"It's true, I'm afraid. They've gone and included one of those awful multiplayer modes that seem to be all the fashion these days. This means you and some whippersnappers can huddle round your flickering screen and play a few games that I reckon were thrown in at the last minute and will be average at best."There are video games designed primarily or exclusively for two or more players, ranging from Co-Op Multiplayer to Competitive Multiplayer. Many video games, however, are really designed for a single player, and become painful with more than one player; other games may merely treat their multiplayer mode as nothing more than an afterthought. Problems can include:
- Extra players and multiplayer modes having little or no impact on the game.
- Players sharing lives and/or health in co-op. Less-skilled players can easily waste those.
- Players getting in the way of each other in co-op.
- Players being able to attack/kill each other in co-op.
- The camera struggling to hold multiple players at once. Either players can get left behind or the camera won't budge.
- The camera only following one player at a time, usually player 1.
- Not many multiplayer options being available e.g. limited character choice.
- Weapons/characters/items not being balanced for multiplayer.
- Technical issues such as framerate dips and uglier graphics due to extra processing power required for extra players.
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- In Evolva, there's a multiplayer mode, but it's kind of tacked on: plain deathmatch that allows you to use your characters from the single-player campaign if you like. Also, finding players is somewhat difficult and the best option is to try to find another player via the Internet protocol. The handful of maps aren't bad (the multi-player maps are medium to large in size and include some of the strangest designs of all the maps in the game), but Evolva multi-player is mostly an afterthought.
- In amateur game design forums, frequently a new user will bring up the idea of making a multiplayer Adventure Game, such as King's Quest or Space Quest. None of them have, so far, been able to explain how exactly a linear non-replayable puzzle solving game is supposed to work with multiple players.
- Uru: Ages Beyond Myst tried this, in MMO format. Now the game is free to play.
- According to lore, after Space Quest 6, Sierra was trying to develop Space Quest 7 into a multiplayer game, multiplayer being the next big thing in the late 90s.
- As recounted by Al Lowe, this was the original plan for Leisure Suit Larry 4 but technical limitations ultimately put an end to the idea, resulting in it becoming a Missing Episode.
- Oedipus In My Inventory parodies the idea, advertising a 'Collector's Edition' that contains multiplayer among other cliche bonus content.
Beat Em Up
- Battletoads, as pointed out by The Angry Video Game Nerd. The number of items is not adjusted, the two players can hurt each other very easily (to a downright comical degree in level 2's case), and one of the levels becomes literally Unwinnable because of a glitch in programming. If one of the players dies, both are sent back to the last checkpoint, and if one player runs out of lives, both are sent to the start of the level without giving the other player their lost lives back. Later Battletoads games for consoles mitigated this a little by offering an alternate two-player mode where the players can't hurt each other.
- Batman Forever is already a game that's So Okay, It's Average at best, but the levels are clearly not designed for co-operative play, given that awkward clipping starts to occur in an attempt to keep both characters on the screen, and some platforms are just above the top of the screen but which have to be accessed with the grappling hook in order to proceed; with two players, this requires ungodly co-ordination, otherwise the clipping will cause one or both players to fall. Also, the duel mode is meant to be reminiscent of Mortal Kombat, but the Riddler Thug is grossly overpowered.
- Rise of the Robots only allows Player 1 to play as the "hero" Cyborg, whereas Player 2 can choose any of the enemies. Player 1 will die. A lot. In order to give the player a challenge in one player mode, each robot you face, rather than having a better AI (as the game claimed they would), just do more damage per hit. By the time you get up to Crusher, he's able to knock quarters off your health, and by the time you get up to fighters like Sentry and Supervisor, nearly every move they can throw WILL take MULTIPLE quarters off of your health. When in multi-player mode, the robots were not re-balanced. Oh, and you can unlock Supervisor for 2P mode. Enjoy.
- In the Fan Work Super Smash Flash series, you could battle it out with two players... but the camera always follows the first player, ignoring the second.
