These days it seems like almost every game has tacked-on multiplayer. In fact, it can often be seen as a brave decision for a developer to only feature single-player, considering the extent to which a multiplayer mode can artificially extend a game’s lifespan.
Sometimes though, we can’t help but wonder what a game would be like if we could play it with others. Certain campaigns just feel like they would be tremendous fun to work through with a friend, and some games feature combat mechanics that could really lend themselves to fierce competitive play. Others just have the potential for player interactions that could add a whole new dynamic of fun to the title.
For the games on this list, a multiplayer mode might not have been a practical decision from a development point of view. A vast amount of work is required in crafting a decent single-player campaign, and diverting resources to create the game with multiplayer in mind can often result in less than impressive solo experience (just take a look at the more recent Call of Duty releases).
If adding multiplayer had no impact on the rest of development though, then we’d have loved to see support within the games on this list.
10. L.A. Noire
Rockstar’s neo-noir open world crime thriller was famous for its facial animations and distinctive 40′s setting. Acclaimed for its storytelling, the game was a great release, if a bit overshadowed by Red Dead Redemption before it.
Running around the city of Los Angeles as the troubled Cole Phelps was a lot of fun. However, we can’t help but wish we had the chance to play out our buddy-cop fantasies with a friend.
Just imagine being able to play out the good cop, bad cop routine on a tight-lipped felon. Or chasing down an escaped criminal while a friend drives ahead to create a blockade. It’s enough to make us wonder why the buddy-cop genre isn’t one that’s taken off in the video game world yet.
9. Infamous: Second Son
We’ve seen multiplayer superhero games, in the form of titles like DC Universe Online, Marvel Universe and Champions Online. However, none of them have quite satisfied our desire for more intimate, action-packed multiplayer encounters.
We’re talking about lengthy battles between small teams of superheroes versus supervillains, across an open city. Just think how good it would be to have scenarios like supervillains racing to steal a giant nuclear missile, while the superheroes attempt to subdue them, all contained within a proper, action-based gameplay engine.
Infamous: Second Son is exactly the kind of game that could potentially host these kind of multiplayer encounters. Unfortunately it was never meant to be, and Sucker Punch chose to focus on the solo campaign. If you know of a game that enables the kind of online battles that we’re dreaming of, let us know in the comments. Please.
8. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
From the moment we sat down and watched the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time, our lives were changed forever. Piloting along the trenches of the Death Star in order to send a missile down a tiny exhaust port, or bringing down a giant AT-AT on the snowy planet of Hoth was all we ever wanted to do from then on.
Then, out came Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for the Nintendo 64. Offering the ability to experience everything from the Star Wars films and more, it was absolutely a dream come true. We sat down, bulky controller in hand, and started up the game. Regardless of the foggy environments and low texture quality, it was all we were hoping for.
Filled with excitement, we rang our friend’s house the next day, inviting them to come over with their controller so we could play this revelation of a game together. Excitement was quickly followed by disappointment though, as the realisation dawned that no multiplayer mode existed, no matter how many menus were navigated through.
The tale ends on a happy note though, after Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike blasted onto the GameCube, finally bringing co-op to the series.
Bayonetta has one of the deepest combat systems in any single-player game of the last ten years. The journey through Bayonetta’s ludicrous, over-the-top campaign is one of the most fun, replayable experiences to be had in gaming.
It’s a shame then, that there’s no way to directly test your mettle against fellow players, beyond beating high scores and combo chains. The flashy combat lends itself well to late night sofa tournaments, and is almost as fun to watch as it is to play.
Due to the nature of the move sets in Bayonetta, the game would be great for more than just one-on-one fights; it’d make for a great four-player brawler. Fortunately, it has been confirmed that Bayonetta 2 will have some sort of multiplayer component. Whether this means co-op or competitive, we’re satisfied either way.
6. Shadow of the Colossus
One of the greatest things about Shadow of the Colossus was the inescapable feelings of loneliness and insignificance, as well as the emotional impact of the intimate story. In fact, the game is frequently referenced in relation to discussion about whether video games can be considered art.
Despite all this, we can’t help but imagine how awesome it would be to take on one of the incredible Colossus fights with a friend. With one distracting the beast with a bow and arrow from below, while the other makes the treacherous climb to its weak spot, it could have made for one of the most exhilarating multiplayer experiences ever.
