Recently I’ve developed a fear. I’ve been playing video games for a long time and I grew up in a scene where single player and split-screen multiplayer was the go-to experience—presently, it’s not quite like that. Since the advent of the internet the gaming world has changed—admittedly, for the better—and we’ve reached the point where I start to worry, thanks to the Prevalence of MMOs.
MMO’s have been around for a long time (since the 70s to be more precise) and they’ve been a great source of entertainment for many players around the world, and I personally have enjoyed playing them, but MMOs themselves are not the cause of my concern. What has become a problem is major developers turning their unique and amazing singleplayer experiences into a mish mashed MMO shit-storm. One of the most recent examples is The Elder Scroll Online (ESO).
We had a chance to play ESO in two of the recent betas, and we’ll have a lot to say about that later (Let’s just say it was good and bad) and excluding our critique, the game is a perfect example of my particular fear. Now that “Bethesdimax” has turned our beloved Elder Scrolls series into an MMO, will we still see single player games? Will we get to visit the provinces of Tamriel in all of its glory instead of the dumbed down experience MMOs have proven to be? My assumption is, no. Think about it, how could it be good for business?
ESO is supposed to encompass ALL of the world of Tamriel, if Bethesda releases another installment it would basically be saying “I know that ESO is doing great, and is providing a grand scale Elder Scrolls world, but let’s release a much better single player experience” as a long running fan I would simply cut my monthly subscription, and dedicate the next few hundred hours of my life to this game, and sure it’s a temporary loss, but temporary in millions is still “Not good for business”.
Another great example was the disappointment that Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) was. Now, I didn’t quite play this to its finishing point so I can’t say how good or bad it was, but Broseph did and, well, here’s a quote from an upcoming article.
“There was nothing in the game that made me feel accomplished with my character’s advancement. I didn’t feel like an awesome ass Sith Lord, All I felt like was a dual lightsaber wielding lackey going around and doing favors for random people.”
The previous being a sentiment that players of the original Knights of The Old Republic would never share.
I believe that this series would have done better had they taken the single player direction. SWTOR is games were you could strip the multiplayer out and would still be an entirely playable game, albeit a crappy one.
But speaking of a more personal experience, to me the immediate definition of a “Dumbed down single player experience for the sake of multiplayer” is Neverwinter. I played both of the Neverwinter Nights series previous installments (Including an exorbitant amount of mods) and they were amazing top-down RPG games that required strategy, know-how and dedication to triumph over the challenges the game threw at you. Neverwinter, the MMO iteration of the game, is literally a hack-and-slash 3rd person game that as far as I read (I couldn’t bear playing another minute of it without risking permanent life indignation) is entirely soloable, a prospect that only the mad would attempt in the previous entries (especially the second one.)
This is why, fair readers, I am afraid. I believe there will be a time where almost every game will incorporate some form of multiplayer, but this is something that I see in the future, where there’s people with better ideas and the tech necessary so that games don’t require getting intensely dumbed down. My greatest hope is that I’m wrong, and that ESO will be an amazing game worthy of the Elders Scrolls name, but quite frankly, I doubt it.