- Punch-Out!! for Wii has a head-to-head mode that is regarded as this by many people, though others will argue that this mode is actually a very deep and intense battle of the wits and people are only disappointed that they can't play as King Hippo or Super Macho Man.
- Despite averting this trope in about 90% of the game, there are a couple of multiplayer modes in Super Smash Bros. that would come under this. Partly because absolutely EVERYTHING (bar classic mode) was designed with co-op multiplayer functionality). Two examples:
- Home Run Contest. Yes, you can do try and play the contest with a friend, and somehow try and team up in an attempt to send Sandbag flying as far as possible. This usually doesn't work too well, partly because it's way too easy to send Sandbag flying the wrong way at the wrong time with two players running around like lunatics and attacking the hell out of it.
- Boss Battles. Works better than Home Run Contest does in co-op mode, but is still damn near unplayable on anything resembling a high difficulty level in said mode. Why? Because every boss has That One Attack and two of the ten bosses have One-Hit Kill attacks. You have no continues, health restoration is massively limited and any one person dying/getting KOed immediately causes both to fail on the spot. As a result, playing this mode with friends (especially inexperienced ones trying to play the higher difficulty levels) usually ends in tears, typically when both players get to the Final Boss and one player fails to dodge the insta-kill Off Waves.
First Person Shooter
- The multiplayer modes in Painkiller are considered by some to be an afterthought, shoehorned on top of the single-player mode by the publishers' demand...but that didn't stop the Cyberathlete Professional League from choosing Painkiller as their official 2005 World Tour game. Subverted by Painkiller: Lite Edition, which only contains the multiplayer mode of Painkiller.
- The PlayStation Portable version of the Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie added a WiFi multiplayer mode: Both of you played the same level in single-player, and the person who completed it fastest "won".
- Sadly, Doom 3. The guns were poorly balanced, the game shipped with almost no multiplayer modes, and the critical part of the engine was its ability to render quality shadows. Of course, every multiplayer gamer ever turns shadow quality down to get performance. What's worse, Doom 3's own copy protection only locked out the multiplayer modes from the game unless the game was properly activated, which might have factored in on the quick demise of Doom 3 multiplayer.
- Wolfenstein (2009). While the previous entry in its series was known for its excellent multiplayer, the new game managed to completely ignore the majority (if not all) of the innovations RTCW brought. No wonder, just about every fan of RTCW's/Enemy Territory's multiplayer consider the 2009 game to be a complete joke in this regard. Heck, the team responsible for the multiplayer component getting fired on release speaks volumes. The next game in the series got rid of multiplayer entirely. It didn't help that it had graphics downgraded compared to the single-player version.
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon was a decidedly difficult and engrossing game in single-player, due to the fact that bullets kill, and you want to keep your teammates alive for future missions. Good tactical placement of each member in the squad (to cover each other and lay down suppressing fire) is paramount, and stealth movement is therefore also very important. Of course, in Co-Op multiplayer mode, coordinating a surgical offensive is far more difficult, but is really pointless because unless all players are rubbish they can often work alone, killing enemies by the dozens whenever they spot them. It really takes the fun out of the game, and even placing hundreds of bots on the map doesn't really change anything.
- Playing Quake II in co-op with two players is already fairly painful, but becomes almost impossible with three or more players, because the levels are so cramped and killing your friends is stupidly easy. Fortunately, the Competitive Multiplayer modes are much better.
- BioShock 2 had multiplayer that was passable unlike some of the examples here, but was still an incredibly obvious afterthought. This was a strange decision for a sequel to a very successful game lauded for being a first-rate single player experience. Predictably it was largely ignored by most players. When Ken Levine confirmed what many suspected, Bioshock Infinite will have no multiplayer, the fans rejoiced. What's weird is that Levine's team commissioned at least one magazine article actually bragging about how much time the writers spent on Bioshock 2's multiplayer mode, trying to fit the multiplayer mode into the Bioshock canon as a little snapshot of how Rapture went to hell.
