Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An army of one

I am probably the only Xbox One owner who is not wetting him or herself out of anticipation for Titanfall. I never even bothered to download the beta. This is not some holier than thou quest to not play popular things nor is it some hipster fetish that prevents me from playing anything that looks great and features giant robots. Looking great and giant robots are right in my wheelhouse. Relying on the random people playing with you for the game to be enjoyable is not.

It's that multiplayer aversion sickness again. But Chamberlain, you say, Killer Instinct and Street Fighter are multiplayer! Very true, but those are one on one affairs and it is quite difficult for the other player to completely ruin the experience. At worst they disconnect. Slightly less worse would be post match grand standing which I really should get over. Past those it is either a good match that I win, a good match that I lose, or a total beatdown. The odds of the experience being acceptable are pretty good and if it isn't the whole thing is done in less than a minute and then I can try again.

Shooters are different. The combination of jamming more players together and handing them a virtual gun brings out the asshole in even the most mild mannered virtual combatant. It only takes one person to kill the fun for the rest of the team and there is always going to be that one person present. Modern shooters also reward time invested just as much as skill. For example, when I used to play Unreal Tournament I loved low gravity insta-gib maps. Everyone has the same weapon, everyone dies in one hit, may the best man (and fastest internet connection) win. In Call of Duty having skill is good. Having invested the time to earn the weapon that can smoke dudes from across the map is better.

Having neither of those means you just aren't going to have any fun.

The plan is still to play Titanfall, though the total lack of single player content will probably kill my interest quickly. I am worried that this generation will be the final one in which single player comes first and the multiplayer is tacked on. The (more) cynical side of me can see the switch happening because it is easier to attach micro-transactions to a multiplayer game. Appealing to people competitive nature is a gold mine. The less cynical side knows that I am nearly alone is this aversion to playing with others, a basement dwelling relic of an age when video games weren't cool.

I don't want competition or even companionship in most of the games I play. I am looking for story and immersion and I don't think a multiplayer exclusive game can deliver that. And yes I know that statement is wildly discredited by World of Warcraft and other MMOs, I just don't care.

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