Multiplayer gaming is obviously a huge part of the modern gaming industry, with every available gaming platform featuring online multiplayer content. Gone are the days of huddling around a TV with your friends, trying to make out your tiny quarter of the screen; multiplayer has ironically become a much more isolated experience. As multiplayer becomes more and more ubiquitous, developers have to learn to break away from traditional modes, as it simply gets old after a while.
Perhaps the biggest offender of the derivative design is in the first-person shooter space, where every multiplayer game must have deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture-the-flag modes. Very few games are confident to experiment, or even to just focus on one or two unique modes. Notable exceptions include the Battlefield series, which has perfected the relatively unique conquest mode, and generally tries to include unique multiplayer modes. Another exception is the Killzone series, which tries to mix up several different game types into one session, and often succeeds in making fun experience. At the same time, there are many games who aren’t creative at all with their multiplayer modes. Call of Duty, for example, has generally stuck to an admittedly tried-and-true formula of deathmatch and CTF for the most part (the exception being Black Ops). While Call of Duty is a solid game, the modes do get boring after a while. Other examples of these typical game types being recycled can be found in almost any game that adds multiplayer so they can tick off this feature on the back of the box.
Another example of a developer doing multiplayer right is Ubisoft Montreal and their work with the Assassin’s Creed series’ multiplayer. The unique and fun multiplayer found in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Revelations is a perfect example of multiplayer done right, as it is fresh, interesting, and fits the style of the game well; it doesn’t feel out of place at all in a predominantly single-player game.
One multiplayer mode that seems to be the flavor of the month right now is “horde” mode, first seen in the Gears of War series, though probably inspired by the tower defense genre. Don’t get me wrong; horde mode is fun, but it gets boring after literally every game with guns in it has to have a horde mode. Mass Effect, Uncharted, Call of Duty, these are games that in my opinion have no business including a horde mode. That is not to say they aren’t good games, they just don’t need the token horde mode to augment their already great experiences.
Ultimately, multiplayer games aren’t adventurous enough right now. Deathmatch, capture the flag, and horde mode are all well and good, but there are so many more interesting ways to play multiplayer games, as exemplified by Assassin’s Creed’s multiplayer modes and Battlefield’s conquest and rush modes. And while shooters aren’t the only multiplayer games out there, they are the ones who need to really get creative. I mean, there’s only so many ways to play a multiplayer RTS. Actually, there’s pretty much just one way.