Welcome to this month’s “K/D Ratio”, a monthly series where Kane and Daniel get together to bash heads and then talk about a specific topic on our minds. This month we discuss multiplayer games, as we wonder whether or not the growing trend of multiplayer only video games are here to stay.
Kane here, as a single player enthusiast that mostly plays RPGs, I would dread if such a day happened, if the majority of games became multiplayer only or featured tacked on needless multiplayer components. Recent titles such as Titanfall, Evolve, Star Wars: Battlefront, and Rainbow Six: Siege are all games that have sacrificed single player elements in order to produce a more unique and exciting multiplayer experience. One would think that these games would thrive without the developer needing to spend anytime on a story campaign, that’s not to say the games aren’t good, Rainbow Six is a very competent squad based shooter featuring tons of tactics, Battlefront gave Stars Wars fans the closest thing to becoming a Jedi and a game that plays surprisingly well for a licenced franchise, then both Evolve and Titanfall offered gamers something new and fresh when compared to Call of Duty and Battlefield. Strangely and most disappointingly, all 4 games suffer from a severe lack of content, which is quite baffling.
When Titanfall and Evolve launched they were both praised for being fresh and innovate, both created a little buzz which surrounded the games up to release with many highly anticipating the titles, but not long after launch both player bases started to fade rapidly at an alarming rate, due to a lack of gameplay modes and progression. Meanwhile, Battlefront and Rainbow Six are doing a lot better thanks to them being established series people were asking for, though they still suffer from a lack of game modes which is frustrating as both these games had single player campaigns in the past, and removing them hasn’t really benefited in any way. Rainbow Six: Patriots got cancelled and turned into Rainbow Six: Siege, and with the class system implemented in Siege it would have made for an interesting story mode campaign that could have utilized the different classes for each mission on bigger sandbox maps.
Multiplayer only games wouldn’t bother me as much if they were made cheaper in price or at least had the content to back the full price tag up. Call of Duty, which has been frowned upon in recent years by many, is primarily bought for its multiplayer and everyone knows that, yet with each instalment they go all out in production values and an attempt to try to do better than the last game before it. Maybe more developers are sticking to MP only games because they lack the quality and creative vision to make a decent FPS anymore, especially military shooters as they all mostly rehash the same tried and tested plotlines. Perhaps developers are finding it hard to make an exciting and fresh FPS campaign mode.
So, it’s quite possible that the future of games with a heavy multiplayer focus will be that of Destiny and The Division, games that seamlessly combine single player and multiplayer together. I believe your Call of Duty and Battlefield will remain the same as always, whilst other games will come along and die out as they can’t compete with those two powerhouses. The future of the FPS genre is in the MMO style that Destiny and The Division have brought to consoles, and I expect more developers will follow suit since the market is wide open for it, and the concept is still fresh and new to gamers.
Hello again everyone, Daniel here with my take on this apparent rise in popularity of multiplayer only video games. I personally have nothing against games focusing equally on multiplayer and singleplayer gameplay, in fact some games just function better with some kind of multiplayer element added in. I largely prefer singleplayer games myself that have good stories to drive them forward like Metal Gear Solid, Darksiders, God of War, Prince of Persia, even Devil May Cry. Both MGS and GOW have added multiplayer elements into one or two games in their respective series, but they thankfully did not sacrifice much of their singleplayer elements in the process. But the rise in games like Titanfall, Evolve, and the more recent Star Wars: Battlefront that almost completely do away with singleplayer elements does irritate me to a certain degree.
With Evolve being the only exclusively multiplayer game I’ve played so far, I have to say that I believe the game could have been more memorable had it possessed an actual story campaign, and I would no doubt find myself coming back to it more often had that been the case. The game has a very interesting and diverse cast of characters with the many Hunters it features, not to mention some of the coolest Monsters I’ve ever seen, so for their backgrounds and histories not to be properly expanded upon in an actual singleplayer focused narrative is, to me, almost a crime. All we get is randomized lines of dialogue between the Hunters before each match that provide some cursory glimpse into the game’s lore. But these little “expositional farts” are hardly sufficient, plus one would need to play an untold number of matches with many different Hunters involved in each match in order to get a good idea of their backgrounds since different combinations of Hunters reveal different lines of banter. Plus, lots of these Hunter conversations annoyingly repeat themselves.
