Ever since the Master Chief Collection was announced for PC back in March, fans have been clamouring for the Xbox version’s classic split screen local co-op to be included in the PC port. But so far, it seems they’ve had no luck. In a Reddit AMA at the time, 343 Industries’ community director Brian “ske7ch” Jarrard said it was a “tricky” issue, and that 343 was still “looking at what can be supported”. Eight months later, the collection’s roll-out on PC has started with Halo: Reach - but there’s no split screen to be seen.
Luckily, however, I can reveal that Rock Paper Shotgun has secured answers to the local co-op question at last. Or at least, the answers to a local Co-op question. By which I mean, I can tell you how all the main characters in the Halo series would handle a trip to the local branch of Co-op, the UK’s beloved budget supermarket. I've got no idea about the split-screen thing. Here’s the information you were almost definitely looking for:
1. Master Chief
Who’s that? The Master. The Chief. Boss-boss. Big John Halo. The Jolly Green Juggernaut. Saint Motocross. Spartin Scorcese. The Duke of Blood Gulch. Call him what you will, he’s the pretty cool guy who kills aleins, and he doesn’t afraid of anything. He’s the big muscly heart of the whole series, and he’s going to accompany you on your weekly shop.
Likely outcome: Shopping with the Chief was never going to be easy. Even finding out what type of milk he’s after is a challenge, given his tendency towards gruff, monosyllabic answers. You feel uneasy from the moment you leave the house, thanks to his curious habit of referring to your Saturday morning shop as "The Mission". Things get worse as you arrive, and he begins mercilessly hijacking the trolleys of other shoppers, before slamming them recklessly into parked cars, and hijacking them. After half an hour of pleading, however, when he finally accepts that a Vauxhall Astra just cannot be squeezed through the shop’s entrance and proceeds on foot, he’s devastatingly efficient.
Within five minutes, he’s acquired eighty percent of your list - although you have to hotfoot it after him with the trolley, as he refuses to carry more than two items at once. Once you get down to the last few items, however, things take a turn once more, as Chief mutters ominously that it’s time to ‘finish the fight’, and vanishes. Moments later, he smashes through the wall in the Vauxhall from earlier, then makes a heroic leap through the checkout area, slaps a plasma grenade on the lottery counter, and annihilates half the shop. Of all your items, only a single packet of digestives survives. But don’t you worry about Chief. With his work done, you can find him floating in the local canal, settling down for a nice sleep. ‘Wake me when you need me,’ he growls. Already, you are dreading next Saturday.
Shopping experience: 1/10 - You are the country’s most wanted fugitive, and the police will not believe that “the big man off of the games did it, and now he’s asleep until I need him again.”
2. The Arbiter
Who’s that? Part scaly dogman, part squid, all Keith David, the Arbiter was a naughty boy in the alien army, who got given a special hat and ended up becoming the Chief’s long-suffering buddy cop partner in Halo 2. He loves his sword shaped like the Quake 2 logo, he hates space gorillas, and you’ve got a dinner party tonight, so he’s going to assist you in popping to the Co-op for a bottle of wine and some crisps.
Likely outcome: It’s a vile winter’s evening, and you get soaked on the way to the shop, only to find no sign of the Arbiter when you arrive. Wanting to get home and dry as soon as possible, you don’t wait, and head straight to the drink aisle. As you examine the bottles, a giant armoured dog with weird legs materialises out of thin air beside you, and you drop the bottle in fright. Nevertheless, after disparaging you for choosing wine based on what has the coolest label, and refusing to buy crisps because they’re “against his personal beliefs”, the Arbiter proves a real pleasure to shop with. He is relentlessly honourable, insisting on slowly passing you anything you want, and even teaches you a bit about wine. You enjoy listening to his mellifluous voice, and end up with a classic, well-priced Rioja, a can of cherry coke (it’s the Arbiter’s favourite) and some fancy cashews. Job done.
Shopping experience: 7/10 - Although your patience may have been tried at times, the Arbiter proved a good Sword-brother and a great mate to shop with.
3. Sgt “Sarge” Avery Johnson
Who’s that? He’s the army man. No, not that army man - the other, smaller one without a motocross helmet. There you go. Sarge is a gruff, angry fellow, whose face began as a gruesome cliff of roughly-hewn polygons, but has become more detailed as the years have passed. Today, he’s come to the Co-op to kick ass and buy toilet paper - because you’re all out of toilet paper.
Likely outcome: You want to make this one quick, as you’re desperate to take the dump you had to abort when you realised there were no bum wipes left. After a minute of walking to the shops with Sarge, however, you begin to wonder if you’d rather have shit yourself. He just will not stop giving you motivating speeches. To make matters worse, when you actually get to the Co-op, he doesn’t even go in with you. He just waits outside, bellowing empty phrases of encouragement while browsing facebook on his phone. Deflated, you’re left to deal with the crowded shop on your own, wincing as children slam baskets into your legs, and gurning with bumsorrow in the fifteen minute queue for the checkout. You are not sure at what point Sarge forsakes you entirely and wanders off to McDonalds, but you don’t see him again until the next day, when you find him being menaced by a space gorilla in Primark.
