MP1st’s staff break down their favorite multiplayer experiences of 2013 as we prepare to bestow our ultimate MPX award to the top three multiplayer titles of this year.
Insurgency doesn’t have to try hard to be a fantastic game. It’s simple, hardcore, and most importantly, fun. It’s rare these days to get a simple FPS experience that’s also realistic. Not that Insurgency treads terribly far in the realm of realism, as graphically it’s a little underneath CS:GO’s level of fidelity, but it doesn’t look or handle in a cartoonish manner either. It’s everything that’s good about Counter-Strike, but updated for the modern age of FPS game design.
2. Crysis 3
The wonder that was Crysis 3’s multiplayer might have worn off quickly thanks to bugs and support issues, but it’s worth mentioning that Crysis 3 is probably one of the best FPS multiplayer experiences yet in gaming. The Rebel vs. Cell game mode in particular proved that Call of Duty was an outdated mess. It really pains me to see this game go from hot to cold in under three months because it had the potential to be a MPX contender for me. Sadly, all support for it, including DLC, had basically been dropped.
In short, Crysis 3 is what happens when you release a buggy game that doesn’t have the built-in mindless following that Battlefield and Call of Duty enjoy. Yeah, it’s fantastic when you learn to deal with the bugs, but most players don’t want to learn how to enjoy a game, they just want to have fun.
1. PAYDAY 2
When you make back the cost of development on your game before it’s even released, you know you’ve done something right. Thanks to making nearly $40M since it’s release this August, 505 Games has essentially handed Payday 2’s devs (Starbreeze/Overkill) $6M to make 20 months-worth of DLC.
More importantly though, is that Payday 2 is a fantastic game. Everything about it is brilliantly simple, fun, and hard to master. It’s the perfect blend of level-grinding and unique co-op experiences that made games like COD and Diablo fun. On top of that, the developers are wholly committed to making it the best possible game it can be and have continued to support, tweak, and in some cases, totally overhauled the game to make it better and more fun for players. That is very rare these days. When you look at games like Modern Warfare 3 and it’s deathstreaks and how Infinity Ward essentially said they wouldn’t remove them because they were already in the game, you start to see how unwilling developers can be when it comes to admitting their failures. But not the folks behind Payday 2. It should go without saying that Payday 2 might not appeal to everyone, but once you start playing, you’ll fall in love with something about it, especially if you play with your friends.
Payday 2 is the rare game that totally innovates a genre by just doing something simple that no one else thought of. With 20 months of DLC to look forward to, I’m confident in choosing it as my favorite multiplayer experience of 2013.
3. Battlefield 4
The main reason I didn’t choose Battlefield 4 as the best multiplayer experience of 2013 is because, even though I love the game, it simply has too many bugs to be considered the best experience. Hopefully, DICE will get to fixing most, if not all, of the game-breaking bugs that have been burying this game in the state of being neither successful nor unsuccessful.
2. PAYDAY 2
It’s fun, it’s addictive, and there’s free DLC for this holiday. What else would you want to spend your time with? Play this game with three other friends and you’re going to have a blast. The way you have to cooperate with your teammates/friends to escape from the police are simply amazing and makes your experience a lot more fun than Grand Theft Auto Online, in my opinion.
1. DOTA 2
One of the best experiences that has been released in 2013, DOTA 2 shows us why the MOBA genre is rising at an impressive rate. Since the beta, the game has been rocking in numbers, reaching both 1st and 2nd spots in the “most played games” monthly lists, and that’s not everything. The International 3, Valve’s DOTA 2 championship featuring well knows eSports organizations such as Alliance, Natus Vincere, Invictus Gaming and many more, featured a prize pool of $2.8 million USD. The game-viewing experience of a tournament this big was also great, which makes DOTA 2 my choice as the best MPX of 2013.