Of course, we wouldn’t change Shadow of the Colossus for the world. That’s not to say there isn’t a giant gap in the market when it comes to co-operative colossus slaying though.
5. Wolfenstein: The New Order
We were surprised to learn that Wolfenstein: The New Order didn’t feature multiplayer of any kind. After all, shooting Nazis together is well-known as the best way to bond with friends, family and spouses.
To developer MachineGames’ credit, they did a magnificent job of The New Order’s campaign, with a surprisingly well-crafted story and a respect for the classic shooters that inspired it. The fast, frenetic gunplay would have been perfect for some old-school competitive deathmatch fun though; something that has been sorely lacking from shooters in recent times.
With features like the versatile weapon customisation and insane firepower that comes from dual wielding, we have no doubt that The New Order could have had great online multiplayer – and an even better split-screen component.
4. The Witcher 2
The Witcher 2 is such a masterpiece of single-player design that it seems crazy to include it on a list of games we wished had multiplayer. Its sprawling, multi-layered plot and exciting, dynamic world remains among the best in the RPG genre.
The premise of the Witcher 2, or at least the parts where you head off and sort out people’s monster problems, would make for a brilliant co-operative mode though. It probably wouldn’t work just tacked onto the existing campaign, but a totally separate mode where you and a friend get paid to track and hunt various beasties sounds like a lot of fun.
There aren’t enough good co-operative action-RPGs out there at the moment, but we have no doubt that developers CD Projekt RED would do a fantastic job of making one. For now though, we’re happy to let them get on with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which is already looking like it may blast its predecessors out the water.
Probably the most frequently requested game when it comes to co-operative multiplayer, we can’t think of an RPG more suited to co-op questing than Skyrim. Considering the fact that most players have an NPC companion with them most of the time anyway, Skyrim had everything in place to be the ultimate game to play with friends.
With the trap-filled dungeons, epic battle scenes and tense dragon fights, we can’t think of a single aspect of Skyrim that wouldn’t have been improved with a friend along the way. This year saw the release of The Elder Scrolls Online, but its clunky combat and linear questing just didn’t quite scratch our multiplayer-Skyrim itch.
There is an ongoing mod that aims to bring co-op to Skyrim, but it’s still unfinished and unrefined even at this late stage. If you want to live out your dreams of playing Skyrim with a friend, you might have to just get chummy with Lydia. After all, she’s sworn to carry you burdens.
2. RollerCoaster Tycoon
Easily the best of all the ‘Tycoon’ games, RollerCoaster Tycoon and its sequel are among the biggest time sinks in single-player gaming. With the premise of building up your own theme park through creating various rides and amusements, RollerCoaster Tycoon has been a lifelong addiction since its release in 1999.
Despite being such a good single-player title, few would consider RollerCoaster Tycoon when it comes to multiplayer though. However, we believe that this theme park management sim has the potential to be one of the blood thirstiest competitive titles around.
Picture a scenario in which two theme parks open up shop right next to each other. In direct competition, the players managers would have to do everything it takes to encourage potential customers to spend cash in their own park. From bidding on advertising deals to sabotaging your opponent’s rides, we can see RollerCoaster Tycoon being the Game of Thrones of multiplayer management sims.
1. Half-Life 2
There are countless classic moments from the Half-Life 2 campaign. Who can forget the helicopter battle while taking the airboat out of City 17? Or the amazing battle against multiple Striders during the climax of Episode 2?
While we’d always advise a new player to go through Half-Life 2′s incredible journey alone for the first team, we still think that same journey would be even more replayable with an optional co-op setting. The first third of the game would take a bit of reworking, but we can see how the rest of the title would be perfectly suited to co-operative play throughs.
Many of the later encounters could be cranked up to be extra challenging for a team of two. The underground stand-off against the Antlions, the tense passage through Ravenholm, and the rebel uprising through the war-torn streets could be particular fan favourites.
Worked yourself up into a depression that you’ll never be able to fight through City 17 with a friend yet? Good, because you’ll be please to learn that some clever souls have actually managed to create a mod that brings exactly that, and it works beautifully.