Shopping experience: 3/10 - At least nothing was destroyed, and you were able to walk home in peace.
4. Tartarus, chieftain of the Brutes
Who’s that? You know how everyone in Halo hates space gorillas? Well, Tartarus here is the king of the space gorillas. And he’s horrible. He looks like Chewbacca’s Prison Granddad. And he stinks. Imagine a the honk rising from a pair of jogging bottoms which haven’t been changed for a month, the scent of a chimp house in high summer, and an ill dog sat on a crowded bus on a rainy day, and you’ve got an idea of the stench wafting from his mangy pelt. Tonight, he will be meeting you on the way home from work, and assisting you in choosing a dessert for your evening meal.
Likely outcome: As soon as you leave the train station, you see Tartarus, waiting outside the Co-op on the other side of the street with a knowing look on his face. And guess what? Despite all your WhatsApp messages begging him not to, he’s brought his gravity hammer to the shop. Yet another dick move from Tartarus. He sneers menacingly at the other shoppers as he walks in behind you, and they recoil at his smell. Soon, everyone within three aisles is gagging and retching, thanks to his abysmal hum. Then the hammering begins. If Tartarus moves his arm so much as an inch, there’s a hearty BVUUUUHHH sound, and hundreds of boxes of cereal erupt across the shop floor. You’re just beginning to talk down the security guard, when you see Tartarus at the checkout, holding someone aloft by their neck and roaring at them for not having his favourite kind of ham. They don’t even work here - they’re just a terrified pensioner. You weren’t even here to buy ham. Things escalate. Ten minutes later, you are crying on a nearby bench, as Tartarus, hammer raised to the sky, hollers his own name in the flaming ruins of the Co-op.
Shopping experience: 0/10 - you can’t blame yourself for what space gorillas did.
Who’s that? Developed by Microsoft as an answer to Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, Cortana is a translucent blue computer lady who can be either normal sized or extremely small, depending on the requirements of the cutscene. She is John Halo’s best mate, and not his girlfriend like many people assume. In this instance, she’s on your phone, helping you gather the many ingredients for a complicated recipe you want to attempt.
Likely outcome: Your list is full of things like “egg water”, “pickled grouse” and “bürter: the sequel to butter”. You have no idea where any of these things can be found in the shop, but Cortana is a genius. She seems to know instinctively where everything is, and even places little blue diamond markers (complete with distances in meters) on your phone screen to guide you round the optimal shopping route. Around the dairy section, however (they had no bürter, so you had to get the inferior böartar) things begin to unravel. Cortana starts glitching out and projecting panicky holograms of mouldy food, while shouting at you for abandoning her. She finally leaves your device entirely, going all red and uploading herself to the self-checkout machines, from where she somehow manages to hack the Co-op’s central servers and reduce the company’s share price to a millionth of a penny.
Shopping experience: 5/10 - Swings and roundabouts, really. You got everything you needed, but you destroyed an entire business in the process, and now there are riots.
6. The Covenant
Who’s them? Imagine the Village People, but instead of portrayals of various homoerotic archetypes from the 1970s, they’re a velociraptor with a gun, a load of earthworms in a big green suit of armour (I call him Monster Chief), and a cowardly tortoise cosplaying as Bane from Batman. Also, I think there used to be some… bee men, perhaps? Anyway, they’re really into genocide and plasma guns, and they’re going to help you pick up some birthday party food for your mate’s kid.
Likely outcome: It goes about as well as you might imagine. The covenant are a disgrace. The Grunt (cowardly tortoise) starts wolfing down 99p ready meal curries with its hands, straight out of the fridge, while the Jackal (raptor with a gun) spends forever deliberating over which reduced-by-10p sandwich represents the best possible bargain. Then it gives up without buying anything, and scampers out back to start feasting on the contents of the shop’s giant bin. And if you’re hoping the Hunter (Monster Chief) will be any use, you’re out of luck. They’re absolutely incensed by the lack of organic produce on offer, and head off to Waitrose. Absolutely none of them are remotely interested in helping. In fact, when you do eventually collect several packs of cocktail sausages and a knockoff caterpillar cake, a bee man shows up and slaps them out of your hand with a sneer.
Shopping experience: 1/10 - They don’t even help you take stuff to the car. And the grunt makes you pay for the curries. Unbelievable.
7. 343 Guilty Spark
Who’s that? He’s a quirky little flying football, created by an ancient race of technologically advanced aliens, and he acts as a sort of a guide. You know, like the lad off of Destiny. Anyway, he’s actually asked you to help him with his weekly shop. Because, y’know, he hasn’t any arms.
