My biggest complaint about most multiplayer games isn’t bugs or lag, it’s the players.
The fact that there are memes devoted to players not dropping ammo or med kits in Battlefield 4 just goes to show how toxic popularity can be for multiplayer games. Look at the Battlefield, Call of Duty, or League of Legends communities. They’re toxic and unnervingly juvenile despite the games themselves being fantastic. But there are still a few games out there that haven’t been ruined by the masses.
Natural Selection 2 is one of those rare games that has an actual learning curve. Not playing the tutorial matches and hoping straight into PvP games will leave you confused and frustrated, unless you ask for help. Thankfully, I’ve never once had a question about the game go unanswered or answered with an “fu noob” in the 20 hours I’ve put into the game. But even more importantly, my teammates always seem to be trying to play together. Of course, not playing together is the quickest way to a loss in NS2, as coordination is the key to everything, but that’s relatively true of every team-based multiplayer game, right? I mean, do people not know about teamwork and how easy it makes winning? Well, if you only played NS2, you wouldn’t know this is a central problem in most multiplayer games.
So what’s the secret? What’s NS2 and developers Unknown Worlds doing to get people playing together instead of like Johnny Rambo with a big machine gun?
1. Upgrade Rewards
If you don’t play as a team in NS2, you don’t unlock upgrades, which means you don’t do more damage over time. Good luck getting a kill 5 or 10 minutes into a match without the weapon upgrades or resources to evolve into stronger aliens. Without proper teamwork, not only will you lose a match in NS2, you’ll be powerless as an individual to do anything about it. This is something no AAA developer would ever consider. Can’t have even one player in the world not having fun or they might not buy the DLC!
2. A Single Game Mode
While there are of course a couple of variations on the core gameplay of NS2, it’s simplicity and structure is what keeps players focused on the objective. There are no killstreaks, there is no deathmatch, it’s all for one and one for all in a fight to take down the enemy base(s). Other games have players being pulled in 5 different direction at once with what they should be learning or doing and NS2 makes it clear that the goal is the objective and there’s not much else to do but play it. Of course, this involves a myriad of upgrades, player roles, base types, etc., but through it all, there is the unifying thread of a singular focus that holds it all together.
3. The Badass Factor
It goes without saying that plowing through enemies wielding two machine guns or as an armored alien tank has a certain level of badassery to it that’s undeniably awesome. That badassery is what serves as the payoff for doing well as a team in NS2. If you work together well, you can hoard your resources and buy yourself an Exosuit or evolve into an Onos and wreak the enemy team. Fail to work well with your teammates, and no badassery for you! But even if you do manage one of these upgrades, you’re still fairly vulnerable to enemies swarming you, which happens very easily to careless players.
In short, Natural Selection 2 is the perfect storm of simple gameplay, strategy, and teamwork that pushes it above and beyond most other multiplayer games out there. What it lacks in spectacle it makes up for in working damn well and having a great community of players behind it. If you’re tired of being force fed broken games with bloated and useless DLC, think about getting NS2. I promise if you learn the game, you’ll enjoy it just as much if not much more than the annual AAA titles floating around from the explosion of mediocrity that was 2013’s holiday season.
Have you played Natural Selection 2? What are your thoughts on the game?