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Halo 5 split-screen co-op to be online-only and you’ll need Xbox Live Gold

To the disappointment of fans who have enjoyed blasting aliens together with split-screen co-op in previous Halo games, 343 Industries has confirmed that the cooperative campaign for Halo 5: Guardians will  only be playable online, requiring an Xbox Live Gold subscription.

Game Informer broke the news in its July issue that Halo 5 would be the first main entry in the series not to include split-screen co-op for the game’s campaign mode, which has been a popular feature since the original Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001. Apparently the decision to drop split-screen was at least in part to ensure that 60fps could be maintained throughout play. Executive producer Josh Holmes subsequently clarified in a statement on Halo Waypoint that co-op will in fact require an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play.

“That said,” Holmes added, “it is important to us that fans have the opportunity to play the full co-op campaign experience and we are doing this by providing a 14-day Xbox Live Gold trial with Halo 5: Guardians.

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During Halo 5‘s campaign, Master Chief is joined by the Blue Team. In single player, Master Chief’s teammates are controlled by AI, and can accept commands. In co-op, the squad members are controlled by players, each with their own unique loadout. At some point the perspective changes from Master Chief to Spartan Jameson Locke (the protagonist of Halo: Nightfall), who is accompanied by his own team, Fireteam Osiris.

As a child of the 80s and 90s, I have a deep fondness for split-screen gameplay, cooperative or competitive. First-person shooters have never been an especially strong genre for me, so Halo’s local co-op campaigns have always been a fun way to play alongside my much more skilled friends without feeling as guilty as I do when dragging the team down against online strangers. While the same could effectively be done online, it cuts out a whole swathe of casual players that might not buy the game for themselves. Moreover, there was something great about those lazy weekend afternoons spent on the couch with Halo, a good friend, and a steady supply of beer.

How do you feel? Is a high and steady frame rate worth the trade for local co-op?