Likely outcome: Just putting up with Guilty’s constant, tuneless humming requires every ounce of your patience, and you have very little remaining after the last six shopping trips. But that’s only the start of the 343 guilty larks: he’s got plenty more fun up his non-existent sleeves, too. He leads you up and down the pet food aisle again and again, occasionally pausing for some barely fathomable reason, and demanding you protect him from other shoppers. Occasionally he’s voiced by Peter Dinklage, until he remembers what franchise he’s in. When he gets to the checkout, it transpires, he’s “forgotten his wallet”. And when you do inevitably pay for his shopping - five hundred bags of pickled onion flavour Monster munch - he arbitrarily betrays you, summoning a dozen Forerunner sentinels to turn you to ash.
Shopping experience: 2/10 - The only redeeming feature of this nightmare is that it can all be easily averted. Simply turn a shopping basket upside down, place it over the top of the spherical git, and walk away never to return.
8. The Prophet of Truth & The Prophet of Regret
Who’s them? The galaxy’s worst possible MC duo. ET’s two fabulous dads. Snakes in armchairs. Who knows. They’ve certainly got a lot of opinions, mind, and they’ve insisted on following you to the Co-op as you rush in during your lunch break to find a semi-decent meal deal.
Likely outcome: Competing against the lunchtime office worker stampede is never an enjoyable affair. It’s even less fun when there’s two zealous, worm-necked aliens trailing after you in hovering La-Z-Boys, smashing into the backs of your shins, and blocking the aisles with their big stupid chairs as they stop to argue with each other over the best brand of dog food. As the fiasco extends, you draw ever more tuts and mutters from your fellow lunch-hunters: in the end you panic, and pick up a depressed-looking ham sandwich and a can of coke. Truth begins gravely intoning the nutrition information on the back of the sandwich, and warning you about the sugar content of the coke, but you don’t care - you just want out. As you scurry back to the office with your miserable purchase, the Prophet of Regret begins his work.
Shopping experience: 3/10 - complete chumps. No idea how they ended up running a colossal galactic religious alliance. Bet they’re really into Brexit and all.
9. A UNSC Marine
Who’s that? ♫ Nothing but a man, with a man’s courage, you know he’s nothing but a man, and he’ll always fail ♫. Poor old UNSC marines. They exist almost exclusively to make Chief feel guilty when he inevitably fails to shepherd them all past easily avoidable deaths. Make no mistake, they are helpless. Left alone in a cushioned room for five minutes, a UNSC marine would find a way to die, either forgetting to breathe, or getting bullied to death by their own hands. Still, in this case, one has been assigned to accompany you to purchase a single apple. Should be straightforward.
Likely outcome: The hapless soldier follows you vaguely into the fresh produce section, stopping only briefly to run on the spot against the side of a chiller cabinet. It’s all going fine. But when you remember you need to pick up fresh milk, and nip off to the dairy section for thirty seconds, it all falls apart. Hearing a startled yell, you return to find they have managed to grievously wound themselves with a lettuce. Now they’re clipped halfway through the tomatoes, begging for support as they bleed out onto the floor. You might want to restart from the checkpoint by the ready meal section in order to try and keep him alive. You won’t succeed.
Shopping experience: 3/10 - Harmless in a physical sense, but more harrowing mentally than the devastation caused by the Chief.
10. The Flood
Who’s them? A sprawling hive mind comprising loads of different Binding of Isaac enemies, who really enjoy failing to drive human vehicles. There’s a waddling puffy one called Billy Brain, a big muscly one with tentacles for a face called Davy Jones, and loads of little jumping squids who are called the Party Crew. They’re joining you for an end of the day trip to the reduced section, to nab some cheap, nearly-expired snack foods.
Likely outcome: I forgot to mention, the twist in this trip is that you don’t know the Flood are joining you. You’re just browsing slightly whiffy scotch eggs, when they crash through the front window in a knackered Bedford Rascal, and start pumping out weird, dark club tunes at massive volume. Then the doors flop open, and they start staggering into the aisles. They’ve got no idea what they’re doing. Billy Brain keeps blundering up to you with tins of winalot or sugar-free chewing gum, and waving them in your face. Does he want you to buy them? Is he asking what they are? What does Billy Brain want? Meanwhile, the Party Crew have gotten stuck right into the pringles section, and Davy Jones is arse-deep in the meat fridge, swaying absent-mindedly from side to side. Eventually, one of the Party Crew does a sick on you, and you end up becoming Billy Brain. Finally, you understand.
Likely outcome: 11/10 - If you can’t beat them, join them.
Nate has done this bullshit before. This time, he would like to thank his own Halo co-op partner Josh Fortune (who also wrote this piece on Reach last week), for his invaluable consultation on the deep Halo lore referenced above.