Today marks the release of Fallout 76, the first game in Bethesda’s acclaimed RPG series (which is typically catered to lone wanderers) featuring online multiplayer. In itself that wouldn’t be particularly controversial, but the fact it’s compulsory has rubbed some Fallout fans the wrong way, despite it being promised that the game can still be enjoyed solo within its online environment.
Without online-only extras, I wouldn't have played Grand Theft Auto V on and off most weeks since it originally launched - Grand Theft Auto Online simply makes the game for me. Sure, there was multiplayer a-plenty in GTA IV, but, as any true fan would tell you, GTA Online is what’s made the game into the most valuable media property of all time.
At launch there wasn't really much to shout about, just a few race and deathmatch options, but over time it gradually grew and expanded, letting you start a biker gang, run your own club and even fit out your money laundering business with a mobile command centre.
Then there were heists. Almost a whole game mode on their own, these multi-part missions kept players entertained by taking them all across the map and even weaving in characters and storylines from singleplayer, which, of course, I was utterly oblivious to.
While there might have been more memorable moments to be found in singleplayer, it's the unique experiences of online which make me say I love playing GTA, and I'm sure Red Dead Online will have something interesting for us to knock our spurs against as well.
As you can probably already tell, I’ve no problem bypassing singleplayer modes in favour of heading straight online, so I say bring on Fallout 76 and more of its kind.
Grand Theft Auto Online
Some games would appear to lend themselves well to an online-only format, but there's always going to be something lost in the shift from singleplayer to multiplayer. Fallout 4-but-with-co-op (or insert game of your choice) sounds like a great idea as long as the story doesn't suffer. That's not to say the story in any multiplayer outing will inherently be subpar, it's just that the way you absorb it can be radically different when you're in a party.
Online titles are, by definition, meant to be a shared experience. While most don't require a group, or any measure of human interaction, a lot of players will want to socialise in the digital world and it's this specific demographic whose desires are being accommodated.
I've found the issue that will often arise, is that everyone has a different schedule and some are further in the story than others, so attempting to untangle a complex narrative whilst tackling missions in no particular order is akin to trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle using only the shapes of the pieces as a guide.
This is my sole gripe with the idea. As long as the gameplay is solid enough and the story is inessential, yet passable, I'm all for it.
The Elder Scrolls Online
How do you feel about franchises shifting their focus from singleplayer to multiplayer? Let us know below.
In last week's feature, Team PTC shared the games they'd like to have see on Sony's upcoming PlayStation Classic.