Bethesda refuses to 'dilute' single-player narratives with multiplayer modes

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,567   +591
Staff member

Whether it’s pay-to-play or pay-to-win, there is a growing inclination among game studios to have a multiplayer element to their major releases. Some love this multiplayer trend, others hate it.

Grand Theft Auto V, for example, is often viewed as a whipping post for multiplayer haters with greed and neglect of the single-player campaign being the biggest thorns in everyone’s side.

The one company that seems to have avoided the multiplayer morass is Bethesda. The publisher has had much success in single-player adventures. Fallout and The Elder Scrolls (with one exception) have intentionally avoided multiplayer modes and the Wolfenstein franchise seems to be following suit.

MachineGames, the studio developing Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, recently told Gamesindustry.biz that it is solely focused on creating the best single-player experience it can and will not consider putting a multiplayer element into the upcoming sequel.

“Having a multiplayer component in this work process would just dilute it all,” said narrative designer Tommy Tordsson Björk. “That’s the danger if you try to do two things at once.”

This philosophy can be seen in almost all of Bethesda's productions.

The company was dead set against a multiplayer mode for Skyrim, saying that “it'd make a lesser version of the game.” The same rang true with Fallout 4.

It’s not that the company is entirely against multiplayer gaming. On the contrary, it looks into that aspect during pre-production of all of its titles.

“Believe it or not, every time we do a game we design a multiplayer mode just to see what we would do,” Todd Howard told Mashable back in 2015.

The multiplayer modes for Fallout and Skyrim (and many other titles) never made it past pre-production because developers didn’t want to detract from the story. Since the narrative is what has made these games household names, it was a wise choice in hindsight.

The folks in Rockville, Maryland, are also not opposed to the games-as-a-service business model. After all, The Elder Scrolls Online is still thriving more than three years after launch. However, TESO is a different breed from the rest in that it was designed explicitly as a multiplayer game.

While some might want to see a multiplayer Fallout or Wolfenstein title, Bethesda seems happy for the moment to continue producing content for TESO and publishing compelling single-player adventures.

In my opinion, this is the smart move because it eliminates the headaches, overhead and self-competition involved with operating multiple MMOs while still allowing developers to focus on producing a quality single-player narrative.

Permalink to story.

 

enemys

Posts: 220   +231
TechSpot Elite
"The multiplayer modes for Fallout and Skyrim (and many other titles) never made it past pre-production because developers didn’t want to detract from the story. Since the narrative is what has made these games household names, it was a wise choice in hindsight."

What? There's like zero narrative in Skyrim, at least in the main game (the DLCs are a bit better at that). The last TES with decent, well-developed main plot was Morrowind, and even then the series wasn't a hit because of it. It's the scale, the sandbox mechanics and the overall freedom of playstyle that made these games great.
 

Alex Voinica

Posts: 99   +85
And that's the reason I will shut up and give my money to MachineGames ! Kudos !
Watched the Downward Thrust review - mentioned 10- 15 hours of gameplay but unfortunately 27 crashes during his playthrough if I remember correctly.
Still, that can be fixed , no microtransactions , linear story focused FPS . Nuff said !
 

Cycloid Torus

Posts: 4,659   +1,465
Cal, thanks for the article. I've always felt that player interaction without "cheating" is a large part of the "story" in multiplayer - and story combined with mod capability ("cheating" for some, like us less quick players like me) is key to the single-player.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal Jeffrey

Reehahs

Posts: 965   +596
May be as an adult you get sick and tired of being owned by skill-less sleaze balls who can barely dress themselves yet have managed to memorise maps due to insane number of hours they spend.
 

Polycount

Posts: 2,546   +551
Staff member
Thanks for this. I'm really not a huge fan of multiplayer games, so if publishers like EA, Ubisoft, and Warner Brothers want to shift their focus there? More power to them - companies like Bethesda and CD Projekt Red will be more than happy to scoop up that market share.

In this case, I don't always agree with what Bethesda does. Dishonored 2's PC performance issues (And the lack of recourse for those affected by them) were ridiculous and I'll be the first to admit the Creation Club (no matter their intentions, IE, paying modders for their efforts) was a pretty dumb idea. But the games they actually develop entertain me for hundreds and hundreds of hours and their strong modding communities serve to increase that number even further.