3. Battlefield 4
The BF4 situation is a vexing one. On one hand, the game’s ambition for dominating the FPS market is apparent. A rock-solid 60FPS, 64-player cap, huge environments, and penchant for destruction all help to make this game worthy of the ‘must-buy’ moniker. On the other hand, the game’s stability is reminiscent of the tower in Siege of Shanghai: Tax it enough, and it will collapse. The parts of the game that have worked when I played are very enjoyable, but I still don’t bother to venture into Conquest matches. Battlefield 4 definitely could’ve been #1 on my list, but I don’t feel I should be rewarding what is ultimately a rushed product.
Part of the reason this is up here is because of Battlefield 4. I can get a couple hours devoted to gaming most night of the week, so when BF4 isn’t functioning properly, Warframe has become my fallback. Despite the free-to-play label, the production values are more reminiscent with AAA titles. The animations flow smoothly, with dropped frames only occurring in the most laggy of situations. Gun controls feel solid and the melee attacks allow for dismemberment. All missions can be played co-operatively with 3 other players, and all the non-cosmetic content can be obtained without paying real money. The quick agile moves and powerful attacks of your character will make you feel like a blade-wielding ninja badass.
1. Battleblock Theater
‘Hi, my name is Tom, and I’m a time trial addict.’
After dozens of hours of trying to complete all the levels and get the time bonus on each, I have to say Battleblock Theater is my MPX of the year. I’ve always been a fan of the art style in all of The Behemoth’s games, but the way in which they tackle the multiplayer platforming genre is unlike anything else I played this year. The game is mind-numbingly difficult at times, but that’s apart of the old school charm. Sure, you can just blow through all the missions. But if you’re a completionist, you’re going to need to collect all the gems and yarn in each level while moving at a brisk pace to get the time bonus. Almost all the later levels require multiple attempts as you and your friends figure out how to complete them most efficiently. Having co-op companions along for the ride is a blast. Scaling levels or traversing obstacles require your partner in some capacity or another. No need to worry about them wandering off. And if you feel they aren’t pulling their weight or the time bonus is out of reach, you can always playfully shove them into a pit of spikes or knock them into a buzz saw.
Thanks to its charm, humor, and challenging gameplay, Battleblock Theater takes home my MPX.
3. Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Splinter Cell: Blacklist’s multiplayer is unique, and for the time I spent playing it, is very fun while sometimes frustrating. I love the idea of a competitive multiplayer game where one-team plays in a first-person view while the other in a third-person view. It’s just unheard of today in most modern triple-A games, but I’m glad Ubisoft brought this idea back from the original Splinter Cell games.
2. Killzone: Shadow Fall
I truly feel that this was the only game I got at launch that actually felt “next-gen”. With beautiful graphics and great gameplay, the multiplayer in Shadow Fall was everything I had hoped for. It certainly throws out everything wrong with Killzone 3 and improves upon in every aspect that made Killzone 2 so amazing.
1. The Last of Us
This was a clear winner for me when it comes to which game offered the best multiplayer experience of 2013. Not only did The Last of Us have one of the best single-player campaigns in the last decade, it also had perhaps one of the best, well-designed multiplayer suites out there today. The core components of what made the single-player so great are all perfectly transferred over to the world of online play. From excellent gameplay, to extremely well designed maps, The Last of Us Multiplayer was executed so well, leaving much more to lust from it. Here’s hoping that Sony and Naughty Dog re-release an enhanced version of the game for the PlayStation 4.
3. Battlefield 4
Despite Battlefield 4 being riddled with bugs and being unplayable from time to time, it still somehow managed to become one of the best multiplayer experiences this year has to offer when it decides to work perfectly and doesn’t crash. The addition of “Levolution” and the vast amount customization options will surely keep the game feeling fresh for the months to come and should keep player busy until DICE polishes things up.
2. Diablo III
Even though the PC/Mac community got to play Diablo 3 for a year before it was released on the consoles, I believe the console port was definitely the better version, as the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were definitely the game that Diablo 3 should have been from the jump.
