Games

How Not to Make a Multiplayer Game

Medal of Honor's multiplayer tries to marry elements from Battlefield: Bad Company and Call of Duty but only borrows the surface trappings of these elements and none of the depth.

Medal of Honor was supposed to be EA’s big salvo against Call of Duty, an attempt at bringing down Activision’s juggernaut of a shooter at least a little bit. While I think the single player portion of EA’s game is far better, the multiplayer is surprisingly derivative for such a high profile game. It tries to marry elements from Battlefield: Bad Company and Call of Duty, making what probably sounded like the perfect shooter on paper. But Medal of Honor only borrows the surface trappings of these elements and none of the depth, resulting in a multiplayer mode that feels as if it was made by people who don’t understand why its peers are so popular.

Call of Duty is all about killing people. There may be some objective-based game modes, but from my time with the franchise, it seems that most players ignore these objectives in order to extend the match and rack up more kills. It’s all about the kills, the kill count, the kill streaks, the kill/death ratio; the entire multiplayer revolves around this one action being repeated over and over and over again. Thankfully, the developers (whether it be Infinity Ward or Treyarch) stuff these games with so many different ways to kill people that this repetition doesn’t get boring.

There’s always some new gadget waiting to be unlocked: a new gun, perk, leveled-up perk, or attachment that will make killing easier. There’s a tremendous variety in each Call of Duty game that’s only getting more complex with every entry in the series. Players also have the ability to create their own class, mixing guns and attachments and perks in ways that complement individual play style or that encourage a different kind of play style. These games go out of their way to create variety, giving us an absurd arsenal and then letting us customize that arsenal, but this variety is necessary because the moment-to-moment gameplay rarely changes.

By contrast stands Battlefield: Bad Company, which is more about the team than the individual, so kill count isn’t as important as your overall score. Here, it’s all about the points. Support actions can earn you just as many points as a kill, encouraging players to help each other out in addition to killing, or for those players that aren’t skilled at shooters, it encourages them to stick solely with a support class. It’s these distinct classes that give Bad Company its unique feel.

Each class has its pros and cons. The Assault class is good for straight attacks, but weak against armored vehicles and can drop ammo pickups for teammates. The Engineer can fix friendly vehicles and has a mix of tools to destroy enemy vehicles, like mines or rocket launchers, but isn’t very effective in full on combat. Medics can revive and heal people, but their guns aren’t very accurate, especially at long range. Snipers are the most effective support character; naturally good at long range, and even if you can’t hit a target, you can mark the enemy so he shows up on the map for your team to kill. Motion grenades do this as well, and motor strikes are devastating in the right hands. However, Snipers are weak in close combat. Each class shines in certain situations, making them distinct with different abilities, weapons, and unlocks.

Like Bad Company, Medal of Honor is structured around specific classes, Rifleman, Spec Ops, and Sniper. Unlike Bad Company, there’s very little difference between classes, which renders the entire concept pointless: Support abilities become kill streak rewards, available for all classes. Your guns are different, but not nearly different enough. In terms of practical use on the battlefield, a Spec Ops’s SMG is almost indistinguishable from a Rifleman’s assault rifle. These two classes are essentially identical, and the Sniper is only unique because it gives the player actual long range sniper rifles.

The moment-to-moment gameplay is a clear imitation of Call of Duty in that there’s nothing to do except kill people. Unlike Call of Duty, there’s shockingly little variety in Medal of Honor. Each class gets only three guns, six if you count the “enemy version” of your normal weapons. You’ll mostly be rewarded with attachments and gadgets: red dot sights, extra ammo clips, silencers, etc. But all these unlockables are tied to a class, and this is where the class-based structure becomes a band aid meant to cover up a lack of content. Since there’s so few things to unlock, if these rewards were spread across all classes or if players had the ability to mix and match like in Call of Duty, then there would be so few options that the game would be ridiculed for its barren arsenal. By tying rewards to a specific class, you’ll end up unlocking the same attachment multiple times, giving the illusion of more content.

A friend suggested to me that this may be part of an attempt to make a more realistic multiplayer shooter, as in soldiers aren’t really separated into unique classes and only use a select few guns in real battles. But if D.I.C.E. really wanted this multiplayer to feel realistic there are other things that they could have done. As it is now, Medal of Honor clearly more wants to be more Call of Duty than war sim. Matches are nothing but pure competition, driven by kill counts, kill streaks, and kill/death ratios. Even if that excuse for the limited arsenal holds some measure of truth, it’s just another example of how poorly thought out this multiplayer really is: You can’t be realistic while chasing after Call of Duty (at least in terms of multiplayer).

As it is now, this multiplayer in Medal of Honor is just a poor imitation of better games, and really makes one appreciate the tactical depth of its peers.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less
Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

Rather than once again exploring the all-too-familiar territory of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Samantha Silva's debut novel contextualizes the work's origins and gets inside the mind of its creator.


Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has been told and retold so many times over the years that, by this point, one might be hard-pressed to find a single soul evenly glancingly familiar with western culture who isn't at least tangentially acquainted with the holiday classic. This is, of course, a bit of holiday-themed hyperbole, but the fact remains that the basic premise of A Christmas Carol has become so engrained in our culture that it would seem near impossible to imagine a time prior to its existence. It's universally-relatable themes of the power of kindness, redemption and forgiveness speaks to the heart of the Christmas season – at least as it has been presented in the 174 years since it was first published in 19 December 1843 -- just in time for Christmas.

Keep reading... Show less
6

Following his excellent debut record Communion, Rabit further explores the most devastating aspects of its sound in his sophomore opus Les Fleurs du Mal.

Back in 2015 Rabit was unleashing Communion in the experimental electronic scene. Combining extreme avant-garde motifs with an industrial perspective on top of the grime sharpness, Eric C. Burton released one of the most interesting records of that year. Blurring lines between genres, displaying an aptitude for taking things to the edge and the fact that Burton was not afraid to embrace the chaos of his music made Communion such an enticing listen, and in turn set Rabit to be a "not to be missed" artist.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image