Stop telling me I need another person for the full experience.
Another person does not make it easier or increase the level of fun. The whole experience just ends up being awkward and frustrating. Frankly, I would prefer just handle things on my own. A second party just gets in the way and sometimes I just want to get going and finish as soon as possible.
Why, then, am I constantly being told that I need to play games multiplayer?
Sometimes I’d rather play alone.
A multiplayer slant has been placed upon modern gaming. This emphasis on more than one player has molded the advertising and design philosophy of the modern game. In the salad days of 90’s console gaming, multiplayer aspects were considered to be a happy surprise. Consumers were not expecting a multiplayer experience, save for the rare genre that touted said gameplay such as Beat-Em-Ups and fighting games.
The rise of Call of Duty, Halo, and LAN gaming changed consumer expectations. A multiplayer component in games created during the console first person shooter revolution were to be held in a higher regard, lest sales suffered. Titles like the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series and myriad professional sports titles had a leg up on the competition in that their particular genres were easily adaptable.
Mediocre FPS titles attempted to save face in lack of true multiplayer support by providing modes such as split-screen campaign play, such as SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals. More franchises began adopting a multiplayer-focused design philosophy. The third game in the Ratchet & Clank series, Deadlocked, was the first in the popular franchise to include a heavy multiplayer component. Deadlocked was also the first time I remember being disappointed at a company making a half-hearted attempt at splicing a forced focus on multiplayer into a game. As the last title of the series on the Playstation 2, Deadlocked was a mediocre experience for fans such as myself who had come to love the single player storyline focus.
The state of things have only gotten worse.
Many people praise titles such as the Borderlands series or the most recent Resident Evil titles for offering a more robust multiplayer experience that is integrated into the main campaign. This choice in game design has had a hindering effect on how these titles play. Those of us who prefer the single player concept have been forgotten.
Borderlands especially suffers from this issue, with dungeons and quests that are clearly intended for multiple people. I even have the game shouting at me during load times that I can get better loot if I have more players. This is all well and good, but this also means dealing with the idiocy that is another person. Everyone has experienced this at one point or another: you go one way trying to complete a quest, they run off to God knows where is search of things to kill. You go to open a treasure chest, and are loot-blocked as your greedy ‘partner’ runs up, grabs the goods, and scoots off.
And don’t even get me started on friendly fire.
Sometimes, I just want to burn through content as fast as possible. I recently jumped into Borderlands 2 with a friend, just to see what I had been missing. After all, I’ve been told all along by reviews and friends alike that playing the Borderlands series alone is missing the point of the game.
After two hours, I felt tired. More to the point, we had not progressed nearly as far as I would have liked. I had spent a majority of my time waiting for my friend, who picked a much ‘squishier’ and less armored class, to run back from the respawn point after running into large groups of enemies. I also won’t forget the five or six times they ran off to do something else while my character was being filled full of lead by the local gun-toting maniacs of Pandora.
Resident Evil 5 may be the greatest offender, not only putting the focus on a multiplayer component, but building it so far into the main campaign that you might as well be babysitting. The player is forced to “cooperate” with an AI that would randomly use healing items, stand in place while the zombie hordes attacked me (and only me, apparently), and shoot at walls for no apparent reason.
The biggest gripe with Resident Evil 5 came with what the multiplayer component did to the game’s atmosphere: with a second person, the game had no terror factor. With a friend sitting next to me to fend off the zombie hordes, the aspect of fear had been completely neutered. A far cry from the critically-acclaimed Resident Evil 4, a title that’s still one of my most-cherished games.
I have nothing against multiplayer in the appropriate context. Fighting games such as Marvel vs. Capcom 3 are a huge hit at parties. Sports titles will always be a bastion of online multiplayer. Platformers like the most recent Rayman and New Super Mario Bros. titles show that jumping across chasms with friends can be fun.
It’s just that sometimes, I want to take things into my own hands. Is that too much to ask?