Even Halo’s Scaling Back On Split-Screen

Even Halo’s Scaling Back On Split-Screen

One of Halo’s staples has been the ability to play the game’s campaign in split-screen with a friend. Halo 5 won’t have that feature, in favour of maintaining a solid 60 frames-per-second. It’s one of many small details we’ve learned about the latest Halo game in the last few days.

Halo franchise development director Frank O’Connor briefly addressed the change on the NeoGAF message board, part of a thread in which people were complaining about the change.

“It’s a bummer but 60fps had to take precedence,” said O’Connor. “It’s not just aesthetics- the entire simulation is built on that framerate.”


I have fond memories of playing Halo campaigns split-screen, but the heyday of split-screen is long gone. The only reason it’s been kept around is because…well, it’s always been there. When online multiplayer became stable and functional, just about every other developer dropped support for it. We already knew local multiplayer was being changed from four players to two players — this is the other shoe dropping. It’d disappointing, sure, but not altogether surprising.

Game Informer has Halo 5 on the cover and reveals some interesting details, too. The game will apparently launch with over 20 maps, and another 15 maps are coming by June 2016 for free.


Is Halo 5 taking a cue from The Witcher 3 or continuing the apology tour for The Master Chief Collection? Either way, Halo fans win. I wonder if this means the game will not have a season pass at all? Halo games have not traditionally included singleplayer content after release, so it’s possible that $US60 gets you basically everything. In today’s world, that’s actually refreshing.

Elsewhere, they’re promising multiple ways to tackle objectives in the campaign, and you’ll be playing alongside teammates the whole time, even if you’re playing campaign solo. Players can give some rudimentary commands to follow too. That should certainly shake up the dynamic.


  • It’s ironic that as everyone’s been more connected to each other online, people have become less sociable. In FPSs in particular, local multiplayer is absolutely fantastic, some of the best fun you can have. Now when playing Destiny me and my friends have to rely on not getting NAT issues that force people to not be able to talk to each other.

    • Bungie would have never pulled this shit. They removed split screen in Destiny, sure, but they replaced that with systems that encourage, no, demand, real social play. Because they understand that your friends are what keeps you coming back, what keeps you enjoying the game and sharing memories, not the carrot dangling in front of you.

      • The publisher want to get rid of split screen as having to play online with your friends = subscription money, plus one game per console, plus anti-piracy measures.

        Sitting at home having actual fun with your mates or family in the same room has become a low priority and has basically disappeared everywhere except Nintendo.

        The removal of LAN play was a dick move in this generation, and purely to push people to having to have an online sub.

        • I can tell you that my best moments in gaming this year have come from Destiny. Going in blind with my friends into the Crota’s End raid and beating the first section. Getting our first win in Trials of Osiris after losing for hours beforehand. Playing through the Vault of Glass the first time.

          None of these things would have made nearly as much impact if they had shrugged their shoulders and said “matchmaking will do”. These moments were entirely built around the fact that we went through them together, as a team, as friends. The game still has a massive player base, almost a year on, because of their focus on real social play.

          Bungie know exactly what they’re doing.

      • Bungie did a pretty bad job of making Destiny a social game. They included the bare minimum of allowing party functionality to work… most of the time. But your experience with strangers is limited exclusively to either trying to communicate through frantic waving, pointing, sittting or dancing, or taking five minutes to go OUTSIDE THE GAME to send/accept friend invites. Nevermind the fact that every non-strike/mission instance was essentially a sparsely-populated 16-player lobby.

        The ‘systems’ they used were not systems as much as they were an absence of systems, forcing people to band together externally to meet needs that could – should – have been programmed in.

        Destiny is an example of players struggling to create a social experience despite the developer’s best efforts to hinder them.

        • I think the intention was definitely there, but their execution made things harder than it needed to be. I agree with you on most points, but the most important thing is the intent, which I believe was in the right place. The gameplay is really well suited to social play, it’s just the systems around it that sucked.