While Evolve does have a singleplayer element where you can play with and against AI bots in all the different match modes, it has very limited appeal. The game’s so called “main campaign” known as Evacuation Mode is also a poor substitute for an actual story campaign. It simply consists of you choosing either the Hunters or the Monsters and playing 5 consecutive matches with an ending cutscene showing whether the Hunters or Monsters win. There’s no actual overarching campaign, no real dialogue, and this mode can easily be completed in an hour and a half, possibly less. I still think this game has admittedly fun and unique online features, for the most part, but I still feel this is one game that would have benefitted with an actual story campaign. They manage to add stories to games featuring regular soldiers like Call of Duty, so why not a story for a game featuring a diverse collection of futuristic Hunters and alien Monsters?
Furthermore, I feel the publishers/developers of games like this should make it more clear whether or not a game will include a story campaign. Before Evolve was released, 2K revealed that the game would feature a singleplayer mode, but from what I can remember, they were just vague enough to not specify that it wouldn’t have a story campaign (there’s a big difference). Now, all this isn’t to say that multiplayer only games shouldn’t exist. Other games like Titanfall and Rainbow Six: Siege seem to do well enough without story campaigns. Even the new Star Wars: Battlefront seems to be doing well enough, though I question not including a story in that game either since it’s based off an already established series of movies (and tv shows, comics, and books) with an expansive lore.
Then there’s the upcoming For Honor from Ubisoft. It’s obvious that this game will certainly have a stronger focus on multiplayer rather than singleplayer, though Ubisoft has mentioned that there will be a singleplayer campaign as well. However, they too have mostly been rather tight-lipped so far on specifics regarding the singleplayer content, which leads me to believe that this game will also lack a real story campaign with an actual character driven narrative.
At first, I was considering not even trying this game if it pulled an “Evolve” and added some tacked on singleplayer mode that would basically be some glorified tutorial having you play through the same matches you would play online. However, I’ll probably get the game anyway for its co-op mode. It’s been confirmed that we will be able to play matches against both friends and AI bots, so I’m hoping that also means I can team up with a friend to play against (properly leveled) AI enemies; I’d rather not be forced to play exclusively against other players since, as you likely figured out by now, I’m not a huge competitive online gamer. It’s not that I lack the skill to compete with other players online, I simply lack the desire to dedicate the extensive amount of time that others put into online gaming in order to stay at the top of their game.
That’s one of the many reasons why I prefer singleplayer-based games. Besides, spending the majority of my time playing the same multiplayer games over and over is something I’ve never been able to do for more than three months before I get tired of them and need to move on to something else. I am personally more driven to revisit fun singleplayer games from time to time over playing the same multiplayer games day in and day out, and I know I’m not the only one that feels this way. Besides, servers for games that include multiplayer eventually go down (depending on the game), and when that happens to multiplayer only games….what then? You’ve got an empty husk of a game gathering dust in your closet, and if you decide to sell it, you’d probably be lucky to get more than a penny out of it. At least a game with an actual story campaign can be played again, which is why I find singleplayer games to be more worth the investment in the long run. A good example would be The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. I actually haven’t played the game yet (I know, I know), but I plan to at some point. And I’m really looking forward to spending a lot of time playing the many different missions and experiencing its rich, lore-filled world, as well as revisiting the game well into the future…without worrying about its servers eventually going down and leaving me with nothing left to do.
While I highly doubt it will come to this, my hope is that multiplayer only games are not slowly but surely becoming the norm in the video game industry. I don’t mind if multiplayer only games continue to be developed, in fact these types of games are simply the preferred option for many gamers out there. I just prefer that they not begin phasing out singleplayer games too much, especially if they continue to be released at full price with such limited content right out of the gate. Heed my words, developers: If you must continue making multiplayer only games, then for God’s sake, please try releasing them with a respectable amount of content. Stop pulling that crap where you spend years developing (and delaying) games that come out half-finished, only for them to be fully complete after adding in a bunch of DLC. If that can’t be helped, then at least try releasing these half-finished games at more reasonable prices.