Microsoft has surprised fans of its hugely successful game franchise Halo with the release of a multiplayer version of Halo Infinite, a highly anticipated series scheduled to officially launch in December.
Available for free worldwide, the surprise launch was to commemorate 20 years since the release of the original Xbox console and the first Halo game, the company said.
"To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise, Halo Infinite’s multiplayer beta is available now and free to play on Xbox and PC. Begin your personal Spartan journey today with season one, Heroes of Reach, and stay tuned for upcoming, limited-time in-game events and exclusive rewards," Microsoft posted on the Xbox website.
The full version of the game can now be pre-ordered for $59.99 and will be available from Wednesday, December 8.
What is 'Halo Infinite'?
The sixth instalment in the long-running alien-shooter franchise, Halo Infinite was originally planned to launch alongside the Xbox Series X and S consoles in November 2020, but was delayed for more than a year owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
The news of the video game’s release date was leaked after it was shown on the Microsoft Store before being officially confirmed by Microsoft during the opening of gamescom in August, where the tech company also showed off a new trailer for the long-running game franchise.
At the event, Microsoft also announced a new limited-edition Halo Infinite-themed Xbox Series X console ($549.99) and a companion Xbox Elite controller with Halo Infinite stylings ($199.99) alongside the new game.
Halo, a military sci-fi first-person shooter game, is one of the bestselling video game franchises of all time. First released on November 15, 2001, along with the Xbox console, the franchise has since sold more than 81 million copies worldwide, and follows protagonist Master Chief, a super soldier also known as a Spartan, on various missions.
A Paramount+ series based on the game, starring Pablo Schreiber, is scheduled to premiere in 2022.