When I was younger, weekends used to excite me because I knew I would be hanging out with my friends playing Super Smash Bros, FIFA or whatever game we were obsessed with at that time.
When Halo 2 came out, it was a big deal – it was riding on the success and hype of Halo, a first-person shooter developed by Bungie for the Xbox. One of Halo’s selling points was its local multiplayer features. I had five good friends and we’d bring along three Xboxes to a friend’s place who had three TVs we could use, connect them all up, split into teams of two and then compete against one another. Other times we’d keep it simple and play four player split-screen. The split screen, in theory, should have been a nuisance. But it wasn’t an annoyance to us – it was fun. It’s true that you didn’t have a big screen all to yourself, but you’d forget about it once you started playing. It’s also true that you were always suspecting that your friends were peeking at your part of the screen, but we all knew we were all stealing glances. Our experiences continued with Halo 3, which still had the competitive modes we enjoyed, but there was something new that Bungie introduced, called the Forge. In the Forge you could get a little creative and fully customize a map by adding vehicles or items that were not available on default. And if you wanted to, you could create an entirely new map yourself. What made this mode more fun was that four players could work on it together.
This means that friends around the world could get together and play. We did it before and we all still do it. Gaming isn’t an activity to be enjoyed alone. So why is it that in the past few years, game developers seem to slowly be moving away from including local multiplayer features in their games? Yes, you can play online with your friends, but the experience isn’t the same. There’s always been this negative perception (generally held by people who don’t play games) that gaming is an anti-social activity. But in truth, playing games has always meant doing it with others. Before the release of gaming consoles, people spent time together playing various kinds of games, board games or tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. When consoles were released they included two controller ports so you could play with a friend. Nowadays you can easily connect four controllers to a console, but how many developers take advantage of that? A lot of the big budget games which have come out in the past few years are focused on the single player experience, which I love – don’t get me wrong. But there is a lack of variety when it comes to the big budget games that do include local multiplayer modes – they’re mostly generic shooters or sports games.
MY RECOMMENDED GAMES TO PLAY WITH FRIENDS
It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to local multiplayer games. Minecraft, a game created by Markus “Notch” Persson, is like a large digital Lego playground with no narrative or point to the game except to build, which you can do with up to 3 friends. The game features two modes. In Creative mode you don’t have to worry about enemies or about gathering resources as you start off with an infinite amount to use as you please. In Survival mode you have to gather resources, like wood, before you can build anything, and you have to worry about enemies that come out at night.
Now it’s true that the Nintendo Wii U isn’t as powerful as the PS4 or the Xbox One. It’s also true that not many third-party developers are working on games for the Wii U. But the Wii U still has a great library of games. Nintendo have a wide range of fun multiplayer games like Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Nintendoland, Wii U Sports, Wii U Party and the soon to be released Mario Party 10, Super Smash Bros. Wii U and Splatoon.
Finally you’ve got two great indie games that you can play with friends or family on a Playstation 4 – Nidhogg and Towerfall Ascension. Nidhogg is a side-scrolling two player sword-fighting game. The goal of the game is simple, reach the end of your opponent’s side to win. Towerfall Ascension is a four-player 2D arena fighting game but the catch is the characters are all archers. Your supply of arrows is limited and the only way to replenish your ammo is by picking up arrows that have already been shot.