Thursday, 12 January 2012

Multiplayer > Singleplayer?

Call of Duty Online Server Browser
In recent years there has been a shift towards multiplayer gameplay over singleplayer. Sometimes this works fantastically but in others multiplayer features are simply stuck into the game because the game will be criticised for not having it, despite being a single player game. Likewise a game that is designed to be predominately online multiplayer will still be criticised for not having a single player campaign, so these are often added but not very good. For example, people don't buy games like Call of Duty or Battlefield for their singleplayer campaigns, they would be sorely disappointed. The bulk of their gameplay is in online multiplayer, which both these games do extremely well. Despite the games being quite limited and repetitive they manage to keep people playing for 100s if not 1000s of hours. Much more than they would of if the game had been singleplayer focused.

Battlefield 3 multiplayer

I think playing with other people manages to mix the gameplay up abit. What you do in every round is going to be the same, kill the enemy, capture the point or flag, lay or defuse bombs, protect areas etc, and alot of the time people will have routes through maps that they tend to use, but what makes the game different every time you play is the other people. People are going to be better than you, which will make you up your game, or worse which makes you feel good and keep playing, no one wants to be beat all the time. You never know what other people are going to do or where they will be and this creates a competitive edge and a thrill factor you just don't get when playing with AI or in singleplayer. Multiplayer is a way for companies to keep people playing with minimal effort themselves and it has become a huge selling point for alot of games.

Although I do like multiplayer games like Battlefield 3 I do tend to loose interest in them much faster than I used to. I've played alot of games over the years and spent alot more hours doing so and it raises your expectations of what games should be and I tend to get bored much quicker with games that's re-playability is based around playing against other people.

Army of Two
I think the true value of multiplayer lies in games designed around playing cooperatively with others. This has been done in the past extremely well and makes games much more enjoyable, however it has also been done quite poorly. Games that have tried and failed to implement this is generally down to the game being singleplayer but people can join into your game. It sounds OK but often doesn't work as the game wasn't properly designed for it and the mechanics of the game don't work properly. Your just adding another person into your game and it feels abit pointless and clunky.

Army of Two

Recent games that have managed to do this well however include, Army of Two, Left for Dead and Dead Island. This games work so well because they were designed as a singleplayer game for two or more people. It doesn't sound like much but it makes a massive difference in the quality of gameplay you get. Army of Two is a perfect example of how multiplayer could be done. The game is essentially a single player style campaign that two people play through together. The two characters interact with each other, communicate and use each other to succeed where one would fail. When you don't have another player to fill the 2nd slot the computer takes it over with AI and this is often irritating at best. You have to command the AI around and it just doesn't feel the same, the gameplay really suffers when your playing alone, because its designed not to be. Other games have tried to implement this way of playing and I wish more would. There is a huge difference playing a game that was designed that way and one where the feature is sort of stuck in. I prefer playing games that have a coop element rather than competitive, I think there is more playability in it.

Left 4 Dead

I like singleplayer games and don't think they should have to have multiplayer features crammed into them just because its a big thing right now. I don't think there is anything wrong with a game being singleplayer but if games are going to make this transition into being more and more multiplayer based then I'd like to see it done properly. I really hope more games are made over the coming years that focus of coop gameplay and how that can be used properly to make an awesome experience.

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