Halo Infinite co-op has been delayed, again. And while we always knew the latest instalment of 343 Industries' enduring FPS series wouldn't come with co-op or Forge at launch, we now know campaign co-op won't arrive at the beginning of Season 2 in May, as planned.
Split-screen and online campaign co-op is an integral part of the Halo experience. When 343 announced Halo 5: Guardians would not have split-screen co-op ahead of its launch, fans were vocal about their disappointment. After all, Halo has become synonymous with couch co-op, and the backlash to its excision from Halo 5 was met with promises from 343 that all future Halo games would offer it going forward.
Naturally, players are frustrated. But there are a lot of things to consider about adding split-screen and online co-op to Halo's first open-world game, and cutting corners won't give us the experience we crave. Another Halo Infinite campaign co-op delay certainly stings, but if it means we'll get something that's as fun and fresh as the solo offering, it'll be worth it.
A lack of content
Frustration at the lack of new Halo Infinite content and lingering issues surrounding multiplayer is understandable. After all, Halo Infinite launched with only a handful of maps, and the map candidate pool shrinks even further for playlists like Big Team Battle and ranked mode. That limited offering is why I suggested Halo Infinite needs to tap into its community of creators with Forge as a means of getting more content out there without further straining the dev team.
Live service games are meant to have legs long after launch, and 343 Industries has expressed plans to keep Halo Infinite the sole standalone Halo title for the next decade. As such, Halo Infinite's current roadmap is at odds with Apex Legends or Warzone-level content pipelines. A beloved new game mode appeared and disappeared during a limited-time event, a map was removed from ranked play because of frustrating gameplay techniques, and no new maps or permanent game modes have joined the rotation since launch.
According to the latest Halo Waypoint blog post detailing the co-op delay, Halo Infinite Season 2 is set to bring some much-needed new content like "playlist updates, balance changes, new modes, and maps." There will be two new maps: one for Arenas and one for Big Team Battle games, while the new game modes include a free-for-all elimination mode called Last Spartan Standing, a mode called Land Grab, and the triumphant return of King of the Hill.
But 343 hasn't provided an exact date for the launch of Halo Infinite campaign co-op, and that's a bummer. Campaign co-op is quintessentially Halo and part of Halo's allure is its ability to be enjoyed with a friend by your side as you create havoc inside the games' impressive sandboxes. But Halo Infinite's open world means it isn't just any Halo game – the addition of four-player online co-op and two-player split screen poses a unique challenge, particularly as 343 attempts to deliver what Halo fans are expecting inside a game world quite unlike any we've received before.
A challenging world
Halo Infinite's campaign takes place in an open world – you can freely roam Zeta Halo, but the missions follow a linear format. However, you can choose to hold off on completing a main mission in favor of exploring the map, going off in search of armor coatings or Spartan logs or Banished bases. As detailed in the recent Halo Waypoint post, that untethered exploration presents "some big challenges for split-screen that have taken [343 Industries] more time to solve" than initially planned.
Games like Borderlands 3 are a great example of how online co-op in an open world game can be relatively seamless, while split-screen co-op can be a bit rougher around the edges. Attempts to play Borderlands 3 split-screen at launch on last-gen consoles resulted in players complaining of "microscopic text" and frame rate issues. I encountered it myself, and gave up after a few solid hours of attempting to enjoy it with my roommate. While 2K worked hard to make adjustments to Borderlands 3's split-screen co-op experience, it took several months for a hotfix that addressed lagging issues, and a year to allow players to swap between vertical and horizontal split-screen (which was available in both previous Borderlands games).
Clearly, 343 Industries is attempting to avoid these issues, and it's important to note that the developer wants two-player co-op to work seamlessly "from the original Xbox One through Xbox Series X," which shows a dedication to not abandoning last-gen console players. As of the time of writing, 343 Industries has no set date for the release of Halo Infinite campaign co-op, though it's due out sometime in Season 2, which is expected to last three months. That means we could get campaign co-op anytime from mid-May to August. While this is certainly a bummer, it's a sign that 343 is committed to giving us the co-op experience we deserve as players and long-time Halo fans.
Hopefully, when Halo Infinite campaign co-op finally drops, we'll be able to seamlessly grapple around the mountains of Zeta Halo with three other friends online, or attempt to take down Bassus in Legendary mode with someone on the couch beside us. It should be worth the wait.
Where does Halo Infinite fall on the list of best Halo games?