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s multiplayer was passable, but very so different from the single player (Wide Open Sandbox singleplayer horror, run-and-gun arena multiplayer). A large amount of technical issues made many players consider STALKER to be an effectively singleplayer game; It required nine ports to be forwarded to play online, effectively every server was located in Russia or Ukraine with insane ping for NA players, the game had an average-at-best netcode, and the initial Obvious Beta of the first two games causing players to crash left-and-right. The Steam release of the game running "up-to-date" on an old patch certainly didn't help.
- Metroid Prime 2: Echoes includes a lackluster competitive multiplayer mode. Up to four players can play as Palette Swapped Samuses (the cool-looking armor upgrades from the main game aren't available even as skins) in a few standard split-screen modes (deathmatch, capture-the-flag, etc.) on some unimaginative maps. There are a few Multiplayer-Only Items. It was seemingly thrown in just because multiplayer was big in FPSs at the time (thanks to Halo), even though Metroid games are all about exploration and puzzle-solving no matter what the player's viewpoint is. In a reverse case, Metroid Prime: Hunters added a much more popular and developed multiplayer mode, but at the expense of a criticized single-player mode. The next installments, Corruption and Other M, return to single-player only.
- Inverted in the original Tribes and its sequel, where the "singleplayer" mode was little more than a glorified Justified Tutorial that could be blasted through in under two hours. Instant Action would give you a singleplayer battle with bots that were usually pretty competent but couldn't use the game's Ascended Glitch, 'skiing', that the whole series was built on. Tribes: Vengeance has both a proper singleplayer and multiplayer, though Tribes Ascend drops singleplayer entirely.
- Also Inverted in Titanfall, which was designed to be a multiplayer game first. The singleplayer 'campaign' is essentially a short lineup of AI skirmish battles with an Excuse Plot to tie them together.
- The Darkness includes a tacked-on selection of multiplayer modes, featuring the ability to shapeshift into a wall-crawling Darkling at will (which isn't present in singleplayer). However, the game types are uninteresting and the maps are a visually-boring assortment of tight corridors, which fail to take advantage of the Darkling's superior speed and agility.
Hack And Slash
- Gauntlet is a classic arcade game meant to be played with two people, and its sequel with four. The PC port can also be played with four people, if they can somehow all fit at a single keyboard.
- The first Diablo. Friendly fire. It was still possible until the mage learned Chain Lightning, after which his allies were forced to take cover behind walls every time monsters showed up.
- Dark Messiah's online multiplayer play more like a bad Half-Life 2 mod than anything to do with Dark Messiah; ignoring the singleplayer game's brilliant combat system, spells, classes and with far worse graphics. Of course, it was made by a different company altogether.
Light Gun Games
- Police Trainer. Most of its 2-player minigames are the same as the 1-player variant, or even more difficult simply due to the distraction of shared screen space. Worse, one player may directly cause the other to fail a minigame (and losing precious coinage with it) by being greedy and shooting more targets than required, and a few minigames are directly competitive, requiring someone to fail. Police Trainer 2 was slightly better and even had a cooperative minigame for each rank, but one of its 2-player minigames was outright Unwinnable due to lack of targets for both players, putting a quick stop to the fun.
- Glider PRO has a two-player mode where the first player to leave a room (Glider PRO is a non-scrolling game) must wait for the second glider to follow, or press a suicide button if it can't. The second-player controls being non-configurable (locked to the modifier keys) is only a minor annoyance compared to this.
- Super Mario Galaxy. The second player's actions are very limited in comparison to those of the first: They can only fire star bits at enemies and make Mario jump higher, two things that Mario can already do much more conveniently and under his own discretion in single-player mode. This is averted in Super Mario Galaxy 2, though, where the Co-Star Luma (controlled by player 2) can grab all sorts of items and power-ups (bar the Rainbow Star), and, in addition to freezing foes, also do its own Spin, which is just as effective as Mario's.
- Super Mario Bros. is an interesting mix of this and Socialization Bonus.
