While some developers might feel that staying away from multiplayer improves a product, there are always games that are solid material for experiences gamers can share. With so many new games coming out, and some promising IPs, there's never been so many divergent and unique multiplayer games and modes. So in the spirit of new frontiers, here are seven titles that should totally give multiplayer a try.
Batman: Arkham Knight
The aversion Rocksteady has had with bringing multiplayer to the Batman: Arkham series will remain one of the most profoundly divisive decisions the franchise heads have ever made. Fans have begged to at least have co-op. Even at the end of the line, after Batman: Arkham Origins' Invisible Predator Online clearly proved that playing as the Dynamic Duo can be done right in an online experience. And yet here we all are, looking at another solo experience.
Don't get me wrong - the Arkham games are some of the finest single-player experiences from last-gen, and Arkham Knight will easily be one of the best next-gen games to come. Rocksteady has this formula down to a T. That's why it makes no sense to not try and do some sort of multiplayer. Whether it's a rebalanced and expanded version of the Batman: Arkham Origins multiplayer (which for some of us, was the only redeeming factor of Arkham Origins), or a cooperative experience, we want to see it.
Imagine solving a Riddler house full of puzzles, combat, and exploration. Almost like a hybrid brawler/dungeon crawler, it would require two players (they could choose between the current cast of challenge mode characters and DLC additions) to navigate the mechanical hell-hole and make it to the other side intact. There could be alternate solutions based on what character you play as, and levels themselves could be randomized, like in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Both Invisible Predator Online and a co-op mode could even tie into the game's Challenge Mode, which has been a staple of the series and kept many fans digging into the game's nuanced combat mechanics. It makes perfect sense, but it needs the developers to take it seriously.
Assassin's Creed: Syndicate
Yes, I've already spoken at length about how the exclusion of multiplayer makes very little sense when it comes to Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, but there's more to it than that. The game is just basically begging for a multiplayer of some kind, because of its entire meta-game in the story.
The Assassins and Templars are both running gangs, who are even color-coded. You face off against rival gang leaders in the main story, leading brawls against their goons and finally fighting them one-on-one. Meanwhile, your faction accrues power and influence, gaining new gear and resources. That doesn't sound like a single-player game, that sounds almost like one of those Facebook "strategy" games.
Now I am not saying Assassin's Creed: Syndicate should emulate Facebook -- far from it (please Ubisoft, of all things, do not emulate Facebook). All of the traditional multiplayer modes in past games make way more sense here. Almost every mode makes sense in these circumstances. Wanted, Assassinate, Manhunt, Artifacts, and Wolfpack in particular make way more sense. You need to steal from rival gangs and take out opposing gang leaders. A simpler set-up could not be handed to Ubisoft.
The multiplayer could be heavily integrated with the single-player, and better yet, they could finally make offline variants. Imagine having all the content of past multiplayer titles, but you could also play it against bots in-game. It could even increase mission variety. This is so obvious that it just makes the exclusion all the more disappointing.
Co-op in the wasteland, Bethesda. We've made a mod for this in Fallout 3 (and partially in Fallout: New Vegas). It can be completely optional, and players can just let a friend tag along (like in Saints Row games). Seriously, this is even simpler than Assassin's Creed: Syndicate's ability to support multiplayer modes.
You could trade resources between each other, including better gear your partner may have unlocked, like in Borderlands. Also like Borderlands, the combat difficulty could scale for the increase in active players. It would be especially ideal for those who don't normally play hardcore RPGs like Fallout, as their more experienced friends could help them survive the Wasteland.
The most interesting potential, though, is if players have different faction allegiances, and they use these to make new quest branches that otherwise wouldn't be possible. Imagine you and a friend igniting a war, or preventing one, by using your various connections and allegiances. The potential in the game's sandbox is very enticing.
No one really wants a competitive Fallout game, and I honestly can understand that. The series has never been about competition, but survival and personal stories. So let us build stories together, Bethesda, and tear down the wall preventing friends from playing with each other.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
I remember playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution back in 2011, and remarking on how well the mechanics could work in a multiplayer setting if tweaked and rebalanced. Now that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided looks to be doing those very same rebalances and improvements, I really hope we see a multiplayer mode added to the game.
Once again, the game's setting offers perfect potential. With A.R.C., Task Force 29, the Illuminati, and the mysterious hacker group, there are four different factions at play. On top of this, the game has three combat-oriented playstyles that all could work well in a multiplayer setting: hacking, action, and stealth.
Imagine it like a mixture of Aliens Versus Predator, Bioshock 2: Fall of Rapture, and Watch_Dogs. Team One has a hacker who opens access to vents and turns on a remote controlled turret he/she can control from the console. Team Two has a stealthy player who uses the vents to sneak behind lines and take out the hacker. A combat focused player could shoot the stealthy hacker, but then be taken out by Team Two's hacker patching into Team One's turret. It's a perfect Rock-Paper-Scissors effect.
The controls and mechanics are also highly fluid and intuitive. Stealth takedowns could work great, but can only be done if you aren't in a player's line of sight (excluding if you're invisible). Combat takedowns can be done at any time, but leave you vulnerable to being shot -- just like hacking. Items could be looted from your opponents and the environment. The quick select wheel/bar lets you easily access your inventory on the fly. Energy bars keep everything balanced, and encourage using augmentation sparingly.
Levels could actually include lots of twists and turns, and the variety of locales available means each could be visually distinctive. Leveling up would unlock augmentations and other new gameplay options. Players would get at least one loadout for each playstyle, which they could swap between lives. You'd also be able to use any equipment found mid-match, regardless of whether you'd unlocked it yet or not.