  • This is the opposite of progress. Technology is taking precedence over fun. It’s only this generation that i’ve felt developers, at least indie developers, have learned the lesson that online play will never be an adequate replacement for sitting on the couch with your friends and sharing the experience.

    My most played PS4 games are the indie games that allow 4 player local multiplayer. My best memories of Halo were playing co-op campaign with my brothers. In fact, i’ve never played a Halo campaign without split screen co-op. The only thing that keeps me coming back to Destiny time and time again is that while not split screen, it is heavily built around playing with friends, not strangers.

    Perhaps i’m now the minority, but how many amazing gaming experiences can you remember when you were playing with strangers online? How many do you remember with your friends? I’d wager significantly more.

    • This.

      And it is the reason that the Wii-U console, that I had absolutely no interest in until we won one, has become the most used console in the house.
      4 Player games, all in the same room, we have an absolute blast with it. No split screen, or no local LAN play = no purchase for us.

      • It was actually amusing to read that someone commented on this, saying that theres now no reason to have more than one controller for a console. Was the completely opposite to me at home since I have a Wii U

  • Either way, Halo fans win.

    Hold on there Jethro, 343i have yet to prove their competancies. Halo 4 was garbage and Halo 5 seems more like Call of Duty than ever before. They keep saying they’ve learned their errors but that still needs to be proven.

    Plus, free maps may sound good but I still foresee microtransactions being announced.

    • I know a lot of people who have no business saying so spout the line “i could do your job better than you”, but jesus christ, the fact that this developer / publisher can’t recognise that Halo / Gears Of War’s strength was in being different, not the same, as goddamn Call of Duty, is baffling. If I was in charge the first thing I would do is fire the guy who signed off on everything to do with Halo 4.

      By homogenising the franchise to be more in line with modern fads, they are only doing damage to the franchise, not keeping it competitive.

    • Halo 4 was fun! I enjoyed that campaign. I needs me mah Cortana+MastaCheef soap opera, dangit. They are the OTP 4 lyfe.

        • After Halo 4, which was objectively awful, they aren’t really doing a good job of convincing me they haven’t completely ruined the game again. So yeah, i’m out. I say this as one of the biggest fans of Halo in the Bungie days. It was one of my favourite series of games.

          Now it’s just a sad, old franchise desperately trying to stay relevant, and in doing so, actually removing the things that made it so charming to begin with. I have almost zero interest in this game, I didn’t get excited when it was announced, I haven’t been excited by anything revealed since announcement, and this is just the final nail in the coffin.

          Halo 4 did irreparable damage to the franchise for me.

          • I can’t wait until I get to Halo 4 for my retrospective review. I’m going to destroy it.

          • There’s a lot of good material there. I’m pretty sure with all the shit i’ve written about in the kotaku comments section so far there’s at least a whole review worth of material. Talking about the games you hate and why is just as much fun as talking about the games you love.

          • I’m even going to complain and make a Portal reference to that weird portal device at the start of the second last level that kills you if you step into it.

            Yes, I’m going that deep.

          • Literally? Like… smash the disc at the end of the review or something? Set fire to it like Hendrix burning his guitar at Monterey? 😛

          • Where do you post these reviews? Just in TAY, or on a site somewhere?
            Also, you better fuckin’ tell me when you post it, cause I wanna fuckin’ read it.

        • I was out ages ago. Plus I don’t have an Xbone and I don’t plan on buying one for Halo.
          (which is sad because before 343i I would have)

        • Every Halo release me and a friend would play through Co-op. Once on normal, then heroic, then legendary. We can’t do that anymore. Playing online just isn’t as fun.

          • I just finished an online co-op playthrough of all 4 Halo games in the MCC on legendary. It was great fun. Voice communication helps, but it would have been better sitting on a couch together probably.

            Going to start a legendary playthrough of MCC:ODST soon, and then hopefully Reach when it’s released.

