This past year, many franchises saw the inclusion of co-op for the first time. Multiplayer and co-op experiences are becoming more and more common in games these days, and for most developers, its inclusion is a learning process. For most Ubisoft franchises, co-op is becoming an expected feature and in the case of Far Cry 4, developers used it as they felt players would enjoy it.
With an open-world game, all players experience the main story at their own pace. Side content is a constant part of a play-through and its clearly the most influential factor in a person’s progress through the story. Far Cry 4’s co-op experience felt limited at times, especially since there weren’t any missions that tied into the game’s story.
Creating missions for a game’s single-player mode versus its co-op mode are two different matters. There are a number of factors that go into their creation and for Ubisoft, they had to find the level-ground for what worked in co-op and what didn’t. In GameInformer’s February issue, Far Cry 4’s Creative Director Alex Hutchinson said story missions were harder to create specifically for co-op since they were “more controlled” than the side missions were.
“In tests we saw people ignored the story and skipping the cutscenes, or worse, a new player joined a player near the end of the game and had the story ruined, so it felt better and more flexible to keep the narrative missions on one side and let players create their own buddy stories any way they want without interruption in the open-world,” Hutchinson said.
This goes back to the fact that some players don’t get through the story at the same pace as others do. Side content is a major variable that influences a player’s progression, creating the conundrum of how does the game allow people to play story missions together without spoiling it. It would require quite the sophisticated matchmaking system to group players together who have completed a similar portion of the story.
Besides, co-op was more of an added bonus in a game like Far Cry 4. At the heart of it, like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry is still a single-player game and that experience cannot be compromised because of co-op. We’re at a slippery slope in the industry for how much co-op should cross into single-player games. Sure, it’s the fad or trend that is most popular right now, but developers need to be careful not to destroy single-player games because they feel obligated to include co-op.
Not every game needs to have co-op in it, no matter how common it is becoming in the industry. Single-player games are still some of the most popular titles people want. Developers like Ubisoft need to be careful with when they decide to include co-op. It fit better with Assassin’s Creed Unity, but not as well with Far Cry 4.
Franchises like Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs are amazing single-player games, and they need to stay that way. Co-op is a thoroughly enjoyable feature, but if companies aren’t careful, it could become a damaging nuisance.