Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Online first-person shooter multiplayer games

I'm a really avid consumer of computer games, but there's one broad genre of games that I simply cannot stand: Online multiplayer games in general, and first-person shooter multiplayer games in particular.

During my life I have played probably over a hundred first-person shooter games. I wouldn't say I'm at the level of a pro player, but quite necessarily I'm quite good at those, even at the hardest difficulty settings. So it's not like I'm bad at FPS games.

But if I try an online multiplayer version, it's a completely different story. It's not a set of computer-controlled enemies carefully fine-tuned to give a sensible difficulty level. No, it's human players with years of training.

What happens is that I play for something like 10 seconds, and I die. Then I respawn in a random location, play for like 10 seconds, and I die. Rinse and repeat. In many cases I don't even see where they were shooting from. Sure, sometimes I manage to kill somebody myself, but that doesn't have any kind of satisfaction when I'm dead a couple of seconds later, and I have achieved nothing.

If they made a single-player FPS game like this, it would be complete trash. Nobody would want to play a game like that. What sense does it make to constantly get killed after just a few tens of seconds of gameplay, often from enemies you can't even see? This kind of game would get abysmal reviews and be universally panned.

Add to that the fact that there is no story, there is no goal, there are no quests, no objectives, no progress... nothing. It's just mindless running around the same level over and over and over for hours, killing and getting killed.

Why would anybody want to play a game like this is beyond me. It makes no sense. It's boring, it's repetitive, it's nonsensical, there's nothing happening, and the difficulty level is beyond unyielding. A single-player game like this would be completely horrendous. Yet, apparently, if it's a multiplayer game, it somehow makes everything alright.

For example, some months ago I was at a party, and there was a brand-new PlayStation 4 there, and some Call of Duty, or was it Battlefield, or whatever there. The single-player mode was kind of ok, I suppose. Then we had the idea to try the online mode.

About ten to twenty seconds of gameplay, I'm dead. I wait to respawn, and about ten to twenty seconds of gameplay, I'm dead. Rinse and repeat a few times more. It made absolutely no sense whatsoever. How exactly was that any kind of fun was beyond my comprehension. (Of course I knew it would probably be like this, so I was expecting it. It just confirmed what I already knew.)

And it's not even solely the difficulty level. I'm fine with games like Dark Souls where you die really often because it's (deliberately) so difficult. The difference is that in Dark Souls there is actual progress when you finally beat those difficult enemies. There's a sense of achievement, you get to new places, the story progresses, you gain stuff, you get rewards. You don't simply run aimlessly around the same small level forever, with no progress, no story, nothing.

And then I see praising reviews of online multiplayer games. Are these reviewers mad? Is there something wrong inside their heads? Who wants to play this kind of game? They would never praise a single-player game that was like this, but since it's multiplayer, it somehow magically makes it ok. I cannot comprehend.

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