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Jamie John

I don’t play online multiplayer games. Am I missing out?

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The only games I can remember playing online to any great extent were the original Gears of War and Call of Duty 4 on the 360 in my late teens, and occasionally Halo 3. I didn’t have any friends at the time who were especially interested in gaming, so I tended to just play deathmatches with and against randoms, most of the time with the chat function off, and although I would stick together with my team, I never spoke with them to discuss tactics or anything like that, and most of the time they didn’t bother saying anything to me, either. More often than not, however, playing online was good fun when I had the time to invest in it, Gears especially, which I remember being quite good at (CoD, though, not so much).

 

Fast-forward 10 or so years later: I still don’t have any gaming friends, I’ve cancelled my PS+ subscription, and I hardly play multiplayer games online at all now. In that 10 year period, however, we’ve seen a huge rise in the popularity of online multiplayer games, as well as the advent and growth of the Games as a Service model, so I very often find myself reading and hearing about the fantastically-fun online multiplayer experiences players are regularly having on games like Destiny, Fortnite, PUGB, Rainbow Six Siege, The Division, and Overwatch, among many others - all games I’ve never once actually played - and I find myself feeling somewhat left out.

 

Therefore, I suppose what I’m asking is: are these games worth playing if you don’t have any gaming friends to play with, and, if so, which ones especially lend themselves to this style of 'solo but online' play?

 

I’d be particularly interested to hear about anyone who plays these sorts of games when, like me, they have young children around and need to be able to stop what they’re doing at the drop of the hat to deal with tears, screaming, vomit and faeces, or combinations thereof - how do you manage this, and do the online games you play accommodate for this, or do you always have to experience some sort of penalty when you have to suddenly stop playing (like not being able to pause, for example, or the lowering of your player rank)?

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I don't generally, but manage Splatoon2 just fine. No voice comms in open games, short and sweet rounds, plenty of ability bands and ranks, loads of play modes.

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Warframe may be worth a shot, its free, its PVE focused so if you suddenly have to go AFK you wont get punished, I mainly played it on the PS4 and I could probably count on one hand times that anyone bothered to communicate but it still managed to be a collaborative experience.

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If you stay out of the mad hardcore modes you can have a lot of fun with Destiny 2 - it recently went free-to-play with New Light (although it only includes the base game and the first few expansions) and there are solo missions, "public events" that everyone in the current hub can visit and participate in, "strikes" which are basically three-player co-op missions with randoms or friends... and more besides. A lot of the co-op stuff has everyone working towards a common goal - get to the waypoint, shoot the things, survive - and so you don't need to worry about voice comms until you get to things like Nightfalls and Raids... but you can ignore these completely and still have a lot of stuff to enjoy. Even Gambit (a sort of PvP/PvE hybrid) can be great fun with strangers. :) I'm hoping someone like @K or @Gorf King will show up so that they can extol its virtues better than I just did!

 

https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/p/destiny-2

https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP0002-CUSA06172_00-DESTINYTHEGAME02

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1085660/Destiny_2/

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Best example of "solo but online play" would be Dark Souls, the lack of pause is not too much of a problem because it constantly saves, almost every second. You can play it completely solo and not bother with the online and still have a great time, or connect to online for jolly co-up, invading and invasions, and tips from other players. You can play it forever and not get bored. Win/win.

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Unexpectedly I do loads of organised multiplayer Tetris 99 while watching and chatting on Twitch. It (Playing along with a streamer and other viewers) was an online aspect I had never considered. I’m also free to dip in and out of that as family and real life demands, erm, demand. I’ve seen people doing that with Mario Maker too and I’m sure it suits a bunch of games.

 

Online is so ubiquitous these days there are different ways to suit. I don’t have block of time I could plug into FPS squad games anymore.

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Cheers for the replies so far.

 

@smac - I had a go at Splatoon 2 on one of their free weekends a while back and enjoyed it, although I remembered thinking that the lack not communication between players was a bit not an issue. If I can find a retail copy going cheap, however, I may be tempted to give it another go.

 

@Nimmel - I've not read or heard much about Warframe, beyond it being FTP, which was enough to put me off, but I'll give it a download all the same.

