Halo Infinite Season 2 patch fixes long-standing animation bugs and adds new graphics modes
Halo Infinite was rough around the edges upon release with animation glitches, framerate issues, and additional glitches in cutscenes. Some issues were resolved post-launch, but it was with the release of the Season 2 patch that some long-standing issues were finally resolved. We reviewed the fixes that 343 Industries has rolled out to PC and Xbox Series X/S, covering animation, cutscenes, and graphics modes, and identified some persistent issues with framerate, v-sync, and VRR which unfortunately persist. .
Let’s start with the good stuff first: Halo Infinite is making a much better first impression on PC, Series X, and Series S, thanks to fixes for long-standing issues with the game’s pre-rendered cutscenes. and the black levels are now correct and the pre-rendered video sequence plays with proper frame rate, making it much smoother and more polished. That might not sound like a big deal, but this sequence cost a lot of money to make, it’s key to the game’s initial storytelling and for it to present the way it did at launch is a mystery. Still, the problem is now fixed – and the improvement is palpable: it looks good, the washed-out look is gone, and the choppy playback issues are finally resolved.
Cinematic playback – an issue we pointed out before launch and that Microsoft told us would be fixed – has finally been fixed as well. This one is weird: even though the game was constantly running at 60 or 120 fps, the actual motion in the cutscene was very jerky and very off-putting, giving the illusion of a much lower level of performance. This fix is a real relief, dramatically improving the visual quality of all cutscenes, working well in combination with smaller fixes like preventing lights from flickering when you fly in to do the first open-world mission. That said, one issue remains: facial animations of all types still play at 30fps, which didn’t happen in pre-release footage circa 2020. Hopefully this too can be fixed in a future release, so cutscenes can look good as they should.
New graphics modes have also been added to Xbox Series consoles, while other modes have been renamed based on their frame rate targets. This means the Series X and Series S now each have three modes to choose from: 30fps, 60fps and 120fps. Series S 120fps mode actually debuted with the game’s beta flight, but disappeared for launch. This HFR mode achieves its purpose by significantly reducing the resolution, although other parameters such as draw distance and use of effects remain the same. With this mode enabled, the game remains at an internal resolution of around 540p with variable rate shading (VRS), with the final image temporarily upscaled to 1080p. Unfortunately, VRS is not suitable for this low resolution, as it can sometimes cause intense flickering and large macroblocks which are quite annoying.
The image quality for frame rate tradeoff works well indoors, especially in multiplayer where the action is more or less locked at 120fps, but the open world sections of the game’s campaign operate at a jerky rate of 70 to 90 frames per second. Drops to lower frame rates in action-packed moments or during fast traversal can also occur, but it’s clear that the mode delivers significantly higher frame rates than the 60fps mode, which is the name of the game.
The Series X also sees a 30fps mode, which limits the game’s frame rate to 30fps to ensure the highest internal resolution possible at any given time. This mode still uses VRS, but it’s less obvious due to the higher base resolution. In practice though, this mode doesn’t offer a huge visual difference over the 60fps mode, and halving the frame rate robs the game of a certain level of fluidity and responsiveness.
The 30 fps mode also marks the return of our old enemy: incorrect frame rate. Frames aren’t delivered at regular intervals, so you get persistent frame time spikes throughout the game that break the stability the mode tries to achieve, ultimately making it redundant.
Unfortunately, the Series X’s 30fps mode isn’t the only place that has frame rate issues. In short, any mode that caps the frame rate below the refresh rate of your TV or monitor has the same problem, like playing the 60fps mode on a 4K 120Hz display actually looks worse than playing the game at 60Hz. – something that should never happen.
This issue affects all Xbox and PC consoles, while PC still has the v-sync bug that causes small, regular frametime spikes – something we’ve been reporting since the stealing process last summer. You might expect using a variable refresh rate (VRR) to fix the problem, but unfortunately it doesn’t currently behave as it should. For some reason, even a simple camera movement can produce significant shake – again, this is very odd. By its very nature, VRR should alleviate stuttering, but for some reason it doesn’t work.
So after the Season 2 patch, Halo Infinite is in a better place than it was, with some long-standing issues finally resolved, although several frustrating technical issues persist. All of these bugbears appear to be fixable issues, so hopefully we’ll continue to see patches addressing them in the future. After all, there’s a great game here behind these technical issues, and more people should be able to experience them now after the Season 2 patch.