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Pour one out for Halo Infinite’s split-screen co-op

In 2017, 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross said new Halo games will ‘always have spilt-screen,’ but that’s no longer the case

A pair of Master Chiefs, one standing with a gun slung over his shoulder, the other sitting on a fallen enemy, from Halo Infinite Image: 343 Industries/Xbox Game Studios

The best way to play Halo has always been in co-op. Playing Halo campaigns with friends — be it online or sitting next to them on the couch — has been the definitive way to experience the storied franchise, and it’s been a staple since the original Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001.

Halo 5: Guardians dropped split-screen co-op when it was released in 2015, though, and it sounds like a decision 343 Industries has regretted — the company outright promised never to do that again, in fact. Yet now, the studio is canceling its planned split-screen co-op update for 2021’s Halo Infinite, though the online cooperative mode will still be released in November — 343 offered a Nov. 8 release date for its winter update, which will include co-op. The studio announced the news in a video published Thursday.

“We’ve had to make the difficult decision to not ship campaign split-screen co-op and take the resources that we would use on [split-screen co-op] and go after this list and all of these other things,” Halo Infinite creative lead Joseph Staten said, referring to the list embedded below.

In 2017, 343 Industries studio head Bonnie Ross called Halo 5: Guardians a “painful learning experience,” and vowed that all first-person games from the studio, moving forward, would include the feature. Community director Brian Jarrad reiterated that promise in an E3 2019 blog post on Xbox Wire.

In that post, 343 Industries detailed Halo Infinite’s Slipspace engine, which was built specifically to support the future of the Halo franchise — and a major part of that was “the long-awaited return of split-screen support.”

It’s absolutely a bummer to see split-screen co-op tossed aside again, but it’s clear that 343 Industries has had some issues getting co-op to work just right on Halo Infinite — a huge, sprawling game. Halo Infinite’s co-op campaign has been delayed multiple times, alongside the game’s beloved Forge mode. The good news is that online co-op will arrive sometime between November and March, following its previous beta period in August, and Forge is expected to get its own testing period in November, too.

Update: This story has been update to clarify that 343 Industries said it will release campaign co-op on Nov. 8 as part of Halo Infinite’s winter update.

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