I Keep Trying To Play Multiplayer Games Solo

Dragon Marked For Death

I’ve mostly been a single-player gamer. I grew up with Nintendo consoles and went more Metroid than Mario Kart, more Super Mario Bros. than Smash Bros. When I’m playing Destiny, I’ll enjoy some of its spontaneous co-op combat, but I don’t indulge in PvP. So why do I keep buying or trying multiplayer games?

My latest foolhardy foray into a game that is clearly made for multiple people to play at once and therefore clearly not made for me is last week’s Dragon Marked For Death, a sidescrolling action game on Switch.

It has a Monster Hunter-like mission system in which you gear up for a mission that you can load into with up to three other players, the better to take down some very difficult bosses.

Last week, I was playing it solo and getting crushed. When I checked online for others’ impressions of the game, it became clear that the game is meant to be played by two to four players using the game’s four differently-skilled heroes to defeat evil. Playing solo is merely an inferior back-up plan.

Last year, I bought Black Ops 4 and briefly got excited about playing the game’s least-emphasised mode: a solo training mode that seemed primarily designed to unlock cool cutscenes. Wiser players would focus on the game’s battle royale Blackout mode.

I bought Smash Bros. Ultimate knowing full well that I’d rarely find myself playing it with other people. I knew I would only get a lot out of it if it had a single-player mode that was great enough to distract me from playing many other new games that are primarily made for single players. It doesn’t have one.

Dragon Marked For Death is ok to play solo but is clearly meant for more to join in.

I’m not against multiplayer games. I’ve just never been hungry for them. When I finally got a Mario Kart game in college, I played it solo. When I got GoldenEye, I beat the damn Cradle mission at 00 Agent difficulty and yet probably never played more than 10 rounds of multiplayer.

That preference has continued. I enjoy sprawling big-budget single-player games as well as shorter, innovative indies and I’ve got a huge backlog of them to get through.

These days, my life also just isn’t shaped well for multiplayer games. I play at night after my kids go to bed and always want to get further in whatever new game I’m playing rather than focus on playing a single game for weeks or months on end with others to improve my skills. I play lot of other games in spurts on the subway, not a great forum for multiplayer gaming.

I nevertheless want to get even a slight feel for whatever new games are out there. I want to know what people are excited about. When Overwatch was new, I played a couple of matches.

When Fortnite was blowing up, I tried a couple of rounds to get a feel for that. I’ll happily sample the hot new multiplayer game and even the cold new one, just to see what a batch of game creators have come up with. It’s partially my job to keep aware of new games, of course.

Even as I branch out to multiplayer, I’ll do so with a dash of denial. I’ll hear that voice in my head that’s hoping against hope that there’s some good solo mode hiding in the game.

Last year, when Nintendo was talking last year about their obviously multiplayer-centric Mario Tennis Aces game having a solo campaign, I was the fool who started planning to play the game just for that.

I’m the person who picked up Monster Hunter: World and figured, hey, maybe I can finally enjoy a Monster Hunter game while still never having played a Monster Hunter game with another person.

I’m the person who keeps asking my colleagues who are having great times in Sea Of Thieves if, hey, do you think that game might be fun to solo?

Last October I was pondering whether the new Mario Party might be good to play against AI. Ridiculous, right? It’s supposed to be a party. (In a happy twist, I bought it a month later to play with my nephew and had a great time!)

This is my style.

This is what I like.

I prefer single-player, and if a game has multiplayer or was even made for multiplayer, I’ll still see if I can squeeze everything I can out its single-player mode.


    I'm 100% the same. For me it's 'only child syndrome'. Not that I didn't want to play games with other people growing up. I would have killed for more friends who loved video games but I didn't have many so I was always playing games by myself. On the occasional weekend I might get some time with my cousins to play some multiplayer games but I spent 99% of my gaming time solo and as a result, I keenly prefer the single player experience even in games with a multiplayer focus.

    These days I am just too anti social, and more so anti random people, that the only time I play with anyone else is a good mate of mine. So if its a game I really want to play like Anthem, but he isnt keen, then I will play it solo.

    YES! For me it's not that I don't like multiplayer, but I really only want to play it with friends. But we're all "adults" with other things happening so we don't get the shot very often.

    100%, all of the above. When I was younger, it wasn't really possible for me to play with others, I'd take what I could get. In my teens, I had no friends, at least none that were into games in any way. In college everyone was way way too busy

    Entering adulthood, things changed a little I had a bit of money, but still not all that much time. Destiny 2 was my 'peak'. I have fond memories of playing with a guild that included a few friends. One night I actually scheduled 2 hours in to do a raid, my first ever. Over half an hour of that was waiting for people to show up, technical difficulties, and toilet breaks. Then it was possibly the most fun 4 hours I've ever had in a game! Oh yeah, and I was 2 and a half hours late for an important thing, and still never actually got to see the boss die. I tried a few smaller missions with randoms, just pick up games, but it's never the same, and sometimes worse, than slogging it alone

    Now I've got a baby, and even the thought of trying to organise a deathmatch with a real human being is just to stressful, and if I'm sick of my own baby being a jerk, you better believe I don't want to put up with a random being a jerk as well. I'm currently enjoying Kingdom Hearts 3 though, being able to perpetually pause really helps when the baby throws up on me

    It's actually getting to the point where it's quite depressing. I adore ARGPs, I love all the Diablo's, looters, shooters, they're all good. But that market is shrivelling in record pace, in the dust of MMO's and 'shared world' shooters. I for one, am actually genuinely looking forward to Anthem, but I still won't be buying until I've seen reviews from people playing single player, because even if it turns out to be ok to play with strangers, I don't want to be the guy that instantly and mysteriously goes AFK when his wife needs him, his baby sticks a fork in a socket, or there's a work emergency

    Some lifestyles, whether we choose them or not, just don't work with some game models, even if you love them :(

    Last edited 08/02/19 2:48 pm

    I'm the same, mostly because of social anxieties and all that. If the game's co-op though and I have friends who also play then I'll enjoy teaming up and running amok but if it's a competitive game like Overwatch or Splatoon then I generally tend to play as long as it takes to hit the tipping point where being in a PUG just can't cut it anymore.

      Yeh, I kind of delayed my raiding experience in d2 forsaken because I was playing with irl friends atm which was fucking great fun don't get me wrong.
      I did go halfway through with one friend a couple of times but then he dropped off and stopped playing. I did finish the raid twice with randoms, but by then I had no idea what was going on in the second half and was getting carried basically, everyone was a pro by then and all lfg posts are looking for quick runs. I didn't really enjoy those raids though because I was so anxious about the other people calling me out on not knowing what to do, even tho that didn't happen really.
      It sucks because I'm very good at the first few encounters and spent many hours explaining the mechanics to randoms but getting that back is a very rare occurrence. I can't blame anyone because time is precious and most ppl don't have the time for such things and it's not everyone's idea of fun either.
      And that's a shame because as commented above, raids ( and other similar experiences in other games) are some of the best fun u can have.
      Even if you only have one actual friend playing with u that's often fine I have found. Otherwise the stress and anxiety of the experience ruins the fun.

    I'm with you!
    Although I don't mind an occasional split screen match with a friend next to me on the couch

    This is pretty much how I played Destiny and Destiny 2 as well, and was how played WoW for a few years after all my friends left.

    One of the things that's stopping me from really liking Apex Legends is the inability to play by myself.

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