Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Multiplayer Meat Grinder

Ever notice the online play in most games basically consists of a lot of people randomly murdering one another? Either that or team matches which amount to nothing more than two gangs if thugs fighting an endless war of attrition.

My hope is online play will eventually evolve beyond these mindless digital slaughterhouses into something with a bit more depth. For now we’ve seen some baby steps in a good direction with increased co-op play and interesting variations of what we traditionally consider online multiplayer in games like Demon’s Souls. But as of now there have yet to be any non-MMO triple “A” titles that have really pushed the boundaries of online play.

Even excellent games such as Red Dead Redemption suffer online from a lack of truly significant innovation, particularly with respect to the default online mode “Free Roam.” To give a clear example of what I’m getting at here let’s say instead of just having players randomly blow each other away only to re-spawn seconds later in RDR how about implementing a bounty system similar to what is used in the single player experience? So, anytime one player kills another without just cause “The Law” places a bounty on that murder’s head. Of course if the murderer gets killed there won’t be a bounty placed on the player that shot the murderer since that’s simply justice served true to the style of the Wild West.

Of course there can still be settings for death match, team death match and pure co-op for those who want it, but at the very least the Free Roam setting would greatly benefit from this relatively simple action/consequence mechanic. If such a thing existed players would have to consider the long term results of violent acts and the Wild West concept of bounty hunters and outlaws will doubtlessly be reinforced.

While it’s not likely we’ll see this kind of system in the near future perhaps Rockstar Games will consider such an idea for their next big sandbox title. Personally, I’m hoping for a GTA meets Mount & Blade, but that’s another story. Until then I look forward to That Game Company’s Journey and beyond.

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