So it’s time for another one of those blogs where I present two opposing sides to a particular topic, what I’d like to call a Devil’s Advocate blog. What I might be writing in here might be my actual opinion or it might not be. But that’s cause these blogs are not about me, it’s about the topic and getting you to think what things you agree or disagree with each side or maybe even get you to talk about some things I forgot or didn’t know to mention. So that said, let’s begin.
The topic: Is multiplayer needed in all games?
SOME GAMES ARE BEST PLAYED ALONE
Multiplayer online and/or offline is a huge trend these days. It’s understandable with consoles games usually costing $60 and PC games costing $50, and much more in other regions of the world such as Europe, Australia, and South America. Still, one can’t help but feel that some games just don’t need it. In fact, some games can be a bit hampered by it, especially if the inclusion of multiplayer mean that singleplayer mode is overlooked while providing a crappy multiplayer mode at the same time (*cough* Condemend 2 *cough*)
In niche genres, multiplayer just doesn’t seem to work that well because most of these niche games are about atmosphere and player skill progression, things that usually lose meaning when translated into a multi-player experience. For example, Devil May Cry is a fairly niche franchise that’s about chaining stylish combos to defeat these larger-than-life bosses all presented with grandiose and over-the-top cut scenes. If this series was to include a multiplayer mode of some sort, all this would be lost, just like how the Resident Evil franchise has now come to lose its scary zombie atmosphere.
What’s also not cool is that usually, when a game’s multiplayer turns out awesome, the singleplayer leaves much to be desired. Many games nowadays seem to be released with crappy singleplayer campaign but feature really addictive multiplayer experience. Some come out with mediocre multiplayer but with awful and tacked-on singleplayer as some sort of compensation. This just feels like a ripoff at times.
Besides, how exactly would anyone expect these multiplayer modes to be like in certain games? Multiplayer for Dead Space? For Fallout 3? For God of War 3? For Jak 4?
There are many different games in which multiplayer just doesn’t seem like it’d work and these games are just best played alone.
THE MORE THE MERRIER
Gears of War is fun sure but Gears of War with a buddy sitting next to you? That’s pure bliss. There is also the fact that Gears of War is still one of the most played games on XBL. For many games, the simple fact seems to be that multi-player not only gives gamers more options but also makes the game more fun.
A game experience may turn out to be completely different when made multiplayer but as long as it is fun, why should it matter? MGS4 was still a jaw-dropping, heart-pumping, extremely polished and a gorgeously cinematic experience alongside a somewhat niche yet still addictive online multiplayer mode called MGO. MGO feels completely different from MGS4 and lacks all the great atmospheric and cinematic feel of MGS4 but this doesn’t hurt the singleplayer experience of MGS4 at all; it only adds to the experience.
Multiplayer is something that could make a game more fully featured and more valuable, regardless of what kind of a game it was. Nowadays, multiplayer is no longer limited to MMOs, FPS, RTS, Simulation, and fighters. All kinds of multiplayer modes are surfacing, from Fable II to Resident Evil 5 and even to a JRPG like White Knight Chronicles. Would these games be best suitable for solely singleplayer experience? Most likely, yes, but additional multiplayer feature would only add more life to games and give gamers more options. Thus, all games should have some kind of multiplayer features even if those features feel so different from the singleplayer experience.
MY PERSONAL OPINION
I’m very much like Ben Crenshaw (Yahtzee) on this issue since I’m heavily biased towards singleplayer experiences and thus could care less about multiplayer. I didn’t enjoy Halo 3 singleplayer camapgin so I don’t like Halo 3 in general, even though its multiplayer is damn amazing. So I really don’t like it when the inclusion of multiplayer may mean downgrading of the singleplayer experience. Some games, I’m perfectly fine with it being solely singleplayer. I don’t really think Bioshock or Uncharted or Mass Effect needed multiplayer because even without it, the singleplayer experience was enough to keep me entertained. And me personally, when I encounter games like Heavenly Sword – which is criticied by many as being too short – my issue isn’t with the fact that it doesn’t have multiplayer but is with the fact that a lot of it could have been designed a lot better so that its short length could have been made more enjoyable to be played over and over and over again.
But of course, that’s my bias talking.
What do you guys think? Do all games need to include a multiplayer mode?