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What Is Next Generation Multiplayer?

New console generation details remain scant.  After all, we really will not know how the new features and gadgets truly function until we play the games on the new systems for ourselves.  But each new generation strives to introduce new gaming features with the new technology.  Multiplayer is young and growing as well as cost effective with hours of replay on the same maps.

I bring my own building with me to do my gargoyle impressions. 

Personally, I am not an avid multiplayer fan but I want to be.  My deafness results in difficulty with headsets for participating in Xbox Live chat and I want to play with people rather than running amuck on my own amidst a group which I already do in real life.  Just ask my co-workers.  Slowly, I have made progress successfully setting up my hearing aids with in-game sound and Xbox Live chat, the issue remains the wired connection to my controller.  Currently, I am training my fighters in Mortal Kombat 9 and taking my newfound "expertise" online.  While I am soundly losing to all others in the beginner room I am trying to participate in smack talk but undecipherable trash talk, even much louder is remains louder undecipherable smack talk.  

Already, essentially the PCs are porting to consoles with a handful of MMOs already announced for consoles, console game recording available, and an emphasis on the ability to run multiple programs simultaneously.

Multiplayer does not always mean "helpful," especially when gamers have a choice between good and bad behavior. 

The current generation has featured moments of creative multiplayer.  Developers learned that competing with the traditional first person shooter death matches is a losing endeavor and pursued new ways to showcase their games in multiplayer.  The Assassin's Creed franchise launched a multiplayer as an Abstergo training ground for Animus use requiring its agents to hunt while being hunted.  Dark Souls allows players to drop into each other's worlds choosing to act as either friend or foe.  Portal 2 allowed for nonverbal co-op play (which I have not yet played, I am finishing Half Life 2 first) and so did Journey (which I cannot play a Playstation 3 exclusive as an Xbox 360 owner).

The new generation is already using their thinking caps for new multiplayer ideas.  Some will succeed and others not so much but I am excited to see how gaming will change in the next months and years.   

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag

How will great naval multiplayer play out?  But more importantly will more marine creatures be announced?

Sharks!  Ubisoft announced the addition of sharks in Assassin's Creed IV this past week.  Whatever maritime life Ubisoft introduces (perhaps the next announcement will be shark versus octopus fighting) the Assassin's Creed franchise will continue its atypical multiplayer approach.  The franchise has introduced multiplayer this generation that rewards players for the stealthiest and most evasive gameplay and punishes players who use the "punch the enemy in the face" approach.     

Based on the historical time period of "pirates" Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag will feature multiplayer naval battles.  We do not know much.  Naval gameplay was introduced in AC III and are widely considered fun sequences that required gamers to account for wind direction, switch ammunition types, weaken an opposing boat for boarding, and most importantly to line up the shot.  Maybe multiplayer will make one player a ship steering captain and others on the guns similar to the new commander mode in upcoming Battlefield 4, maybe the combat switches to hand to hand upon boarding, maybe the combat is now based on a direct approach because an incoming ship is hard to miss.  If anything, we know that Ubisoft is not scared to throw out new gameplay mechanics in the AC franchise and wait to see what sticks.  If we are lucky, the shark will be a playable multiplayer character that can summon a kraken to take down an enemy ship. 

7/30/2013 Edit: My apologies, at the time of writing I believed that multiplayer naval battles were announced when Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag was initially revealed.  However, multiplayer naval battles are not in the game.  I did not diligently fact check before posting and so again, I apologize for the mistake.  

Killer Instinct

Rule of thumb, when battling a mutant wolf that has super sharp claws wear a shirt. 

Fighting games traditionally have a straightforward DLC offering, new fighters and repeated new editions that string together exemplary adjectives with a preference for "Super" and "Ultra."  Early buyers of fighting games speculate about the identities of the upcoming fighters because as surely as the sun rises in the East each morning a fighting game will add "surprise" fighters to its roster.

Xbox One is rebooting the Killer Instinct franchise with developers Rare and Double Helix.  The reboot is more than HD graphics but also with a new business model.  Killer Instinct will be a free downloadable game with the initial character, Jago, available and announcements thus far state that the free game is playable from beginning to end without a purchase.  All additional fighters will be available for individual or a package deal purchase.  We can easily buy in to the game, pick the characters that we have time to try mastering (in my case fail miserably), and continue with our day.  A lot of questions remain such as price, the roster size, available game modes, and whether or not Jago can win a fight against a "paid for" fighter.  What we do know is that all of those big muscles sported by the fighters in both man and beast are required in order to pull off an Ultra Combo.    

Watch Dogs

Presumably a slower paced multiplayer that will also make us all paranoid while we use our smartphones in coffee shops. 

