Nintendo has reminded us once again through their new games at E3 that cooperative play is one of the most engaging and rewarding options to provide players. Developers are creating titles with accessible gameplay for the everyday gamer, but also leaving room for deep advanced strategies. While some tournament players believe that games should offer more depth to further push the skill ceiling and raise the standard of competition, I believe that accounting for new players through design is even more helpful to simultaneously grow the tournament scene. Nintendo has a storied history of making games which reward hard work but are still simple and fun to play, giving the player the power to explore each title as they see fit. In order to get to the level where you want to challenge yourself at the game, you must first be inspired to replay it. Creating a game that is fun above all else is essential to building the fanbase for it to thrive on–multiplayer support is a huge part of this. Games that can reach out to both the recreational and dedicated audiences of gamers have enormous potential to become mainstream competition crafts.
Multiplayer titles that engage new players are vital to retaining long term interest in learning the complexities of the game. The presence of these complexities offers something more for players who seek to push games to their limits and cultivate their skills. By having the option available to casually enjoy a playthrough or explore the intricacies of the game, you provide players with a much more complete and enriching experience. Recently, a massive surge of interest in the competitive tournament scenes for many multiplayer titles has given birth to the phenomenon of “eSports,” or “electronic sports,” which draws the comparison of competitive gaming to mainstream traditional sports. Developers are being challenged to successfully reach both audiences–the task of trying to appease the competitive crowd without alienating the larger group of fresh players is difficult, but entirely possible. Nintendo has consistently managed to strike a balance between both sides, and I believe the following titles shown at E3 have achieved a successful blend of recreational enjoyment with room for technical flair that perfectly captures the multiplayer experience.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS
Smash is built on its ability to bring people together and play in a variety of ways. It has always been the wildcard in the fighting game genre because of the series’ unique mix of accessibility and depth. The controls are not intimidating and the characters are all household names in gaming, so it’s easy to figure out as you practice and feel good about progressing through it. A beautiful part of Smash is that the simple controls which give new players a feel for the game also open room to technical skill because of the precise control they feature. The progressively deep fighting engine thus facilitates the players desire to improve while giving room to those who wish to battle in more recreational matches. A defining feature of Super Smash Bros. is that the user has the freedom to play with whatever rules and settings they want, with the focal point being able to play with others. As a result, no match feels the same, and the experience is always exciting–you keep wanting to play versus someone else.
This kind of engaging experience is essential to retaining players and promotes competitive interest. Since the game is fresh and dynamic you want to challenger yourself further and further. The new Smash has achieved a fantastic balance between it’s intricate options and simple design. The characters all have unique movesets and compliment wide range of playstyles. Whether through the newly built versus mode Smash Run, Free For All Battles, Team Fights, or Singles Competitions–the game remains rewarding to play.
Splatoon has emerged into the gaming world by offering an incredibly unique multiplayer experience. Players square off in 4v4 Team Battles with the objective of victory focused on map control. This domination mode is very simple to play: paint the floor as much as possible to control territory while avoiding being taken down by enemies. Splatoon thrives however off it’s movement mechanics which allow players to switch between Human Paintballers and slippery Squids. These transformations give players the power to apply considerable diversity to maneuver and attack the battlefield with the press of a button. In addition, team battles promote cooperative strategies and reward players who work well together.