As games and consoles have evolved and Xbox Live has become more popular, now with over 48 million members, it has become clear that online multiplayer has become a lot more prominent. More and more games are including online features in as many ways as possible with co-op and PvP modes being the more preferred choices, but what about single player?
This trend began with the Call of Duty and FIFA series, both of which include single and multiplayer game modes. After the release of CoD 4, where multiplayer featured quite heavily, the franchise focused on its online features a lot more and people stopped playing singleplayer. At first I enjoyed the singleplayer campaigns, when I got the game I would go straight there to practise for multiplayer maybe, or to get a feel for the controls. When I got Modern Warfare 3 though, it was the first time I decided to go straight to multiplayer and after that I never really played through the campaign. This was the same for FIFA, when I first got FIFA 2010 I played manager mode to its death, but after that all me and my friends really cared about was Ultimate Team. Although this isn’t sound proof that multiplayer is taking over, it certainly is looking that way after this year’s E3 convention.
As we saw at E3, there were some massive game releases form some huge developers and a lot of these appeared to concentrate on multiplayer. For example, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4 and Crackdown all focus on the co-operative features of the game, with the developer of Crackdown even saying “There’s no co-op mode. The whole game is co-op.”. Some games have focused more on the multiplayer element whilst still including the single player modes, such as Destiny, Watchdogs and CoD: Advanced Warfare and games like Battlefield: Hardline and The Division have totally focused team PvP styles with no apparent access to single player at all. Don’t get me wrong, these all look like great games and are sure to be huge hits, but don’t you think this focus on multiplayer is a little excessive? As a person who owns an Xbox Live Gold Membership, I guess I have a biased view although I enjoy playing alone sometimes and delving into deep storylines, cranking up the difficulty level or stealthy takeovers lone-wolf style. My argument here is that this online focus could have gone one of two ways, it could have been madly criticised (which it wasn’t too much) or it could have gone down as well as the missing announcement of Half Life 3, if it ever gets announced…
However, there are of course two sides to this argument, and the other side is that gamers should adapt to the games. A lot of people think ‘what is the point of owning and Xbox One if you don’t have Xbox Live?’, and I partly agree unless you are under certain circumstances. This is a choice however and there are some great single player games which I have yet to mention, but if great games like Tom Clancy’s The Division are coming out then I would recommend getting Xbox Live just for that! After personally playing Battlefield: Hardline and experiencing the online feature, I couldn’t imagine it without PvP and the same goes with Battlefield 4, as the single player isn’t even fully polished whereas the multiplayer is much less buggy. Where would Call of Duty be without multiplayer or the Halo franchise? And there are plenty of games that do give you choice as well, Dark Souls gives you option of a couple of extra features but is just as enjoyable without being connected to the internet. Another thing is that this might inspire people to buy a Gold Membership, yeah you can play Assassin’s Creed: Unity by yourself, but wouldn’t it be way cooler with a couple of friends helping you out? And it encourages developers to make better games as well, something they tried with The Elder Scrolls Online and games like Fallout desperately need a co-op feature introducing to keep the series alive. However, the development of said multiplayer features takes time and resources away from developers often detracting from the overall single player experience.
Among all these big multiplayer names though, there are some amazing single player games that will leave even the most hard-core multiplayer gamers with a sweet taste in their mouth. Telltale Games make fantastic singleplayer games that everyone can enjoy along with other massive games from other great developers who created Dark Souls, XCOM, Dead Space, Batman: Arkham Knight and all of Bethesda’s unforgettable open-world RPGs. And let’s be honest, blockbusters like the Halo, Far Cry and Tomb Raider franchises don’t need a multiplayer feature at all with the intense storylines, smooth gameplay and addictive styles. Realistically, there is plenty for everyone and even though multiplayer seems to have taken a huge lead over single player games, I highly doubt that developers will ignore the niche but aggressively loyal market of singleplayer gamers.
Thanks to Stuart Wilson for collaborating with me on this article!