MP Talk – Do Single Player Campaigns In Multiplayer Shooters Suck?

We’re putting a single player spin on today’s episode of MP Talk as we discuss the often controversial topic of single player campaigns and their involvement in our favorite multiplayer shooters today.

Do they have a place? Do they belong in multiplayer-focused games like Call of Duty and Battlefield, games that are bought almost solely for their robust multiplayer experiences? If they’re here to stay, why do most of them suck so much? How can they be made more interesting to play and be turned into a more meaningful slice of the $60 price tag of games these days?

Join along with Denny, Alex, and I as we work out the kinks of what makes a good single player shooter campaign and what makes a bad one while we recall some of our favorite and not-so-favorite examples out there.

Tell us in the comments, how important are single player campaigns to you? What are some of your favorites? What can developers do to make them more interesting?

Until next time, keep your sights on MP1st.

  • Ben August

    Based on the vast number of bugs that modern FPS exhibit, I would much rather they spend the amount of time used to make a single player / campaign, and spend that on multiplayer QA instead.

    I mean, I get the value of offline play, but why not just offer bots like Unreal Tournament did?

    I’m sure they will never eliminate the campaigns though; they appear here to stay. Not that all of us really notice though. I haven’t completed a solo campaign since 2001 in any FPS game (last: Return to Castle Wolfenstein).

    Obviously I have a bias against Solo-play, but that’s because solo and its scripted environments can never offer the rush of human v human competition.

    • Asylum Saint

      Its no coincidence that the best campaigns tend to be ones you can play with other people, at least for me anyways. We need more multiplayer campaigns.

      • Johnny Neat

        Fuck yes to that! Didn’t World at World have a co-op campaign? FPS need this.

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  • dpg70

    I might be the only person alive that gets more fun out of the CoD campaign than the multiplayer. They always have a decent story. Then you look at DICE and their last two campaigns have been terrible (Recker, you’re in charge. Now follow me!) They added absolutely nothing to the experience other than the aggravation of being forced to play them to unlock multiplayer content.

    I guess it depends on who’s doing it. I don’t see why DICE wastes the resources.

    • Agree .. Battlefield isn’t about SP .. but when it comes to MP they are the best besides bugs of course … BC1 and 2 had decent SP though

      • dpg70

        The BC series was pretty good, but DICE doesn’t know why people liked BC2. Great MP and a action packed and humorous story. Go figure.

        • To be honest the MP was boring .. the SP was fun but other than that I don’t even know why people liked it .. the MP had nothing special .. the destruction wasn’t outstanding either .. we can destroy those small buildings in BF3/4 not a big deal”

        • It’s too bad their writer left. Even if they decided to give us BFBC3, I’m not sure they’d be able to recapture that same humor and charm.

          • dpg70

            I did not know that, but it makes so many things that much clearer.

    • Johnny Neat

      Agreed, but BF4 had a better campaign than BF3. Can we give them that? But you’re right. Oh and let’s not forget most of the campaign levels did allow for a more sandbox-like experience than always going down corridors.

      • dpg70

        They killed BF4 with the silent squad leader. Just terrible writing. It was more open though. They improved in that aspect.
        DICE has always missed out on a golden opportunity with their single player. It’s Battlefield, yet the closest you get to vehicle warfare in the campaign is a short run in a tank or LAV, or maybe some jet gameplay on rails. I think BF3 had one tank mission.
        On the other hand, both of the recent MoH single player campaigns were fairly good stories. More of the same “go hear shoot that”, but they were fun. DC got that part of it right.

      • I replayed a level in Battlefield 3 to record some footage for this podcast (but never used it) and, I gotta say, I think I much preferred 3 over 4. It’s like Alex said, BF3’s campaign was more *about* the battlefield, if that makes sense. Some good examples are the levels where you get to fly a jet or drive a tank. Those were insanely well done for the time, and actually gave you the sense that you were a part of a greater battle or war. I missed them in BF4. The Caspian Border level near the end was especially remarkable as well.

        That’s just me though. I also appreciate how BF4 tried to incorporate some sandbox elements.

        • Johnny Neat

          You’re completely right. I prefer BF3 mp levels more as well.

      • jj16802

        I thought BF4’s campaign was lackluster compared to BF3. It tried to grab players’ attention with Roland Emmerich-style destruction and was a lot shorter.

        Although I will praise BF4’s campaign for having bits of sandbox like elements like in the first Bad Company campaign.

    • COD has some very memorable campaigns, absolutlely. Any favorites?

      • dpg70

        I don’t remember half of them, but Black Ops stands out. Good little mind job or two in there.

      • Asylum Saint

        Black Ops had the best story. Modern Warfare had the most iconic moments, WAW though may have been the best from top to bottom. Im biased though because im into WW2 history.

