First of all: we know these games are not out yet and we have not played them. We cannot say with certainty that the multiplayer aspects will "ruin" them, but our informed opinions and personal insight into the industry seem to paint a rather grim image. Hopefully we are wrong, but if not: we told you so.
Multiplayer sure is a hot-button issue these days. Sure, you could argue that a lot of developers have separate teams working on each mode, or that "more content is good content" - but at what cost? While it may on its face seem like developers are deciding to give gamers more bang for their buck, you have to wonder what are the sacrifices they made in that process? The list you find below isn't designed to say any of these games will be bad games, necessarily, but it is designed to say that these games are looking to be negatively affected because of the decision to include multiplayer. It's impossible to know for sure if they would have been "better" or "worse" without it - you'd be dealing in hypotheticals at that point. However, we do believe, that these five games will be fundamentally altered in a negative way. This article is simply our personal thoughts on the games and we encourage you all to join us on this journey through into gaming's future...
Yes, I know: the game has to have multiplayer because it is an MMO. Clearly, I know this. However, I want to talk about what transferring the Elder Scrolls world into a multiplayer setting will do to the series as a whole (hint: I think it ruins it.) People have been asking Bethesda to include coop in a main-series Elder Scrolls game for years, for good reason. You can already have companions and it would be fun to adventure throughout Tamriel with a real-life friend. However, an MMO is far different than "including coop" in a game. This is changing the underlying notions of the game itself.
First of all, Elder Scrolls games are so great because they let you do whatever you want. Typically, this includes "breaking the game" and/or making an extremely powerful character. While the MMO will allow for similar character development, it just will not be the same. Making an MMO (which includes both coop and competitive play) necessarily requires that they balance the game, which takes away a lot of the fun. Second, the entire atmosphere and tone of the game will be entirely different. Instead of exploring a world and getting lost in the environments and quest lines, you'll have to deal with several smaller "fetch" style quests that are a staple of the genre and watching players bunny-hop across the countryside. Finally, it's not even being developed by Bethesda Game Studios, it's being developed by Zenimax Online Studios (both of which are owned by Bethesda Softworks.) Sure, they probably have help from BGS, but I highly doubt it will be the same.
The Elder Scrolls is easily in my top 3 or so game franchises of all-time, but I fear that this drastic shift in focus will ruin the experience. Maybe I am wrong, but I feel like it's turning into "just another MMO" that happens to carry the Elder Scrolls name. This is in stark contrast to an Elder Scrolls game that is also an MMO. Those are two vastly different products.
First of all, we fully expect Dragon Age 3 to disappoint us. Consider us pessimistic, but I think our general views on the game are pretty well documented here by another writer, Gary Swaby. However, I want to specifically focus on why the multiplayer aspect alone is demoralizing. Before you attack me for not knowing the history of Bioware, I am fully aware of their past games like Neverwinter Nights and Baldur's Gate franchises. Let me explain why this multiplayer is different than that.
Dragon Age 3 has been confirmed to have both competitive Player vs. Player multiplayer, in addition to Player vs. Environment situations as well. The game will run on the Frostbite 2 engine (yes, the Battlefield 3 engine) and it clearly has a focus on competitive gaming. Riddle me this: how is that anything like the legendary roleplaying games of their past?
Dragon Age is a franchise about developing a single character throughout the course of the game, interacting with other characters and getting immersed in the world. Tacking on an arena-style deathmatch just does not make any sense at all. If I wanted to pwn noobz, I would just play Madden with Richard Bailey Jr.
When the credits rolled on God of War III, I was satisfied with the brutal conclusion to Kratos’ journey but figured that Sony Santa Monica would still find a way to stretch this series out further. My thoughts were confirmed when the studio announced that they were working on another game right around April of 2012. God of War: Ascension was described as an origin story that would deliver an in-depth backstory on Kratos and document his vengeful quest to break free of Ares’ bond. Naturally being a fan of the franchise, I instantly became excited for the new dynamics this chapter could explore.
Then all of a sudden, reality set in when they announced that multiplayer was being added to the game. Having had an opportunity to participate in the beta early on, I’ll be the first to admit that the mode is okay at best, but definitely not necessary in the slightest sense. Most fans who play a God of War game are only expecting a single player affair filled with Kratos ruthlessly ripping apart adversaries limb for limb without a care in the world. These characteristics are what define his personality and make him a truly unique character. Multiplayer is filled with generic looking warriors that carry the same violent nature as our protagonist, but also lack the innate qualities that make them different from each other. It’s for this reason and this reason alone why I feel multiplayer is not needed in this game.
Visceral games flagship Dead Space series has been praised time and time again for giving fans hope of satisfaction within the ever-evolving survival horror genre. The infamous Resident Evil franchise once held this crown proudly, but has since diminished over the years mainly because of the developers opting for a much more action oriented approach to gameplay. Needless to say, Dead Space has also charted these waters but still carries a solid variation of thrills to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The newest feature added to Dead Space 3 is the option to play the game cooperatively with a friend. While this new concept may be cool for many, it only acts as a catalyst masking EA’s attempt to continue with the online pass motto. EA is accustomed to charging customers for their online pass to access multiplayer modes on used games. By default, fans who buy this game new will already receive this code right in the packaging and in a sense are being heavily persuaded to investigate this mode further.
Another argument worth bringing up is how the studio has been trying to sell customers on the experience of playing as a new character. While Sergeant John Carver may be an interesting character with an enticing backstory, he isn’t the main focal point of the Dead Space franchise. I was under the impression that this series was supposed to revolve around Issac Clarke and thus I find myself questioning who is this other guy and why should I care about him. After taking two full games to build up the lead character, I’m just of the mindset that everything should begin and end with him and only him.
After attending a behind closed doors meeting session at E3 2012, I walked away incredibly impressed by all the work Crystal Dynamics was putting into Tomb Raider. The decision to approach Lara Croft from the perspective of a much more innocent young woman and evolve her over time into a hardened warrior was absolutely nothing short of brilliant. Fans of the old school Tomb Raider games had only previously seen Lara in a different light and thus this game was meant to finally provide another perspective to everyone’s favorite heroine.
Months later, news dropped that the game was going to be delayed until March of 2013. After having seen some very polished gameplay footage, I was puzzled as to why exactly this delay was being pushed back so far. Fast-forward to only a short 2 weeks ago and now the news on Tomb Raider's multiplayer is taking the video game world by storm. As a longtime fan of the series, I really don’t understand the logic of having this feature beyond offering the customer added value. Tomb Raider is meant to be a self-contained, emotionally gripping story and for the most part I fully expect it to be. The problem is that the multiplayer isn’t anything different that hasn’t already been done before in other popular action adventure games (namely Uncharted) so I don’t understand the need to include it. Perhaps it will be a hit for a select few, but my early suspicion is many will pass right over the experience altogether.
There you go folks, these are our five games of 2013 that will be ruined by multiplayer. Like we said before, maybe the gaming community will get lucky and we will be 100% wrong, but something tells me that won't be the case. I love games and I love more content just like any rational gamer, but I also love continuity and quality single player experiences. Hopefully these games don't suffer because of multiplayer.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! Do you have any hope for the multiplayer facets of these five games?