Gamers seem to be divided when it comes to shooters. Games like last year’s Star Wars: Battlefront are heavily criticized for lacking a proper story mode while Overwatch is wildly popular despite being multiplayer only. Xbox One launch title Titanfall tried to integrate a campaign mode into its multiplayer but it fell flat in almost every regard. The upcoming Titanfall 2 has a proper story mode, a response to the backlash its predecessor faced for its lackluster workaround for a true campaign.
Every year the new Call of Duty game sells millions of copies but the primary draw is the multiplayer component. In fact, a small fraction of players even touch the single player story mode, while an insignificant amount make it to the end of it. It doesn’t make sense to devote thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars every year to make a story mode that few people will care to enjoy. Yet there would almost undoubtedly be an uproar among fans if the developers chose to one year do without it.
This week on TSG Asks, we invite our brand new interns to answer the following question:
I think I lean more on a campaign mode because it makes the payoff more interesting. It also makes the game more of an engaging experience when you show in game, not tell in multiplayer. One of the more difficult challenges in making a campaign shooter is making a story that can keep up with the gameplay. Half-baked plots render any action, inaction.
Take CoD or Battlefield: they were revolutionary in terms of graphics and scale at the time. However, over time that’s all that’s ever grown, graphics and scale but not depth. Because of this, they’ve shifted focus over to multiplayer because that’s the largest-saturating platform that also leaves the biggest impression and the only way they can wring as much money out of the consumer as possible.
It really depends on the core, primary experience the developers intend on creating. There are many shooters which feature both single player AND multiplayer modes (Halo 3, Borderlands Series, Mass Effect 3) that can still equally match the (overall) quality of single-player only experiences like Half-Life 2 and Bioshock Infinite. Mainly, it all comes down to whether the addition of either mode is viewed as an afterthought or an essential aspect of the game experience.
For instance, with a game such as Halo 3, both single-player and multiplayer modes were developed in conjunction with one another in order to create an integrated experience across all game modes. Neither mode feels like a last minute addition to the game. If developers are able to develop both types of modes cohesively with one another, rather than just tacking one on in order to create more interest in their games, then I’d say having both is preferred. Otherwise, it’s best to focus on creating either a purely campaign-centric game, or a purely multiplayer-centric one.
I love single player modes and I would want them in nearly every first person shooter I’ve played. While Overwatch does succeed in telling a story and crafting an intricate and immersive world for its multiplayer suite, I can’t help wanting to explore that world in a more fully realized fashion and story. While I enjoy The Halo series’ significant multiplayer offerings, I continually return to those games for the campaign experience. Yet Overwatch is not Halo. Nor is Team Fortress 2 Titanfall. There is not one definitive identity for the “shooter” genre. That is one of the reasons it is so massive and enduring. If Overwatch’s identity is that of an arena based competitive shooter then it should not tack on a single player component simply to “check a box.”
In my gaming experience, I’ve always struggled to fully accept a game that I couldn’t play by myself. I grew up on isolated, internetless consoles so it’s only natural to me that any shooter would and should have a single player campaign mode. But that’s just the ideal in my head.
Upon further consideration, I realize that I seldom play many of my favorite shooters’ campaign modes. In Battlefront for PS2 (still one of my favorites) I always do instant actions and never even completed the campaign. Though Timesplitters: Future Perfect had a great campaign that was interesting, unique, and hilarious, I most often played multiplayer. So I suppose that campaigns are nice but it may not be completely reasonable of me to expect every shooter to include one. This is because rich, cohesive multiplayer is really the beating heart of the shooter genre and if that’s really, really good, I think that a single player mode may not be necessary.
For a shooter game, I would prefer a more robust multiplayer because straight shooting with no objective is not my cup of tea. More violent games without puzzle or objective I can only play for so long before I lose interest. When I play a game for a long time I expect challenges and trials to go through. This is why I like Overwatch so much because beyond the art and story behind it, there are short multiplayer games that you can play to level up rather than having to play chapters for hours following a map and killing AIs.
Growing up playing the less violent games has conditioned me to like these rather than the straight violent games with less of a storyline. I’m not against violent games because some campaign modes are very fun and I think Overwatch as a campaign would be intriguing because of the great art and background on each character.