        • I am indeed out. I understand I’m in a minority these days but my partner and I live together and have years of playing halo split screen together. We recently attempted a play-through on MCC and got as far as halo 2’s level “Delta Halo” and reached a point at the end with the waterfall and snipey Jackals and it just crashed and crashed and crashed no matter what we did. Cannot get past that level without it freezing up and making an unholy sound distortion racket before black screen and console off.

          Caused us to never play MCC again, money well spent . Was however cautiously optimistic after playing halo 5 MP beta…… but no split screen for this gaymer couple = no deal.

        • Yep, as in won’t be buying Halo 5, and won’t be rebuying the console.
          I took the XB1 and MCC package back when I couldn’t get multiplayer to work at all. I thought, I’ll wait for a Halo 5 bundle. No split screen or local LAN play, and there is no point to having it for me. My Halo split-screen vs non would be 20:1 easily. Now I have kids and want to play split screen with them.
          I’m out, as in *out*

  • There goes the joy of playing with the family on the 1 console. I have 2 but we used to have the whole family playing on 2 consoles. Nice way to make sure you need a console each for everyone to play together..

  • There are so few games nowadays that allow local co-op, or even split screen versus. When I want to play with my friends, I don’t want them to *have* to be at their own house so we can play online together.

    Gaming on a console used to be a social thing. It’s why Smash Bros and Mario Kart are the most popular multiplayer games in my house – I can have my mates around, and we can jam games together, not apart.

    Can Kotaku do an article about the decline of local splitscreen? I really want to let developers know that I want local co-op and versus, because I like being social both online and in person, but I feel like players like me simply aren’t being heard because we don’t know where to give feedback.

    • “Can Kotaku do an article about the decline of local splitscreen?”

      I, too, would love to see this article. Too bad local co-op in any big name games is already dead :/
      It’s so whack though, consoles used to be all about local co-op!

  • Its a shame they didn’t just scale it back to 720p for multiplayer and kept the frame rate up. You don’t really need the extra pixels when your TV is a quarter of the size

  • Honest question: why is there so much hate for Halo 4? I absolutely loved the campaign, MP and the overall package, and I think it did a lot of things right. What is it that people disliked passionately about the game?

    And please, let’s get past the whole backstory argument which, BTW, if you didn’t read the books (fair enough) why didn’t you go over to Halopedia and read the plot synopsis? I get that argument but for some it wasn’t a big deal and didn’t get in the way of enjoying the campaign regardless if you read the books or not.

    • why didn’t you go over to Halopedia and read the plot synopsis?

      How is that a rebuttal? Being told to go somewhere else to understand the story. That’s worse than FF13 requiring the player to read reams of datalogs.

      Imagine watching Star Wars and someone hands you a book.

      • I’ve got to admit that sounds comically close to how the story is told in Destiny 🙂

        • and that was a major complaint towards that game that had people asking what was going on with the writing department.

      • @neo_kaiser
        It’s not a rebuttal. It’s just that the backstory argument is the first thing that’s brought up all the time and it’s kind of wearing me thin. (On a side note, the terminals in Halo 4 go a long way to filling in players on the Forerunner side of things.) If 343i did great injustices to Halo 4, what are they other than the backstory? I’m genuinely interested in what people have to say.

    • I actually went back to a previous comment I made on the last Halo 5 article so I could copy and paste this to you, my reasons for hating Halo 4:

      The story makes the decision of revealing and letting you interact with the Forerunners in no uncertain terms. This removes any mystique this race (and a key aspect of the games universe) had, and removes a lot of the “wonder” from the setting and story. It takes a relatively sensible handling of the universe established by Bungie and fills it with deus ex machina and science magic (in regards to the librarian speeding up Chief’s evolution to resist the science magic of the Didact). The “love story” between Cortana and Chief was handled decently enough, but many of these themes and ideas were already explored in Halo 3, with Cortana phasing into the screen and being all crazy and also needing to be saved / being separated from Master Chief also being key to the plot.

