Halo 3 benefits from lots of cool Xbox Live and community features. To make the most of those, you’ll need Xbox Live Gold and a broadband network connection. However, it’s still possible to enjoy a Halo network experience without any online access at all, as you’ll see. The following is a very rough guide to simple networking issues – there are simply too many routers and setups for us to make a truly comprehensive guide, but this should help you with the basics.
Q: Do I need Broadband and Live to play Halo 3 multiplayer?
No, LAN games (games played on a Local Area Network) and System Link games are still possible. For two 360 systems, simply connect them together with any
Ethernet cable (360 automatically does the “crossover” process. For more than two players, up to a maximum of 16, a LAN or router(s) will be required. This will give you access to Co-op, (up to four players, a maximum of two per screen) Multiplayer (up to 16 players) and Forge. For more advanced features, such as File Share and more, a Live account and Broadband connection are required.
Q: What sort of connection do I need to play Halo 3 online?
In general – the faster, the better. Video games use both downstream and
upstream bandwidth, unlike web browsing, so some “fast connections” are bad for gaming. If you can get fiber optic cable run directly to your home, that’s ideal, if a little unusual. DSL is also good, but can be expensive. Cable modems can work well, but they sometimes have poor or variable upstream bandwidth. Xbox Live itself requires a broadband connection of some kind.
Q: What is NAT and why do I care about it? A:
In extremely simple terms, NAT (Network Address Translation) helps determine how your router interacts with the rest of the internet. If your NAT settings are restrictive, you may have problems connecting to other players. To test your settings, go to the Xbox 360 Dashboard and test your connection. At the bottom of the test results, you will see your ‘NAT Type.’ You want it to say ‘Open’ – if it says ‘Moderate’ or ‘Strict’ you may experience some problems.
If you're NAT settings display 'Moderate' or 'Strict,' you should consult your router's documentation, either online or in the instruction manual.
Q: Can I use a router and still play Halo 3 online? What about wireless routers? A:
Yes, you can play Halo 3 from behind both wired and wireless routers. However, a poorly or improperly configured router can prevent you from joining games with other people, even if you can
log into Xbox LIVE. The reasons for this are so diverse, and unique to each circumstance that it is impossible to say with any accuracy, what the specific reason for individual problems is. It’s also worth remembering that wireless connections tend to be less reliable than wired connections – again, just because it works for web browsing doesn’t mean it will work for playing Halo 3 online. All that aside, most folks playing on wireless networks enjoy smooth, uninterrupted gameplay, most of the time. Q: Are there any routers that are recommended for playing Halo 3 online? A:
If you live in North America or certain parts of Europe, look for routers that are specially marked as ‘Xbox LIVE compatible’ or ‘Windows Vista compatible.’ These routers have been tested specifically by the Xbox LIVE team to make sure they work. If you can’t find one of those, try to find a router that is marked ‘Universal Plug and Play’ or ‘UPnP.’ (Once you get your router home, use its configuration tools to make sure Universal Plug and Play is actually turned on.) Some routers require a firmware upgrade to work properly with Xbox LIVE; check your manufacturer’s website for firmware downloads. The official list of Xbox LIVE compatible networking equipment can be found here: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/support/connecttolive/xbox360/homenetworking/equipment.htm . Q: I got one of the wireless routers you guys recommended, but it’s sort of flaky. What’s the deal?
Wireless routers can be fickle things. To get the best performance, you should place the router in a central location. The closer it is to your Xbox 360, the stronger the signal will be. Try to place it up high in order to provide a clear line of sight between your router and your Xbox 360. Also, avoid placing it near walls or metal objects (filing cabinets, refrigerators, etc) as these can interfere with the signal. You can find more wireless networking tips here: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/moredone/wirelesstips.mspx
Q: Are there any issues specific to Halo 3 that I should consider when using a network?
Yes. In general, Halo 3’s networking will support 16 players in Multiplayer, 8 players in Forge and four players in co-op. However, the networking needs of Party Viewing a Saved Film are so great, that only the fastest connections will guarantee a seamless Film watching experience over Live. If the networking conditions deteriorate while watching a Film in a party, viewers may be sent back to the Theater Lobby.
Q: Any other tips?
A: Remember that you are sharing bandwidth with everyone else on your connection. If someone is downloading files using BitTorrent or playing an MMO, it will affect your experience playing Halo 3. Also, appliances that operate on the 2.4GHz spectrum – like some cordless phones – can affect your wireless connection, even if they are being used by your neighbor. If you experience any problems, try changing the channel on your wireless router and appliances or replacing 2.4GHz appliances with ones that use other frequencies, such as 900MHz for cordless phones.
For even more on how to configure your home network, watch the Setting Up Your Network tutorial on the Halo 3 Essentials 1 Bonus disc, available in both Limited and Legendary versions of the game.