When Did I Become a Slave to Multiplayer?
All the other kids with their pumped up kicks are playing Call of Duty: Black Ops team deathmatch. Suffice to say, no one is outrunning any guns. That Foster the People song isn't about online shooters, but it very well could be—at least, for the purpose of this article.
Online multiplayer is the cat's pajamas nowadays. It doesn't matter if it is co-op or deathmatch battles; people want to play games with their friends. Looking back on some of my favorite games over the past year or two, they have all had a multiplayer component that gives me a reason to keep playing it. Some of these games include: Black Ops, Gears of War 3, Borderlands, League of Legends, World of Warcraft (don't worry, I quit), and Starcraft II. Admittedly, I buy certain games not because I have a genuine interest in the game, but because my friends are getting it, and I know that I'll have a fun time with the game since they'll be playing it as well.
I was a little shaken as to why they're all in their boxers in a blanket-fort, but this is kinda/sorta the multiplayer action I'm talking about.
So, I have to ask myself the question: when did I become a slave to multiplayer? I'm deeply concerned that I'm passing up some really solid, sometimes awesome games, simply because of the fear that there's not enough multiplayer replay value for me to warrant buying it. For example, there is a new apocalyptic shooting game coming out, and it looks freaking awesome. The story is cool, graphically it is gorgeous, and the gameplay looks phenomenal. It is a game I know I would enjoy. I was so eager to find out about the multiplayer aspect of it—it would be the perfect game to play through with a friend. Sadly, the multiplayer consists of just co-op mission-based content and racing.
Now, it doesn't ruin the game. It still looks amazing, but am I buying it? Probably not. Why? Lack of multiplayer features never used to bother me. Oblivion—amazing. Assassin's Creed—loved it. Any Zelda game—never bothered me. And there it was. I couldn't name the last shooter I played that didn't have a kick-ass multiplayer. I have effectively narrowed it down to shooters that I need to have multiplayer in.
The thing with a shooter, especially one that doesn't have an RPG element to it, is that once you finish the story, there's really not a different way to play through the game. Borderlands offered four player drop-in, drop-out co-op. Black Ops has a bevy of multiplayer modes in which you level up and unlock new stuff (the standard for shooters now). Now, a game that seems like it could be a funhouse of gory, fast-paced multiplayer action, has no multiplayer.
My wife does not play video games. Needless to say, this is not my wife.
Maybe I need to have multiplayer as a way of justifying my purchase—like a measurement tool to see how much I'm getting out of my game. I have a wife, a two year-old, a mortgage, and lots of bills, just like a lot of other people. Also, my wife isn't a gamer. She flat out told me that she will never buy me a video game for a present. She understands that I love games and that I need time to play them, I just can't justify to her the purchase of every game I wish I could own. So, I have to be picky with the games that I buy. Am I going to buy an awesome shooter that has a weak multiplayer component but an amazing story? Or am I going to buy a game with four player co-op, an array multiplayer matches, and be able to play with my friends?
What about you? Have you ever passed on a game due to lack of multiplayer? Have you ever purchased a game just because of the multiplayer or that all of your friends are getting it? Let us know your story.
You can follow Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