As TomSEA said, Bethesda has my support for the foreseeable future. Games like Skyrim and, heck, even Fallout 4, deserve the support of single player fans, if for no other reason than to prove to other publishers that the market is still going strong.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 1,978   +2,422
Personally, I'd love a multiplayer wolfenstein. Perhaps a coop squad based one? That would be fantastic.

But I also love the way Bethesda is doing this, keeping the story intact and any multiplayer version as a separate game. This is the way other companies should be doing it.

Looking forward to W-II colossus.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal Jeffrey

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,567   +591
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9
But I also love the way Bethesda is doing this, keeping the story intact and any multiplayer version as a separate game. This is the way other companies should be doing it.

Looking forward to W-II colossus.
Yes, I completely agree. I was so pleased to see TESO end up as a solid stand-alone multiplayer game instead of a TES game with a multiplayer mode attached. It made the game so much better than it would have been. I think one of the problems with multiplayer games, including GTAO (as well as it is doing), are thrown into a game almost as an afterthought. Then the devs work on it after release. This is backward development and TESO kind of changed that IMO. It was an intact MP experience on release. Did it have some bugs? Sure. All games do, but for the most part, it was a complete multiplayer game in the vein of WoW.

So I think Bethesda has hit on a really good formula here. Keep our MP and SP adventures separate – we'll buy them both. I'd buy a MP Fallout as long is that's what it was solely designed as.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,619   +918
Personally, I'd love a multiplayer wolfenstein. Perhaps a coop squad based one? That would be fantastic.

But I also love the way Bethesda is doing this, keeping the story intact and any multiplayer version as a separate game. This is the way other companies should be doing it.

Looking forward to W-II colossus.
I could go for Co-Op multiplayer more often. It has leaned far too much into competitive. I've always had better experiences regarding cheaters (meaning lackthereof) with Co-op game modes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Theinsanegamer

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 1,978   +2,422
Personally, I'd love a multiplayer wolfenstein. Perhaps a coop squad based one? That would be fantastic.

But I also love the way Bethesda is doing this, keeping the story intact and any multiplayer version as a separate game. This is the way other companies should be doing it.

Looking forward to W-II colossus.
I could go for Co-Op multiplayer more often. It has leaned far too much into competitive. I've always had better experiences regarding cheaters (meaning lackthereof) with Co-op game modes.
Agreed. Or competitive multiplayer with dedicated servers, so its just friends screwing around. Those kinds of multiplayer are the best.
 

Capaill

Posts: 1,200   +737
A competitively multiplayer game with support for modding? Sounds like a recipe for mass cheating. And I don't think I could play vanilla Fallout 4 or Skyrim. I have put many hundreds of hours into those 2 games and I hope we get more future releases. But I prefer singleplayer games in general. Even co-op can ruin the flow of a game unless you party up with someone willing to be patient.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal Jeffrey

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,567   +591
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15
A competitively multiplayer game with support for modding? Sounds like a recipe for mass cheating. And I don't think I could play vanilla Fallout 4 or Skyrim. I have put many hundreds of hours into those 2 games and I hope we get more future releases. But I prefer singleplayer games in general. Even co-op can ruin the flow of a game unless you party up with someone willing to be patient.
This is true. I've had co-op games ruined just because someone else has either already played through the section I'm on and wants to rush, or just doesn't care to watch the narrative unfold. It annoys and takes me out of the game. I end up just abandoning the save and shooting the game alone.
 

sac39507

Posts: 323   +147
For me, nothing has topped Call of Duty World at War campaign co-op. Playing with 4 of your friends (through LAN) while there was some history and an interesting story line being told . The best part was that you couldn't really rush in because if you or your teammates die, the mission fails. I wish they had remastered this instead of COD4. Must have played the campaign cooperatively 20 times with different people each time. Also, the endless custom zombies made this game the best $50 I ever spent. And I would gladly spend another $50 for an expanded campaign. I'd trade all the crap COD games after this for an expanded co-op campaign. Why is this such a hard model to follow?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal Jeffrey

EClyde

Posts: 2,333   +914
They can't compete for the multiplayer. There are only so many players available and probably won't switch. I am strictly SP (though I like MP and would play but have Exede internet) so this is double good cause I play Wolf games and am an SP
 

Danny101

Posts: 1,318   +527
What gamers really want is a campaign co-op. No one cares about the redundant MP modes where every mentally illed cheater runs around killing everyone with impossible shots.
That's what made games like Army of Two fun. Now, what is needed is multiplayer co-op games that follow a storyline. Will require players to schedule a time to hook-up to continue the missions, but surely it can be made to work if not already being done. That's my idea of on-line play.
 

