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With no Halo 5 split-screen co-op, there’s now even fewer reasons to own a second Xbox One controller.

There’s nothing like removing one of your own USPs, and pissing off thousands of dedicated fans in the process, to put a dampener on pre-release hype and ultimately sales.

Alas and alack, that’s exactly what 343 Industries have done by removing the Halo 5 split-screen co-op game mode. As a result, we’ve heard fans of the Halo series have been cancelling their Halo 5: Guardians pre-orders hand over fist, and have even setup an online petition to bring back Halo 5 split-screen co-op (for all the use online petitions are in the gaming world).

The move to remove Halo 5 split-screen co-op by 343 Industries is particularly irritating to the world and his dog, for three reasons:

  1. It’s been a staple of the Halo series from day one. To not be able to play Halo 5 split-screen co-op, with friends and family gathering on the couch to play co-op – like the good old days of Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – feels sacrilegious.
  2. The relatively recent release of the Halo: Master Chief Collection has allowed gamers to play every previous game in the Halo series – up to the point of Halo 5’s release – in split-screen co-op mode on Xbox One. And now that’s gone. The first full Xbox One Halo title will not have split-screen co-op, even though we’ve grown to expect it.
  3. There aren’t many developers out there still doing it. Co-op bible Co-optimus’ list of couch co-op titles for next-gen consoles like the Xbox One is already woefully small compared to previous generations, particularly among AAA franchises. To lose Halo 5 split-screen co-op as well? That’s a pretty devastating blow to the split-screen cause.

Setting precedents

We hear the reasons for dropping split-screen time and time again. It’ll lower the frame rate, it will reduce the visual fidelity, you need the screen real estate to get the “full experience”; frankly, most couch co-opers really couldn’t care less about all of those things. They’d rather be having fun with someone else at 30fps, than playing alone at 60.

It particularly winds the couch co-op faithful up to know a split-screen co-op mode was available, but was removed by the developers citing the tired and cliched reasons above, as Techland did with Dying Light around a year ago. Here’s the official word from a community manager on the Dying Light forums:

In the beginning of development, we did play around with the idea of split screen. We even tested it out. However, when we played Dying Light in split screen mode, it wasn’t a really good experience. Because Dying Light is fast, intense, and action based, when we tested it in split screen, it was REALLY hard to keep focus. Just imagine the combat, Natural Movement system, jumping, running, explosions, Day/Night cycle, etc etc in a really small screen. It wasn’t fun (trust us). It was in that moment that we realized that with all the action and intensity that is going on in the game, it needed to have as much screen “real estate” as possible. That is why we decided to take the multi-player experience (4 player co-op and Be the Zombie) online, so that the game can be experienced in the best possible way.

From the beginning, we set ourselves a goal. We wanted to create a visually stunning, immersive experience with revolutionary gameplay mechanics. We wanted to create something special and memorable, and most importantly – really fun. Split screen just didn’t go with that.

Which in theory is fine, except a lot of gamers have wives and husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, brothers, sisters and even kids who they want to actively enjoy gaming with. The devs might say it’s an inferior experience, but the couch co-opers believe the experience is enhanced by being able to play share it with someone, graphical fidelity and frame rates be damned.

Giving the player a choice

We’d all prefer to at least be given the choice of playing a Halo 5 split-screen co-op, even if it is at half the frame rate and in a reduced screen area.

Let’s speak directly to 343 Industries a moment: We’ll all sign a waiver – every single one of us – to promise we won’t ever bitch about the graphics or the frame rates if we choose to play Halo 5 split-screen co-op, if you just put it back in, for the love of all that is sacred. Otherwise, this is likely how you’ll be remembered:

Here’s hoping Borderlands and Gears of War keep on fighting the good fight to save the couch.

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