Halo Infinite was originally supposed to be an Overwatch-style arena shooter, according to Bloomberg's Jason Schreier. This follows the news that several insiders at 343 Industries have made the same suggestion, claiming that the original version of the game was scrapped about two years ago, forcing the developers to completely over-hall the game's multiplayer mode.
Schreier corroborated the claims, which were also made by Chris Ray Gun on Twitter, saying that the mode was prototyped for a number of years and would have been a "hero-based system". It's indicative of Halo Infinite's state at release to think that the developers over at 343 Industries worked on something like this for a number of years before having to rush the development of the more traditional multiplayer we see today.
This was actually cut from my article late last year - yes, 343 spent a while prototyping a hero-based system. I don't remember exactly when they switched to the current version (and the tweet linked here seems exaggerated to the point where it's mostly false) but I can confirm that they were working on various hero-based prototypes. In fact, I think there were both PVP and PVE prototypes built. — Jason Schreier via Reddit.
Obviously the claims made by all parties are unverified, as no one could go on the record with this claim. That being said, Jason Schreier is one of the most reliable journalists in the industry and writing for Bloomberg, so he's an extremely trustworthy source of insider intel like this.
Halo Infinite a Hero-Based Shooter Until Two Years Ago
If it is true that 343 Industries spent two whole years working on a hero-shooter system for Halo Infinite only for it to be scrapped. That means that around half of the game's development cycle was forfeited. This explains why it has been relatively hard for 343 Industries to consistently support the game ever since, as it was a rushed attempt from the start.
Chris Ray Gun pointed out this absurdity, claiming that it would be "nuts" if it were true...
It would be crazy if it came out one day that a lot of the budget went to an Overwatch clone that they spent half of the dev time making before realizing it wasn't working and were forced to make this version of Infinite in the last two years of development.— Chris Ray Gun PR (@ChrisRGun) April 22, 2022
That'd be nuts.
Halo Infinite could potentially work quite well as an arena shooter, though, seeing as you have a vast variety of different Spartan Types to work with. If you begin assigning certain abilities to certain types, you could very quickly see a concept emerge that was similar to the likes of Overwatch and Valorant.
It could also work quite well contextually, with Halo Infinite's deep lore playing a decisive role in shaping what the franchise is today. These characters could be "champions" or "heroes" and tie into the overall canon quite effectively. All of this being said, whether these rumors are true is sadly beyond the point. The mode didn't work out if it was in development, and never existed anyway if it wasn't. Don't get your hopes up for an Arena-Style Halo anytime soon...