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Four multiplayer features we can't live without

These are just a few multiplayer features we can't live without!

Gamers crave innovation.  Half the fun of a truly immersive game is seeing where it will take you next, and in a multiplayer game, that often means getting a little experimental.  New mechanics, strange weapons, and unusual paths to victory are what make (or break) a multiplayer experience.

As developers strive to innovate, it’s important to remember the core game features that, when missed, can leave us wondering what the hell just happened.  Here are four features that seem like a no-brainer, but can surprisingly miss the boat when a blockbuster game decides it’s time to ship.

Reliable Voice Chat

With so many dominant VOIP services marking their tenure in the history of online gaming, it can be easy for a developer to shrug off the need for title-specific voice chat. As multiplayer games become more complex, support for these features become much more critical.  Whether you’re a diehard fan of WoW’s Arena or a weekend League of Legends enthusiast, voice communication helps turn confusing guesswork into solid team plays.

Unfortunately where games tend to fall short in terms of party chat PC games leave it up to the player to decide how to gather themselves vocally.  Third party programs like Curse Voice try to circumvent this by letting players make their own chat groups on the fly -- but until we see more active VOIP integration in gaming, players will be burdened with stuffing friends into resource-hogging Skype calls.

Simple Party Creation
Connecting with other players should never be a complicated hassle, and finding a group should almost be as intuitive as booting up the game.

Bungie may have perfected the formula for producinga solid shooter with tight AAA mechanics and a wide range of weapon selection, but they totally dropped the ball in creating Destiny’s multiplayer lobbies.  Connecting with other players should never be a complicated hassle, and finding a group should almost be as intuitive as booting up the game.

While roaming an open world alone may sound enticing, developers shouldn’t forget that many players just want to make friends as fast as possible.  

Open Mod Support

We may not always need a game that lets us turn the main character into a homicidal molotov-throwing cat, but isn’t it nice to at least have the option?  Mods do a many wonderful thing -- and as Valve’s recent struggle over monetization has taught us, gamers love to have a wide selection of choice with minimum risk.

While the future of paid mods is uncertain, certain players will always have the need to push their gameplay to unfathomable limits.  It’s one of the reason that Skyrim has had such incredible staying power over the years, and while most Mods only do simple things like improve textures or add extra chickens, modding has also laid the groundwork for memorable titles like DOTA 2 and Killing Floor 2.

Custom UI

MMO gaming can range from being a casual experience to a full-fledged second job.  Fortunately it’s a job that lets us dictate exactly how we want our cubicle arranged, and with so many UI options, it’s hard to remember what the original experience even looked like.

Encountering an MMO with limited UI customization can be incredibly jarring, and we don’t just mean HUD visual elements.  Custom keybindings and controller mapping are a huge part of what make a game so immersive, and regardless of the platform it’s hard not to be disappointed when a title ships with only basic control elements.

SWTOR recognized the importance of a good UI long ago, going so far as to charge players for additional button space when the MMO first went Free-To-Play.  While a pretty devious way to take advantage of a players need for customization, it does serve to make a pretty good point.

Published Aug. 25th 2015

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