An opinion piece by Chris Bowring
For a while it seemed like this generation was going to be all in with multiplayer. It was going to revolutionise the industry. Titanfall, Star Wars Battlefront, Rainbow Six Siege and Evolve all sported incredible graphics and innovative and intriguing gameplay, but no single player campaign.
We began to also see multiplayer seep into franchises that would have once been predominantly single player focussed. Just a couple of years ago, Ubisoft, a big contributor to this push presented Watchdogs where your game could be invaded by other players, Assassins Creed Unity which you could enjoy with all your mates, and The Division, an online co-op next generation experience that you could not miss.
Although I have no issue with multiplayer games and think the option to play online with your friends is enjoyable, I began to fear for the single player experience.
Would developers stray away from such projects? Would innovation only occur through immersive multiplayer experiences? Would developers lose interest in creating single player narrative focused titles altogether after watching the success of games like Team Fortress 2 and DOTA.
To me that was a scary thought. Because single player games hold a special place in my heart.
When I was a kid I didn’t have too many friends. I wasn’t into sport and I didn’t follow the latest TV shows everyone was watching. This got me down a little bit and I often found myself sitting at home bored and lonely. But then, around the age of 10, I got the PS2, my first gaming console. From there I never looked back.
The rich library of games that I could sink into gave me hours and hours of enjoyment and a way to numb the pain that my lack of social acceptance caused. Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter – they became my friends.
However, with this new focus on multiplayer games I started to fear I would be an outcast once again. I still didn’t have all too many friends to play online with, so when I attempted to jump into Destiny, a game whose world and law seemed so much like the single player experience games like Halo I was so used to, I felt alone. Seeing others online discuss how fun it was to tackle raids in their fire teams while I struggled just to beat the story missions on my own, left me feeling just as I did in school, isolated and unpopular. Which is something games had once stopped me feeling.
However it seems this patch of multiplayer focused experiences has passed. Sure, multiplayer games are as prominent in the industry as ever, but they aren’t seeping into every single player experience like I feared. After the admittedly disastrous launch of Unity, Syndicate was publicized as a single player only experience. Plus with Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Firewatch’s recent success and Uncharted 4 and Mafia 3 to look forward to, there are plenty of enticing single player games for players like me.
I guess my fears were a little dramatic. Single player games aren’t going away. Destiny can be a major success and we will still get little gems like Unravel. Gaming is an incredibly diverse medium. And there are enough games to cater to all of our tastes.