The latest generation of consoles has been characterised by a series of shortcomings and questionable decisions. One of them is the non-existence of local multiplayer games that described the previous generations of consoles. For many gamers this meant the end of their local gameplay sessions with friends and the requirement to play online.
Towards the end of this console generation it became clear to developers. Gamers want to be able to experience a game together with friends in a local split screen multiplayer mode. This also means that we had to miss this mode for some time and many games were released without the expected game mode.
In the last week, my friends and I rediscovered the multiplayer game Gang Beasts. This game is only playable with two, three or four players in a local multiple mode. Gang Beasts is a fighting game in which you have to try to stay alive as the last gummy bear in a small level. That sounds easier than it really is.
Local gameplay sessions
In practice, these short gameplay sessions with two, three or four different gamers often result in a lot of laughter, screaming and sometimes even frustration. No gameplay session is ever the same and some stories of previous memorable events or victories are often retold.
In particular, the Nintendo games are known for their addictive local multiplayer modes. Each local gameplay session of Mario Kart is considered as a real and important battle to see who is the better gamer. Not to mention the level of competition in Super Smash Bros.
Split screen mode
There exist different types of local gameplay modes. One of the most popular local multiplayer modes is known as local split screen. In the previous console generations, this gameplay mode was often included as a competitive multiplayer or cooperative gameplay mode. These modes made it possible to enjoy one game with two, three or four players on one television screen, if you have enough controllers.
In the Halo series, two friends can complete the entire singleplayer campaign together. The cooperative mode makes it possible for friends to work together as teammates. In the later entries in the series, the familiar local multiplayer components from the previous games were nowhere to be found. This resulted in negative criticism.
Next generation of console hardware
Microsoft confessed without using words that it was a mistake not to include the local multiplayer component in the later games. As a result they announced that Halo Infinite, and future games released after this title, will include a splitscreen multiplayer mode.
Seen Halo Infinite releases on both the current and next generation of console hardware, the return of the long-awaited local multiplayer support marks the beginning of the upcoming console generation.
Indie developers and creative freedom
Even if local multiplayer components are not as widespread as they used to be prior to the existence of online multiplayer modes, it is great to see some games that remain true to their roots and respect the wishes of the gamers. However, it is often the smaller developers that benefit the most from local multiplayer modes. They have more creative freedom to experiment with different gameplay designs.
There are gamers who prefer these smaller local multiplayer games. One of the benefits of an indie developer is their independence. They do not require the permission of a publisher to develop a specific concept. This is the main reason why a local multiplayer games such as Gang Beasts exists.
Even though Gang Beasts has an online multiplayer mode, the entire indie game movement helps to keep the local multiplayer modes fresh and shows its true potential to other larger developers.
Friends, controllers and entertainment
In the meantime, the return of local multiplayer games makes it clear that this is one of the best method to experience certain titles. The focus of developers to bring these local multiplayer experiences to the next generation of consoles is remarkable. Some local multiplayer games are worth the purchase of a second, third of even fourth controller as they offer hours of entertainment.
To me, it is the non-verbal communication between the different types of gamers that makes these gameplay sessions stand out from the singleplayer and online multiplayer game modes. Be honest, who does not want to see their friends or family members lose a few rounds in some exciting games.
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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from Gang Beasts, a video game developed by Boneloaf and published by Double Fine Presents. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.