“Armor Coating” Shaders To Replace Traditional Armor Color System in Halo Infinite

In a Halo Waypoint blog that dropped earlier this week, 343 announced a massive change to Halo Infinite’s armor customization system. To put it plainly – you can no longer simply choose a primary and secondary color to customize your Spartan.

“Armor Coatings” are the replacement for that system, which – according to the blog – are defined as “a seven-layer shader that allows us to put any artist-authored color, material, or pattern into seven channels and apply it to in-game items like weapons, armor, and vehicles.”. That quote comes directly from 343’s Lead Player Investment Designer, Christopher Blohm.

The ability to customize vehicle skins is cool, but is this new system a bridge too far?

Those who have played Destiny and Destiny 2 might call these them “shaders”, those more familiar with Battle Royales might call these “skins”, but any way you slice it – these Armor Coatings take choice away from the player, which in my opinion is never a good thing.

As somebody who has a deep background in design, there’s probably nothing I hate more than “making changes just to make changes”. 343 says in the blog that this new system is a “powerful and flexible way to create customization content quicker and more robustly” than they’ve been able to in the past, but the blog goes on to detail what might actually be the biggest driving factor behind these changes – retail partnerships and marketing arrangements.

Apparently, fans around the world have begun learning about these new skins (lets call them what they are), because of promotions like the one below from Monster Energy, which invites players to “bank now, play later” – AKA buy some shit now, wait (x) amount of months to use it.

The blog further admits that the fact that fans learned about these huge new customization changes via marketing materials “isn’t ideal”, and I can’t help but agree. The fact that, in 2020 (and 2021) players are going to miss out on certain content by not shopping at certain retailers (or living in certain regions) is probably my biggest pet peeve in gaming, full stop.

Here are the vendors with special Armor Coating promotions that we know about so far, based on Halo Waypoint’s blog:

  • GameStop purchases of Halo/Microsoft products (“Red Shift”, header image)
  • Mega Construx Halo toy purchases
  • Monster Energy drink purchases (Black/Green, above)
  • Mondelez brand (Cadbury, Oreo) specially marked purchases (“Monarch” purple, below)

I don’t hate the shader system in Destiny 2, and sure – I’m positive that these Armor Coatings will look magnificent – but something about this just doesn’t sit right with me.

Maybe I wouldn’t have such a bad taste in my mouth about Armor Coatings if 343 actually stayed ahead of these changes, and communicated with the fanbase before a half dozen third-party retailers started revealing details about Halo Infinite before the developers were able to. For a studio owned by one of the biggest technology companies on earth, it just seems like a letdown to let GameStop, Monster Energy, and the makers of Cadbury Mini Eggs beat them to the punch.

343 says they have a lot more to share and show about multiplayer and customization in Halo Infinite “that will come in due time”… But for a game that was supposed to come out next month, when are we actually going to get something concrete… And in a timely manner?

I’m excited for Halo Infinite, I really – truly am. But 343 needs to get on the ball, improve their transparency with the player base, and start really controlling the narrative about what was supposed to be the biggest release of 2020.

Papa Dom

Co-founder, lead blogger, graphic designer, and manager of WGG's writing team - Dom has been writing about video games for over ten years. Dom's work has been featured on some of the world's biggest gaming news outlets - including Dexerto, GameInformer, and IGN.

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