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I have always been a huge fan of the single player experience. When it is just me against the computer controlled AI, it is bliss. Games like The Elder Scrolls series, The Walking Dead, Mass Effect, and its sequel were perfect games for me since there was no need to interact with anyone other than the non-playable characters that filled the game. Although I can sometimes be found romping around in Halo or Call of Duty, those games rarely keep my attention for very long. I’m just not that into multiplayer. That being said, there has been a very interesting trend developing in gaming of late. It is one that I hate, though I know that it is the future.
The single player only game is slowly becoming extinct. Games like Mass Effect 3, Max Payne 3, Dead Space 2, and BioShock 2 all added multiplayer to satiate the need for another mode, a new challenge for gamers to accomplish and brag about to their friends. Each of the multiplayer aspects of the games I mentioned failed to a certain extent. Mass Effect 3 forced gamers to play the multiplayer because it affected the single player. The other three games added multiplayer because developers thought it was necessary; alas, they took away what made the original games great. By taking focus off of making an amazing single player experience and spending time and money on multiplayer, developers are ruining their product and diluting their visions for the sake of profit. More people will buy a game if it has multiplayer; it is basically written into our DNA to be competitive. Gamers need to display their gaming prowess to and against their friends.
As we open the new year, new sequels for some of most beloved brands in gaming are adding on multiplayer. In the next few months, a new God of War and Tomb Raider will be released. Each game has been a single player only experience, but these new entries to those franchises will ship with a multiplayer component. Many cried foul when Crystal Dynamics and Square-Enix announced that Tomb Raider would feature multiplayer. The thought of Lara Croft, a lone wolf since she first burst on to the scene in 1996, playing team deathmatch was just absurd. God of War, whose protagonist Kratos is just as much a lone wolf as Lara Croft, is getting the same treatment in God of War: Ascension in March. Team deathmatch and the wild, combo crazy style of God of War don’t really seem like a fit. Although time will tell if Crystal Dynamics or Sony Santa Monica was able to pull off multiplayer for their respective games. Looking at it right now, my best answer would be no.
Though the multiplayer trend has been running rampant over games for a few years now, there have been beacons of hope, shining examples that developers still want to make games that are single player only. After the disaster that was the multiplayer in Dead Space 2, Visceral Games decided to eschew multiplayer for Dead Space 3, instead opting for voluntary cooperative play. The choice is up to the gamer if they want to add a friend to the survival horror experience. Irrational Games, creators of the original BioShock, which was single player only, may have also learned from the mistakes made with BioShock 2, which had an enjoyable, albeit underwhelming multiplayer aspect. It was recently announced that BioShock Infinite would not be shipping with multiplayer, leaving the floating city of Columbia to just the single player experience. The Last of Us, one of the most anticipated games of 2013, will be shipping with multiplayer. However, Naughty Dog has plenty of experience when it comes to crafting a phenomenal single player experience, as they have shown in the Uncharted series.
The only thing that we can do as gamers is cross our fingers and hope that developers know what they are doing. As they have shown in the past, developers can learn from their mistakes and opt out of the multiplayer aspect, focusing entirely on single player. Or they can have confidence in their teams and push out a great single player campaign while adding an engaging and fun multiplayer aspect. Either way, developers are going to keep putting multiplayer in single player games because that is the future. Let’s just hope there will still be developers out there who want to craft single player only games and publishers will allow them to do that.