343 Industries Breaks Promise To Always Implement Split-Screen Co-Op In ‘Halo’ Games, Unceremoniously Removes Feature From ‘Halo Infinite’

Source: Halo Infinite (2021), Xbox Game Studios

343 Industries have announced plans for split-screen co-op for Halo Infinite have been cancelled in favor of improving the game’s live service.

Source: Halo Infinite (2021), 343 Industries

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In August of 2021, Head of Creative Joseph Staten stated, despite admitting co-op was a fundamental part of Halo, that 343 Industries had to focus on the overall quality of the game, after hindrances caused by COVID-19 lockdowns. Eventually, Halo Infinite launched in December of last year without co-op or the Forge.

“Unfortunately, as we focused the team for shutdown and really focused on a quality experience for launch, we made the really tough decision to delay shipping campaign co-op for launch, and we also made the tough call to delay shipping Forge past launch as well,” Staten declared.

Source: Halo Infinite (2021), 343 Industries

On September 1st of this year, 343 Industries announced an update for the game, detailing the Season 3 live game service content as Season 2 wrapped up. The “Winter Update” will start  November 8th, with additional content through to March 7th 2023, and promises to feature the Forge beta, a free 30 tier battle pass, two new maps, a new game mode, match XP beta, “campaign network co-op & mission replay,” and more. This is followed by Season 3 from March 7th through June 27th.

Yes, network co-op, not local split-screen. In a video discussing the update — featuring Staten, Community Director Brian “Ske7ch” Jarrard , and Head of Halo Infinite’s Live Service Sean Baron — Staten even notes that Baron is “the most important guest today.”

Source: Halo Infinite Update- September 2022, Halo Waypoint

The trio begin discussing Baron’s history under 343 Industries and how he is focused on the free-to-play multiplayer elements, such as seasons, of Halo Infinite. The game’s live service plans were also discussed, including “achieving seasonality” as the company’s number one priority so players get what they want faster and more consistently, such as more seasons per year.

Baron’s four other player priories that “dock under” seasonality included players feeling rewarded no matter what they play, belonging to the game’s community and ways to express themselves, a competitive and fair experience, and a stable and high quality experience. Unless goals change, the aim is to make significant improvements in all those areas by 2023.

Source: Halo Infinite | Update – September 2022, Halo via YouTube

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As part of their objectives to be more open about what their plans are, Baron explains this is the “first step” in forming a dialogue with players, and the priorities are based on what they believe players want. Jarrard insists feedback has not fallen on “deaf ears” but has been prioritized as improving the game’s foundation before “nice to have” features are implemented.

Jarrard then throws over to Staten, explaining how the proposed improvements, though discussed through the free-to-play side, are a studio-wide initiative. “Yeah that’s right. I mean, not only to go after this list of things that you [Baron] talked about which we’re fired up to do, but to work on experiences that we’re not quite ready to talk about yet.”

Source: Halo Infinite | Update – September 2022, Halo via YouTube

Staten then confesses “we have had to make the difficult decision not to ship campaign split-screen co-op, and take the resources that we would use on that and go after this list and all these other things that we’re going to talk about in just a sec.”

Moving swiftly on, the trio revealed that those ‘other things’ included the aforementioned Winter update and season 3, new campaign achievements, and battle pass rewards. The Forge was also revealed to support 7,000 objects, size-scaling and node graph scripting, as well as the new maps having been made in the Forge.

At this time of writing — and with the use of third party plug-ins to re-enable dislikes — the video has 28,000 dislikes to only 8,800 thousand likes. The majority of comments are also outraged over the omission of local co-op, along with multiple threads on the official Halo subreddit, as well as Twitter replies; though with a large number upset about Season 3 launching so late. 

Previously, 343 Industries sparked outrage in 2015 for removing split-screen co-op from Halo 5: Guardians, despite every prior Halo title to that point having it. During DICE 2017, founder and head of 343 Industries Bonnie Ross admitted, “we’ve also had a lot of learnings along the way.”

Source: Halo Infinite | Update – September 2022, Halo via YouTube

“When we fell down, with the multiplayer launch of MCC [Master Chief Collection], or when we didn’t put split-screen in with Halo 5. It’s incredibly painful for the community and for us. Y’know, and I think it erodes trust with the community,” Ross proposed, “as the community is part of our world building.”

“A lot of learnings from that, and I would say, for any FPS going out forward we will always have split-screen in going forward,” Ross revealed, “but painful learnings.”

That should have been the end of the story unless 343 Industries backtrack. However, just 24 hours after 343 Industries announced Halo Infinite wouldn’t have split-screen co-op, a fan discovered the feature was already in the game through menu glitches and phrased as though it may have been for some time.

“So, after checking on Series X, the menu glitches to play #HaloInfinite campaign splitscreen still work: no crash in cutscenes, no issue with AIs, etc.,” @HaloCreation states. “Never thought I would have to go through this to play with friends at home. I’ll probably release a small tutorial later!”

The bug was cited as being discovered by Alexis B., (@Zeny_IC), and tutorials on how to exploit the glitch was further shared on Reddit and by YouTuber Mint Blitz. It doesn’t even require any technical know-how, merely quitting a campaign mission as it loads, joining another player, entering a custom game and adding other friends, and changing server to LAN. Instead of loading a custom game, the campaign mission loads instead.

Mint Blitz noted there were “very minimal issues,” only further blurring why 343 Industries found themselves unable to dedicate even some time to finishing the work they started; or so it appears. The YouTuber also implores 343 not to patch out the exploit, as it provides functioning co-op even when Halo Infinite‘s servers eventually close.

 

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