After stating that it may be added later in development, Josh Holmes hints that splitscreen won’t be featured in the upcoming Xbox exclusive.
In a tweet, Josh Holmes, Studio Head of 343 Industries, clarified that all multiplayer components of Guardians would have to be online – eliminating local multiplayer entirely. As couch co-op gamers weep, lets take a look at just how much that will impact the long-running franchise.
While a lack of local multiplayer isn’t anywhere near a deal breaker for me in Halo 5, the impact the feature has had on the series is undeniable. Many people’s first run-in with fantastic local multiplayer was with Halo: Combat Evolved. For me personally, battles on both ‘Blood Gulch’ and ‘Coagulation’ were cornerstones of my local multiplayer experience growing up, and I know it was important to many others as well. If we were to strip Halo of it’s local multiplayer components a decade ago, I think that we’d quickly see that the franchise wouldn’t have risen to tier of appraisal fans and critics have given it over the years. How many all nighters with friends would simply not have happened without Halo fueling competition between friends?
So why has 343i taken the feature out of Guardians? While we don’t have an actual answer to that question, we can probably assume it was for technical reasons. Obviously, 343i wouldn’t strip a fan-favorite feature from a game for no reason, and as we’ve seen frequently this generation, many developers choose aesthetics and high-end visuals before features. For example, if it were between having buttery smooth 60fps or split-screen in Guradians, it was probably an easy decision for the developer.
Perhaps 343i’s push towards a more competitive aspect to Halo multiplayer had an impact on this game design choice. Any time you have players sitting next to each other communicating about enemy locations, they’ll have an obvious leg up on often silent opponents who could be playing literally hundreds of miles from each other. Still, that doesn’t answer why you wouldn’t allow for local campaign co-op. For that line of reasoning alone, I think it’s safe to say that this falls back on technical limitations.
What’s more saddening is that during the public beta last December, Holmes noted that split-screen will be present in final form. This means something has changed in the game’s design, or the latest tweet from Holmes isn’t as clear as it should be. Of course, it’s part of his job to protect his franchise with good publicity, so tweeting negative information about Guardians might not be an option.
How much does this feature mean to you? Will you be skipping Guardians after hearing this, or are you still psyched to play as Chief and Locke this October? Feel free to let me know on Twitter!
Halo 5: Guardians launches October 27th, 2015 exclusively on Xbox One.