Nov 19, 2013
We have already seen many notable examples of this on current-gen systems, as online gaming becomes more dominant within the industry.
However, it seems many upcoming titles are making use of this emerging multiplayer mode, managing to merge the single player and online aspects of games.
As games become increasingly online-centric, with players spending months online and only a matter of days on the campaign, it is now all-important for developers to put as much, if not more, effort and passion into the online elements. In the past, many FPS or other genres have merely tagged on online modes with team deathmatches, or other modes.
However, since the popularity of online games, such as Counter Strike, online is where many games thrive. Call of Duty 4 opened a new world to many gamers on current-gen consoles, with the first online-ready, WiFi enabled consoles. And now it seems that games are taking advantage of this, and blurring the lines between the campaign and online modes.
Games such as Burnout: Paradise and Need for Speed: Most Wanted (both by Criterion Games), have shown that drop-in/out multiplayer gameplay can suit racing games very nicely. And with the releases of Driveclub on PS4, this could stretch even further. Other games such as LittleBigPlanet allow players to literally drop into your friends levels, ensuring fluid switching from single to multiplayer. Co-op games such as Dead Space 3 also deliver a separate campaign to play online with your friends, alongside Borderlands which manages to have 4 players combine efforts in the main storyline.
With the release of GTA Online (ignoring the hesitant start), it seems Rockstar may bring Los Santos multiplayer to next-gen consoles, potentially. Dropping into your friends world, doing some heists, and robbing some shops are definitely on the cards. Mixing single player missions with online capabilities looks very promising, and if delivered correctly, Rockstar could be onto something very special. Who doesn’t want to hang out at their friends virtual apartment, and then steal some cars and harass civilians?
The upcoming title Titanfall has opted for no single player whatsoever, in order to focus on the core online multiplayer. In doing this, Respawn Entertainment are attempting to bring single-player elements into the multiplayer.We are yet to see how this pans out, but it could be a recurring theme in the future. Titanfall intends to show a short cutscene before each match, giving a form of scenario. Will fans become bored with a limited number of cutscenes? It could be a very bold move, when fans may just want mindless gaming for a few hours.
On the contrary, games which have done the opposite have often been criticised; by bringing multiplayer components into the single player mode. Notable examples include Brink, which looked very promising, only to deliver a single player mode which consisted of team deathmatches consisting of bots with terrible AI. Unreal Tournament 3 also created a similar campaign in order to suit consoles more effectively.
If anything, it shows that a games aim should stick to who it is appealing to, and what they aim to do. Games like Call of Duty can get away with both elements, as their fanbase is so vast that someone would be disappointed if they dropped, or didn’t polish, either option. Yet online-only games should stick to core gamers, with mainstream games incorporating a decent single player side.
It cannot be said whether this trend will pay off or not. But what is for certain, that trial and error should find a perfect medium as online gaming becomes much more popular over the coming generation.