eGamer Awards 2013: Best Multiplayer
It was a good year for multiplayer gaming but certainly not a typical year with some truly great, truly innovative offerings. Each of our nominees ended up offering something a little different but unfortunately we can only choose one winner. Of course, we could just leave it open-ended and not pick a winner but that’s not how multiplayer games work – there must always be a winner. But first, here’s the rundown.
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.
Dota 2 is a special game because it represents two things: One is inevitable standalone successor to one of the most popular online modes in recent history, and two is a game that Valve can put out for absolutely no charge and yet pull crazy profits from. The original DotA created the MOBA genre which has since seen a whole bunch of unique-but-still-similar IP, but with Dota 2 we got the original game in all its glory, updated with better visuals, better netcode and a far better experience.
Battlefield 4 managed to improve on Battlefield 3′s multiplayer in every way. Vehicles were greatly improved and the game does well to accommodate individual player preferences. Despite a silly name, Levolution managed to add a new dynamic to certain levels with the ability to completely change them. Above all else, the greater focus on squad-based gameplay which re-enforces a need for team-work to succeed.
Call of Duty: Ghosts
It was business as usual for Call of Duty: Ghosts in the multiplayer department. Extinction Mode was a fresh change from zombies and an interesting, tense experience. Cranked and Blitz were two great additions to the multiplayer, offering fast-paced fun. 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. Ghosts certainly did enough to feel fresh once more and checked all the boxes for delivering an awesome multiplayer experience.
GTA Online was perhaps of this year’s most ambitious multiplayer outing. It’s essentially Grand Theft Auto V but with friends, what’s not to love? There’s no shortage of activities but combined with the great social experience of being able to participate in these activities with friends. GTA Online feels completely organic and natural.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Few games have such greatly entertaining multiplayer. The co-op is brilliant and really forces you to work as a team and co-ordinate actions. Online offers a great deal of variety but what really shines is the rather awesome Spies vs Mercs mode. What sets the multiplayer apart is that choosing Spies or Mercs doesn’t just change the appearance of your character but completely changes your playstyle as each demands to be played in a certain way. It makes for varied and tense matches. Splinter Cell: Blacklist’s multiplayer is certainly a blast.
Of course, it was never going to be Battlefield 4 because while it may be great when it does work, the game is utterly broken and DICE actually needed to halt development on the game’s next DLC in order to fix their game. At present Battlefield 4 multiplayer simply does not work and that is unacceptable.
Call of Duty: Ghosts didn’t win either, because as much as we were satisfied and impressed by the latest entry in the franchise, the new modes and small innovations didn’t make much a of a lasting impression. It was still mostly the same Call of Duty game we’ve come to expect at heart, and as such our winner just enticed us far more and kept us returning again and again without fail.
It was very nearly Splinter Cell: Blacklist that walked away with the award but it was not without fault. Multiplayer may have been the most fun and amazing part of the game but it narrowly lost out due to small niggles and balancing issues.
GTA Online didn’t win it either because despite how organic it felt and just how darn ambitious it is, the game was let down by server instabilities, poor character creation, a hard uphill for newcomers. Of course, with a shared experience such as this there is always the potential for a random individual to ruin your experience. This is out of Rockstar’s control though so we’ll let it slide. If you haven’t figured out which game won then check it out.
Dota 2 is as close to perfect as you can hope a remake will turn out. Valve took a mod for Warcraft III and not only recreated it exceptionally by paying attention to the smallest possible details, but also translated the gameplay flawlessly and crafted a unique visual style that fit the game like a glove. Furthermore, Valve made the game entirely free, and built perhaps the best system of microtransactions we’ve seen in a game, where even the community can craft their own cosmetics for their heroes and sell them on the community-focused market. However, among all of their achievements, perhaps the most admirable and impressive of all is how Valve took a game with a very elitist community and an extremely difficult learning curve and opened it up to the masses without compromising a single thing of the game itself and its skill. They have done this by crafting extensive entry systems with regards to the full library detailing every heroes’ role and abilities in the game, as well as allowing players to host their own practice matches with friends or bots to learn the game. Dota 2 is a game that you can play for hundreds of hours and only want to play more, as you’re rewarded for every game you play and every game miraculously is unique. Dota 2 is the multiplayer offering that is more than just what is presented to you at face value. It is a community. It is a passion. It is a way of life.