Well, it was a surprise if you ignored all the rumors and leaks.
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To close out today's Xbox 20th anniversary event, Microsoft and 343 Industries surprised fans with an early release of the Halo Infinite multiplayer. This release is totally free-to-play for everyone, regardless of whether or not you plan to purchase the story campaign. This multiplayer was originally slated to release alongside the campaign on December 8, 2021.

Halo Infinite's multiplayer is available right now on PC via Steam or the Microsoft Store, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. Again, this release is free-to-play while the campaign retails for $60 (USD).

Today's surprise drop may not have actually come as a surprise at all to some of you. Last week, rumors began to circulate that we were going to see an early release of the multiplayer happening today. I'm not exactly sure how the whole thing started, but I do know that the rumors also included a bit of a confirmation from a Pringles promotion that also said this release was happening today. There were a bunch of similar hints and near confirmations from plenty of people in the know in the days leading up to today's release.

The first Halo title was released 20 years ago on November 15, 2001. It was one of the original Xbox launch titles back in the day.