With the rise of the PSN and the prevalence of Xbox Live, online multiplayer is more popular than ever. It’s almost become a staple of the modern video game release, and it’s becoming more and more rare that franchises choose to omit any form of competitive or co-op action.
That being said, there are still examples of singleplayer-only games. More often than not, multiplayer is an extraneous inclusion, a way to increase the shelf-life of the product that allows the developer to sell us a load of hats and useless skins. Speaking of useless skins, I was rather fond of my ‘Tuxedo Drake’ from the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta. It’s not so useless when I’m top of the deathmatch leaderboard, is it?
Sharply dressed treasure hunters aside, multiplayer is a big business. It’s so big, in fact, that there are many games that seem bafflingly conspicuous by its absence. Not every game needs multiplayer, but there are many for which it would be a great fit – and that’s where we’re going to start. So, here are the five incredible singleplayer campaigns that IGCritic believes would be extra awesome if they allowed us to have a blast with our buddies.
The single-player: It was a fine example of short but sweet for 2016’s Firewatch. In our Firewatch review, IGCritic declared it “an utterly engaging, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it experience” – it was a brief campaign that punched you hard in the gut and didn’t let up until a frustratingly lackluster conclusion. With solid branching dialogue and memorable characters, there’s plenty to love here, and Firewatch has a great base for any potential sequels going forward.
The multiplayer: The singleplayer campaign in Firewatch relied on isolation and a quiet, thought-provoking atmosphere, and the multiplayer mode shouldn’t betray this. Instead, it should be a similar affair, with two or three players let loose in the beautiful Shoshone National Forest sandbox, gathering resources and putting out fires left, right and centre. Each player would have their own ‘base’ – a firewatch tower – and they’dl have to protect it from being sabotaged by the other players.
The Order: 1886
The single-player: Much like the aforementioned Firewatch, The Order: 1886 was criticised for its regrettably short length. This aside, it was a fun, campy third-person shooter set in a beautifully designed Victorian London, with some solid shooting mechanics and a serviceable plot – complete with a Shyamalan-style twist.
The multiplayer: Much like fellow PS4-shooter Uncharted, The Order: 1886 would be a beautiful fit for a competitive multiplayer mode. While Uncharted didn’t receive this mode until it’s second installment, and there’s no reason to assume The Order won’t follow suit, there was still a missed opportunity here. Most players blasted through the single player campaign in five or six hours, a pitiful length for a much-hyped, full priced retail release with no other features. Some form of multiplayer mode would have improved the longevity of the game and would have substantially buffed its critic score.
Batman: Arkham Knight
The single-player: A dark, twisted, hellish experience for Batman: The Dark Knight, as he battled both his inner demons as well as a vast array of DC Comics supervillains. Cool use of gadgets, a tank-esque Batmobile and the best hand-to-hand combat system in modern gaming helped make this the standout entry in the Arkham series.
The multiplayer: While franchise prequel Batman: Arkham Origins included an online multiplayer mode revolving around the series’ infamous predator combat arenas, it didn’t really work, with most players anticipating any and all stealth tactics that the heroes could come up with. This led to a ton of one-sided matches, and a ton of frustration.
Instead, Batman: Arkham Knight should’ve utilised the excellent vehicle mechanics present in the singleplayer mode, and expanded them to online multiplayer races and vehicle destruction derby maps. It wouldn’t have required a lot of work on Rocksteady’s part – these maps are pretty much already included in the main campaign – and would’ve been a fun way to expand the Batman universe in an explosive fashion.
The single-player: A tense, atmospheric stroll through the abandoned Sevastopol space station, Alien: Isolation had players assuming the role of Amanda Ripley – daughter of Alien heroine Ellen Ripley – as she investigates the mysterious disappearance of the Nostromo spacecraft. Along the way, a single, lone alien stalks you from the shadows, waiting for you to make that fatal error that would result in your bloody death.
The multiplayer: The poorly received Aliens: Colonial Marines featured competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes, but they were ruined by severe technical issues and unbalanced gameplay. Alien: Isolation, on the other hand, was ripe for an incredible online mode that would’ve pitted a single human against a single alien.
Both parties would be player-controlled, a one-on-one deathmatch that’s equal parts tense, gory and fun. Of course, this idea would rely on some stellar map design – the areas would need to be open enough for the human to hide, but not too open as to make it impossible for the alien to find them. However, if done correctly, a simple, quick-burst competitive multiplayer mode would’ve worked wonders here.
Far Cry Primal
The single-player: Far Cry: Primal takes a trip back in time to 10,000 BC for a clubs-and-bows caveman adventure that pulled no punches with its setting. It suffered from being an almost carbon-copy of its successor Far Cry 4, while removing the compelling villain and exciting firearm action of that particular game.
The multiplayer: Not many franchises are brave enough to play around with a setting like this, with good reason. It’s games like Call of Duty and Battlefield 4 – also known as ‘bro shooters’ – that dominate the online multiplayer scene, and that’s usually down to the fact that they feature modern weaponry.
While Primal doesn’t have this luxury, a melee-focused team deathmatch would have been an extremely fun inclusion, as players fight to get the jump on their unsuspecting neanderthal enemies. This mode could incorporate the crafting mechanic found in most Far Cry singleplayer campaigns, meaning that the multiplayer would reward the more stealthy, tactical approach versus the gung-ho method.
If it’s singleplayer you after, you have no shortage of options. And that’s the beautiful thing about gaming. It’s a hobby that can cater to every player and every mood, feeling and situation, so whatever you’re planning on doing tonight, I urge you to pick up that fingerprint-smudged controller and lose yourself in your favourite world.
But, if multiplayer is a must – and I understand you feel the need to teabag complete strangers, I really do – then check out our list of the best and worst offline multiplayer experiences on the PS4.