Paul discusses if a mutliplayer game needs to have a single player mode.
Although it is becoming less common place, no one really questions when a game ships with only a single player campaign and has no multiplayer in sight. But even in today’s climate where mutliplayer is given a very heavy focus, the idea of game being sold with only multiplayer included tends to receive a good deal of criticism. Obviously the recently released Titanfall found itself in this predicament; the game has no offline component. It can only be played online, against other players. Even the short story that it has is told through traditional multiplayer matches.
This raised an interesting question though: does a game that is heavily focused on multiplayer, such as Titanfall, really need a single player mode? After all, the amazingly popular Call of Duty franchise is focused on its multilpayer and many players and critics give the single player very little attention. Yet every single CoD game to date has shipped with an explosives filled campaign full of cinematic moments, movie like action set pieces and a full compliment of voice actors. But apart from the original Modern Warfare most CoD campaigns are seen as useless filler and fluff.
The problem is that these campaigns feel as if they are just tacked on modes that are there because someone said they should be there. And sadly Titanfall takes this tacked on feeling to a completely new level. I think back older games like Unreal Tournament and Counter Strike. Those games were never anything more than multiplayer and never tried to be more than that. And that was ok because they are so good at being multiplayer games.
Last year Digital Extremes released their game Warframe. While it focus on co-op instead of pvp, it too is a solely multiplayer game. But the game has reached a very stable level of success thanks to Digital Extremes’ continued support. The game has a back story and some very interesting lore but it is still rather underdeveloped. What the game does have going for it is once again its great game play. It is fun to play as a space ninja wielding swords and assault rifles and cool suits of power armour. After sinking a good chunk of time into the game its clear that game play was Digital Extremes primary focus and I applaud their ability to make the game they wanted. Their continued refinement of a solid foundation has only made the game better over the past months.
Granted a problem with my comparison is that Warframe is free-to-play while games like Call of Duty and Titanfall cost full price. But I still think that Warframe teaches a valuable point: it is important to focus on what you want and to not add something just because someone says it should be. I do not have a problem with Titanfall not having a traditional single player campaign. I have a problem with making a lazy attempt at telling a story.
To be a good or even a great game, a new release does not have to have every element or game mode that a previous release in its genre had. It needs to have a focus and it needs to stick to that focus. Adding anything outside that focus just feels tacked on and underwhelming. A multiplayer focused game does not need a single player mode in order to succeed. It needs to have a strong and powerful game play foundation that its developers can build around. If the game is fun to play, people will play it. I’m not entirely sure why the IMC and Militia are fighting in Titanfall, but it I do not much care. All I care is that it is fun to jet pack around the map and stomp around in a Titan.