Halo Infinite’s canceled split-screen co-op campaign has been tested – and it’s excellent

News of Halo Infinite’s co-op campaign split-screen option being canceled was frustrating – not least because I was looking forward to playing with my son, as I have with all previous Halo titles. supporting functionality. The fact that 343 Industries doesn’t support it is all the more puzzling given that right now at least it’s possible to smash your way into split-screen campaign co-op for up to four players. It is true that the feature is not without bugs, but in my experience these are relatively minor and it is possible to play the entire campaign in split-screen mode. Adding to the sense of disappointment is how close 343 is to finalizing this feature – and it performs brilliantly.

To fully understand the story, we have to go back to 2017, when Bonnie Ross, then head of 343 Industries, addressed the lack of a split-screen co-op campaign in Halo 5, making this comment during the DICE Summit 2017: “When we We didn’t bring split-screen with Halo 5, I think that’s incredibly painful for the community – and for us. It erodes trust with the community, because the community is part of our world-building. .. I would say for any FPS to come, we will always have split screen.”

The situation changed a few weeks ago when 343’s creative lead, Joseph Staten, announced the cancellation of the feature, suggesting that – to put it bluntly – limited resources would be better deployed elsewhere: “We had to make the tough decision not to air the co-op campaign in split screen and take the resources that we would use for that and continue that list and all that other stuff.”

The Halo Infinite campaign’s split-screen co-op has been tested – via a “workaround” – in all three modes on XBox Series X, along with an analysis of the base Xbox One experience.

The feature may never receive official support, but there is a workaround that allows the co-op campaign split-screen to work on any Xbox console – even the vintage 2013 Xbox One “VCR”. You’ll see how I got this working in the video above, but it’s basically creating an online fireteam, leaving the fireteam, selecting offline in the lobby, then add other local profiles. It’s a messy and sometimes frustrating way to run the split-screen campaign, but it’s effective, with gameplay that works much the same as the online campaign’s co-op mode tested last month. If a player triggers a cutscene, the game reverts to single view, before reverting to split-screen right after, resetting player positions. If players stray too far from each other, a warning countdown appears that encourages them to get back together. If they don’t, one of them is killed and respawns near the other.

Player progression – including achievement support – is unique to that player and even access to the game map and upgrade systems can be done independently in each mini-screen. However, this can lead to a corruption issue if the other player is in standard play. Other issues I’ve encountered include spawning under geometry, drifting time of day between the two players (one can play at night, the other in the day) and there is no There is no character collision for players, who can literally walk through each other. Some players have noted game save corruption (which would be totally understandable), but that wasn’t an issue in my game.

In terms of basic logistics, split-screen works then – give or take the occasional issue. The feeling is that the feature is very close to completion and a lot of work has gone into it, which makes its omission very confusing. On Xbox Series X at least, there are no performance issues either. It’s really smooth in 60fps mode with the console set to output 60Hz. You can see the dynamic resolution scaler working hard and the pixel count is significantly lower than 4K, but that’s no big deal when performance is very smooth at 60fps with only minor one-frame drops.

We tested the “official” online campaign co-op last month during its preview period for Xbox Insiders, played here on PC and Steam Deck.

Also, the level of detail is pulled off at a glance, but it still looks good. If you want to increase the resolution, 30fps mode does the trick, but 343 still hasn’t solved the inconsistent pacing of game frames (which, oddly, also triggers the game to run in 60fps mode if your console is set to 120 Hz output). Even the 120Hz offering works, although it suffers from the same issues as single-player: performance is generally below 100fps and since VRR still doesn’t work properly in Halo Infinite, it’s still jerky. Still, play at 60fps with the console set to 60Hz output and you’re golden. It is an excellent experience.

It has also been suggested that the mode was canceled as getting it to work on Xbox One might have been too difficult for the underpowered console, particularly the OG ‘VCR’ model from 2013. However, despite understandable graphical drawbacks , it’s perfectly fixable and a solid way to play. The visual trade-offs are legion, though: dynamic resolution seems to peak at 720p but can drop all the way down to 540p, making for very blurry gameplay. Draw distance is compromised to the point where low poly impostors for enemies are drawn in at very close range, while Halo Infinite’s real-time shadow range is drawn wildly as well. Performance is also wobbly – thanks in part to the game’s inconsistent frame rate at 30fps, but also to real frame rate drops in the mid-20s in the open world.

If the campaign’s split-screen mode is working so well and seems so close to completion, we can only speculate why 343 Industries decided to do it. Knowing that the mode is accessible and works well, the decision seems incongruous, so we asked Microsoft to comment on why it was canceled when the mode was shown to work. Upon hearing feedback from the development team, we were told that they “politely declined to provide comment on this occasion”. However, I think we need to take 343 at its word and put it simply, the developer feels the resources are better spent elsewhere.

It’s a shame because campaign co-op via split-screen is a key part of Halo’s DNA and its omission in Halo 5 was disappointing. It’s important to point out that online campaign co-op is still ongoing, but for the local experience to work, you’ll need two screens and a secondary console. It’s not ideal – especially when the feature has been proven to work – and works well.