A major leadership shakeup just over a year from launch has us a little worried.

A major change is coming to the Halo Infinite development team at 343 Industries. Tim Longo, the game’s creative director, left the studio earlier this week. Halo Infinite is due out in fall 2020.

Longo also helped launch Halo 5 as that game’s creative director, and had moved to a different role at 343 only a few weeks ago. According to a report from Kotaku, now the creative mind is gone from the company completely. Microsoft has since confirmed Longo’s departure in a follow-up statement:

We have a world-class team building Halo Infinite and the overwhelming positive response by fans has us energized…to create the best Halo game to date, alongside Project Scarlett in Holiday 2020. These changes have no impact to the release date for Halo Infinite.

Despite assurances that nothing major is changing, though, it’s fair for fans to be somewhat skeptical. Halo Infinite is a “spiritual reboot” of the series according to 343, which means its creative direction is even more important now.

It’s fair for fans to be somewhat skeptical.

Halo Infinite is going to be one of the centrepieces of an Xbox Scarlett launch campaign that looks to re-establish Microsoft in the eyes of consumers. After a troubling current-gen campaign, next-gen is where Xbox will look to release some must-own first-party games.

Without any gameplay footage and with just the Halo Infinite E3 2019 trailer to go on, it’s hard to discern where the title is at in development. Perhaps we’ll get a Gamescom 2019 announcement from 343 Industries that puts all our fears to bed. Until then, though, revelations like this one are worth fretting over for fans of Master Chief.

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Cody's Take

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I think it’s too early to really be worried about Halo Infinite. The game is due out in over a year, so there’s plenty of time for development to shake out.

With that said, though, I don’t think it’s too early to start having some minor concerns. A change in creative lead this late in development is troubling. What will Halo Infinite‘s story look like with Longo’s departure? As a cornerstone of the Xbox Scarlett launch planHalo Infinite needs to draw fans in. A weak story—or just an uneven one—could be a major setback.

As a cornerstone of the Xbox Scarlett launch plan, Halo Infinite needs to draw fans in.

As a big fan of Master Chief, I don’t need much to get excited for Halo Infinite. All 343 Industries really needs to do is turn up with some exciting gameplay footage. For all of its fun story beats, Halo has always been more about the action. Creative concerns will dissipate the moment great gunplay is on display.

There’s still plenty of time for Halo Infinite to prove it belongs on consumers’ 2020 wishlists. Even just the franchise’s history is a big selling point. If there’s not much information in the near future, though, Longo’s departure will loom large over a game that’s development is beginning to resemble other troubled title’s struggle to get to the finish line.