Developer Ubisoft Montreal has backtracked its previous statements regarding For Honor‘s local multiplayer gameplay features, revealing that the final product will no longer offer a promised split-screen co-op mode.
The announcement arrived earlier this week despite previous Ubisoft-issued statements describing offline co-op as “absolutely a key feature” that is “super-required” to make For Honor a success, according to Eurogamer.
Related: Hands-on: For Honor
Announced at E3 in 2015, For Honor is a third-person melee combat game in which players take control of knights, samurai, and vikings throughout a series of brutal skirmishes. In addition to a single-player campaign, For Honor includes a collection of multiplayer modes, some of which pit teams of four players against one another in co-op battles for supremacy.
Though Ubisoft previously assured players that the finished product would offer local multiplayer options, For Honor‘s developers are suddenly downplaying the importance of offline co-op as the game approaches its multiplatform launch in February. This week’s revelation arrives after many fans have already locked in their pre-orders.
“The For Honor team made the difficult decision to cut split-screen co-op in order to deliver the best experience at launch,” Ubisoft said in a statement sent to Eurogamer this week. “It’s a feature that we liked and wished to deliver, but we found we can’t do it without impacting the quality of other elements that are more crucial to the For Honor experience. For Honor fans looking to play with friends will still have the option to play online co-op in the campaign and in all multiplayer modes.”
Despite being a popular feature throughout the previous console generation, split-screen co-op is now seen as a liability by many publishers as development costs continue to rise. Microsoft ignited a firestorm of fan controversy after 2015’s Halo 5: Guardians launched as the first series entry to lack a split-screen campaign mode, and the inexplicable absence of offline co-op in the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan led many fans to express their disappointment via Amazon, tanking the game’s overall customer review score as a direct result.
Ubisoft’s statement specifically mentions that split-screen co-op will not be available “at launch,” suggesting that a strong response from fans could spur the addition of offline options at a later date.
For Honor launches on February 14, 2017, for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC platforms.