Author Topic: Online Multiplayer Reluctance  (Read 240 times)

Online Multiplayer Reluctance
« on: April 29, 2017, 09:19:37 AM »
I've seen this topic touched upon a number of times, and I've felt it myself with a variety of games, so I thought it would be worth a discussion.

There is something about the urgency of online multiplayer which heightens my enjoyment of many games, if not all. Street Fighter online has provided me with more moments of fist pumping joy and controller chewing despair than almost anything else. Those clutch moments where you just about keep your cool for a couple of frames longer than your opponent and steal a win against someone better than you, they make the game for me. And yet, I rarely want that level of stress these days.

Rocket League is phenomenal fun and I get the basic concept and can hold my own with other beginners, but again, I'm rarely inclined to turn it on these days because there's almost a level of expectation on me that I don't always want that after a varying level of stress at work. I haven't experienced any negativity online and I don't rise to it anyway but, I dunno, perhaps it's that multiplayer takes away the control I have over my experience of success or failure.

The recent Zelda is exactly suited to my current circumstances and tastes because I can get lost and take anything at my own pace. There's no need to achieve anything in particular, no particular impetus, just a steady trickle of progress and constant rewards and variety. On the other hand, it does lack the intensity of a single online match of Puyo Puyo Tetris!

I think about the games where I always welcome online interaction and I think of Dark Souls and Bloodborne. I'm happy to be invaded, even though I seldom invade, and I love the flavour it gives to the world, not knowing at any moment when someone is going to burst into your game two handing an infused ultra greatsword in their undies. Is it because I'm good at those games that I don't mind it? I suspect this is a big reason for the general reluctance to play online. I suspect I will be beaten, and for my ego to be challenged. And yet, that's not entirely it.

I'm not generally a big FPS player but over the past couple of years I've got really into Destiny and Titanfall 2, relative to my previous shooty bang bang experience. I'm not good at either and I don't even know the basic principles of team shooters or how I should play but both games give you an enormous sense of success. They're very well balanced and allow you to pull off quite daft things because they're so fluid and there are weapons which suit my, well, my limitations rather than abilities. I could play Crucible and Attrition modes on these for hours, happily coming second to bottom consistently, only remembering the sporadic achievements rather than the umpteen times I got owned. So maybe that's it, the sense of success relative to the stress of failure but it's such a fine balance.

Anyone else got any thoughts on the matter?

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Re: Online Multiplayer Reluctance
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2017, 03:33:27 PM »
For all that I've enjoyed Journey, The Witness and exploratory games of that nature, my best video game memories all come from multiplayer.

I used to play COD and Battlefront multiplayer, but they've all blurred together (get killed, mash X until you respawn, run into the fight again). I used to much prefer SOCOM on the PS2, where you had 2 teams of 12 or 16 players against each other. You could kill your own teammates very easily, and once you were dead, you were dead, and the only option was to observe whoever else was playing for the remaining 15 or 20 minutes of the match. Communication was incredibly important, the price of teamkilling was high (getting verbally abused and/or kicked), and it led to some brilliantly tense scenarios, when it would be you and one of the enemy team left, hunting each other through a jungle, knowing that every member of your team was watching your every move.

I think it was SOCOM 2 that introduced a rescue-the-hostages game type, which again led to some brilliant stand-offs at the end of matches, as the final enemy player would be holed up in a building with the hostages. I'd be high up in the building across the street with my sniper rifle trained on the door, and my only ally left would be down there, slowly edging into the hostage room, trying to goad the bad bastard to poke his head around the wall so I could blow it off.

The only multiplayer that's come close to that for me lately is The Division. I realize it's fashionable to bash, but the Dark Zone is one of the most interesting approaches to multiplayer I've seen (for those unfamiliar with it - The Division takes place in post-virus-apocalypse Manhattan. The city is beautifully, atmospherically rendered and is yours to explore. The Dark Zone is a walled-off, lawless region which has been left to rot, and is blended seamlessly with the rest of the game. Inside the Dark Zone, other players can kill you... but they also might not.) Not only does the "will they / won't they (shoot at me)" aspect of the Dark Zone keep you on you toes, and make every interaction with other living players unbearably tense, but the developers did a great job of building up the mythology of the Dark Zone itself through the single player portion of the game. The first time I worked up the nerve to go inside the Dark Zone was a very memorable "Oh shit I think I'm totally fucked" feeling as all my communications shut down and the voice over the loudspeaker told me to turn back now.

The Dark Zone also requires you to extract whatever loot you've picked up. One of the best gaming experiences I've ever had was when another player tried to gun me down in the DZ, I got him, stole his loot, found he was carrying a very rare gun, raced up a fire escape to hide in a rooftop corner to plot my route to the extraction point. Then slowly creeping through the empty streets, moving cover to cover, constantly scanning for other players or enemy NPCs. Reaching the extraction point, then having to hide for two agonizing minutes for the chopper to arrive, knowing the whole time that the extraction is being broadcast to everyone else on the server, and having no idea as to the intentions of the two other players who've just shown up... are they going to extract their loot or do they want to take mine...? Just brilliant, edge-of-your-seat stuff.