It’s been an exciting decade for multiplayer gaming.
While the idea of playing console games with complete strangers in other parts of the world may not have been realized until near the end of the original Xbox and PlayStation 2’s lifecycle, it wasn’t until Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 hit the scene in 2005 and 2006, respectively, that we were fortunate enough to bare witness to the blooming of online multiplayer gaming on consoles in all its unimpeded growth and glory. It really is a beautiful thing, and has since become the phenomenon from which a website like MP1st was born.
We love multiplayer gaming and sitting here anxiously, on the eve of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4’s launch, we’re more than excited to learn what the coming decade has in store. If it isn’t even more of what we already know and love; games like Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, or Killzone: Shadow Fall, it’s upcoming titles like Titanfall, Destiny, The Division, Halo 5, or Star Wars: Battlefront that have us fired up for the coming generation.
So, let’s say goodbye to the generation of console multiplayer gaming we currently reside in, if only for a few more days, by recalling some of our most memorable multiplayer experiences of the past decade, and by looking forward at our most anticipated multiplayer gaming experiences to come.
ALEX DI FIORI
It goes without saying that the console version of Minecraft is a mere shadow of the PC version, but Minecraft is immensly important in that it essentially proved indie games will sell on consoles. While there were certainly some success stories in the indie scene for console gaming before hand, nothing comes close to Minecraft’s success.
2. Halo 3
A lot of people consider the Halo franchise to have effectivly died after the 3rd title, and for the most part, they’re right. Conceptually, Halo: Reach was just a carbon copy of Halo 3 without the Bungie polish and Halo 4, despite being an excellent game, is a fairly drastic departure from the franchise’s roots. But overall, I think Halo is the reason FPS gaming is what it is today. Much like Minecraft proved indie worked, Halo proved FPS worked outside of the PC world.
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4
While Halo proved that FPS worked on console, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare took it to the next level. While it of course lacked that Sci-Fi polish, it’s real-world grit and fluid gameplay was a rarity on the gaming and console scenes. Granted, better games than Call of Duty 4 have been made, but none of them has totally shifted the focus of consumers so drastically as Call of Duty has and Call of Duty 4 is what started it all.
Most Anticipated Next-Gen Title: The Division
There’s something about the concept of an MMO game that always seems to be missing something; scale. Not in the sense of large, but small. MMOs are all about hordes of players battling alongside and against each other. While I’m sure The Division will have plenty of big group firefights, it’s focus on squad mechanics and close-knit teamwork conceptually sets it apart from the standard MMO game like Destiny in a way that’s not only exciting and interesting, but could very well change how people think about MMO design.
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3. Gears of War
Back in 2006, the third-person shooter genre wasn’t very popular. Whether it was janky animations or clunky controls, third-person shooters always ran into a litany of issues. Enter Epic Games with Gears of War bringing with it the roadie run, solid netcode for 4v4 play, and an (overly) effective cover mechanic allowing players to easily find cover with a push of a button. These three mechanics, combined with the title’s penchant for extreme violence, led to success in the genre like we had never seen before. My fondest memories were completing the co-op campaign and the tension when trying to survive an Execution match against 3-4 enemies. Two-piece griefing aside, Gears of War was a very tactical and surprisingly deep game that provided countless hours of fun.
2. Castle Crashers
It might seem odd that a XBLA title would be on here, but when you’re discussing the smash-hit Castle Crashers, exceptions can be made. I was a huge fan of the 2D beat’em up genre during the 16-bit era (Streets of Rage, Final Fight, etc.) as well as Behemoth’s previous title Alien Hominid. The old school action fused with a quirky art style and character progression was a perfect mix that resonated with players. Insane mode, in conjunction with the DLC characters and collecting loot, easily warranted multiple playthroughs of the game.
1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
I haven’t purchased a Call of Duty title since Modern Warfare 2, but there’s no arguing the indelible mark the original Modern Warfare left on the FPS industry. Going toe-to-toe with the Halo franchise and coming out on top is a feat that seemed unimaginable at the time. After playing Overgrown and Crash during the beta (two of my favorite retail maps as well), the notion didn’t seem so far fetched. The introduction of killstreaks, unlocks, and prestige influenced every shooter for the remainder of the console cycle.
Most Anticipated Next-Gen Title: Halo 5
Halo’s days of being a system seller are probably behind it, but that doesn’t make me any less excited for the next entry in the franchise. 343 Industries took some big chances in Halo 4 introducing us to the Prometheans, Spartan Ops, and some casual friendly elements such as ordinance drops. Some of the new multiplayer inclusions were met with resistance, but 343 progressively figured out how to cater to their audience throughout 2013. I feel 343’s growing pains are similar to Treyarch’s when they first began developing Call of Duty titles. Call of Duty 3 and World At War are viewed as low points in the series, but Treyarch is now viewed as the flag bearer of the franchise superseding Infinity Ward in the pecking order. 343 can definitely take that next step with next-gen. Features such as 1080p and 60FPS are already confirmed, but there are other possibilities that have me excited. What does the future of Spartan Ops hold? What improvements will we see to the Forge mode? What will the player count be? I can only hope that a 32-player Rocket Race match awaits me next year.
