By Bryan Smith on November 1, 2015 at 11:00am
Note: We at Player Theory ask that in this discussion, please respect each other’s opinions, regardless if this issue affects you or not.
So “Halo 5: Guardians” released recently. Some people are excited, some are tiny bit interested, and some aren’t interested or rather upset with the game. Why may that be? The “Halo” series was one of the most acclaimed first-person shooters during the Xbox and Xbox 360 lifespan. “Was” is a key word, however, to those who either hold little to no interest. When “Halo 3” ended, it wrapped up the trilogy nicely (where “Halo 2” ended rather miserably), some characters sadly died, and it “ended the fight.” Then “Halo 4” happened. Some probably said, “Now what can they do with the story,” with… questionable results for some.
As with reviews coming out, while the multiplayer is being toted as “awesome” and “some of the best in a while,” many agree the campaign is lackluster, with the AI being poor and Locke really bland (which is impressive standing with Master Chief). The thing that turned off a lot of people from “Halo 5,” however, is the split-screen being removed, which I’m surprised a lot of reviewers are ignoring for some reason… take your guess why that may be.
Now here comes the statement in response to people not liking the exclusion of split-screen- “Why would anyone care about split-screen? I play by myself now and my friends are online. The game looks wonderful!” The game had to sacrifice either graphics or split-screen… which probably will lead to fewer sells than intended. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who play with others on the same console. There’s a thing called “offline play,” so… I’m not convinced that Microsoft can see everyone who plays offline. By playing on a friend’s console, they may like the game enough to buy it themselves. Without that option, they may be less willing to put down $60, or $410-460 for the console as well, to play it, let alone another fee to play with other people online.
Kotaku posted an excellent article where people posted their stories of playing with friends and loved ones with the previous “Halo” games. There have been couples that helped get into their relationships by playing “Halo” together. A friend got his buddies to try a series they probably wouldn’t have touched. Children could play with their parents and journey through the world of “Halo” together. With split-screen gone, that wonderful feeling of togetherness is gone.
I got into “Halo,” “Halo 2” to be specific, when I was younger because my friend had a party and we were all playing the multiplayer. We went about playing “Halo 2” not even for the competition online but just goofing around and finding glitches. We spent days sending scorpion tanks flying into the air with some poor sap attached to the side.
Then we’d play around in Forge and try to push each other in cars to our death.
Now? For “Halo 5,” if four of us wanted to play together, we would need four Xbox Ones, TVs, controllers, copies of “Halo 5,” and Xbox Live Gold memberships, along with a stable internet for each. At least with split-screen, the expenses of playing together are much cheaper. This seems rather anti-consumer for those who only wanted to play with each other. Why do I need to pay for playing with my friends, something that has been a staple to the series since its inception? “Mario Kart 8” and, hell, “The Master Chief Collection” still has split-screen, and “MCC” has four (five with “ODST”) games to worry about.
Without split-screen, “Halo 5,” along with the series from here on out, loses what made it special against other first-person shooters like “Call of Duty,” “Battlefield,” and “TitanFall.” The multiplayer the game is great. “Call of Duty” also has great, refined multiplayer. Considering the other FPS games are becoming more like “Halo,” with jetpacks boosts and more futuristic tools, and “Halo” becoming more like the others with aiming down the sights, the special… spark is dwindling. “Call of Duty: Black Ops III,” a game that gets released after “Halo 5,” still has split-screen. They even addressed this as seen in this article with Forbes.
To wrap this up, why does split-screen make “Halo” special? It was a cheaper way of getting your friends and loved ones to play together to experience something fun, which may lead you yourself to get a console and play for yourself if you liked it enough. People didn’t care around the time that the graphics may have taken a hit so we could play on the same screen. We just wanted a fun time. Now that it’s gone, playing with friends now gets more expensive for everyone involved, especially if they don’t have any intentions of buying “Halo 5” or an Xbox One themselves. Alone, you’ll need $410-460 for the game and console. Now multiply that by three (assuming we’re going with just four friends here- increase number for additional people). That’s a lot of money just for four people to play one game together, and that’s not counting the Xbox Live and TVs you need as well if that’s an issue.
If you aren’t bothered by split-screen and only play by yourself (excluding online multiplayer), that’s fine. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of people who aren’t going to bother buying a game they can’t play in the same room and on the same console with other people. I’d like to imagine that people aren’t that insensitive to tell people, friends and loved ones at that, “Go buy the game yourself and stop whining.”
Just as I finished writing this piece, the franchise director Frank O'Connor stated that “Halo 5” will pretty much never have split-screen while speaking to GamesRadar.
"Realistically, for Halo 5, it's not something we can just throw in a patch. It's just not feasible with the way the engine works....Split-screen is fun for me too. It's not something that I object to, and we would've loved to put it in. We'll talk about it for the next game, and we'll talk about it for the future."
I get the feeling that Microsoft doesn't see the feature as a priority. They’ve seen the blow-back, which was rather similar to the reveal of the Xbox One back in 2013, yet they aren’t quite willing to fix it… at the moment. Didn’t Microsoft say something about the Kinect always needing to be plugged in and the Xbox One needing to check in every so often? Something along the lines like, “We can’t just flip a switch to turn off DRM. The console was built around it.” Sounds rather familiar… To mirror the similar motion, Microsoft can get a lot more people to buy “Halo 5” with split-screen patched in- just takes some extra work just like removing the DRM and Kinect requirements.
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