While the idea of plugging the newest generation of videogame consoles to the Internet seemed like a really good one a decade ago, I also feared that it would let some of the PC gaming horrors into our living rooms, like unfinished games that would need to be patched later, and being constantly lured to buy DLC behind every corner. But the idea of having the chance of playing online multiplayer games was good enough to ignore some of that stuff away.
But the thing I never expected is that popular franchises (especially first person shooters) would get so focused into multiplayer that their single player campaings would begin to get worse after every sequel. Just a couple years ago, I learned how many times I used the “but its multiplayer is better” line to excuse a game for having an uninspired single player experience.
As my first example, Halo Reach was the last game I bought from that iconic franchise. Yes, “its multiplayer component was better than Halo 3’s” and I’m guilty of spending many hours deep in online multiplayer matches, but that’s not the reason I bought this game. The battle on planet Reach was supposed to be the major clash between the UNSC and the Covenant which would set the events of the original Halo trilogy, but the game basically used this plot as a vehicle to sell their last multiplayer upgrade.
The same thing I felt about Gears of Wars 3; its previous entries delivered great results in both single player and multiplayer, so I set my expectations really high for this one. In the end, while its multiplayer modes received a satisfactory boost, its single player campaign feels watered down and generic; mostly because the team decided to link GoW2 and GoW3 with a series of book adaptations that I didn’t –nor I’ll ever– have the interest of reading (seriously, why would I want to read something that possibly sounds like this?)
Oh, But “its multiplayer component is (once again) better” and I confess having a lot of fun with it, but the overall game forecasted the demise of this promising franchise, and turned off any excitement I would have toward its next sequel: Gears of War: Judgment.
Later that year, Battlefield 3 was released and boy if I learned this lesson straight. See, when I’m uncertain about the quality of a game, I follow the rule of “rent first, buy later”. If the game doesn’t deserve a second playthrough, the rent served its purpose, and I can move on to another game; if I feel like I can’t live without a game after its rent period is over, I make plans to buy this game a little later.
So how did Battlefield 3 fared off during my rent period? Well, you’ve played this thing, right? The game contains a sub-par plot that tries too hard to emulate what Call of Duty did in the past (specially Black Ops); the campaign is so heavily scripted to a point that the game doesn’t even know you’re in it, then there’s that stupid rat fight, and how the end of the game becomes a full-throttle quick-time-event.
“Oh, but its multiplayer is…” Not so fast, buddy!
The problem here is that Battlefield 3’s multiplayer modes are blocked behind the infamous EA Online Pass, so I wouldn’t be able to play these features unless I bought the game. Then my verdict on this title would be based on what the single player campaign has to offer. If this the way Electronic Arts wanted me to judge this game, so be it:
“Battlefield 3 is an average, uninspired, and unpolished first person shooter that lacks personality and should had stayed in development a few more months instead of trying to steal Call of Duty’s thunder.”
As you might imagine, I didn’t want to go back to this game ever again, but what about its multiplayer? The overall consensus seemed to agree that this game delivers: It contains big battles being fought on huge battlefields, different classes to chose from, actual team-based combat, and spectacular vehicular mayhem (and I’m a huge fan of all of those!)
So, I should take everybody’s word on this one and buy Battlefield 3, right? Normally that’s what I’d do in a situation like this, but this is the part I had to draw my line toward this multiplayer madness.
I simply got jaded of this multiplayer obsession, I’m tired of defending any other below-average game just because “it has multiplayer”; if every game now has multiplayer, why should I care about this one?!
And exactly how many multiplayer games do I need to feel complete? With so little time to play during the week, and so many new games out there, how am I supposed to devote myself to all these titles at the same time? And let’s not forget that nowadays multiplayer games lock some stuff away in order to keep you engaged… did already I mention that I don’t have that much time to play during the week?
This is why I stepped down the multiplayer wagon; multiplayer and online interaction no longer has any kind of influence over my game purchases. There are some people saying that single player games tend to be played once and then buried in your game collection, but –even if they do– they have a purpose; no matter if they posses similar gameplay, they provide different experiences to be had and (maybe) discussed with your peers.
No, multiplayer doesn’t save your game. If games keep getting advertised with expressions such as “Real-as-hell single player combat”, “An intense campaign”, or “Epic single player campaign” (all three advertised on the back cover of Battlefield 3, Halo Reach, and Black Ops II respectively) I’ll be expecting all that, and no amount of “multiplayer is better” is going to make change my mind over the quality of the entire game.