There are many gamers that still love local couch multiplayer, so why is that big developers like 343 Industries choose to exclude it from games like Halo 5?
When 343 Industries announced that Halo 5: Guardians wouldn’t have split-screen, I was heartbroken. Ever since the franchise’s inception, split-screen has been an integral part of the experience, and the choice to abandon it has me very worried that Halo 5 won’t live up to the hype.
Usually when I complain about a game dropping split-screen or not including local co-op or whatever the case may be, I am met with the same response: “It’s 2015.” I’m not sure what this means. It’s 2015, so people no longer have friends that they want to be in physical contact with? It’s 2015, so we want less features from our games? I enjoy playing online as much as the next guy, but quite frankly it pales in comparison to the enjoyment I have when playing couch co-op or multiplayer with friends.
In fact, one of my favorite gaming experiences of 2015 wouldn’t have been even close to as fun without split-screen. I’m referring to Rocket League, arguably the best thing to ever happen to me in my entire life. When I think of a Rocket League without split-screen, it just makes me sad.
In my opinion, the best case scenario is when games blend traditional offline multiplayer with online capabilities, like we see in Rocket League and the old Halo games. Actually, one of the major selling points of past Halo games for me was the ability to take the 4-player split-screen online, and with split-screen removed entirely from Halo 5, I am just not as excited for this entry in the series as I have been for past games in the franchise.
And what if Halo 5‘s online is dead on arrival? It wasn’t that long ago that The Master Chief Collection debuted with completely broken online multiplayer, but at least that game had split-screen, so anxious Halo fans could enjoy the multiplayer in some capacity. With no split-screen in Halo 5, if the online doesn’t work, then the multiplayer content will be completely unplayable on launch day.
I hope I’m wrong when it comes to Halo 5. However, 343 hasn’t given me much reason to have faith in their ability to deliver the kind of quality I typically expect from the Halo franchise. Their choice to include microtransactions has me worried, as does the fact that their previous Halo effort, Halo 4, stands as the lowest-rated game in series history. Of course, I’ll reserve final judgment until I actually play the game for myself. For all I know, it’s the best Halo ever despite it’s lack of split-screen, and I’m just being too quick to judge.
While Halo 5 has unceremoniously ditched the local multiplayer experience, it seems like more big budget games being released nowadays support at least some kind of offline multiplayer when compared to a few years ago. Black Ops 3 is rocking 4-player split-screen Zombies, for example, and even Star Wars Battlefront has split-screen as well. I sincerely hope that Halo 5 delivers in other areas when I pick it up this Tuesday, but I’m beginning to wonder if I should save my cash for devs that go the extra mile to include couch co-op and multiplayer in their games.
Please prove me wrong come October 27th, 343 Industries. I beg of you. In the meantime, our review seems reassuring.