumor is genuinely credible. It should be noted that some of these people don’t actually have a good track record for rumors like this. Given Jez was initially skeptical himself, but is now apparently working with Sean in ascertaining the rumor, indicates that they may have a very good source to make this claim, possibly within Microsoft or even developer 343 Industries himself.
While we had reported on a rumor of a possible future Halo game in production, for now we have to assume this is being worked on for live service game Halo Infinite, and then possibly other future Halo projects.
Halo Infinite was built on Slipspace engine, a game engine 343 specifically made for the franchise. Its developers have referred to it as a ‘mythical beast’, built on the old Halo CE engine. They also claim that it enables the developers to do things that are not possible on other engines. Interestingly enough, Slipspace has parts that come from Faber, a game editor tool. Faber was also used in the oldest classic Halo games, though Slipspace does not have a direct relationship with any of Halo’s previous game engines.
Unreal does have an interesting and rich history as a game engine itself. In the past 24 years, they had gone far past being just the main engine for the Unreal video games to one of the standards for video game engines themselves.
Is there any reason to believe this rumor is credible for the rest of us? That is a huge maybe. While we don’t have any particular insider information on a higher level than people in the industry, or for that matter, other insiders, there’s some publicly available information that functions as a big elephant in the room.
The latest version of Unreal, Unreal 5.0.3, was just released last July 12, 2022. If there was a good time for a game to switch engines to Unreal, now would be the most potent. If there was a time to adopt a game engine for an upcoming future Halo game, this would be that time. 343 would have the opportunity to study the new engine’s capabilities while Halo Infinite continues to solder on in its current engine, Slipspace.
If there is any close comparison to any other game company doing such a major game engine switch to a venerable legacy game franchise, it would be Tekken Team finally abandoning its own bespoke game engine, that used a lot of PlayStation dev tools, in favor of Unreal Engine. That engine switch finally made the franchise’s debut onto PC possible, and of course given the success of Tekken 7, that has carried over to Tekken 8.
This engine change has worked out for Tekken Team. Could this be something that helps 343 Industries in making future Halo games or new content for Halo Infinite? It will be interesting if and when 343 and Microsoft finally feels the need to clarify what they’re doing on this end.