343 Industries made waves at E3 when they revealed that Halo 5: Guardians would not have the series’ long-loved split-screen multiplayer mode. Today, the developer tried to explain the reasoning behind the move, via a post on Halo Waypoint.
The decision, when you boil down to it, is simply a hardware restriction, though Halo 5: Guardians‘s developers are certainly trying to spin this a bit more eloquently.
“The decision to remove split-screen support from Halo 5: Guardians was one of the most difficult ones we’ve ever had to make as a studio. We know that for many of our fans, Halo has meant playing together with friends in the same room. We all have great memories of past Halo split-screen multiplayer matches. To move Halo‘s gameplay forward and deliver a true next-gen experience, tough choices had to be made. Our decision was driven by a desire for scale, fidelity and focus to ensure that we would deliver the best quality experience possible.”
When you read between the lines, what 343 Industries is saying is simple: the Xbox One is not powerful enough to deliver on the original vision of Halo 5: Guardians. Pure and simple. If it were, this decision would never have been on the table in the first place. The fact that in order to achieve the “true next-gen experience” for Halo 5: Guardians, features that many in the Halo community see as helping define previous experiences of the franchise are being cut simply because they can’t eke out enough power to do both full HD and split-screen.
This is not acceptable.
It’s one thing to cut out a feature because of development constraints. I’d much rather something be cut from the game than have it forced in there half-way done. 343 also admits this was a deciding factor to cut split-screen from Halo 5: Guardians.
“Many of our ambitious goals for Halo 5 would be compromised in a split-screen setting and the time spent optimizing and addressing split-screen-specific issues would take focus from building other parts of the game.”
However, it’s another thing entirely to have it cut from the game because the system simply cannot handle the vision you originally had. It’s clear as day that 343 Industries realized that Halo 5: Guardians, and the Xbox One, cannot do 1080p, 60 frames-per-second as well as split-screen multiplayer. The fact that most games cannot handle 1080p60 on the system is no surprise: very few games on the console meet those specs. What does this mean for future games on the system moving forward? Will other developers feel the need to cut away features and experiences from their game simply because the hardware itself doesn’t allow it to be possible?
It’s sad that a high-profile game like Halo 5: Guardians will end up being hindered by the hardware it is being designed for. If the game were to be built for PC, or even a console with better hardware (assuming one existed), this would be a non-issue. Unfortunately, Halo 5: Guardians fans looking forward to couch co-op will have to look elsewhere, thanks to the Xbox One being too weak to handle the feature.
While 343 Industries will never throw the Xbox One under the bus, it’s a sad precedent to set that even a first party title such as Halo 5: Guardians is being hindered thanks to what’s under the hood. If cutting out split-screen was to make the rest of the game better was the sole reason for this, some gamers may not feel as bad today. However, it’s plain as day that the power of the Xbox One is just not enough to bring forward the full, unbridled Halo 5: Guardians experience many were looking for.
And that’s a shame for all video game fans across the industry.
[Images via 343 Industries]