Late last year, 343 Industries revealed how Halo 5 would degrade the much loved split-screen system from 4-players to 2-players.
The news was received with mixed emotions, and most were disappointed that such a core feature of the game’s co-op and multiplayer system was being dumbed down.
Following their presentation of the game at the E3 conference during the Microsoft Xbox One show, 343 Industries has pretty much confirmed that there would be in fact no split-screen at all in the final version of the game.
The news came as somewhat of a shock to veteran Halo players, as it has been one of the more cherished features of the game. When looked upon itself, this is a decision that seems unnecessary and made to appeal to the ‘modern times’, although they could be incorporated.
However, unlike some other gaming developers (won’t be mentioning names), 343 Industries is not making this decision just because they want change. In fact, the developers seem to have a very valid reason in doing so.
343 Industries is aiming for 60 fps in both singleplayer and campaign modes for Halo 5, and that means sacrificing computing-intensive processes, of which one of them is split-screen.
The E3 demo we saw did show off the game’s impressive graphics, and having a split screen system would mean extra-intensive work for the Xbox One console in rendering multiple screens with somewhat equal levels of detail, resulting in drop in framerates.
There had to be a trade-off somewhere, and it was the split-screen that took the hit. Personally, I’ve never been fond of the ’30 fps’ cap nonsense that has become so popular amongst developers in recent times.
30 fps is cancerous for gaming community, and despite the suggestion that it makes the games look ‘more movie-like’, it certainly reduces the appeal of a title and makes it unbearably choppy if there are certain hiccups.
The human eye is accustomed to the 60Hz refresh-rate, and with most TVs and monitors boasting the same value, it is reasonable to attempt to target the highest tangible frame-rates possible.
This is even more important for a tactical first-person shooter like Halo 5, which has combat that heavily emphasizes on pace and intensity. With that in mind, the decision to omit split-screen makes sense.
It’s a necessary evil to make an overall more enjoyable experience, and though it has certainly caused an uproar amongst the more veteran Halo fans, I believe having 30 fps in a shooter game would have been much more troublesome.
Now, this is all said assuming that Halo 5 is indeed running at a more or less constant 60 frame-rates per second, but if it isn’t and we do see fluctuations that make the game’s fps rate drop down into the 40s and 30s, then 343 Industries is fooling all of us with this trade-off.
If they do manage to accomplish their promised 60 fps (especially now since they have paid a price for it), then it could be well worth it. Although not always noticeable, playing on 60 fps is a joy and makes the experience near-perfect for a game, especially for a first-person shooter.