Is The Single Player Experience Dead?
I think not.
Do you know what I love about video games? I love sitting down with a really great single player game and immersing myself for a few hours without any interruptions. With the last generation of video game consoles we saw an unprecedented amount of titles that shipped with not just a single player experience but also a multiplayer part too. You can't deny that Call Of Duty was one of the last generation's biggest selling series of games (even though I'm not a fan) and it was the multiplayer aspect of the game that was the biggest draw. There were plenty of titles released within the last generation that had good single player content with multiplayer attached; Assassin's Creed, Gears Of War, Mass Effect 3, but are developers letting multiplayer content get in the way of truly outstanding single player experiences, just to make extra profit from selling multiplayer maps, skins, weapons etc.
At the end of the life span of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 we saw games designed with a single player experience in mind. Games such as The last Of Us, which also shipped with a multiplayer part, was clearly made as a one player game and Bioshock Infinite, which has no multiplayer at all, was developed to deliver the best single player experience possible.
Now as you may have gathered from the first line in this article I am a fan of the single player experience and it comes down to my love of fiction. I watch films, I read books and comics and this is why I play video games, for the narrative essentially, I like progression through story telling and I feel that the element that draws me in has suffered at the hands of multiplayer. Mass Effect 3 wasn't as good as Mass Effect 2, why? Because they added multiplayer to it. I remember playing Assassin's Creed 2 and thinking that it was the best game I'd ever played at that point, but when Brotherhood came out it felt like they had just recycled number 2 to specifically add a multiplayer section and I felt that it detracted from the main game.
Please don't think that I am just hating on multiplayer because I am not, there are games that need an online connection that I am very happy to play, Battlefield multiplayer is great , Gears Of War multiplayer is fun, fast, run and gun action and need I say more on Rockstar's opus Grand Theft Auto 5 which has, in my opinion, the finest multiplayer element of any game out there now. Being able to create a persistent online world with so many games that cater for every gamer is a remarkable feat. My problem is that I don't think developers are being picky about what games are single player and what games are multiplayer. There are still a lot of people who do not want an online element to their gaming experience and I think that more games should be designed around a particular type.
This brings me on to the new generation of video games consoles. When the Xbox One and Playstation 4 released they shipped with a small amount of single player games. The Xbox shipped with Dead Rising 3, which had multiplayer limited to co-op the same as Ryse: Son Of Rome. The Playstation shipped with Killzone: Shadow Fall which, from what I understand, is more about single player. As we get further into the new generation we are, hopefully, going to see more games dedicated to either single player and online or merge the best aspects of both. Games such as Titanfall, which has just been released and has had great reviews, is an online game only, it fits the multiplayer description because it consists of different match types such as; death match, capture the flag etc. Then the impending online MMORPG styled The Division from Ubisoft, which boasts a massive area of New York to explore on your own or with friends, you can meet AI controlled opponents and player controlled opponents also. It's like a single player/co-op game with multiplayer PvP thrown in as well.
I am hoping that developers are looking at games and are rethinking how to merge the different aspects more fluidly instead of just tacking on either a single player element or multiplayer. Games such as Call Of Duty and Assassin's Creed have had their day in the sun, it's time to make way for the next generation.