Ubisoft's much ballyhooed new IP plays on our fears of an always on society with ever shrinking privacy rights.  Quick question, do you know if your state is a one or two party consent state for audio and/or video recording? 

We play as Aiden Pearce, a man with the smartest of smart phones that probably jail broke itself after creation.  Civilized society is dependent upon the machines that assist us conducting their jobs properly, efficiently, and with a sense of humble decorum (imagine if your television could judge you based on your programming choices).  A lone super hacker does not merely open doors but causes car accidents by hacking street lights or a happy pandemonium as an ATM spits out cash.  As a Ubisoft title, the multiplayer similarity to Assassin's Creed is not surprising, the hunter becomes the hunted who must ferret out someone who claims that their smartphone is smarter amidst a sea of NPCs.  Assassin's Creed occurs in in historical time periods so the multiplayer is in similar environments.  Watch Dogs will pit the hackers against each other in a modern, if not future, day city and not in a shoot fest but in an elaborate city-wide game of hide and seek.   

Titanfall

Feel a bit like deja vu?  Hard to understand if the new approach is simply new features or revolutionary until we play the game for ourselves. 

Titanfall is simple, Titanfall is going head to head with the current reigning first person shooter multiplayer champions most commonly known as Call Of Duty, Battlefield, Halo, and Gears Of War.  Titanfall is advertised as a defining experience for the next generation and is designed on a concept of creating a single and multiplayer hybrid but not as an MMO experience.  The big question is whether the sense of genre shift will remain when gamers get ahold of the game.  The gameplay released now shows a first person shooter perspective that evokes Call Of Duty whereas the titans rocketing in from space are reminiscent of Halo.  How massive battles that includes both gamers and AI controlled participants that are bookended by storytelling sequences creates a new gaming experience is yet to be seen.  Whether a single and multiplayer hybrid is more than a multiplayer game with single player elements or vice versa is an impossible judgment without playing.  The attempts we have seen this generation such as Halo 4's Spartan Ops tried this task but the repetitive missions kept the differences between single and multiplayer modes apparent.  The gameplay of parkouring shooter pilots juxtaposed against massive titans wielding even larger guns is exciting but more anticipatory is the potential of a new game genre. 

Disney Infinity

One of the "must haves" on the winter holiday wish lists of kiddies everywhere.  Wallets are crying already.  

I know, this is a current generation kid's game, even the adults who will actually play this game acknowledge that this game is aimed at the tykes.  All that being said, as us gamers grow up we want games to play with the children in our lives because setting up their Mass Effect playthrough is not age appropriate.  The recent Skylanders Spyro's Adventure introduced toys to drop in and out couch co-op.  We are not worried about the kiddies playing online with creepers and siblings are able to "own" a character by storming off while taking their toy (and therefore the playable character) on the walk out (I have seen this happen). 

A couple of years ago, two children, ages 6 and 7, of friends received the Skylanders Spyro's Adventure Starter Pack with its "Portal of Power" and 3 starter figures.  Whether you played miniatures, pogs, or any other collectible based game we all know what "starter set" stands for, money.  As the adult gamer present at the gift opening, I jumped in setting up the "Portal of Power" and getting the game started.  Siblings claimed "their" figure and setting their figure on the "Portal of Power" easily dropped their character into the game.  We picked out hats and we destroyed foes with my character as the ringer.   

Disney likes toys.  Disney has a vast character zoo of well-known brands ready to bring to the gaming world in one gigantic smash up.  Sure, Woody and Buzz from Toy Story play together all of the time but soon Woody and Ariel (with legs or fins) can storm Belle and Beast's castle in search of Aladdin.  I have no clue whether or not that scenario is possible within the game's confines and I am not particularly enthused to have "Disney Infinity" in my Google search history.  The most important part is you that know every character Disney character that I just mentioned and have a mental image of how that scene plays out.  If you have kids, you are doomed to Disney Infinity.  Watching this toy war move into the next generation will be the kiddie version of Call Of Duty versus Battlefield as Spyro battles Sulley for toy box dominance.     

Will new features change gamer multiplayer behavior?  We can hope.  

Besides the new technology and game announcements the next generation always brings in the question of, "What is the next big thing?"  This generation first person shooters and their megahit multiplayer modes reigned but the other genres have not given up and many are ready to take the crown in the new generation.  But who will it be?

Thank you for taking the time to click, scroll, and read when you could have been gaming.  Here is hoping for summer storms that provide a good excuse to stay inside and game.

What is your favorite current generation multiplayer experience?

What was your favorite atypical multiplayer experience thus far?

What multiplayer experience do you think will reign supreme next generation?

 

 

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