- In New Super Mario Bros. Wii and U, when there are two or more people playing, if one dies but has at least one extra life while the other remains alive, they can be rescued a while later. The characters' heads are also rather good as trampolines, and two small characters carrying each other can break blocks just like their Super versions. More items spawn from "?" Blocks as well. However, more often than not, the players will get in the way of each other, often leading to mis-obtained items, Total Party Kills and much frustration, as any co-op Let's Play can prove.
- This makes a return in New Super Mario Bros. 2 with the same mix and retains every example from its related entries. Curiously enough, the game adds another advantage and disadvantage each: Playing co-op doubles the amount of coins earned at the end of each level, which is kind of pointless since this game takes coin gathering Up to Eleven, but the camera only follows whichever player is the current leader, Sonic & Tails-style. The latter is particularly stupid as each player are no longer limited to sharing a single screen and said leader status can be stolen, either by ground pounding or killing the leader or simply getting to a checkpoint or stage transition first.
- Super Mario 3D World takes all the problems that the New Super Mario Bros. games had for its multiplayer and adds even more issues. Along with sharing lives between players, power-ups that one player can steal from the rest of the group, Camera Screw, and bouncing off of each other, 3D World also maps many of the context sensitive actions to a single button. This means that you decide to press the button to run and you're next to another player, you'll wind up grabbing them instead.
- Sonic The Hedge Hog:
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3 for the Sega Genesis are an odd case. They have competitive multiplayer modes, which are fine, but you can also have 2 players in single-player mode. Player 1 controls Sonic, while Player 2 controls Tails... but if Tails goes offscreen, which happens often, you have to wait until he flies back onscreen and lands. If Tails dies, he comes back the same as if he goes offscreen, but if Sonic dies, both players go back to the last checkpoint. And that's only the tip of the iceberg. On the other hand, if you can get someone to play with you during the Special Stages, getting the Chaos Emeralds becomes much easier. The Special Stages work much better with multiple players than the acts do.
- Shadow the Hedgehog bought back this feature where a second player can control the helper characters (minus Black Doom, Eggman, and oddly, Charmy). Not very useful in "get to the goal" missions for the same reasons mentioned above in Sonic 2 and 3. However, instead of having to wait for the helper to re-appear if he/she falls off camera, this game now has the option to call him/her back to your side with a simple tap on the D-Pad, which makes it actually worth it in alternate missions like "collect X rings" or "kill X enemies". For added hilarity, you can use characters in their opposite missions: have fun using Sonic to beat GUN soldiers and then have him complain on Shadow.
- The Sonic Simulator in Sonic Colors for the Wii came with a 2 Player Mode, allowing another player to play as another Sonic or a Mii and help out. This came with a couple glaring issues, including the ability to target your ally with a Homing Attack and stun him/her, the camera only focusing on the player in the lead (and killing the other player if they go too far offscreen), and giving an instant Game Over if both players die at once, regardless of lives remaining. 1.5 Players mode keeps all of these issues but lightens the frustration by allowing Player 2 to drop in/drop out and have unlimited lives.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze have a co-op mode which seems to benefit gameplay as both Kongs can move separately AND tag along to use the single-player version moves. However, due to the Nintendo Hard difficulty and that, unlike the New Super Mario Bros. sub-series, players share lives, it can become a hindrance.
Real Time Strategy
- Brütal Legend had quite good multiplayer - for 1v1. While the game supported teams of up to 4v4, playing team games was often an exercise in futility. There was still only one stage and a shared money pool, which meant that whoever wanted the cheapest unit built "won" the argument. Additionally, having multiple avatars in the vicinity issuing orders confused the bejeezus out of the AI.
