Moments after loading Halo: Combat Evolved with a few friends, stepping onto the legendary map Blood Gulch and dying almost instantly from a few well-placed pistol shots, I remembered exactly why cables are good.
When my friends brought over two original Xbox consoles for a beach weekend, I expected there would be some trouble getting them to work for our planned six-player matches. The game and the consoles are over 20 years old, probably predating even the dusty flat screen TVs we used to play on. But to my surprise, just a few minutes after setting up the consoles and connecting them for playback via system link, plugging in some controllers, making halo lobby and started talking trash all over the house.
The simplicity of jumping in Combat Evolved was a major counterpoint to how many hoops there can be in modern multiplayer games. Undertake Fortnite. My wife and I play the game almost every day, but we play online on two different systems; I’m on PS5 while she’s on Switch. To play together, we both have to start the game; wait for it to load and download any necessary updates; I party; start matchmaking; and wait some more for the match to start. And then we can run around Fortnite Island. The whole process doesn’t take long, but I spend a lot of time tapping my foot impatiently.
halo over the system connection was much faster. One group would make a lobby, which the other would join, then the lobby creator would set the map and game rules, the game would count down, and then the match would begin. halo it even lets you press buttons to speed up the countdown, which is something I now want in any local multiplayer game.
With online gaming, I understand that launching a match takes longer by design. The infrastructure that allows you to play games with anyone around the world will inherently need more time to make sure everyone is in sync than two Xboxes connected together. But it was really nice to be able to jump into a halo match almost as soon as I sat down to play — LAN parties are good!
It’s not just networking that benefits from a wired connection; the wired Xbox controllers were also unexpectedly great. Later in the weekend we wanted to play some six player games Super Smash Bros. ultimate, but I had to spend a frustrating few minutes connecting controllers to my console. We had more than enough for everyone, although a few people were blocked from using one Joy-Con because there’s a limit to how many controllers can connect to the Switch. And I thank my lucky stars that all the wireless controllers had charged batteries. If they didn’t, I’d just throw the controllers on the floor in frustration and move on to another game.
with haloon the other hand, we simply plugged three wired controllers into each Xbox console, and then everyone could play.
LAN parties weren’t going to be the only way I played multiplayer games going forward, and things weren’t perfect. We had to use a paperclip to force open the tray on an Xbox that was having trouble reading the disc. Several of the controllers showed their age; I had to rest my controller on my feet just the right way so a frayed wire doesn’t shut down my controller. And completion Fortnite challenges is almost a daily ritual with my wife — I’ll happily deal with the extra wait time to keep playing with her.
But as tech companies continue to make gaming gadgets and hardware that are increasingly wireless, it was nice to have a “just works” experience with a game and consoles that are more than two decades old. And it helps that I’ve had a few good ones halo friends to play with, too.