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Why Halo Infinite's Forge Is Only Available Online

One of the most highly anticipated aspects of "Halo Infinite" is its Forge mode, which didn't launch with the original game a year ago. A lot of things iconic to the "Halo" franchise were missing from the game's release, not just Forge mode, including cooperative play in the game's campaign and missions as well as the beloved Big Team Battle mode introduced all the way back in "Halo 3." 

Over time it's received quality of life updates, new maps, weapons, game modes, and other improvements, but only now — one year after its launch on November 15, 2021 — has "Halo Infinite" been updated to include these missing features. One thing that's perplexing fans is that both co-op and Forge require players to be online, partially because "Halo Infinite" has no split-screen multiplayer functionality. But Forge mode being online-only is even more confusing, as it was never a requirement before. Now players must remain connected to the "Halo Infinite" servers to play the game mode at all, even in single-player — and the Forge lead dev explained why after pushback and concerns from fans.

Forge Lead Designer responds - security, mapmaking, and co-op

On November 10, 2022, 343 Industries Forge Lead Designer Michael Schorr posted a list of key reason for why Forge mode in "Halo Infinite" had to be online-only. There are three main points Shorr goes over, being the security of data, the map "baking" process, and to allow constant coop as other players come and go as they please. 

Shorr said that because Forge is available on PC developers "cannot trust saved content" from local offline storage, and using a dedicated server helps protect users from malicious files being snuck into Forge mode. The map baking process, which encapsulates the generation of lighting, navigation, reflections, and other features on a custom map, generates "large chunks of data" — according to Shorr, using servers to do this is better because it "doesn't require users to bake and then upload everything" themselves. His last point pretty much says that when coop is fully implemented in Forge, having it be online-only means the host of a session can leave without causing disconnects for other players.

Shorr already had to respond to issues players had with being disconnected from Forge for inactivity, which erased in-progress maps entirely. After extending the idle timer and making other changes, "Halo Infinite" players won't be kicked from Forge nearly as much, but it's a problem that results from being online-only, and fans still wonder if the restriction is really necessary for Forge to work.