 

@Qazimod - Destiny 2 seems like a bit of an impenetrable behemoth, to be honest, what with all the expansions and DLC and so on. I wouldn't really know where to begin. I don't even really know what you actually do in Destiny, beyond shoot aliens, and sometimes other humans (I think, anyway). A recent article I read about it suggested that, really, it's an MMO FPS, which isn't a bad thing necessarily, just something I'm not used to, and quite different from the Halo alternative I think it started out as.

 

Is it friendly for noobs, and is the base version of the game that you can get for about £3 still fun, or is there a more up to date version of the game that I'd be better off starting with?

 

Is it the type of game you have to play every single day to get the most out of?

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3 minutes ago, Uncle Nasty said:

Best example of "solo but online play" would be Dark Souls, the lack of pause is not too much of a problem because it constantly saves, almost every second. You can play it completely solo and not bother with the online and still have a great time, or connect to online for jolly co-up, invading and invasions, and tips from other players. You can play it forever and not get bored. Win/win.

 

I've played and very much enjoyed DS online multiplayer a lot already, on the 360, PS4 and then Switch. It is, indeed, great, but I'm referring more to the sort of 'squad' multiplayer games that @sir stiff_one mentions, I suppose.

 

Tetris 99 is another game I've not played but might be worth dabbling in. When you say you play it while watching and chatting on Twitch, Stiff, how does that work - on your PC or tablet while playing the Switch handheld, or on your phone?

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39 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

Destiny 2 seems like a bit of an impenetrable behemoth, to be honest, what with all the expansions and DLC and so on. I wouldn't really know where to begin. I don't even really know what you actually do in Destiny, beyond shoot aliens, and sometimes other humans (I think, anyway). A recent article I read about it suggested that, really, it's an MMO FPS, which isn't a bad thing necessarily, just something I'm not used to, and quite different from the Halo alternative I think it started out as.

 

Is it friendly for noobs, and is the base version of the game that you can get for about £3 still fun, or is there a more up to date version of the game that I'd be better off starting with?

 

I think the easiest comparison would be classic Borderlands - objective based gameplay with classes, levelling, class-based skill trees, loot with varying degrees of rarity, and so on. A lot of it is "shoot aliens" but variety comes from the different behaviours of the various enemy races, the elemental strengths and weaknesses, the behaviours of your own character, their class and their subclasses, and the build variety that comes from all of the equipment you can find - along with a lot of randomly-rolled perks within that equipment. The longevity comes from shooting enemies to get better gear to shoot stronger enemies to get even better gear ad infinitum, but the shooting is pretty satisfying!

 

You don't have to play day in day out as there will always be something do-able at your character's "power level" (basically the attack stats of your weapons and defence stats of your gear all rolled into one average stat.) I'd start with the free base game of Destiny 2 as that already has a lot of content on its own and is still pretty fun - you'll only be missing out on a few exclusive game modes and some ridiculous high-level stuff. :D 

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1 hour ago, Jamie John said:

 

@Nimmel - I've not read or heard much about Warframe, beyond it being FTP, which was enough to put me off, but I'll give it a download all the same.

 

Any questions you have once you start are worth asking here a fair few forum people have played it at sometime or another: 

 

Destiny is a very good shout. Maybe Path of Exile as well?

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You can have fun with Destiny and the like as a solo player, but genuinely I think if you're "solo, but online" and not able to do them as second jobs then the appeal is limited. The best parts of Destiny aren't the campaign, they're the endgame stuff and the hunt for attractive loot. And the endgame stuff is hard and needs co-ordination, scheduling, a team.

 

The base is FTP now, so it's easy to find out for yourself, but I think GaaS games and active family life are difficult things to balance.

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I do and I don't play online. 

 

I play Tetris99 all the time and jump in on the likes of Rocket League, but I think I only really play the ones I can get away with playing solo and not have to be part of a team. Not because I don't want to, but because I cannot find the time to join in regular sessions any more. 

 

I used to love being part of the Forza nights from here, as well as playing Battlefield with others from the forum. Now though I get 5 minutes here, 30 minutes there and that is it. So has to be short burst games such as T99 and Rocket League for online. 