- beatmania and early versions of beatmania IIDX simply weren't designed well for two players, despite their interfaces being designed to accomodate two players at all times even when only one player is active, except in Double Play mode. Both players have to play on the same difficulty, and have to play using the same modifiers, which is a problem for players with differing scroll speed preferences. However, beatmania III and beatmania IIDX 10th Style to present allow players to set their own modifiers, and beatmania IIDX 14 GOLD onwards even allows players to select different difficulties for most songs. Despite all of this, however, most players prefer to play single-player, for two reasons: Each side has the turntable in a different position (1P has it on the left side of the keys, 2P has it on the right), meaning that two players who have the same turntable preference cannot play together unless one of them uses the "Auto-Scratch" modifier (which reduces maximum score) or is somehow adept with both sides, and even barring that, two players on the same cabinet can easily bump elbows and feet by accident depending on players' body structures and stances (for example, tall players tend to play with their legs spread out to compensate for the fact that the cabinet seems to be designed for players around the 5'0"-5'5" range).
- O2Jam has one major problem for versus rooms: All players have to play on the same speed modifier. This often leads to players spamming the chatroom and demanding that the host change the modifier to accomodate their preferences.
Role Playing Game
- The original version of Final Fantasy VI for the SNES allowed you to play in two player mode, which just meant that the second player could control a few of the characters in battle. If they happened to be bitter about being made second player, this person could, instead of attacking the monsters during battle, kill the characters assigned to first player, allowing them to take over control.
- Bethesda Softworks added gratuitous multiplayer mode to the first The Elder Scrolls Spin-Off, Battlespire. They never did it again.
- Troika, the makers of Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, were forced to include a multiplayer mode by Sierra. They promptly hacked out a single module and an almost completely unplayable interface, which was promptly laughed at by the fan community.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age had a 2-player mode that was just like the Final Fantasy examples above. Or worse, since your party is only 3 characters in this game, while all the above examples have 4-man parties, so someone is only getting one character. Also, when 2-player mode is activated, the game doles out a pre-set selection of characters to a player (Berethor, Hadhod, and Eaoden to Player 1, Idrial, Morwen, and Elegost to Player 2). Thus, it's possible for a single person to be playing on 2-player mode because the other three characters (who are assigned to the other person) are useless for the scenario.
- Believe it or not, but the early Infinity Engine video games (Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale) were all geared towards multiplayer as a legacy of their prototype, Battleground Infinity. Although the multiplayer modes in those games were quite sound, they have been completely overshadowed by the single-player campaigns, so very few actually remember them nowadays. The multiplayer mode for Baldur's Gate is still mentioned in some guides, walkthroughs, etc.: it is possible to use it to have an all-player created party without actually being multiplayer. In fact, the Multi-player feature is incredibly useful...in single-player! Because of the ability to freely import and export characters in multiplayer, players can form their own parties that aren't constrained to the sometimes underwhelming NPCs, as mentioned, even the main character can freely be swapped in and out without restriction. Saved games can be set up to certain locations of the game that allow different characters to try them quickly, and of course exploits can be done to make uber characters.
- Neverwinter Nights was also designed to be a multiplayer game. Then they learned finding teammates was impossible, and people really liked Story-Driven Single-Player Role Playing Games anyway. Hence the expansion packs and sequel added more story and more optional party members.
- Deus Ex is a very open-ended first person FPS/RPG with an emphasis on its story. The multiplayer, however, is essentially a bunnyhopping arena shooter similar to Quake, though not quite as fast paced.
- Mass Effect 3 is an odd example. The single-player mode, of course, is excellent, and the multiplayer mode is a decent shooter experience, but the game caught a tremendous amount of flak for its attempt to force people who wanted a good ending in single-player to play multiplayer by linking Effective Military Strength to success in either the multiplayer game or other tie-in games.Explanation Since the Extended Cut DLC, though, it's become more-or-less possible (and with more DLC, easy enough) to get the best endings without playing multiplayer, and increasing Readiness through multiplayer is now completely optional.
- Tales Series as a whole seems rather uncomfortable with handing out party members to multiple players, especially jarring when you consider that said multiplayer is one of the primary features that makes the series unique.