      The problem is, Halo never really had a “big bad guy”. It was always about the conflicts between races and the fates of these parties in a larger sense. Making it all about the motivations of a single antagonist, one who never really makes those motivations known further than vague cartoon villainy, flies in the face of the narrative thrust of the series.

      Think about previous antagonists in the game. There’s Guilty Spark, his programming was the reason for his conflict with you, this was made clear, he was there to complete his programming. The covenant leaders, they had delusions of religion that blinded them, even though their goals were negative, theirs beliefs were clearly established and thus their motivations seemed convincing. With The Didact we have a crazed loose cannon with the intent to kill humanity and digitise them for… some reason?

      Then there’s the enemies, the Prometheans were not a fun enemy to fight against. At all. With the covenant, they are colourful and exciting to fight against. They are capable but not frustrating. With a Hunter, for example, their impenetrable armour can be circumvented. But almost all the promethean enemies, they are fast-moving bullet sponges with one weak point and strong exterior armour all over. This turns firefights into frustrating affairs where you’re more than likely to run out of ammo every time before the enemies can be killed. They are just a frustration rather than an engaging challenge like The Covenant. With their similar appearance, they are less visually interesting than the covenant before them as well.

      And on the topic of running out of ammo, this game essentially forces you to use the promethean weapons. However these are completely devoid of the character of the covenant weaponry, or the comparative realism of the UNSC weapons. We can relate to the human weapons, we pick them up, we know how they work. The Covenant weapons have strange, bulbous shapes, and bright colours. They fire bright energy and have interesting properties. They feel like a real alternative tactic to using human weapons. They are fun to use, and have strong feedback in their use (bright colours, strange shapes, interesting results).

      The promethean weapons on the other hand all look very similar, and they are all essentially future-tech re-skins of human weapons. You have the shotgun and the assault rifle and the sniper rifle and the rocket launcher. The light rifle and the binary rifle look almost identical aside from some coloured lights. Even the projectiles from these weapons are boring and straightforward. They lack the familiarity of the UNSC weapons, and the strange, otherworldliness of the Covenant’s. They are in a worthless middle-ground. There’s nothing these guns add to the game, and more than that, they actively remove opportunity to utilise much better weapons already existing in the universe.

      Then there’s the levels, too many of which either reuse ideas we’ve already seen, or remove you from the strengths of the games mechanics too many times. Worst offenders are definitely the ghost level early in where you must speed through an erupting environment without engaging anyone or stopping to enjoy said environment. The first level you get to control the mech, where you’re basically in a shooting gallery shooting down a corridor killing everything around you. The mech ignores the vital pros/cons approach of the series’ previous vehicles for a nonstop killing machine. I can barely remember later levels in the game, because they left little impression on me in the way of memorable experiences.

      Halo succeeds because it gives you sandboxes to utilise the main pillars of its mechanics (shooting, melee, grenades, vehicles) in concert. Halo 4 repeatedly funnels you through corridors or set-pieces that actively reject this pre-established set-up. Which is fine if you’ve got good reason for doing so or have a better idea, but rejecting the core attraction of a franchise is a risky move and one 343i didn’t have the skill to pull off.

      That’s not to mention the multiplayer, which aped at the industry “leader” Call Of Duty in such a blatant way that it was swiftly rejected by the entire community within a matter of weeks. Halo’s strength is its difference from such games, and the fact that 343i couldn’t see that is very concerning. Even they recognised the multiplayer as a failure in the complete overhaul of the multiplayer for the Halo 5 beta.

      • It’s weird that a tonne of the things you single out as ‘ bad things’ (eg: defining the Forerunners, having an antagonist, the fresh and different challenge of the prometheans, the nudging to force you into improvising with new and unfamiliar weaponry…) are exactly some of the reasons I really liked Halo 4. 😛

        • You’re right, that is weird. Haha.

          Perhaps, like you said above with Destiny with the social play, the developer had good intentions with those things, but the execution was disastrous.

