PS4 games should do single-player or multiplayer, but not both – resources shouldn’t be diluted
Let’s take a little walk down memory lane. You’ll need jam sandwiches, a Thomas The Tank Engine pencil case, and your mittens tied to your coat. Right, so: which gaming experiences do you remember most fondly? Which stand out in your mind and which do you hold dearest?
PS4 games should be single or multiplayer, but not both
Answers will obviously depend on age, but names like Deus Ex, Half-Life, and a Final Fantasy often crop up. But for the purposes of the compelling argument I’m about to (attempt to) make, let’s narrow the selection to the current hardware generation. Uncharted 2? Bioshocks classic or Infinite? Metal Gear Solid 4? Red Dead Redemption? Fine choices. And chances are, you remember their brilliance in terms of solitary, single-player pursuits, even if the game in question did have an online offering?
Now think of the most fun you’ve had when jacked in to the world wide interwebs, coming together with like-minded enthusiasts (or potty-mouthed sociopaths) in a gleeful orgy of gaming goodness. Battlefield 3? Borderlands 2? Something with a Need For Speed flavour? Once again, you all have impeccable taste, my imaginary friends. And while those games can be played solo, did the solitary option enhance your opinion of them, or even get a run-out at all? The point I’m getting at is that few games manage to provide both single and multiplayer offerings that are actually worthwhile.
So, what I’m proposing is this: games either have single-player campaigns, or they focus solely on online. It may sound like I need a lie down in a darkened room, but hear me out. Development budgets are huge, and they are growing. Pressures to recoup those budgets and deliver a critical hit, on time, have never been greater. And yet more games are coming with unnecessary, bolted-on MP options, or a story mode that plays second fiddle.
Look at Battlefield 3. Online it’s a blast;
offline it’s pap. And that offline portion
actually dragged down review scores
Look at Battlefield 3. Online it’s a blast, with servers still buzzing; offline it’s pap. And that offline portion actually dragged down review scores. Wouldn’t it be better for developers to be able to concentrate on refining those multiplayer mechanics even further, and offering a greater selection of maps, modes and weapons? Would any Battlefield fans even bat an eyelid at the single-player game waving bye-bye? It’s not like value for money is an issue: people get hundreds of hours of fun from BF3 or Black Ops online, and only a handful from the campaign. On the flip side, we all had fun tearing round the online Wild West in Red Dead Redemption. But would the game have sold any less or scored any lower had the option not been there? Not a chance. I can think of one game this generation which has truly left a mark in both spheres: COD 4. But even that series has fallen by the wayside in single-player terms since then, and its MP is far more important now.
Certain genres (eg sports) or series (Borderlands, for one) are, by their nature, able to offer both without compromise, but these are exceptions. Where resources must diverge, developers should make a choice. That way we get unforgettable experiences on both sides of the fence. And the only price to pay? No more Nathan Drake multiplayer. Heaven forbid.