        • I’m having a hard time recalling WAW’s campaign, mostly because I played it the least. I should revisit it.

          • Asylum Saint

            Its great because you get the feeling that what you are experiencing is real. These are real campaigns and real weapons. You don’t go in feeling all badass because you are a highly trained supersoldier with the best weapons money can buy. You go in as just another guy with crap weapons with real stakes on the line.

        • SangheiliSpecOp

          Black Op’s campaign was just badass, period. I loved the cold war setting in that game…

      • Guest

        Cod 4, black ops 1, mw2… When seeing the white house being burned down was awesome,

        • Yep. I think you just nailed my top three picks as well. Hans Zimmer’s music in MW2 is what really made it so epic and so chilling. Also, are you a terrorist?

          • Guest

            It gave me the chills and I was in awe of it, Seeing it in the trailer too was awesome,

      • Skullking920

        cod 4, mw2 and blops 1

      • James Nicolson

        I have played CoD2’s campaign about 20 times. Scaling the cliffs at Point de Hoc and holding off the German counter-attack was just epic gameplay. The British and Soviet campaigns were good as well.

    • Skullking920

      bad company series is a fun single player

  • thefoxyone

    If DICE want BF to have a singleplayer element they should get someone else to make it for them, better still sell it as an expansion pack, seperate from premium, so i dont have to buy it….

  • Guest

    Dice should do away with single player in BF

    • roland0811

      Let’s hope that if they do, they learn how to make a decent MP. XD

      • KillzoneVII

        Their MP is great, all they need to learn is how to program their own engine so rubber-banding, hit detection, and all the other glitches are done away with.

        • roland0811

          For me it’s barely mediocre at this point. They’re greying the lines between classes, killing teamwork with point-and-click gameplay mechanics and encouraging lone wolf antics, unbalanced and boring map design, etc. with each successive game.
          Not to mention each launch is worse than the one before and it’s taking longer and longer to even have a playable game from them. Add to that the fact that they’re doing absolutely NO innovating at all in the shooter genre and I see no reason to give them high marks for anything.

          • KillzoneVII

            Eh, to each their own. I absolutely loved BF3 and BF4, glitches aside. The gameplay at its core was fun and no two games played out the same (except for maybe Operation Locker) and most of the maps weren’t bad either.

            Granted BF4 was also my first time playing Battlefield the way it’s meant to be played, with 64player games on console now, so it felt very new and fresh to me while it may not have for pc players.

            • Guest

              May i ask, when did you start playing bf and halo?

            • KillzoneVII

              Started Battlefield with Bad Company 1 (technically it was Battlefield 2: Modern Combat but I don’t count that game) and I started Halo with Halo 3.

              So both were pretty established franchises when I jumped in.

            • Guest

              Do you like Halo 4 and 5?

            • KillzoneVII

              Nope, in my opinion 4 is the worst Halo to date, and if 5 is anything like the Beta it will be even worse.

              Even going back and playing Halo 1 & 2 I like both of those games and 3 is my favorite.

              Hell I even liked Reach.

            • Guest

              Alright, How you feel about Halo 4 and 5 is how I feel about BF3 and 4, Sorry if I ever came across a dick to you.

            • KillzoneVII

              Fair enough, props for actually being mature about the whole situation unlike most people on the internet when someone disagrees with them, lol.

            • Asylum Saint

              Do you even read your own comments lol. Just poking a little.

            • KillzoneVII

              When I have time, and lately I haven’t had much. Is there something wrong? Lol

            • roland0811

              Understandable. My main thing is people have been praising Battlefield as this big messiah of shooters the last couple of years and I just don’t see it. I’ve been playing shooters for over twenty years now, though, so maybe I’m just old and grumpy.
              I think maybe the gaming industry has me so soured now that sometimes I might needlessly scrutinize every game that comes out but hell, someone needs to do it. 🙂

            • KillzoneVII

              The way I see it, it’s a great game when it’s working. Is it groundbreaking? No not really, but it is damn fun.

              To be entirely honest, shooters the past few years have been shitty, Battlefield is the best of them IMO but that’s not saying much, I’ll admit it.

        • blaqkbox

          They need to work on the driving mechanics too, Battlefield has the most stiff and wonky driving mechanics and physics in any game I’ve ever played

          • Guest

            They used to have decent to good physics, until bf3 and 4 came out

      • Guest

        Mp has downgraded the past 3 1/2 years, agree

  • lukazo

    i believe, and this is just my opinion.that if fps games just did away with singleplayer campaigns, it would make the genre so much better, because devs could focus all there time on making multiplayer instead.

    games like cod and bf4 would be so much more better if the time it took them to make singleplayer, and the resources used, were pushed onto the online aspects of games.

    we would have more maps, more weapons/equipment.

    better online play, less online bugs and glitches.

    everything would be much more smoother when it comes to release.