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3. Battlefield 3
Now let’s get this out of the way early; I’m a console gamer, not a PC gamer, so I’m aware I sold myself short for playing console version of Battlefield 3. However, despite its limitations, I still had tons of fun with it. Outside of the Armored Kill expansion, all of the DLC was exciting and on point. Nobody does DLC quite like DICE; giving out weapons, vehicles and maps all in one package. They set the standard for quality DLC, and nobody has yet to match it since. As for the vanilla game itself, what’s not to like? DICE’s sound team is the best in the business, and the visuals are incredible. I was able to rank up to Colonel 45 on three different accounts, so I sunk in tons of game time on Battlefield 3. I’m excited to finally play Battlefield 4 on next-gen consoles, specifically the PlayStation 4, and I’m not quite sure my body is ready for 64 player battles at 60 frames per second. Next-gen, here I come!
2. Gears of War 3
Gears of War 3 was the perfect Gears of War title. Had it not been for that damn Sawed-Off shotgun, I probably would of shot this to number one. Gears of War 3 remained true to it’s unique style, while adding things that were desperately missed from earlier iterations in the series; tons of challenges to complete, medals to obtain, characters and skins to unlock. EPIC did a great job at delivering decent DLC as well, mixing in maps and characters, as well as adding dedicated servers, which were extremely needed to destroy the dreaded host advantage that plagued Gears 1 and 2. Phil Spencer recently stated that Gears of War ran its course on the Xbox 360, but I do hope that the team over at EPIC in Raleigh, NC can get together and create a deep, exciting next-gen Gears of War title.
1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
I would not be surprised if this game was unanimously picked as number one by my fellow editors. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is easily the greatest multiplayer title this gen. A lot of the features that were established in this title became mainstream and widespread and seen in so many titles since; killstreaks, perks, prestige, create-a-class, etc. Now, Call of Duty 4 was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but Call of Duty is no doubt the most popular multiplayer brand out there on consoles and Call of Duty 4, in my eyes, was it’s peak. I will forever remember the nostalgia of long nights on great maps like Crash, Overgrown and District, as well as the combination of the M16 with Stopping Power that was so brutal, everyone used it.
Most Anticipated Next-Gen Title: Titanfall
What’s there not to be excited about? The guys that were responsible for Call of Duty 4 being number one on my list are also responsible for the development of Titanfall. I am not a fan that it’s exclusive to the Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC, but I will gladly pick up an Xbox One for this title alone. Everything I’ve seen from Titanfall has been exciting and action packed. Crazy giant titans battling with those jet pack guys flying around – I love the chaotic, twitchy atmosphere that Respawn is bringing to life here. Only a few more months until we can all experience this beauty.
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3. Battlefield 3
Of course this would make my list. From the stunning visuals to the insane amount of destruction, Battlefield 3 is truly a multiplayer experience you would not have wanted to miss. It has everything a gamer could hope for from a modern day shooter all wrapped up in some amazing and epic gameplay. Battlefield was truly in a league of its own this console generation.
2. Killzone 2
I am extremely hyped for Killzone: Shadow Fall, so it would be wrong to not to include this gem. This is propably the best exclusive first-person-shooter on the PlayStation 3 hands down. The multiplayer was extremely addictive, and it did all the correct things that many other shooters were failing at. It had a fully functional clan system, which also had ways to organize clan battles, eliminating the use of websites and other companion browsers or apps. Guns felt balanced, map design was amongst the best, and graphically speaking, it still holds well against even next-gen titles. It’s a shame the sequel wasn’t on par with it, though hopefully Shadow Fall is.
1. The Last of Us
If you guys haven’t played the multiplayer yet, then you are definitely missing out. I was truly surprise by this one, expecting a complete Uncharted clone, only to learn it is one of the best tactical multiplayer games out there. Everything about the multiplayer is great and even though the PlayStation 4 is launching, I have a feeling I will be playing this game until the guys over at Naughty Dog release a sequel or drop support completely. Despite being a huge fan of the Battlefield and Killzone series, this one steals the cake for best multiplayer this generation for me.
4. Most Anticipated Next-Gen Title: The Last of Us 2
I wasn’t joking when I said The Last of Us is probably the best multiplayer game I have ever played. I could go on playing the same old maps on the original one for as long as the game runs, and I’m hoping that a sequel is in the works on the PlayStation 4. Naughty Dog has yet to disappoint me, and I can’t wait to see what they have next in store.
