In a video posted to YouTube Friday, European Halo caster Mark “Onset” Hatcher explains his thoughts about LAN and its importance to the Halo franchise. Simply put, LAN, or Local Area Network, is the process of connecting multiple devices together within a limited area. For competitive Halo, LAN has been the preferred method of tournament organizers for years. The low latency provided smoother gameplay and legitimized competitive results.
This all changed with the release of the Xbox One, which seemingly ditched LAN support for more of an “always-online” approach. As a result, competitions for Halo 2: Anniversary and Halo 5 must utilize online gameplay, even for live events. Problems with online services have provided a host of problems at these tournaments, most noticeably being the frequent game resets and long down times between matches.
With Halo 6 approaching, Onset presents a convincing argument for LAN support and its benefits. This article will break down his biggest points.
LAN as a Community Builder
In the video, Onset fondly recounts his experiences with friends at college. For example, he hilariously details how his friends would run ethernet cables through dorm room windows to play Halo together. This would result in other friends joining in on the fun, eventually purchasing their own consoles and copies of Halo. Onset describes how these types of sessions facilitate interest in the game, which can eventually grow into a local community.
Onset notes that from there, the community becomes a tight-knit group with a shared interest in Halo. Some players may display an interest in competition, choosing to attend tournaments or compete online. Such interactions help both the casual and competitive side of the Halo community. Several old-school Halo players can affectionately point to similar experiences as a catalyst in growing their passion for the game.
These happenings are lost with Halo 5. The game offers no split-screen play, and the Xbox One lacks LAN support. Because online is the only avenue for interaction, the community has become a breeding ground for toxicity.
LAN Benefits Live Tournaments
In addition to the communal effect of LAN availability, Onset also discusses the burden of Halo 5 on tournament organizers. For Halo titles on the previous Xbox consoles, hosting a tournament was as simple as connecting consoles together. The ease of access resulted in booming local Halo scenes and increased capacity at national events. LAN also provided the best gameplay experience, where players could decidedly prove their skill.
The Halo Championship Series events don’t offer this kind of environment, though. To help the online gameplay be smooth as possible, servers are flown out to each event. Different play stations have different servers, which can each provide different gameplay experiences.
Although he doesn’t explicitly say it, Onset alludes to a problem with competitive legitimacy because of the online nature of the tournaments. He suggests that a LAN-equipped Halo 6 can quell many of these difficulties, and provide a more sustainable tournament atmosphere at both the local and national level. Such a format can help players who cannot attend every national event and may also develop the more potent storylines that competitive Halo desperately needs.
Onset makes several strong points in his video and provides some nostalgia about what set Halo apart from other titles. The emotional connection to both the game and the community are what built the Halo scene. A core facet of building the community is LAN availability. Whether it be for late nights split-screening at a friend’s house or a lag-free national tournament, LAN is crucial for the longevity of Halo.
Featured image by twitch.tv/OnsetHalo
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