Shaun's Best of 2015 Awards

Shaun’s Best of 2015 – Multiplayer Award

Shaun's Best of 2015 Awards

It’s no secret that I am not a big player of multiplayer games. I dabble, now and then, but rarely for long. The thirty hours I put into Team Fortress 2 during its beta felt like a substantial flutter to me, which fact will probably amuse anyone reading this who has spent 1000+ hours in Dota 2 or LoL and still feels like a bit of a scrub.

I’m hardly alone in this – I’m rather glad that designers and beancounters alike have long ago gotten past multiplayer modes as box-ticking exercises, and that modern game metrics have revealed how many players only ever play solo modes – but my point isn’t to establish that I’m not a weirdo (it’s also no secret that, actually, I kind of am). It’s to point a big fat New Year finger at a game and say “you win an arbitrary award! No cash prize.”

And the winner is…

…it’s AJ and Potter!

Okay, so they’re not a game, but I was looking over what we’ve played during 2015 and while there are some lovely games in there, what really sticks out are the people I was playing them with. So here’s to those two! With booby prizes for Madd, who very occasionally would join us, friend-of-AR Ben, who I think tried to join us occasionally, Kenty, who I don’t think joined us in 2015, and Dylan, who never managed to actually join in at all.

My fellow Arcadians would probably not relish an entire article about themselves, so here’s a quick rundown of the games we played, and a memorable moment from each.

Defiance: unfortunately this is a rather terrible game. The most memorable moments were probably its bugs, which often fell firmly into the ‘amusing disappearing assets and geometry’ category. I particularly enjoyed hopping into a vehicle and seeing it disappear, resulting in my seated character flying at high speed a few feet above the ground. Another memorable moment was the session right after AJ actually watched an episode of the parallel TV show Defiance. Oh, how we laughed.

Dead Island: we started this the year before, but didn’t finish it until 2015. It’s a very rough-edged game that only really shows its charms in multiplayer, even though the only dynamic that really changes is talking with people, and not getting quite as surrounded. In terms of memorable moments, I’d have to plump for any moment where we were all sat in a vehicle and Potter was driving – he and AJ are like an old married couple – or perhaps the session where we discussed the politicised contributions of friends to the debates following the Charlie Hebdo attacks whilst, er, setting walking corpses on fire, stomping on their heads and breaking their bones limb-by-limb. This, dear reader, is the face of modern liberalism.

Gears of War Judgment
The gang’s all back! Girl, Soul Patch, Commander Shepherd, Mac Store and Dork Lundgren

Gears of War – Judgement: it had been quite a few years since I’d played a Gears game before this one. I’d forgotten the simple joys of steering a steroidal mass of hard-bitten cliches around post-apocalyptic levels so that they could pump hot streams of bullets into the meaty lumps of scar tissue that are your opponents. Gears still does lots of stuff really well, from bigger picture design elements like its intense pitched battles bookended by moments of calm, to smaller details like the active reload system (essentially making a risk/reward minigame out of what would otherwise be downtime).

I don’t remember any particularly amusing moments from this game, aside from the fact that its narrative mortar is a military trial for the protagonists, which isn’t halted even after enemies burst through the courtroom walls and kill half a dozen guards before being fought off. Oh boy. I think Gears of War just out-Warhammer 40K‘d Warhammer 40K.

I did enjoy how we began to cohere into something approaching a military unit, though, alerting one another to weapons and threats, and settling into a rhythm with regard to the game’s additional optional challenges (“another time limit? Fuck that one off”).

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair: I previously wrote a little about this. It’s absolutely lovely as a co-op experience, full of little secrets, challenges and entirely distinct playable characters, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s up for a hard of nails experience and a lot of death preceding success. Memorable moment: finally, actually, beating Dracula. Second place: whoever it was that suggested we try the DLC levels, followed by awkward silence and non-committal noises. Maybe not. Maybe a bit too much, that. Third place: that time when I came online drunk and spent most of the session noisily bitching about the cheap stun-locks of some boss or another. Oh, me.

Operation Flashpoint – Dragon Rising: just go read what AJ said about this. He’s pretty much on the money. It’s a great game, tremendous fun to play with friends. Memorable moments: pretty much everything Potter does. I also had a lot of fun firing grenades at Potter and watching him flail about wildly as he tried to figure out where the enemy was. I killed him four times before he figured that one out. :)))

Op Flash Dragon Rising
Not pictured: fucking it all up


7 responses to “Shaun’s Best of 2015 – Multiplayer Award”

  1. badger commander Avatar

    I was talking to Ben about this recently. I played Halo 4 with him, Kenty and Kenty’s girlfriend. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first but I found myself stomping through the game with the rest in tow and not really understanding why it all seemed to be so much easier.

    Then I remembered the Potter modifier that exists whenever we are in a game and it all clicked back into place. Without him there, I was not constantly looking over my shoulder, worrying when I was going to get killed by my teammates. It allowed me to only focus on what was ahead of me. He also has a tendency to get very competitive – he has to be ‘beating’ me at Co-Op. This makes

    Still, the amount of laughs I have had during these sessions, well, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

  2. Zia Avatar

    W-what about Bloodborne? I know it’s not the first thing you’d think of when it comes to multiplayer but the new patch has made it a lot easier to co-op! Are you all PC Master Race people…?

    1. badger commander Avatar

      Oh man, I think Dylan has a PS4 and he didn’t really get involved in it.

      To be honest our multiplayer sessions are mainly relegated to the X360 as I don’t really play PC games and Shaun doesn’t have a current gen console.

    2. Shaun Avatar

      I’m primarily a PC gamer. I own over a dozen consoles but not a PS4 (or an Xbone).

      Bloodborne is still #1 on my list of reasons to get a PS4, but there’s still precious little else exclusive to the platform that interests me, and I don’t have the cash for a £300 From Software console. :)

      1. Zia Avatar

        It’s a shame Bloodborne is an exclusive…but at least everyone will get to enjoy Dark Souls 3! And it’s not just £300 for the console unfortunately as you now must buy PS+ to play online. I can totally see forgoing that if Bloodborne is the only PS4 game you’re interested in. Well, I still enjoyed hearing about all these games I can’t afford! Onwards to 2016!

        1. Shaun Avatar

          I still hold out hope that From and Sony’s exclusivity deal will lapse in a year… or two… or three. A PC port of Bloodborne would be lovely now that they have established a pattern of working with modders who make up for From’s inexperience with the platform. But if it never happens, well, one day PS4s will be cheap. ;)

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