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I find it almost impossible to stick to single player offline games, I just have a ridiculously better time meeting random people, socializing and larking about with others, I'm getting on now and meeting up with gaming friends is becoming increasingly harder so this is almost as good.
Sea of Thieves is the absolute pinnacle of online for me, constant almost mandatory vocal communication, never failing to amaze situations that no AI can come up with and I've met an made so many friends on it compared to well every other online game put together over the last 20 years its untrue.
I should add I play mainly co-op stuff (Div2, Borderlands, Destiny etc) , PvP online is still an absolute cesspit of humanity if you join voice chat.

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6 hours ago, mechamonkey said:

should add I play mainly co-op stuff (Div2, Borderlands, Destiny etc) , PvP online is still an absolute cesspit of humanity if you join voice chat

 

So, in your experience, these types of games still work when you're chatting and playing with randoms? You don't have to put up talking to twatty 14 year-olds?

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10 hours ago, Jamie John said:

 

I've played and very much enjoyed DS online multiplayer a lot already, on the 360, PS4 and then Switch. It is, indeed, great, but I'm referring more to the sort of 'squad' multiplayer games that @sir stiff_one mentions, I suppose.

 

Tetris 99 is another game I've not played but might be worth dabbling in. When you say you play it while watching and chatting on Twitch, Stiff, how does that work - on your PC or tablet while playing the Switch handheld, or on your phone?

You could play handheld while watching on the TV or tablet, or play on the TV and second screen twitch on a phone or laptop. I tend to do tablet & handheld. And on Tetris they do countdowns in the chat so you can join the same games by pressing start together.

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I rarely go online and only do it when there is voice that can be turned off, and the experience feels friction free and seamless

 

Thinking back I've played quite a bit of Splatoon 2 online, Mario Kart 8, and a lot of Modnation Racers back on PS3. Then again my most played game ever is Clash Royale on my phone which is exclusively PvP online.

 

What people moan about as limited regressive Nintendo online offerings actually appeal to me far more than the more expansive games designed around online offerings and co-operation (thinking Destiny and the like)

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I’m playing a reasonable amount of destiny 2 at the moment. Competitive crucible (pvp) is out since I don’t have regulars and don’t use voice comms, but it’s perfectly possible to play 90% of what is a huge amount of content (even the free version is ridiculous, and though I’ve played a fair bit of Shadowkeep I’ve not really touched on the Foresaken story) solo or solo in match made co-op and have a good time.

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I never used to play online games at all, but over the last few years I’ve played barely anything else. Dark Souls was what started it, with the idea that both co-op and PvP could be fun if I was in control of them more. I’d generally just ignored online modes or turned them off (which is something I’ve still done a lot in DS and Bloodborne), until Dark Souls offered too many incentives for me to avoid it.

 

After that, my friend wanted to try out the free Battlefield game I got with my PS4. Me and him did play together a lot, and he definitely showed me the ropes of online gaming and got me into it, but I do now play a lot of online multiplayer stuff alone, largely because it’s so difficult to organise scheduled gaming around having kids. I actually find now that these type of games are way more convenient, once you’re over the initial period of getting used to them.

 

The joy with Destiny, is that I’ve always got time to play it. The goals are granular, but you’ll rarely play without achieving something. There’s no penalty for dropping out at any time, unless you’re in competitive PvP, and you can often just leave it for a few minutes, then come back and carry on. Lots of the activities are timed, and the ones that aren’t still often take around the same amount of time. A strike it usually about half an hour, and I’ve done a lot more that finished quicker than I have that dragged on. I always know if there’s time for a quick game of Destiny, whereas if I didn’t have at least an hour or two I probably wouldn’t bother sitting down with most open world or RPG games. 
 

Battlefield works well too, the teams are so big that it’s not actually that important what individuals do. You can set your own goals and mess about if you want to and nobody will really notice, unlike in a game where there’s teams of five. However, you will find in all these things that if you come up against a few people playing together you will know about it. A well organised squad of five people can easily turn the tide of a game of Battlefield if they’re co-ordinating against a team of 32 with no proper squads in it. In Destiny you’ll get stoped by pre-made teams and there won’t be much you can do about it. Destiny will also look you out of the top end activities if you’re alone. But there’s a tonne of fun to be had anyway.

 

PUBG takes ages to play but obviously as it has a solo mode it’s fine to play alone. Counter Strike doesn’t really work if you’re trying to play solo regularly. It’s definitely doable, depending on the game.

