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Microsoft releases Halo Infinite's multiplayer in advance of the game's launch

Happy 20th birthday Xbox, now go play some Halo.

It's the twentieth anniversary of the first Xbox launch and Microsoft is celebrating in style—by surprise-launching the multiplayer for Halo Infinite.

Microsoft and 343 Industries are calling today's early launch a "beta" for the full multiplayer experience, but with account progression and the kickoff of "Season 1," it's fair to call this a proper release for the game's multiplayer mode.

Given that it's also the twentieth anniversary of Halo: Combat Evolved, it's no surprise that Microsoft would try and use the date to throw some surprise momentum behind its premier first-person shooter. But this is a huge milestone for the beleaguered Halo Infinite team, which has split the single-player and multiplayer components of the game for the first time in the series' history.

It's also had to deal with a year-long launch delay and pushback over early presentations of the game's graphics. But after a number of well-received open betas that stress-tested the game's multiplayer capacity, it looks like Halo is once again punching above its weight with players.

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