The original Deus Ex had a popular multiplayer that even got a Human Revolution-themed mod way back. So let's bring it back in full force, even if some of the fanboys will cry "I NEVER ASKED FOR THIS".
Dead Space 4
With word now that Visceral Games' developers are open to a new Dead Space game, it seems appropriate for the series to finally settle what kind of multiplayer it's going to have. The first game was single-player because co-op was proposed too late into development, and the game engine wasn't optimized yet. Later, Dead Space 2 had competitive multiplayer that was great fun, but had limited content and a few balancing issues. Dead Space 3 took the experience cooperative, but also unfortunately fumbled its gameplay by grafting in a weapon crafting system as well.
The next Dead Space game could go in any direction, but what it needs to do is pick one. If it's going to have co-op, then its cramp levels need to better support it. If it's going to have competitive multiplayer, then it either needs to seriously retool (or better yet, drop) the current weapon crafting system.
Either way, tightness of Dead Space 2's shooting will also need to return. Dead Space 3 put more emphasis on splash damage and cones of fire, and this took way too much away from the focus on precisely dismembering enemies.
The competitive multiplayer should still retain the narrative focus (a la Killzone 3's Operations mode) that the original Dead Space 2 multiplayer emulated. Except now, there should be more branching options, and flipped goals. Maybe the necromorphs go on the offensive instead of the humans. If humans fail an objective, why not give them an alternate last-ditch one to save the match and get them back on track? Variety is the key to any multiplayer mode, and it is what Dead Space 4 needs badly if it wants to outdo its predecessors.
A cooperative experience should both include a standard horde mode (seriously, why is it only the mobile Dead Space game that has this?) and a cooperative story mode. Except it shouldn't also be the main campaign, or in any way dramatically impact our single-player experience. No story content locked behind magic co-op doors, Visceral.
Lastly, if we really want to be ambitious and include all the above modes of play, then some kind of united upgrade system (a la Splinter Cell: Blacklist) should be considered. Nothing to the extent of Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker, where you'd have opponents with vastly better late-game gear. Instead, you'd merely be able to spend in-game currency and upgrades on the game's competitive, cooperative, and single-player unlocks.
So you'd play single-player to unlock extra suits with unique effects, play the competitive mode to grind for upgrade points, and chill with a friend in co-op to experience a cool side story. It all works in unison without stepping on anyone's feet. Here's hoping we see something like that in Dead Space 4.
Back when Alien: Isolation was leaked, it was listed as an Xbox Live game with up to four-player multiplayer. This was the original element that interested some gamers, as the potential there is quite intriguing. While we've seen plenty bombastic Alien Versus Predator multiplayer, we have yet to see a subdued, Damned-style Alien multiplayer experience.
In future Alien: Isolation games, Creative Assembly should really consider testing multiplayer. Co-op was apparently briefly tested, but promptly dropped. What if, instead of co-op, we took the game's highly praised survival mode, and take it to the furthest extreme. What if we make one to three players survivors, who have to achieve goals, whilst another player controls a xenomorph alien - perhaps a little bit similar to Evolve.
Players would need to remain stealthy, and extremely clever. This would be the ultimate test of skill for many players, and every death of a teammate would intensify each players' terror drastically. You could still use your flamethrower to deter the xenomorph, but it will do little more than require it retreat for a time before spawning in a new vent. Your resources, unlike its respawns, would also be limited and would require searching the level.
The best part of this is that the xenomorph would be genuinely unpredictable. Maybe the player controlling the xenomorph is overly aggressive and can be easily avoided due to lack of finesse on their part. Or the xenomorph player decides to toy with players, sneaking up on them when they least expect it, and leaving little hint of its presence.
So as a result, we get the cooperative experience that Alien: Isolation could have had, but also get a competitive multiplayer that touches directly on what makes Alien: Isolation such a great horror game. I, for one, hope we see something like that with whatever Alien: Isolation 2 turns out to be.
Why do I specifically cite the E3 2011 version of Bioshock Infinite? Because a lot of what we see here could easily have worked as a multiplayer mode. Calling up tears that have to go on a recharge timer? Check. Using Vigors more like special grenades than as Plasmids? Check. Massive maps with numerous vantage points, skylines, and destructible pieces (such as the blimp)? Check, check, check.
Bioshock 2: Fall of Rapture had an outstanding multiplayer mode, which is why people still actively play it even though Bioshock 2 released in 2010. The fact the best Irrational Games could come up with for Infinite was a pinball-style tower defense mini-game and a co-op mode (both of which never made it in the final game) is depressing. Granted, I realize my suggested alternative isn't the farthest out of the box.
Really, the Fall of Rapture framework, other than specific mechanics like hacking turrets/vending machines, is just fine as a template here. Narrative provided through the player's apartment and audio diaries works as well in Columbia as it did in Rapture. Unlocking new weapons, vigors, gear, and weapon modifiers fits just fine as a progression system. Even maps with little winks and their own narrative touches is part of what made Fall of Rapture feel like a true Bioshock game, so include similar level design here.
Really, all you are doing is trading mechanics. Instead of hacking, include Skyhooks and skylines to ride. Instead of a Big Daddy suit, either have a random Heavy Hitter that can be triggered, or a one team can use the combat blimp like the Gunship in Call of Duty. Make the levels a bit less cramped and... ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Bioshock Infinite's multiplayer.
Much like with Fallout 4, it's just not that complicated to see a multiplayer mode working. I'm sure something more imaginative could be accomplished in a cooperative space, but that would be limited either in replayability or in the amount of content easily made. For Bioshock, competitive multiplayer works surprisingly well, so I'd say stick with what works.
Is there any game you wish would add multiplayer? Have an alternative idea for the ones mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below!