It simply did everything right that its PC counter-part didn’t, from the better loot drops to the absence of the dreaded Auction House, and most importantly, the addition of couch multiplayer/offline play. It was definitely a great overall experience, especially with the severe lack of dungeon crawlers on the consoles. Diablo III filled that void perfectly.
1. Injustice: Gods Among Us
After a rather disappointing year in video games, for me personally, there was one game that was quite a surprise to me and that was Injustice: God Among Us. Truthfully, I didn’t expect much since the last time a DC-related fighting game was made, it was quite average.
However, Netherealm Studios, the same exact development team responsible for Mortal Kombat vs. DC, proved the naysayers wrong. Injustice: God Among Us is pretty much a hidden gem in the fighting game community as it caters to both the casual and hardcore player fanbase with its easy to learn but hard to master gameplay and great roster. Learning the game won’t be much of a heavy task as Injustice: God Among Us offers online practice and makes reading frame data a cinch.
Additionally, Netherealm Studios did a fantastic job post-launch providing Injustice players with regular content such as adding fan-favorite characters like Martian Manhunter and Zatanna, as well a huge selection of alternative skins for your favorite DC villain/hero.
3. The Last of Us
The Last of Us was and still is a breath of fresh air in the shooter genre, not because it does the whole shooting thing really well, but because of the unique survival elements – including a ton of single player elements that made the campaign so amazing – Naughty Dog interweaved into game’s multiplayer mechanics. There aren’t a whole lot of shooter games out there that cut you off from access to standard, run-of-the-mill FPS/TPS weapons like fully automatic assault rifles, sub-machine guns, or light machine guns. Instead, The Last of Us’ limited and more realistic arsenal, along with its slower-paced, team-oriented gameplay is something I think a lot of shooters could look to for inspiration.
It does survival right while keeping things accessible and without treading into the hardcore realm of games like DayZ.
2. Grand Theft Auto Online
Grand Theft Auto Online was a bit of an oddity of a multiplayer experience. Where I had the most fun wasn’t in the game’s ecosystem that Rockstar had originally intended players to take part in, but in the time spent goofing off with friends in free-roam and participating in player-initiated rivalries. There is a nearly infinite resource of entertainment to be had by simply using your own imagination and bringing a few friends along for the ride. Hours would simply fly and by the end of the night, my party and myself would realize we hadn’t even participated in a single job or mission. Do not underestimate the charm of Los Santos and its enticing lure to be explored with others.
The recently introduced Deathmatch and Race creators have certainly added a bit of spice into the game’s selection of things to do, and better yet, heists and other downloadable goodies are still incoming, giving GTA Online players a few things to look forward to in 2014.
GTA Online may not have been the multiplayer game I played night in and night out, but when it came to jamming with friends on Xbox Live, we always ended up in Los Santos.
1. DOTA 2
Defense of the Ancients 2 and other multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games like it are the chess boardgames of our generation, only in this game, two teams of five face off on a virtual battlefield in the ultimate test of wits, perseverance, and determination.
DOTA 2 is undoubtedly the biggest multiplayer experience to surface this year, both in terms of its dedicated fan base and the impressive amount of profit developer Valve has amassed throughout the year, which directly translated into to some of gaming’s biggest competitive tournaments worldwide.
Whether its first-person shooters, third-person shooters, racers, fighters, MMOs, or other multiplayer genres that make up most of your play time, one cannot deny the growing popularity of games like DOTA 2 and the service companies like Valve provide to the multiplayer gaming industry as a whole.
While I’m personally still learning the ropes, DOTA 2 definitely has me hooked.
To find out what we chose as the best multiplayer experiences of 2013, be sure to drop by tomorrow when we award the top three ultimate winners.
Curious to know what you chose? Check out the Multiplayer Experience of 2013 Readers’ Choice Award winner right here.
What do you think of our choices? Any surprises? Which one do you think will take the ultimate MPX 2013 award tomorrow?