Halo 4 Spartan Ops and Co-op Lag Explained

A simple breakdown of Halo 4’s network models, and why players might experience lag in some gametypes more than others.

Issue: Lag during Spartan Ops and co-op campaign.

Halo 4 uses 2 different network models for online play. Spartan Ops and Co-op run on a “synchronous” network model. Let’s say you are playing 4-player co-op. One player is the “host”, the other 3 are “clients”. All 4 players load the level, and all 4 players start the mission at the same time. Now, when a “client” presses a button, such as ‘jump’, their Xbox sends a signal to the “host” Xbox, telling it what the client player is doing. The host Xbox receives these signals from all 3 clients, then calculates every movement, bullet fired, damage done, etc, and sends the updated information out to all the clients, who’s Xboxs then reproduce the changes. But, the host will only send out these updates when it has received signals from all 3 clients. It does this to maintain accurate and consistent information across all 4 players (In other words, all 4 players are seeing the same things in the same places at the same time).

This is where the lag comes in: If just one of the players in the game has a bad connection, it slows down their ability to send information to the host, which means the host has to wait longer before it can send out gameplay updates to the other players. So, even if you are a client with a great connection, and the host has a great connection, you can still get major lag if one of the other clients has a slow connection.

This is experienced as a sort of input delay (the game will not instantly react to your button presses).

But I don’t get lag playing War Games in Halo 4?

The reason this does not happen in competitive multiplayer (called “War Games|) is that Halo 4 uses a different network model for standard multiplayer. When playing “Infinity Slayer” or any other standard multiplayer mode, the host doesn’t wait for a lagging player before it updates the gameplay and sends info to all other clients. So, if I have a slow connection, and I join a multiplayer match, I won’t directly effect the performance of the other players (unless the laggy player is the Host). A player with a good connection might have a hard time shooting a laggy player, because the host won’t have accurate information of where exactly the laggy player is, but they won’t suffer input delay themselves. This creates a less accurate game for all players (since a laggy player will think they are in one spot, while the other players will see them in a different spot) but it keeps things running smoother than the co-op model.

Why not use the standard multiplayer network code for Spartan Ops and co-op?

Both co-op campaign and Spartan Ops have lots of AI scripting going on. This makes it very important that all players in a co-op or Spartan Ops game are 100% in-sync with with each other. If the host didn’t wait for updates from all players before moving the game forward, then you would have constant crashes.

For example: lets say I’m playing Spartan Ops. I’m a client, and I have a very slow connection. I’m shooting at a grunt. On my screen, I see that I’ve shot the grunt in the head and killed it. But, because my connection is so slow, the host doesn’t yet know that I’ve hit the grunt in the head. This means that the host’s Xbox thinks that Grunt is still alive, and is still running it’s AI routine. Suddenly you have a situation where my Xbox and the host Xbox have 2 different versions of the match being processed (1 version where the grunt is alive, and 1 version where the grunt is dead). This situation = CRASH.

So, to avoid this, the Host will not move the game forward until it receives update signals from all other players. Again, if just 1 of those players has a bad connection, the entire games slows down.

How do I avoid playing with people who have slow connections?

Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to avoid being matched up with players who have poor connection speeds. Halo Reach featured the option to set your matchmaking preferences to prioritize good connection speeds, but that option has been removed from Halo 4. I general, playing with people who live in other parts of the world increases your chances of experiencing lag, but that is not true in all cases. For now, all we can do is try to make sure our own internet connections are as fast as possible.

Check out SHADOWSTRIKE1′s guide to improving your connection for more tips.

Hope this helps answer some questions!

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19 Responses to Halo 4 Spartan Ops and Co-op Lag Explained

  1. mckay says:

    Why don’t I get this horrible delay in Halo 3, ODST and Reach co-op campaign? Why only halo:anniversary and master chief collection?

    • Luck, possibly. Same network models. As I said in the article, it depends on the people you are matched up with. If they all have good connections, it will usually run just fine. But if only 1 of them has a slow connection, it causes input lag for everyone.

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    Este tipo de parecer es la mdjor manera de mejorar y cooperar con los users.

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  4. Shane says:

    That doesn’t fix the point where i’m the one being delayed in every single co-op campaign mission, spartan ops, and firefight. How do i fix it???

    • CruelLEGACEY says:

      Like I said in the article: there is no way to “fix it”. If all 4 players have good fast connection to eachother, your game will be relatively lag free. But if just 1 player in the game has a slow connection, it screws it up for everybody. That’s why it’s so frustrating.

  5. “Halo 4 Spartan Ops and Co-op Lag Explained | CruelLEGACEY Productions” was
    a quite excellent article, . Continue publishing and I’m going to continue browsing! Many thanks ,Wilhemina

  6. Jace says:

    I have played with others who also have good connection and my connection is good, so if all connections are good why do i still get the lag?

  7. Mark says:

    How come I never had this horrible lag on Halo reach while playing co-op or firefight online?

    • CruelLEGACEY says:

      If you have a really good connection, that helps your chances. You might also live in an area where lots of people with good connections are playing Halo. It could be a bit of luck as well.
      I usually don’t get too much lag when I play co-op in Reach or 4, but every now and then I get stuck in a game that us just unplayable.

  8. justanothergamer says:

    Great. $70 for a lag fest. 343 = fail. spartan ops is damn near unplayable. next time hire monkeys. Can’t do worse and you can save on payroll.

    • Sean says:

      You’re seriously ignorant. First of all, it’s dependent on many things. Mainly your connection and your party members’ connections as well as the pathway in between. I on one hand have hardly any lag.

    • CruelLEGACEY says:

      Halo 3, ODST, and Reach all had the same problems with Co-op lag. 343 did not create this problem, they just didn’t fix it either.

  9. NJ_Kindred says:

    Great summary, basic and to the point! Hopefully enough players will read it rather than just whyning endlessly in the game !

  10. DexHaven says:

    Some of my friends are having real bad issues not just lag but not even being able to get a game (war games or ops). They are coming to me to for advice and to complain and I am running out of excuses, my stock Line of “343 are usually very good with talking to the community.” is wearing a little thin, of course being banned from posting has not helped but this is a side issue. What concerns me is not having my friends to play with again with borderlands being such an attractive co op option I am worried that History will repeat itself and all but I will abandon halo till 5 or maybe for good.I hope there’s a bone or two a throw them in the bulletin this week

    PS I am still of the same opinion about certain parts of the fiction the universe and the eagle but I love the game

    • zach says:

      What cracks me up is all these people saying all the halo games are like this. How? How did halo gey such a fanbase then and why can other games such as gears, borderlands, and even cod pull of co op with no such issues. Halo is a joke trying to play co op. Pathetic. Only thing worse is the fanboys saying the lag doesn’t exist lol.

      • CruelLEGACEY says:

        I agree that it sucks that this has been a constant problem in the Halo series, but the reason it hasn’t stopped Halo from getting as big as it is is that the lag only effects co-op and firefight. Competitive multiplayer runs far better.
        Not excusing it, just pointing out that it only effects a small portion of the game.

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