    • Asylum Saint

      Most of if not all resources are pulled from single player campaigns to build the multiplayer so it really isn’t a question of resources, as Titanfall prooved. The glitches in multiplayer are multiplayers alone for the most part. I understand where you are coming from but lets face it, multiplayer will always have issues. Even if everyone ran T lines for multiplayer the developers would push the software to take advantage, and just cause more problems.

  • Johnny Neat

    I hope they never get read of campaign in FPS. Multiplayer is cool, but campaigns are fun and a part of the package. While I enjoy Titanfall, I wish they had more time or funds to have given us a proper campaign. Hopefully, the sequel will. I also LOVE being allowed to play multiplayer in a training scenario, ala combat training. It helps those that aren’t good at FPS and is a good offline space to vent for us experienced FPS players.

  • born2expire

    They are ALL terrible, scripted BS.

    IF you HAVE to do a single player, give us an open map/battlefield and our objectives, then leave it upto the player as to how to achieve this ala Crysis and STALKER. Don’t hold our hands and don’t take control away from the player every 2 mins to show us some BS cut scene.

  • James Nicolson

    I’d prefer that SP campaigns just be MP campaigns with bots. Give you a chance to learn the map and use the various weaponry available. BF2 had this available. What’s more, when your internet is down you could still play MP, albeit against bots.

  • roland0811

    I haven’t played a decent shooter campaign since CoD 4….Well, except for maybe OFP: Dragon Rising. The shooter genre has been a bland “copy-and-paste” wasteland for too damn long, single-player AND multiplayer alike.

    • blaqkbox

      Operation Flashpont was decent?

      Bugs aside it actually was decent

      • roland0811

        I know. It’s one of the few games I still online co-op on. I played the hell out of the MP up until a couple of years ago. If Codemasters would’ve set up servers and had drop-in-drop-out 16v16 MP I think it would’ve done a lot better.
        It’s THE tactical shooter I go to on console.

  • SoulTaker

    Well you can’t please both sides sadly if there isn’t a single player people will complain many people thought Titanfall should have had a single player others not so much. It’s hard to please gamers now a days.

  • Cycovision

    There are some fantastic campaigns out there. Wolfenstein The New Order was AMAZING. The problem with Call of Duty and Battlefield is that they appeal to casuals and that’s why they sell. They have to include the campaign for the people who will never play multiplayer, which at least for CoD is about 20-30% of the people who buy it.

    As for making interesting campaigns, they have to allow the players to explore and fail and they have to make characters that are deep and meaningful. Like I said Wolfenstein was AMAZING because it had great characters, beautiful scenes, meaningful story and freedom to play how you want.

  • XFistsClenchedX

    COD Advanced Warfare’s campaign is excellent and the best part about the game.

  • jj16802

    I can see Call of Duty needing a campaign since that was what the initial focus of the series was on in the beginning. But for Battlefield, they should just return to offline bots. Let’s face it, DICE’s specialty is in 64-player multiplayer, not writing stories.

  • I wont be on the popular side, but I honestly think that MP games have grown quite stale on consoles as of lately and the only thing that really draws my attention is the SP campaigns, since that is typically where a game can stand out with its storyline and unique style.

    The MP portion of just about any game lately seems to be shoot,kill,die,respawn.. and you instantly are right back to rinse/repeat. I miss the more tactical days of gaming, the less arcadey MP games, the maps that actually had flanking and spawn points that did not put you right back in the battle.

    I miss that a lot from the MP side of games and find its more and more rare to find, but the SP parts of games have only really improved over time in my opinion and still are enjoyable. The MP just got so washed down with easy mode that I find it hard to enjoy them for any real length of time.

    • That’s a fair point of view. That’s initially what sparked this discussion in the first place; If single player campaigns are going to be a part of our multiplayer shooters, then we *want* them to be as awesome as they can be.

      And, yes. For the most part, single player campaigns are a great place for devs to show off their strengths, be it tech, style, gameplay, or whatever. If only they just weren’t so formulaic, which I think it the issue right now.

  • teo2cry

    Idk about that but I love most of the SP campaigns.

  • Dtoxz

    I enjoyed the crap out of the campaign. Kevin Spacey or not really. I’ve always liked em’

  • Retro

    Bad Company 2 was the last campaign for a shooter that I really enjoyed (I won’t include Far Cry as that is way more single player focused than MP).
    Loved BC2, since then the BF/CoD offerings in terms of campaign have done nothing for me. I have hope for Hardline but I’m trying to not get my hopes up too much.

  • Tank Buster

    Campaigns can be good, even better if your killing nazi’s