Better spilt-screen for Series X|S

Apart from Halo CE en Halo 2 Classic, all Halo games still feature vertical black bars, presumably to increase performance.

I suppose that the Series S|X posses enough bandwidth to support full resolution in spilt-screen mode for the rest of the Halo games. It would be a nice QoL update for the game since the online population will inevitably dry up.

The two early games stretch each screen to fit a widescreen monitor. The later ones have the black bars so each of the split screens stays at 16:9

I don’t know which is the better approach, but probably better to pick one and use if for all games. No idea of the work that would be involved in changing it.

The image isn’t stretched, the FOV is increased which makes it the better solution. The black bars are intrusive and make it harder to see, especially coming off of Halo CE/H2 split screen. The series X|S have more than enough power to do the same for all other games in the collection, especially since all support an FOV slider.

1 Like

In the early games, the view is stretched. This is why, on a widescreen monitor the top and bottom picture is distorted when compared with the full image in single player.

As I mentioned, I have no idea of how much work would be involved in changing it up for the later games. It wouldn’t have anything to do with the power of later model Xbox or PCs, it’s what code changes would be needed.

I don’t find either way is any more difficult to see than the other, but if given the choice I’d probably opt for wider FOV.

The image doesn’t stretch, if anything it’s compressed a bit. I just booted up the MCC and compared the images myself, the games don’t stretch the image. The FOV in split screen is increased until it fills the full widescreen. The default FOV in CE is 86, but if you split screen it’s increased to 108. It factual does NOT stretch the image.

I can assure you iit very difinitely does stretch and distort the image.

Here is a split screen screenshot overlaid with a single player one. As you can see the image isn’t really stretched, it’s literally the same image as an 108 FOV in single player with the top and bottom cropped. I did the overlay on mobile so there is definitely some issues with the line up, but the image isn’t stretched.

Moving the FOV slider does not change the aspect ratio. It effectively just zooms in and out within the scene. The aspect ratio remains 16:9. Split screen stacks the two 16:9 images and then stretches them to fit the full width of the screen. Go ahead and move the slider all the way to the left for either or both players- notice the aspect ratio doesn’t change.

Edit, probably should clarify, it’s not two 16:9 images stacked - for split screen, the aspect ratio is based on a 4:3 screen and is stretched to fit a widescreen display.

You can’t change the FOV in split screen otherwise it would throw off the the image. That’s why it’s increased to 108 so the image doesn’t have to be stretched. Split screen takes both 16:9 images and just stacks them on top of each other. The top and bottom of the view is cropped to make space for 2 cameras.

That’s why they included the black bars in H3 onward because I’m assuming that the 360 didn’t have enough power to increase the FOV for both players and render it at the same time. Instead they keep the FOV as the same which isn’t a large enough image to keep it 16:9.

You most certainly can change the FOV. You can even do it separately for each player. I had it going this morning - top player sitting on 120 and bottom player set to 70. Display reflected the FOV setting for both. Oh, and the default was 70 for both single player and split screen co-op for me.

The black bars were to preserve the aspect ratio rather than stretch to fit a widescreen display.

To confirm you did this on HCE on MCC? I just booted up PoA on HCE with me and a guest. I repeatedly changed the FOV which the settings let you, but it doesn’t affect the split screen picture. I have the video saved on Xbox. AFAIK FOV changes in split screen are immutable.

Here is a link with the aspect ratios over the years. Ignore the fact that the for CEA they list 86 degrees as the default FOV for split screen. It’s outdated. The aspect ratio for each widescreen split screen is exactly half of the single player screen. H2’s info is outdated because in H2A the split screen isn’t vertical anymore so I couldn’t tell you the specifics but most likely similar to HCEA.

Halo CE on MCC disc. Display was as described. Clear as day difference in each picture.

FOV slider settings do not change aspect ratio. They don’t do it in split screen and they don’t do it on single player view.

For split screen, Halo 1 and 2 split into two stacked images formated for a 4:3 display. Each takes up half the vertial dimension, and the full width of the (4:3) display. These are stretched to fill the screen when viewing on a widescreen display.

I haven’t looked at Halo 3 split screen for a long time. The black bars on a widescreen display are there to preserve the aspect ratio.

I’m not saying the FOV slider changes aspect ratio, I’m saying that it’s increased to 108 so that when the image is captured and cropped to 32:9 aspect ratio it can be stacked and scaled on top of another 32:9 aspect ratio image preserving the 16:9 widescreen image without the need for stretching the picture. In the link above, you can clearly see that for widescreen support the picture isn’t stretched, you can just see more of the game.

I retested the FOV slider in split screen with an account instead of a guest and the FOV still doesn’t change. Can you send a video or screenshots of before and after? Can anyone else confirm? Is my version bugged? As of the current patch on a Series X, FOV sliders don’t change anything in split screen CE.

