Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Sidebar: Is Co-op the new Deathmatch?

I am passionate about co-operative play. When it comes down to playing a game with friends, I am so much more enthused by overcoming an obstacle together, than by pitting myself against my compadres in a face à face that results in largely nothing. I garner such a deep level of satisfaction and pleasure from seeing a plan come together. Right now, I’m wearing an A-Team t-shirt that actually says ‘I love it when a plan comes together’. Do you know why? Because I really do love it when a plan comes together.
It is for this reason that I have been quietly, yet joyfully, noticing a significant development in multiplayer games of recent. A few years ago, your typical game contained a single-player campaign, and a multiplayer that would allow you to use what you had learned in a fight to the death against your friends, or even folks you had never met. Deathmatch was the traditional approach to a multiplayer component: an all-for-one, one-for-all high-stakes battle for honor among your peers. It is interesting to me how times are changing.
mass effect 3 multiplayer 300x168 Sunday Sidebar: Is Co op the new Deathmatch?
Mass Effect 3 will be the first entry with a multiplayer element.
Co-operative Play In The Spotlight
Two releases have been primarily in my gaming radar of recent: Syndicate, the Starbreeze reboot that was released this week, and Mass Effect 3, a little-known science-fiction action RPG made by a developer called BioWare. Both of these games feature a multiplayer option. However, neither of these titles offer the opportunity to defeat human opponents. Rather, players come together to achieve a common goal. There are rumors abound that Syndicate escaped a necessary Online Pass by not implementing competitive multiplayer, but there’s also a strong case to be made for the argument that many of the gameplay elements particular to it would start to over-complicate and even fall apart when employed against players who were performing exactly the same tricks on your team as you were on theirs. Instead, we are uniting humanity and pitching it against the machine. There is perhaps even something of a satirical element here, when we consider thatMass Effect 3 specifically has a main storyline concerning uniting humanity, and the rest of the galaxy, against a common oppressor that just so happens to be a race of sentient machines. Could BioWare be preparing us for the future?
syndicate co op 300x168 Sunday Sidebar: Is Co op the new Deathmatch?
The co-operative play in Syndicate has been described as more closely resembling MMO tactics than those of traditional shooters
There is definitely something important going on psychologically here, in my opinion. Or could it be economic? Has a climate of financial austerity encouraged us to team up, to work together and improve our situation? Are game developers doing nothing more than simply holding up a mirror to a contemporary society in the throes of improving its sense of community? It’s food for thought, at the very least. What I’m most curious about is where the split lies. How many players prefer facing human opponents to those blessed with artificial intelligence? I need your individual perspectives, dear readers. Do you prefer the feeling of victory provided by these Horde-Mode-style gameplay options, or the satisfaction of besting a human? Or do you eschew multiplayer in its entirety, preferring to play alone? Let’s indulge ourselves in a little sociological analysis. It’s the weekend!

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