Remember the days when multiplayer meant sitting awkwardly close to your friend (or pleasantly close to your girlfriend, or to a girl that you wanted to be your girlfriend, or just to a girl in general) while you each controlled a segment of the television screen? Remember being able to hear shouts and laughter in real time? Remember accidentally knocking over your soda, but being too engrossed in a close battle that you don’t care to Pause?
Or, in later years, when “multiplayer” meant you could play in the same room with people you know or play the same modes in an online room with people you may or may not know?
Those were the days. But why not now?
Today, when you no longer need to buy a multitap for consoles that don’t support more than two players (seven on PS3!): why is the offline experience so lacking?
Genres that have historically lended themselves to great offline multiplayer are increasingly shying away. Racing games like Burnout and Need for Speed, and action games like Red Dead Redemption and Dead Island, all have amazing multiplayer experiences. I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into RDR multiplayer alone. But they are online only. Why do we have to set up an elaborate LAN connection, or settle for playing over the net with unnatural voice chat?
Why do games like Resident Evil 5 and MotorStorm Apocalypse curtail around true split-screen by essentially cramming two single-player screens onto the television, at the cost of large chunks of screen space? Is it because it’s easier to not program a real multiplayer mode? Cheaper? Why do hit series like Mass Effect introduce a co-op campaign, but make it online only?
An even bigger insult is when a game does include offline multiplayer, but it’s vastly limited compared to the online counterpart. Tacked-on multiplayer can be just as bad as no multiplayer. Or when games have prequels that have multiplayer (Skate 2) but not sequels (Skate 3).
I hate having to look at the back of game cases to see if it supports offline play. Such a feature should be mandatory. Maybe the modern generation of gamers don’t value offline play as much as I do, but is that because they haven’t had the experience? Or are developers just being lazy?
I miss spilling my soda, dammit.