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3. Borderlands 2
My third pick is one my personal favorites if I want to kick back and enjoy some mindless co-op with either randoms or my friends. With six different character classes that can be armed with millions of different weapon combinations, Borderlands 2 refreshes itself again and again when finding a couple of items that directly change the way you play. My personal favorite moments: trying your luck on raid bosses with other vault hunters for a chance at some of the most rare and powerful weapons in the game.
2. Battlefield 3
Despite some of the communities’ mixed reactions towards Battlefield 3 and the changes that DICE has made throughout the game’s life cycle, I found myself constantly looking forward to the next time I would get on with my buddies to have another “Battlefield moment”. Since this is Battlefield, after all, it’d be wrong not to mention the team-oriented aspect of it, which played a big roll in choosing this title to be one of my top three choices for this generation’s top multiplayer games. In Battlefield 3, you can never go wrong with whatever class you pick (except maybe the Recon class depending on what level/game mode you’re playing on) because each one plays differently from one another and has uniquely different roles.
1. Call of Duty4 : Modern Warfare
For me, the top current-generation multiplayer game is quite obvious if you’re a fan of shooting games. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare revolutionized multiplayer gaming as it combined fast gameplay with an rpg-esque system ranking system. It also actually rewarded players for doing well in matches by allowing players to call in UAVs, airstrikes and, of course, a chopper to mow down your foes. But most importantly, it got me hooked on to multiplayer gaming once again and was the first title to do so after Halo 2’s launch.
Most Anticipated Next-Gen Title: Next-Gen TimeSplitters
Even though there isn’t really a plan for a next-generation version of TimeSplitters, I still remain hopeful that a new one does launch during the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One’s life cycle, as this franchise did something right: It made multiplayer carefree, mindless fun and did not take itself as seriously as most games do these days. Thanks to the games modes it featured and quirky multiplayer characters such as a giant gingerbread man or killer crayons and t-rexes, it made the game not only feel fresh every time I played it, but fun as I got to see unusual creatures and objects fight against each other for survival.
3. Mass Effect 3
It’s a quirky choice, but because BioWare Montreal took my favorite single player series of all time and actually made a really decent multiplayer experience out of it in Mass Effect 3, it made my list. Given the history of great SP games that shipped with poopy MP modes, I was more than a little concerned that BioWare’s recently opened sister studio would be spearheading the multiplayer project. But in the end, it made a lot of sense and it damn well worked. Mass Effect 3, in my eyes, boasts some of the best combat mechanics I’ve ever seen in a third-person shooter while, enemies are unique and challenging. Throwing that mix into a cooperative horde mode/survival multiplayer scenario just seems like a no brainer in hindsight. I look forward to learning what BioWare Montreal cooks up with the next-gen Mass Effect running on the Frostbite 3 engine.
2. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
When one of my best friends’ step-dad – a sign of the series’ more mature audience? – first introduced me to the game back in 2010 during a friendly visit, it hit me pretty hard. Being a tried and true COD-head at the time, I watched, and later played, to finally come to terms with what Battlefield is all about, and it kind of blew my mind. Upon picking it up for my Xbox 360 shortly after my visit, I was hooked. Not only was I introduced to a whole new scale of online warfare, but it was also the first time I truly came to appreciate how outstanding audio design can truly add to the level of immersion in a first-person shooter. Later, the Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s Vietnam DLC added hours upon hours to my time with an already amazing multiplayer experience.
1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Surprise! And to think, I almost passed on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare believing it probably wouldn’t be as good as Halo or Rainbow Six. Realistically, there wouldn’t be an MP1st without Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. There wouldn’t be the annual battle of the FPS giants every Fall that we get so excited about without Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. It all started here, and here is where our multiplayer roots will remain.
Most Anticipated Next-Gen Title: Star Wars: Battlefront
This one was easy. I would have been more than happy with a Battlefield 3 or Battlefield 4 mod that basically re-skinned the entire game into a Star Wars Battlefield game, but an entirely new and proper Star Wars: Battlefront game made by the guys and gals behind one of my favorite FPS franchises of all time? Yes, please. I can’t stop thinking about engaging in massive aerial X-wing vs. Tie Fighter dog fights as they wage war above the mega-cities of Coruscant and in between gigantic Imperial Star Destroyers and Rebel Cruisers. Make it happen, DICE! I better wrap this up or I risk drowning my keyboard in saliva.
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Those are our picks, but more importantly, we want to hear from you! Tell us in the comments below, what were some of your most memorable multiplayer experiences of this generation and what next-gen multiplayer titles are you most looking forward to?