The FOV has nothing to do with this. It’s a split screen, two images stacked to form one 4:3 image which is then stretched to display on a 16:9 screen. Perhaps you need to have seen 4:3 images stretched on various displays in order to be able to tell what’s been done. I don’t know.

Running version 1.2645.0.0 on an Xbox One. I have double checked and the FOV sliders are definitely, clearly working and ajusting the images based on what they are set two, with the top and bottom pictures being indepenent.

I cannot think of any other way of explaining what is heppening, and I already spend way to much time on here, so I think I’ll leave the thread now.

I used tv with custom aspect ratio settings, specifically all direction zoom. sure things scretch a bit but fullscreen is better than black bars.

never cared about aspect ratios, wherever, i always fit to whole screen.

After doing some research and learning a bit about aspect ratios, here is the definitive answer to how split screen is handled throughout the MCC. For example purposes I will be using the resolution 1920x1080 for screen sizing arithmetic. Please note that I will be comparing MCC CE and MCC H3, and will only be interested in how split screen is handled in widescreen formats because AFAIK that is the only format the MCC natively supports. I make the assumption that CE and H2C work similarly as does every other title to H3. Let’s jump into it.

When Combat Evolved Anniversary was released on the 360, widescreen split screen support was silently added to the game. By extension this means it’s also present in the MCC version of CEA. As the OP has pointed out, CE takes full advantage of widescreen displays without adding black bars to the side of the screen like every other title except H2C. What exactly is going on here? As it turns out the camera for each player crops the top and bottom of the original image leaving a picture of 1920x540 resolution which is a 32:9 aspect ratio. Stacking both images creates a 1920x1080 image which is low and behold 16:9 aspect ratio. What’s neat is that because it’s a sub sample of the original image it can be displayed without any noticeable loss of image quality and fits the full width of the display for both players. 540p height is exactly half of 1080p. The down side of this method is that it removes 25% of the top and bottom of the image resulting in a total loss of 50% of the original image. Most of the important information is usually presented in the center of the image so the loss isn’t super noticeable, but can feel claustrophobic. CE does some extra shenanigans with FOV and AA to mitigate this effect, but I’ll discuss that later.

Now onto how Halo 3 and the other titles handle “wide screen” split screen. Effectively the cameras for both players scale the image down by a factor of 2 on both the width and height. This creates an image resolution of 960x540 which is still 16:9 aspect ratio, but note that it does NOT match the width of the original display value. Stacking both of these images creates the odd 8:9 aspect ratio. Black bars are present in the image because there simply isn’t enough image left after the scale to fill the full wide screen. The primary downsides to this method is the image quality degrades after the down scale creating a noticeable more blurry picture and fails to take full advantage of the display. The only upside to this method is that there is no loss of image like the cropping found in CE.

What I find odd is the neither CE nor H2C supported widescreen split screen, until their respective anniversary editions added this functionality. Halo 4 released after CEA and still failed to include this functionality. Even with the release of the MCC, only H2A had this feature added which is arguably the most visually taxing game in the entire collection.

The current system for H3 and other titles is probably the worst way of going about this. They can either replicate the same system of CE and crop 50% of the image to still take advantage of the larger display or they can still scale the image down, but instead of scaling a 1920x1080 image, they would need to scale down from 3840x1080 image to mitigate scaling artifacts and create a 1920x540 image which would match the full width of the display. Fun fact this how CE and H2C handled split screen resolution on their original releases with albeit much smaller resolutions.

Personally I would prefer the CE method for the sake of consistency but each have their pros and cons.

But what about FOV? Why does CE increase the players FOV in split screen from 86 to 108? Well to minimize the amount of image lost. Before you could adjust the FOVs in all titles, you could see significantly more on your left and right sides when split screening in CE. Arguably more than what the single player widescreen offered you. The resolution and aspect ratio remain the same, but the zoom of what you can see is very impressive in split screen.

If I had to guess why H3 and onward never got the same split screen treatment as CE and H2A, it’s probably because saber interactive (the developers responsible for CEA and H2A) didn’t work on porting the other titles to the collection. That was ruffian’s job. Hopefully 343 and saber can make this happen next year, I would love to take full advantage of my 4K display.

1 Like

Nice find. I never knew it was a Saber Interactive developed feature. Makes sense as to why it’s only in the first two games. For the sake of consistency, it would be great to see every title have the same split screen solution. Best case scenario would be a ‘16:9’ or ‘Fullscreen’ toggle for splitscreen mode somewhere in the menus. This would of course only be viable for two player splitscreen as four player splitscreen already fills up the screen and three player splitscreen uses multiple aspect ratios simultaneously.