Halo campaigns are best played in co-op

I matured with Halo, and to this day, I think co-op records a lot of what is finest about the franchise. Never ever mind that Master Chief is a sole survivor type, with cutscenes that highlight the reality. Co-op is still the perfect method to experience the video games.

When I state perfect, I’m not speaking about the fulfillment of a solo project with problem clocked approximately Legendary. Co-op is excellent for having the most pure, overblown enjoyable, making strange and disorderly plays, and having the most smooth experience of chewing through objective after objective. It’s likewise a terrific method to invite newbies who might be unknown with how to play however wish to attempt.

When I consider Halo, I consider LAN celebrations with school good friends, and the sweaty summertimes I invested in rural Michigan with my cousin, churning through objectives on the Xbox, and walloping my friend’s older sibling and his good friends in Blood Gulch and after that Lockout. Whenever I speak with other fans of Halo, this fond memories appears like a shared belief.

I just recently replayed all the Halo video games in co-op to see if they were as excellent as I kept in mind (despite the fact that my my cousin — my initial co-op partner — is now too hectic with medical school for computer game). The video games have actually been remastered in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and although the remaster on PC doesn’t support split-screen play, I still had lots of enjoyable playing with my partner on different computer systems. Here’s why I still believe co-op is the very best possible method to play.

Make disorderly plays

Perhaps the very best, most apparent factor to play co-op is the freedom it provides you to totally ball out without needing to do much strategizing. This is due to the fact that Halo lets you respawn after death, so long as your campaign-mate is not actively in fight. Are you the kind of individual who enjoys facing the carnage, ammunition be damned? Do you choose to hang back in the corners and function as a clean-up team? These choices, and more, are readily available to you. With a pal, the Halo world is your oyster.

A Halo 3 player standing on a ledge, shooting at a Hunter down below

Image: 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios

The various save points throughout Halo are generous enough that passing away in a single-player run isn’t damning; the last checkpoint tends to be relatively current. However the co-op system permits you to leap right away back in without suffering any filling screens, when your partner gets all the opponents in the space. You can also play it the goofy, time-consuming way, where your partner backtracks to safety so that you can respawn (instead of clearing the room).

I have taken advantage of the quick respawn to try out hectic strategies, like testing potential campaign map shortcuts that I can then report back to my squadmate. I have also jumped off of ledges that seemed like they’d promise nice views, even though they also absolutely result in death. Also, I’ve gotten to do more of the highly underrated melee gun punch, which is an incredibly satisfying way to take down foes, although it’s risky, since Covenant opponents tend to be much stronger than you. Why waste the potential for enjoyment when the respawn is so simple?

Make strategic plays

Alternatively, co-op offers the chance to be extremely strategic about how you’ll approach a scenario. One of Halo’s strengths is the sheer volume of campaign missions and the various tactical options you have in each one, plus how much the difficulty level modifies the amount of strategy that’s actually worth the effort. You can also just do things that feel “strategic” but mostly make you seem like you’re in an action film. It’s fun to stand back to back in a space that’s crawling with enemies, knowing that each of you has a clear sight line and area to be responsible for.

Vehicles are so much better

An image from Halo 3 multiplayer, with two players in a Warthog vehicle

Image: 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios

Play alone, and your choices are more limited for the game’s most famous three-person vehicle, the M12 Chaingun Warthog. You will probably either drive the Warthog or man the turret.

But the humble Warthog, and the various iterations of the classic all-terrain vehicle, is such a key part of the series. Sure, the steering is janky (and the physics are laughable) in Combat Evolved, and whoever ends up driving is taking one for the team. And yes, other vehicles have this “do I shoot or drive” dynamic; the Falcon helicopter is a particularly fun one. But for the Warthog, specifically, having just one pal makes it way better. Having two pals means one of you has to agree to basically be a passenger with a regular gun (no Warthog fun for you).

I will admit that my favorite Halo vehicles are Covenant spacecraft that are manned individually. I’m a huge fan of the Ghosts, which are very maneuverable and pleasantly small, so I drive them into buildings where they aren’t supposed to go. Banshees are likewise perfect, because I love flying and doing barrel rolls. For these, I say the more the merrier.

Save your friends … or kill your friends

Nothing, and I mean nothing, feels better than having your buddy’s back by spotting an enemy running toward them — while they’re unaware, a sitting duck — and taking the enemy out. This is especially true for Covenant aliens, like Stalkers, when they’re being pesky and invisible, detectable only as an unsettling shimmer. The closing scene of Halo: Reach turns this up to a fever pitch, as you fight for survival against endless waves of enemies. The game only ends when you’ve finally been wiped out.

Alternately, if you’re an asshole, you can make it your mission to deploy friendly fire and then steal your partner’s ammo and grenades — not that I have done this. Why are you looking at me like that? I’m innocent!

Invite new friends

Halo: Reach campaign player standing over an enemy, pointing an energy sword at them

Image: 343 Industries/Microsoft Studios

It’s tricky to create a co-op experience that feels doable for newcomers or a pair with very different skill levels. If you’re looking for something truly suited to that big mismatch in skill or investment, Halo is not the best place to look. (Nintendo is more of a reigning champion of that kind of co-op, with solid player two assists in the Super Mario Galaxy games and Super Mario Odyssey, and features like building a house on someone else’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons island).

But if there’s a friend in your life who is new to first-person shooters and genuinely interested in learning, playing a Halo campaign in co-op — particularly at an easy difficulty setting — is a great method for them to dip their toes in the water. A newer gamer can go out and try things, and a skilled gamer can make sure to provide opportunities to respawn and fracture on.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.