In the past few years, online multiplayer games became even more popular and reached an even larger audience worldwide. Not all multiplayer concepts were as strong as the battle royale game mode. The beginning of this console generation, marked the rise and fall of different asymmetrical multiplayer games and cancelled multiplayer concepts.
Most multiplayer games are balanced. In Battlefield and Call of Duty, you see two teams of gamers fight for survival in different game modes. Both teams are equipped with the same kind of weapons and teamwork and tactics make the difference between who wins and who loses.
In Fable Legends, a cancelled multiplayer project from the beginning of this console generation, the multiplayer experience was considered as asymmetrical. The multiplayer was based around four heroes and a villain.
A different kind of multiplayer game
During each quest or multiplayer session in Fable Legends, the four heroes had to use teamwork to succeed in their objectives. The villain, on the other hand, tried to defeat these four players with an army of creatures.
Each hero in Fable Legends was designed as a unique character with specific powers, abilities and gameplay mechanics. The villain on the other hand is considered as a dungeon master and controls the nature of the quest. The villain has a certain amount of creature points which he uses to plan his strategy.
The gameplay of the heroes is similar to a third person adventure game, but the gameplay of the villain looks similar to a real-time strategy game.
Difficult to balance asymmetrical gameplay elements
From a developer perspective, an asymmetrical multiplayer game seems to be a nightmare to balance compared to a symmetrical gameplay experience. In a symmetrical multiplayer game, all changes will have the same impact on all players.
In the beginning of 2016, Fable Legends was cancelled due to a lack of interest from the intended audience. Even though asymmetrical multiplayer elements are considered as the future of multiplayer games, these elements often requires a lot of adjustments after release.
Creating different experiences
In the Star Wars Battlefront series, gamers have the chance to enter the battlefield as their favourite heroes or villains. These characters are stronger and offer a different gameplay experience compared to the standard soldiers.
Heroes and villains are considered as powerful units in the Star Wars Battlefront games. These unique characters have a larger health bar, but unable to regenerate health. As a result, they can be overwhelmed and outnumbered by a large number of standard soldiers. However, they are a valuable asset and can turn the tides on the battlefield.
The addition of a hero system adds a rather balanced asymmetrical element to symmetrical multiplayer games, but both teams have their own set of heroes and villains and the benefits are balanced. Both teams have the same advantage in the multiplayer mode.
Some elements are more interesting than others
Asymmetrical multiplayer modes create a different kind of multiplayer experience, but there are things to consider. In a lot of asymmetrical multiplayer games, one side is more interesting to than the other.
In Evolve, many gamers preferred to defeat the four hunters as a monster. After reaching the end stage, the monster became too powerful for the hunters to stand a chance. In the early game, the monster is still too weak to survive a well-planned attack.
Not intended for casual gamers
One of the largest problems of the asymmetrical multiplayer game concept, is the requirement to learn more different gameplay mechanics in the game. This makes a multiplayer game even harder for someone who is not dedicated enough.
Gamers who are unable to invest a lot of time in games due to other commitments. You have to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of both sides in an asymmetrical multiplayer game and this feature limits the size of the potential audience in the long run.
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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from Fable Legends, a video game developed by Lionhead Studios and published by Microsoft Studios. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.