It seems I am not normal. Whilst many may agree wholeheartedly, let me explain. A disturbing reality is forcing itself into my gaming life. The signs have been there for a while but I, like many, have chosen to ignore them. Game publishers and developers have decided that gaming is becoming social. Not in the Facebook, link to your profile kind of way, I mean multiplayer “experience”.
Now, I like a few hours shooting fools in the face with the best of them, but its never been my go-to choice of gaming. I have put over 70 hours into games like Skyrim and Fallout 3. Huge single player events that take you on far reaching journeys but I also enjoy the single player FPS campaigns. Yes I am the guy that buys Call of Duty for the campaign. It’s all my fault they waste money developing 6 to 8 hour campaigns that get ridiculed and ignored by the gaming press. I even played both the Borderlands games through alone before thinking about co-op. See? Not normal.
For the last few years I have noticed a worrying development. Oh, it started innocently enough. “Tacked on Multiplayer” is, I believe, the term. Tomb Raider had it and then, instead of additional story or new tombs, the only DLC they released were additional maps. This I can kind of accept. If I don’t want to play multiplayer then I can, and do, choose to ignore it. If publishers think though that that will stop me trading in their game they are wrong. If I have no intention of playing the multiplayer why would I wait for new maps? Give me additional story such as the excellent Fallout 3 DLC and you will be on to a winner. Next, at the launch of the Xbox One, we were told how the new server infrastructure named Azure was going to bring us new, exciting shared gaming experiences with Forza 5’s Drivatars given as a example. Your friends could be in your game even if they are not on their consoles. The price we pay for this? Always online.
What worries me about the rise of “always online” games is the impact it will have on single player games. I totally get that developers see this as a way to keep their game current. I also see the appeal of playing with your friends. What I don’t want is someone being able to mess up my game just because they can. Just lately a few games have started appearing that have borne out my concerns. Titanfall and Plants Vs Zombies I can excuse. They are completely online only games that have no single player element but Titanfall especially is desperate for a true single player campaign. I can just not find enough in the game to make me play for more than 30 minutes at a time. Need for Speed: Rivals is typical of the new breed that trouble me. This game can only be played online. Whilst there is a single player element there is always someone in your world with you. You can compete in a race or just tool around building up your speed points and then some random person will t-bone you and its all gone. Also games like Dark Souls 2 where a big feature of the game is the ability to invade other peoples games and screw them up. As if the game wasn’t hard enough all ready they have built in a greifing tool.
During the reveal of Watch Dogs by Ubisoft we were told that this game would feature a mode where you could “hack” in to someone’s game and interfere with the players progress. When I voiced my concern over twitter one of the devs contacted me and assured me that that feature can be turned off but it seems clear to me that the developers want us to play this way. Or, more worryingly think that we want to. I for one, do not. I can think of nothing worse than playing a game for hours just to have some stranger intrude into my game and screw up the events I’ve just spent time building. Is it lazy developers? Let’s not build anything here, let’s get a human player to do it for us. No, of course not. Devs will have to build the game on the assumption no one will enter any way so what is the point?
I want my single player games to remain just that. Sometimes I just want to play alone. I certainly don’t want people chatting away in my headset whilst I am creeping down a corridor in Dead Space and don’t see why I should have to. The more tied into services like Xbox Live the consoles become, the harder this will be to avoid and this is my point. Am I anti-social? No, I don’t think so. I just know what I like, and walking through Skyrim, feeling like a bad-ass just wouldn’t be the same with a hundred other Dragonborn. This is one reason I have no interest in Elder Scrolls Online. It looks like Skyrim, plays like Skyrim, but it will never be Skyrim. I hope this is just the latest fad and that single player games will still exist in their purist form, but for now it seems there maybe dark times ahead for fans of going it alone.
Darren Lissaman: One of the few authors to brave it through our editorial checks. If you’re interested in more of his content, you can search for him under : t0xic5h0ck, or check out his twitter here: https://twitter.com/fazer_dazliss
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