Getting gamers to agree on the best multiplayer game for PC is harder than getting multidisciplinary scientists to agree on a theory, or a roomful of toddlers to nominate the best flavour of ice cream. But you may be surprised to hear that there is some common ground. Whether you want to play one or try your hand at creating one, gamers and game designers agree on six features that great multiplayer games share.
Switch It Up
Involving more people in a PC game means more fun, but also more personalities, more individual preferences and more people to get bored. Good multiplayer games tend to have multiple modes inbuilt to keep things interesting for as many people as possible. Additional modes don’t fundamentally change the game, so the overall experience remains familiar, but they do add a new element to spice things up. Look for games that allow you to switch from the standard team-versus-team challenge to something objective based, or even a capture-the-flag scenario. Some games allow level-creation, and games with mapmakers are super popular. Multiple ways to play means multiple ways to win, and who could object to that? Ever played Halo? With modes like Grifball, Regicide, CtF and Team Squat, you and your gang can stave off boredom for hours on end.
It’s a Date
Having your players show up together is frequently referenced as a key to can’t-get-enough multiplayer gaming. Quite simply, get your gaming tribe together all at the same time. Gaming can be a solitary activity, and multiplayer games go a little way towards countering that, but dropping in online any time of day or night can be a little like walking into a casino and sitting down to an ongoing game of poker: it’s fun, but there’s something lonely about it. There’s nothing quite like being in the same place at the same time. That is easier said than done. People have busy lives. Gamers play across time zones. But game designers on a mission to create the ultimate multiplayer game all agree: getting everyone in the same ‘room,’ be that virtually or in person, is key. Virtual events, especially regular events, are extremely popular. Even though you may be thousands of miles from the people you are playing with, a live online gaming event can have a festival-like atmosphere. And believe it or not, people can actually gather in person. You could host a gaming event or look for one coming up in your area. If you’re a business owner, what better way to build cohesion amongst your team than holding a multiplayer gaming event at work? If your office has the infrastructure to pull this off, fully managed IT support could be the way to go if you want your event to be hitch-free.
Games that work best for multiple players are the games that group players into teams and reward teamwork over individual striving. The team that wins out is not necessarily the team with the best individual players, but the team in which each teammate has a part to play, and everyone manages to smash it. You simply cannot beat that feeling at the end of a game when victory was seized because everyone in the team gave it everything they had. Take, for example, The Last of Us: a shooter which makes it tricky for an individual player to achieve things on their own. You have to delegate to be successful in this world. You need someone to be a close-range shooter, you need a healer, an explosives expert, and someone to take charge with the hunting rifle. Individual players have little success on their own but working together effectively, a team can move mountains.
Simple to Learn, Fun To Master
The most beloved games of all time are often the simple games that almost anyone can have a go at. Think about football. The only rule you really need to know is: don’t touch the ball with your hands. Or checkers: pieces move diagonally. Easy, right? And not too daunting if you’re new to the game. But once you understand the rules of these simple games, there is no limit to the mastery you can achieve. Similarly, in the gaming world, multiplayer PC games that live on among gamers tend to be those that almost anyone can get to grips with fairly quickly because the strategies, controls and movements are simple. Top rated among these are multiplayer games that are simple enough that almost anyone can play but provide opportunities for players to hone their skills indefinitely over time.
Levels and Unlockables
Back in the day, teams of gamers were content to play the same game over and over, replicating the approach each time, and honing their skills. Each time it was a clean slate, with everything back to square one, and you’d expect the same result from the same actions. Not surprisingly, multiplayer games that break this mould are starting to emerge tops of multiplayer PC game lists. Games in which your actions in a current match affect your achievement in future matches create a sense of a larger quest or journey across time and space, which is a fantastic motivator for team play. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as finally beating your opponent in a closely matched, mammoth struggle and next time coming back stronger and more powerful, ready to beat them more comprehensively. Give Call of Duty a go if you haven’t already. Each match allows you to earn a higher rank, accrue killstreaks and grab new weapons, moving through the game with greater ease and mastery.
Wherever you stand in the hot debate on downloadable content (or DLC), this pricey feature of modern gaming is a frequently cited element of great multiplayer PC games. After paying an upfront cost at the time of initial release, gamers wait with bated breath for new content releases to gradually flesh out the world of the game. The first game to pilot this profit-spinning approach was Dunjonquest’s Upper Reaches of Apshai in the early ’80s. Over the next ten years, the novelty caught on among PC gamers as more and more game producers went that route. Love the trend or hate it, DLC is here to stay when it comes to multiplayer games, and for good reason: new stuff keeps things interesting. You only need a couple of players to get bored for a game to be spoiled. New stuff – be it weapons, modes, maps or skins – makes it less likely that players will get bored and so extends the life of the game. Simply put, this means more fun for more people. But while good multiplayer games often offer DLC, the availability of DLC does not necessarily make a good multiplayer game. The consensus among gamers is that an already good multiplayer game can be enhanced by DLC but games that use DLC to distract from a disappointing multiplayer experience might make a splash at first but soon sink without a trace.
Multiplayer games that boast these six features will tempt even the most hardened lone-rangers out there. But it’s worth remembering that the incredible popularity of multiplayer games is owed in large part to the liberating experience of letting go control of your individual fate and depending on your fellow human beings. Because unlike bots, human beings are not dependable. No single-player game can produce the level of surprise and creative tactics that arise when many people with different skills, strengths and fears come together to play.