After what’s seemed like months you can see the top of the craggy peak. You’ve made your way through the untold depths of a sprawling dungeon before this steep climb, with the howling wind in your face and the threat of imminent death around every precipice and corner. You clamber over a rock and land with a thud, before a roar behind you announces the arrival of a gigantic beast. It’s cinematic experiences like this that can currently only be offered by single-player adventures, but they’re lacking the competitive edge that makes the likes of Battlefield 4 such ridiculous fun online.
It’s an age-old argument but in a time where developers ( or more likely publishers) are trying to shoehorn any multiplayer elements they can into a single player campaign it’s more apt than ever. There’s two distinct camps when it comes to gaming, those who love their multiplayer gaming and can’t get enough of it, and those who like setting out on their own, becoming involved in grand adventures or tiny tales.
The likes of Ubisoft are increasingly integrating multiplayer components into predominantly single-player titles such as Assassin’s Creed Unity and Watch Dogs, or From Software with Dark Souls. Valve has taken things to the extreme and has practically abandoned single-player gaming altogether. Valve, the same outfit responsible for some of the greatest single-player games of our time.
Single-player games uniquely offer the ability to deliver narrative like no other, and the medium itself is capable of giving players agency and choice, actually dictating events. It’s a fine way of playing, and it’s why we love the likes of Uncharted, Half-Life 2, and Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Ultimately though, multiplayer is where the audience is at. A game with a decent multiplayer component can last you years longer than a single-player game. Barely anyone’s killing headcrabs any more but hundreds of thousands are still pulling off headshots in de_dust. Online gaming is competition from the comfort of your own home, like a Sunday morning kickabout but with mates that can be the other side of the globe. Honing your skills and learning everything there is to know, multiplayer dominance is its own reward.
A lot of games try be masters of both. Do you prefer single player experiences or the unmatched edge only a fellow human can provide? Should developers focus on perfecting one or the other? We want want to know what you think below!