Death Of The Loner
All that’s new and flashy at E3 this year has been shown and we have a ton of new games to look forward to, many of these for next-gen. Before we start, I’m not what you might call a social person so this is simply my perspective on what seems to be an industry trend. The trend of making every game social, interconnected and most importantly making you feel like you are never alone.
I like my solitude, I love it. If I was Superman I would chill in my Fortress of Solitude whenever possible although I’d get cold but I’m Superman so cold isn’t even an issue. I don’t mind online gaming or social gaming and I can enjoy it from time to time but I mostly live for my personal, lonely singleplayer experiences.
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Most of you are not like this but just hear me out. Over the past few years there’s a been a growing trend of making gaming more social, turning everything into a challenge for you and your friends. That’s great for racers and most military shooters but it’s a problem where I’m immersed in my psychotic escapades in Far Cry 3 and the game wants me to beat every other Joe’s time or score on a certain Trial of the Rakyat. It’s even worse when multiplayer is shoehorned into a game with development time and resources wasted on it.
I do understand the want to give players more bang for their buck especially in a game that’s a tight singleplayer experience with not much replay value but it seems a waste in games such as Tomb Raider or The Last of Us. BioShock Infinite’s multiplayer was dropped so as to make the singleplayer as good as possible because that’s what players were interested in.
So what then of all these games with a massive focus on multiplayer, co-operative gameplay, a shared game world, constantly being connected to friends and even being able to get a friend to remotely help you out with a tough section in a game. The title of this article may seem bleak but there really is a great deal of promise with all these concepts.
Look no further than the slew of next-gen racing titles for confirmation of what you can do with a truly social experience. Ubisoft’s The Crew is all about being able to play the game solo and seamlessly link up with friends to form a crew capable of toppling rivals. Forza 5 uses Drive-atar to capture data on your driving habits and style so that when a friend is playing solo it’s almost as if he’s racing against you and the rest of his buddies courtesy of your drive-atars. There’s also Project Spark for Xbox One which allows you and other players to simultaneously shape and reshape your own game world, change the terrain, create new enemies, do whatever you want. These are really cool applications for social gaming.
On the flipside there are games that may be great as a focused singleplayer experience and yet they are purpose-built as MMO’s. Destiny is an ambitious and incredible looking title and I’m not about to attack it for merely existing or being what it is but there are others which I feel didn’t need to be the way they are.
A prime suspect is Tom Clancy’s: The Division from Ubisoft. It’s a survival RPG MMO by the looks of things and could’ve been an amazing singleplayer experience. But the issue here is that I’m thinking with what might be referred to as a current-gen state of mind. At present our consoles don’t have the power to offer a rich, detailed interconnected multiplayer experience in a shared game world so we typically look to focused singleplayer experiences as the pinnacle of gaming. That could well change with next-gen.
With far more raw power and the added support of the cloud, both next-gen consoles are capable of far more. Now we can have players all existing in one big world and constantly interacting with each other. To use The Division again, we can have one group of players surviving and going about their business surviving in Brooklyn while an entirely separate group seeks refuge in Harlem. They may never meet or they may end up fighting each other for resources. It could all lead to very spectacular and very organic unique experiences rather than incredibly well-scripted set-pieces.
While next-gen still promises some killer dedicated singleplayer experiences in the form of Watch Dogs, inFamous: Second Son, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Mirror’s Edge 2 and more, I think this imminent generation of gaming will be defined by something new. It will be defined by the social experience, the experiences of players being let loose into an incredibly well-crafted, detailed and rich world that the developer has created and then having their own unique, personal adventure within the game. Everyone will have a different story and the game’s brilliance will be judged on how it facilitates these incredibly different experiences with organic and dynamic encounters and interactions with other players.
We will still enjoy our BioShock Infinites but the next generation of gaming is really all about being able to have an experience that is truly your own and crafted as much by your own hand as the developer’s and those players around you.