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'Multiplayer will never beat an amazing story'

Mailbox: Should developers prioritise single-player?

In last week's mailbox Samuel Matley suggested that it's often not difficulty new titles are missing but fun. He gave his thoughts on the balance between graphics and gameplay, and how too much attention to detail is sometimes missing the point.

This time Jack Wilson discusses the impact the recent obsession with multiplayer has on the single-player experience and the overall product.

To have your letter featured on CVG's Mailbox, drop us a line. Take it away Jack...

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Something I noticed lately in games, developers seem obsessed with multi-player and they lose focus on single-player. Ever since the rise of Call Of Duty, developers put more attention into online.

I understand why they do: Call Of Duty is the biggest franchise ever and they want to try and copy COD's success. Now games are getting more and more linear, and shorter.

I like multi-player as much as the next guy, but multi-player will never beat an amazing story. Take Red Dead Redemption as an example: great multi-player, epic single-player, but when you think of RDR you never think of its multi-player, you think of its story.

Most games don't even need multiplayer. Look at Dead Space 2 - it has an amazing single-player, but multi-player is bland, dull and has nothing to keep you playing. It's the exact opposite of the single-player.

If the developers never tried to make multi-player, they could have made the single player even better and longer.

PSM3 says: It's rare that developers compromise single-player to invest time in multiplayer - the rise of almost universal online play has coincided with the rise of separate dev teams for each component. For the most part, multi-player justifies itself.

Dead Space 2's modes might be a bit throwaway, but the solo campaign is no shorter than the orginal's. Also, just look at the Trophy list - they're all single-player. Red Dead adds something new and we certainly feel that justifi es its existence, and it'd be hard to argue the single-player's too short... so no, we don't think the (admittedly often token) rise of multi-player is to blame for increasingly short games.

What is? Well, if most players weren't even close to finishing your 35-hour game, wouldn't you save millions by making the next one ten hours long?

CVG says: We understand where you're coming from Jack. It's a bit odd seeing multiplayer shoehorned into narrative-driven games such as BioShock 2. It might not really have a real impact but a bad multiplayer experience can be an unnecessary and avoidable knock against an otherwise very good overall game.

On the other hand we should point out that experimental forays into multiplayer can often bear very sweet fruits. Take Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood for instance. People thought multiplayer had no place in an AC game but it turned out to be one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year (check it out if you haven't). Just a bit of food for thought.

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