eGamer Awards 2012: Best Multiplayer
Multiplayer was at the top of its game in 2012, and we couldn’t have been happier with the amount of awesome experiences we got to have. It’s unfortunate that we only get to choose one winner, but at least in this award we can give stand-out games the rightful praise they deserve. So let’s get into it, and determine what the best multiplayer experience of the year was. But first, here’s the rundown.
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What constitutes a good multiplayer game? The answer to that question can come in the form of a hundred different reasons, but to break it down and put it forward simply, there’s a whole lot more than just the gameplay experience involved, even though that’s always the most important thing to any player. Truly, the most critical factor, past gameplay, regarding what makes a multiplayer experience stand out, is how well it can keep you hooked into and playing a game. That might sound like the ingredient for any good game, and that’s true, but multiplayer is different to single player in the sense that the mark of a good multiplayer component is that it cannot be finished, and it can be played continuously for a really long time. Usually that goes hand in hand with content, depth, technical setup and efficiency and social interaction, and a great multiplayer game needs to be top class in all aspects. Another thing we consider is how well the developer supports the multiplayer and its community post-release as, after all, the experience is community-driven. All aspects count in a game’s favour.
Guild Wars 2
The most impressive thing about Guild Wars 2 was that it was an MMO for everyone, which is hardly something we thought we’d be saying any time soon. The game was incredibly well polished, and was just overflowing with content on top of featuring an engaging story. The fact that it had no monthly subscription fee to speak of also greatly contributed to our loving of this game, and it was awesome fun to play. Guild Wars 2’s fantastic PvE was packed with dynamic events and more than enough content to get you by easily on a solo quest, while the PvP competitive challenges stepped up the game in this area. And the cherry on top was that these were just a few innovations that the game made, and it really was a multiplayer experience that made a strong statement about the future of MMOs.
Halo 4 gloriously brought back the famous multiplayer of this franchise, and delivered a greater sense of diversity with it. Although some fans may not have liked Firefight getting replaced by Spartan Ops, and that’s because while it was an interesting venture for co-op, it was sadly a bit too short-winded and unsatisfying. Still, that was just a small portion of a much greater pie, as plenty of tweaks, replacements and new additions were made to ensure that the multiplayer continued to grow and remain as inviting, addictive and attractive as ever. Halo 4 did undergo a lot of change, but many of these changes turned out to be for the better. The online battlefields were more varied than past games, and despite an abundance of tweaks, changes and additions, the core balance and experience remained solid, which was highly admirable. In the end Halo 4 felt like a fresher and richer offering than before, and it retained the high standards set by its predecessors in multiplayer, delivering a fantastic package.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
It was business as usual for Call of Duty: Black Ops II in the multiplayer department, except that’s not completely true. Sure, it mostly felt like classic Call of Duty, but an impressive addition to the Zombies mode and the futuristic spin taken online proved to be a winning formula, and at the end of the day Call of Duty still offers one of the most complete and entertaining packages for multiplayer around. The amount of content on offer will surely keep players busy for a long time to come, possibly even until the release of the next game in this franchise, and whether you love or hate it, that is always something to admire. Black Ops II ultimately wasn’t an innovation or reinvention, but it certainly did enough to feel fresh once more and checked all the boxes for delivering us an awesome multiplayer experience.
We’ve already established that Borderlands 2 delivered everything we could have possibly wanted in a sequel, triumphing over its predecessor in all meaningful ways with an experience that packed more depth, charm and reasons to keep playing it. But one of the strongest aspects of the game was definitely its unmatched co-op, which skyrocketed the amount of fun you could have with this title through the roof. It’s definitely one of the best co-op multiplayer games currently around, and the amount of hours you can lose to this game is as scary as it is absolutely incredible. In many ways, Borderlands 2 defines both video game addiction and cooperative gameplay, which is awesome.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive
Counter Strike: Global Offensive admirably managed to remain faithful to what made the series great in the first place. It was awesome, cheap, and it set the stage nicely to attract newcomers to the series. Of course, its heavy reliance on its community makes it difficult to predict its future, but from our experience with it, we know that it’s a damn fine multiplayer game, and it delivers everything we love about Counter Strike with a fresh coat of paint and enough added and tweaked to make it feel like a different game to its predecessors, which we believe is definitely a good thing. The best thing about the game though is that it continuously gets better with time and as its community grows, and when you consider this fact the already low asking price begins to seem like it’s almost too good to be true.
It wasn’t Counter Strike: Global Offensive, because while we love what Valve are doing with it, we feel that the game still needs time to grow in order to successfully establish a clear future and direction for itself. Furthermore, it was overshadowed somewhat by our stronger nominees.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II didn’t win either, because as much as we were satisfied and impressed by the latest entry in the franchise, it was still mostly a Call of Duty game at heart, and as such our winner just enticed us far more and kept us returning again and again without fail.
To avoid going into nitpick territory, we’ll say that the battle was extremely close between Halo 4 and Guild Wars 2, but in the end all it really came down to was the fact that our hearts were more in favour of our chosen winner, and we just felt that it was a step above the rest this year.
Borderlands 2 isn’t just one of the best co-op experiences around, nearly unmatched in this element, but it’s also one of the most entertaining. It was the game we devoted hours upon hours to, never growing tired of it and never not wanting more, and we always had an absolute blast with it in the company of friends. Overstuffed with enjoyable content and far too many captivating and dangerously addictive reasons to keep playing it, Borderlands 2 succeeded in giving us the most fun in multiplayer this year, and that was the deciding factor in the end, because in this regard it constantly stood out when we looked at all of our other nominees. Maybe this game will only truly be satisfied when we succumb to death while playing it, but it stands to reason that at least we’ll die happy and having an incredible amount of fun. This makes Borderlands 2 our choice for the best multiplayer game of 2012.