What do Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Persona 3 Portable, and the .hack//G.U. trilogy all have in common? If you answered “they’re all made by Japanese game studios,” then you’ve hit the nail on the head. But to me, these three are tied together by the fact that they’re some of my favorite games of all time, and they are exclusively single-player.
Despite my current inclination for single-player games, my first experiences with video games were almost all multiplayer. I remember playing Tekken 3 with my cousins, Digimon Rumble Arena with my friends, and Dota with my older brother back when Dota was just a Warcraft III mod (and the only hero I knew how to use was Kardel Sharpeye, now known as Sniper).
While my early experiences of multiplayer games remain fond memories, I don’t remember them as being particularly fun. Why? Because the greenhorn gamer that I was in the early 2000s would almost always lose to my older friends and relatives. I didn’t quite know how to finish off someone else’s territory in Battle Realms, and I could only button-mash and hope for the best in two-player versus mode in X-Men: Mutant Academy.
You could say that it might have been because of my early experiences with multiplayer games that I’ve come to prefer single-player ones. When I finally had my own PlayStation 2, and a little later a Game Boy Advance SP, I realized just how fun video games could be. Instead of getting Echo Slammed into oblivion, I was saving the galaxy in Ratchet & Clank. Instead of taking too many shoryukens to the face in succession, I was owning every boss in Mega Man Battle Network with my trusty M-Cannon chip.
Fast forward to earlier this year, and my preferences remained largely the same. Hundred-hour RPGs, unforgiving Souls-likes, and turn-based tactics games stayed at the top of my wishlist while I averted my gaze to any game whose main selling point is its online multiplayer. With the exception of Hearthstone (in which I was once a Rogue main confident in my skills), I simply did not want to play any game that involved the participation of other people. In single-player games, I could be the Hero, the Chosen One, even the Legendary Dragon of Dojima. I have neither the skills nor the desire to be the star of the show in a multiplayer game.
If you told me in March of this year that I’d spend the coming months learning to play MOBAs, shooters, and every other multiplayer game I could try for free, I wouldn’t have believed you, but 2020 has proven to be a year of unbelievable events. Unable to leave home and with Discord being the only way I could hang out with my friends, I needed to find an activity we could do as a group. I was all but resigned to the idea of joining them in Dota 2 or Valorant, but immediately remembered that neither of these would run well enough on my Macbook.
It was in June when my Macbook was bricked by an OS Catalina update, and after a few weeks of trying and failing to have it repaired, I went and bought myself the cheapest PC I could find that could still cover all the workhorse functions I need in a computer.
My Mac getting bricked felt like a huge derailment that put my work and my hobbies in jeopardy, and suddenly having to make the shift to PC at such an anxiety-ridden time left me exasperated. Who wouldn’t feel bummed out if they suddenly had to shell out a sizable amount of money for an unplanned purchase? Looking back on it now, though, I realize that it might have been a blessing in disguise. As I settled in with my new PC and gotten used to Windows 10 after years of being a Mac user, it dawned on me that I could finally get into PC gaming with a passable, bare-minimum rig.
I downloaded every PC game launcher that I couldn’t have used when I had a Macbook, and quickly installed Dota 2, Valorant, and Left 4 Dead 2. Of course, I still bought myself some PC-exclusive single-player games that I’d wanted to play for a long time, but I was already itching to get into a game that I could play with my friends.
In the weeks that followed since I’d bought my PC, I learned how to jungle, gank, bunnyhop, and every other term you’d associate with these popular multiplayer games. Was I any good at these games? Nope. Catch me botching a creep-block in the first minute of a Dota 2 game or finishing a Valorant match with a KDA of 1/16/3. Despite how bad I was playing, I was surprised to realize that I was having fun, and not just begrudgingly joining friends’ games for lack of other group activity options.
After those initial months, I got to enjoy even more multiplayer games like Phasmophobia, Guild Wars 2, and Rocket League which was made free-to-play just last September. My childhood hang-ups with multiplayer games have fully dissipated, and I can now enjoy these games no matter how poorly I might play, or how badly we might lose. Being able to play a game with a team of friends makes me want to play more and play better, and it’s a different and much more special motivation than the rage and spite that drives me to face the Capra Demon in Dark Souls over and over.
It’s been a tough year, but my newfound enjoyment of multiplayer games has been one of its saving graces. Even though I haven’t seen my friends in months, it’s comforting to know that we can always get together on Discord to go defend an Ancient, defuse a Spike, or score a sick aerial goal. Maybe these multiplayer games aren’t so bad after all.
What have you been playing with your friends this past year? Share your favorite games with us in the comments! And for more of the latest video game news and updates, be sure to stay tuned to our website and Facebook page.
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