- Games that don't have a combat camera that screws the additional players will incorporate some gameplay mechanic that reduces the number of controllable characters on the field, or at a minimum make it difficult for the other players to access the menus for manipulating their character's gear and Artes mappings.
- The multiplayer in Tales of Symphonia can be fun, but clearly not that much thought was put into designing it. The battle camera only follows the first player, like in the single player mode, so if the party spreads out, everyone else won't be able to tell what's happening. And managing the menus is very awkward with multiple people. The camera got fixed in the PS2 version... which never left Japan.
- Tales of Graces handles multiplayer markedly better simply by retooling the combat camera with multiple modes, so you can keep within view everyone on the field, all enemies, or just the targets of your party members. It still has the issue of out-of-combat menus being only accessible by the first controller, necessitating relaying intentions to player one, or passing the controller around.
- In Tales of Xillia, the link system clearly wasn't designed with multiplayer in mind. Instead of only allowing you to only link with AI controlled characters or switching character control, linking up to player 2 will lock the player out of the game. Sure, you could go without linking... But you'll miss out on Mystic Artes for your trouble.
- Tales of Zestiria. Armatization fuses two characters into a single far more powerful one... leaving whoever was controlling the second character sitting there twiddling their thumbs. The pairs that can fuse are always slots 1 & 2, and 3 & 4... so if you have only two players and want to work around the issue by having the second player control the other pair, they need to have controller 3. Worse, the already abysmal camera seems to get further confused by multiple players being present.
Shoot Em Ups
- Most arcade Shoot Em Ups support two players, but most of the genre's scoring systems, particularly the more elaborate systems seen in many Bullet Hell games and ones demanding high precision like those of Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga, are not designed for two players—at best, both players need an extreme amount of coordination, moreso than a single player, to earn top scores together. Even when just playing to survive, both players may get distracted by each other's antics.
- Dead Rising 2:Off the Record had an odd co-operative mode. It wasn't actively hateful, but it required co-operation in a game that really didn't encourage such behavior. Players would quickly diverge in order to get more weapons and zombie packs for themselves, and would frequently curse whenever the other player was too far away to have seen the cool thing they just did (in a game that is all about killing things in crazy and imaginative ways). The missions were also timed, which mixed poorly with the requirement for player consensus in order to move between the different areas.
Third Person Shooter
- Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy is primarily a first person shooter with Psychic Powers. It has a CoOp mode that allows Player 1 to steer and shoot the weapons, and Player 2 to control the psychic powers. Unless both players are on the same page on what to do, things can get very... strange. Considering the dev team had so much trouble assigning buttons they couldn't find a way to fit in rolling or dodging (and thus both are absent from the game), this would be an ideal solution to games with lots of powers... if you had four arms or really good teamwork with player two (but lets be honest, the first is likelier). One game along these lines was the original MechWarrior on the SNES, in which one player did the steering and the other aimed the turret.
- Despite the story offering the perfect setup for 2-player co-op, the only online multiplayer in Kane and Lynch is a 4-8 player bank robbery mode with no connection to the main story.
- Console versions of Freedom Fighters had a rather mediocre 2-player Capture the Flag mode that was quite obviously tacked on as an afterthought, using three maps recycled from single-player levels. The PC version left it out altogether.
- The developers of Spec Ops: The Line themselves despised the publisher-mandated multiplayer mode, calling it a tumor hanging off the game. Where the main game is Heart of Darkness in the ruins of Dubai, the multiplayer is an uninspired, generic collection of modes. They themselves played no part in its development: it was outsourced to another studio altogether. Considering the game's nature as a deconstruction of modern military shooter games, it's justified that the multiplayer would be like that.
- Batman: Arkham Origins had a fairly odd one: It was a 3v3v2 game, the 2 being Batman and Robin, and the 3s being Joker and Bane's gangs. The Gangs play like an ordinary 3rd Person Shooter, and the Heroes play like, well, a Batman Arkham Game. The result wasn't bad, exactly, but it was mostly forgotten shortly after the game's release.