 

11 hours ago, Uncle Nasty said:

Best example of "solo but online play" would be Dark Souls, the lack of pause is not too much of a problem because it constantly saves, almost every second. You can play it completely solo and not bother with the online and still have a great time, or connect to online for jolly co-up, invading and invasions, and tips from other players. You can play it forever and not get bored. Win/win.

 

Is there any thread where one of us doesn’t try to recommend Dark Souls :lol:

 

11 hours ago, Jamie John said:

 I don't even really know what you actually do in Destiny, beyond shoot aliens, and sometimes other humans (I think, anyway).


That’s pretty much it. The aliens and people drop stuff that make you better at shooting.

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So what games do work OK without using voice comms?

 

It's the main reason I don't game so much online, as I have a crap connection that probably won't support voice on top of game data on the backhaul. So Splatoon is ideal.

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I used to play loads online especially CoD / Titanfall , Street Fighter and Uncharted by barely bother anymore.

 

For maximum enjoyment I ban other players sending me messages unless they are on my friends list (you can imagine the salt when they realise they can't send you abuse) and mute lobbies

 

Sure it's anti social but I can't be dealing with the amount of toxic morons on PSN.

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I'm also in the "never used to do it, but..." camp. Other than the fact that Forza Horizon 4 is essentially always online, I had never played online multiplayer. Ever. Not a single game for a single moment. However, Mortal Kombat 11 added an online tournament mode that had some decent rewards, so I thought I'd give it a go.

 

Blew. My. Mind.

 

Playing against unpredictable humans completely changes the game. While the AI isn't totally predictable, there are a set of strategies you can use. Not so with other people, it's so varied that you're having to adjust constantly for what's in front of you for that set of games and it makes the whole thing a lot more interesting.

 

And I've not really encountered any kind of toxicity. The occasional spammer or rage quit, but that's all.

 

I've really enjoyed it.

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4 hours ago, Jamie John said:

 

So, in your experience, these types of games still work when you're chatting and playing with randoms? You don't have to put up talking to twatty 14 year-olds?

To be honest I've got a pretty large pool of 'older' players on my friends list (I'm a community manager for the podcast and gaming group Midlife Gamer) so rarely if ever have to put up with anything like that. 
Sea of Thieves is pure pot luck but people tend to be pretty good fun if they engage in piratey voice chat, its been a great time with randoms in that game with the obvious random eejits occasionally.
If Im playing a competative shooter (say Overwatch) I rarely use mic with randoms as it lends itself to toxicity, but something like World War Z or Vermintide with coop fares much better.
The golden rule is dont be a dick yourself and people are a lot nicer

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4 hours ago, smac said:

So what games do work OK without using voice comms?

 

It's the main reason I don't game so much online, as I have a crap connection that probably won't support voice on top of game data on the backhaul. So Splatoon is ideal.

 

Apex Legends seems specifically designed to support people playing without voice comms.  You can tell your teammates things like "I saw/can see an enemy here", "I need this type of armour/ammo/gun", "I'm moving over here to find loot" through crosshair placement and pressing one button.  They've also got a sort of permanent chance-to-revive mechanic which encourages players to stay in the game even after they've died rather than immediately quitting and joining another one.

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Yes, Apex Legends has by far the best team camaraderie even with zero voice comms. It's totally designed around incentivising helping each other out (because if you don't you'll die), and the automatic comms and ping system almost totally replace the need to actually speak.

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The level to which they've developed it is really impressive.  If you find, say, some Level 2 armour that you don't need, you can ping it so that your teammates know where it is.  Once you've done that, your teammates can press a button to 'bagsie' it, so they don't end up inadvertently fighting over loot.  They can even press a button to un-bagsie it if they find something equal level or better before picking up the one you found.  And all of this generates voice lines from your characters as well as creating an icon in-world and on the map.  It's genius.

 

I believe DotA 2 has a very similar system, but have never played it

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I don't play online that often, mainly because of not being entirely arsed to stick a headset on and communicate.

 

Sea of Thieves is a good one to play solo, but have the occasional other person show up and either try to wreck you, or collaborate for a bit then drift off. No voice comms isn't an issue, and the entire thing is so ridiculous and breezy that it's always fun and never a chore. Looks beautiful as well. 

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I never did really until the first Modern Warfare but the hours I sank into that were scary. Such incredible fun that I can't now imagine never having played.

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