  • Well I know people hated the multiplayer (I played it for a while but got sick of Killstreaks and such), but I’m with you on loving the campaign and just played through all four on co-op with a friend who has only played Reach and she absolutely loved it!

    Also the sprinting/climbing over (anything that Call of Duty has done) seems to be senselessly frowned upon despite the fact that Spartan’s are meant to be able to move at ludicrous speed with ludicrous strength. Personally Halo 4 shows me how much Bungie of old were holding Halo back with there lack of characterisation of their own protagonist and are far more excited for what happens in Halo 5 than “the Taken King” or whatever shit they’re going to try to sell in Destiny next.

  • I am the opposite of everyone, obviously, in the world these days, and I extract absolutely no pleasure playing online. I love multiplayer when it’s right there, next to mates, drinking. I only like to drink alone when I’m reading (or posting while in an airport lounge *pause for swig*). There is no hiding in split screen. You can see their screen! It’s brilliant! You can see the fury on their sad little faces! You can physically interfere when the situation gets dire! Goldeneye 64 and the Halo franchise are the best for this. Ever. And now were. Unless I can drag my xbone around to a mates place and hook them up to two tvs side-by-side in a simple local network setup original xbox style (you may be able, I have no idea), then I am a bit dirty. I can tell you now I won’t be bothered anyway…*sob*

    • and no, you can’t tether the machines any more. Due to greed wanting you to be forced to have online subs. It sucks.

  • Halo 4 lost it for me. The loss of the original soundtrack when I first booted up the game made me realise that Halo going forward will never be the Halo I loved. I haven’t played Halo 4 since my original playthrough and probably won’t pick it up until I have to for MCC.

    As for the split screen – I too grew up playing it with my brothers. I now play Halo: CE Anniversary with the missus. Can’t share that experience with someone next to me in Halo 5 (especially after the cock up of Halo 4)? Nope, I’m done. Same as Battlefield and CoD, which I haven’t bought in the last 4 years now.

      • Yeah but COD has more or less been the same or worse since MW2. I stopped buying that more because it couldn’t hold my attention rather than split screen

  • There is really no point in owning more than 1 controller for an Xbox nowadays hey?

  • Halo was the champion of couch co-op! I was so keen to buy an xbone, solely to play halo 5 with my partner.
    I suspect this was a cynical decision made to sell more gold live accounts. You’ve lost it 343, I’m out.

    • It is craptacular, but a point to note about live on the Xbone is that you can share your live account with another(well you can if you do it in a specific way). If you have xbox live gold on an Xbone that is set as your “Home Console” then you can login on a different Xbone with your live gold, while someone without gold can login on yours with their own account and use it as if they have a full gold account.

  • Heard about this the other day, and it’s goddamn sacrilege. I played through all of the Halo’s in chronological order with my (now) Ex. My friends all have fond memories of playing through the Halo games in split screen co-op. With the 360 there was a pathetically small amount of local co-op games, and now even Halo is going down this ultra-shitty route.

    I’ve been playing games for 2 decades so maybe that’s why going “oh it must be 60FPS” seems like an utterly craptacular excuse. I mean having local co-op creates an excellently fun experience where I can enjoy an awesome game with a friend and be social. More frames is just… Well I guess I’m getting old because as long as I get a solid 30FPS everything seems perfectly smooth to me *shrug.* Basically it seems like they’ve cut out an amazingly awesome feature (that was a majorly loved staple of the franchise) so they could make some almost imperceptible improvement to the graphics engine. Ultra-fail.

    I usually am keen to check out Halo but this makes me think that I’ll probably only play it if I can get a super-cheap second hand copy… Well hey I’ll wanna play it with friends, so I’ll probably wait until its at bargain basement second-hand prices since I’ll need 2 goddamn copies to play it co-op -_-

  • So who do I write my angry letter of complaint to?

    Split screen co-op has always been the most fun that I’ve had with the Halo series.

    I also don’t understand why it can’t run in 60fps for singleplayer but a lower framerate in split screen like it’s always done…?

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