Danny101

Posts: 1,318   +527
But I also love the way Bethesda is doing this, keeping the story intact and any multiplayer version as a separate game. This is the way other companies should be doing it.

Looking forward to W-II colossus.
Yes, I completely agree. I was so pleased to see TESO end up as a solid stand-alone multiplayer game instead of a TES game with a multiplayer mode attached. It made the game so much better than it would have been. I think one of the problems with multiplayer games, including GTAO (as well as it is doing), are thrown into a game almost as an afterthought. Then the devs work on it after release. This is backward development and TESO kind of changed that IMO. It was an intact MP experience on release. Did it have some bugs? Sure. All games do, but for the most part, it was a complete multiplayer game in the vein of WoW.

So I think Bethesda has hit on a really good formula here. Keep our MP and SP adventures separate – we'll buy them both. I'd buy a MP Fallout as long is that's what it was solely designed as.
See no reason why they can't do concurrent development. Do a single-player and a multiplayer version and maybe even allow the player to carry mods developed off the single-player game into the multi-player worlds. Even to the point of trading those items with other players. The developer is making money off of both roll outs and let micro-transactions be done away with completely.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Cal Jeffrey

LenovoX

Posts: 78   +34
No multiplayer for me with all those mofo's 12yo kids with bad attitude... let'em play with their mothers, instead
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,567   +591
Staff member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #22
See no reason why they can't do concurrent development. Do a single-player and a multiplayer version and maybe even allow the player to carry mods developed off the single-player game into the multi-player worlds. Even to the point of trading those items with other players. The developer is making money off of both roll outs and let micro-transactions be done away with completely.
I'm not so sure concurrent development would work, and here's why. Let's just take Skyrim and TESO as an example since they actually exist and we know all about them.

These are two great games both easily worth the out-of-the-gate asking price of $60. Heck, I have two versions of Skyrim (the original physical disc for PS3, and a digital version of the Special Edition for PS4). Likewise, I paid for TESO on release full price, plus have bought all the DLC and had a Plus account for like 2 years. All totaled I probably spent around $500 on the two games if you include the sub (somewhere are $300 or so without the sub, and $180 if you want to leave out the special edition).

Now, had these games come out at the same time because they were developed concurrently. There is no way I would have spent even $180. I would have chosen one or the other (probably Skrim since I favor SP) and if I got the other one at all it would have been on the cheap probably more than a year later and would have looked for it on sale. Since TESO has not ever dropped in price, I probably wouldn't have played it to this day (I rarely pay launch prices for games more than a year old).

So by developing these two Elder Scrolls games separately at different times, Bethesda milked me to the max. And don't get me wrong, I don't think that's bad. I feel like I got my money's worth even at $500. I do it again.

This is likely why most companies choose to attach an MP mode to their SP games. Because we'll all buy it for one mode or the other and then they can milk it for MP DLC like Rockstar did with GTAO.

Just my thought on it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Danny101

Boilerhog146

Posts: 642   +223
Pffft.consoles.
a man with a controller meets a man with a k/b mouse.the man with the controller is a dead man.unless autoaim and target lock is on.POS.

Anyway.The original FEAR. Originated as a single player.then the combat MP came later as a free download.with dedicated server so I could set up a server for friends to log into.and it didn't take away from the sp .I though it was a. Great idea.

You guys with the bottomless pockets are the ones that helped create all this dlc ,pay too win mess.that game releases have become.I will only pay for a title now if it has a sp side to it.on release.mp will always be secondary option if at all.BF4 was designed as a mp game with massive amounts of buyable dlc .and a sp side as secondary.lots of the buyable mp maps became free to download over time.I imagine BF1 is much the same.which I don't have yet just because of BF4.
World of tanks actually kicks me out of game,redirects me to the store .to buy gold.I have to exit the store and go back into game manually.I guess it's because I've never spent 5 cents in the store.and still get a decent gaming experience.though I was a tank crewman in the armed forces.Lord Strathconas Horse...I use known tactics in game.
 
Last edited:

Johnnyblaze1957

Posts: 58   +12
I have enjoyed the co-op mode in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon and found it to be very enjoyable with friends only otherwise I only played it in single player. Some multi-player games are fun such as star wars battlefront Battlefield1 and so on but I play single player mainly and I don't see the point of multiplayer elements in single player games just my 2 cents worth.