One of the biggest controversies in the Halo community right now is the lack of splitscreen of Halo 5. In order to maintain 1080p/60fps and also push the entire game being online and server-based (which will actually make the entirety of the game unplayable when the servers are shut down in the far future), 343 had to remove splitscreen.
Let’s start with the Xbox One. The Xbox One launched with significantly inferior hardware compared to what was capable when the console was being developed in 2012 and 2013. Especially when compared to PlayStation 4. I’d like to note I’m not a PlayStation fan; I’ve never owned one and I never plan to, but the reality is the PlayStation 4’s hardware is a lot better than the Xbox One. My friends and I experience a lot of slowness, crashing, and freezing when we try to access menus outside of games, such as friends or Xbox Store. If this thing has trouble smoothly booting up a friends list, how can we expect it to be able to perform well on splitscreen? Also, if MCC, a game full of ports and remakes, has trouble maintaining even 30fps on splitscreen, how can we expect Halo 5 to be able to do the same?
Take a look at 2014’s Assassin’s Creed Unity. This game has a huge open world full of AI citizens of revolutionary France. When developing this game, Ubisoft hit a roadblock with the Xbox One’s outdated hardware. The darned system just couldn’t handle running the game at 1080p/60fps. To fix this, they brought it down to 900p/30fps. To make matters worse, Ubisoft did the same to the PlayStation 4 version because they didn’t want to fuel the console wars, even though the PS4 is more than capable of running the game at 1080p/60fps.
The truth of the matter is the Xbox One is just not able to handle a game as ambitious as Halo 5, or any other game built with the full potential of modern games. Don’t blame 343 for the lack of splitscreen, blame the developers that thought the best option for the Xbox One to do its very best was to give it cheap, outdated hardware rather than the best available. The removal of splitscreen isn’t a decision 343 made, it’s a requirement in order to keep this game running smoothly. I personally don’t see what’s so god-awful with adding splitscreen if it means bringing it to 30fps, but I doubt the One could handle that after seeing the scope and scale of Halo 5.
At least we’ll get 1080p/60fps in the final game. Don’t be surprised if they announce it’s being brought down to 900p, or if there’s a lot of frame rate drops when playing the game.