Multiplayer DLCs: No Cutscenes, Please

Multiplayer is all about the action. I’ve already written a lot about story in RPGs, but I haven’t given game mechanics and combat the attention they deserve on their own. For me, the main difference between a single-player video game and its multiplayer DLC is not the ability to play with other people, it’s the lack of cutscenes. And it’s refreshing.

Mass Effect 3 multiplayer DLCs let you assume alien identities and use new combat techniques.

For an RPG like Mass Effect 3 — dialogue-heavy and cutscene-happy as it is — a multiplayer DLC that dishes out uninterrupted combat is a blast. It’s a tribute to that thing that attracts gamers to games in the first place: action. I appreciate the unadulterated combat, and it appeals to many types of gamers (and many sides to gamers), such as 1.) social gamers who want to play with friends, 2.) competitive gamers who want to take out other players and come in first, 3.) gamers who want to unlock kick-ass gear and 4.) gamers who get impatient with cutscenes.

Multiplayer action is a refreshing change from the stories in video games, especially RPGs. Even a gamer like me who prefers single-player, story-rich games just wants to shoot digitalized enemies sometimes. Varied combat is obviously a huge part of what we love about the games we play.

And yes, sometimes single-player games bully players into playing their MP DLCs to get the most out of the SP mode. I’m looking at you, Mass Effect 3. And you, Diablo 3which is only online even in single-player mode. That’s not really something I appreciate. Even if the co-op is a lot of fun, it should always be totally optional for single-player games.

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has a multiplayer mode that features a series of unconnected missions — much like the game’s single-player story.

So maybe some players would appreciate cutscenes, but really, multiplayer mode offers something that single-player doesn’t: action without distractions. (And lots of cool gear.) Most of the time, you still have all the gorgeous graphics of the single-player game. Even the story is there — cutscene-less as it is — as you’re entering an alien world to fight the enemies who populate the game and make it meaningful. You just don’t have to sit through cutscenes; you can happily click away the hours without story getting in the way.

But cutscenes are invading multiplayer DLCs now. They’re limited, but it seems they’re on their way.

Some gamers embrace the depth and enhanced story element multiplayers are taking on. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is an example; it has a real story, with unlockable cutscenes as you level up. Other games have limited cutscenes that mostly set up missions and battles so you know what you’re doing and why you’re fighting. Cutscenes after matches can also reward winning players better than a simple scoreboard can.

But to be fair, if cutscenes become too common in MP, I can see this trend alienating multiplayer fans. Though a prologue and epilogue cutscene can enhance a game’s impact (Bioshock 2 MP), numerous cutscenes in an overarching story seem to be encroaching on single-player, co-op and MMORPG territory.

Gears of War sets the bar high for what co-op gameplay can achieve.

We already have co-op modes in some games that allow two or more players to play the otherwise single-player game — and enjoy the story — with a friend. Gears of War is an awesome example. We also have MMORPGs for cooperating, competing and interacting with other players in a world that has a story. In many MMORPGs, our decisions — the way we play the game — even change the fictional universe in ways that may affect other players.

If a multiplayer game were set up like a single-player game, that might be different. Cooperating through the single-player story is a fun and inventive option. But typically multiplayer DLCs are set up for players to cycle through battles with others — the type of gameplay makes sitting through recycled cutscenes a bore. (Maybe that’s why Naughty Dog got rid of the cutscenes they included before and after each match in the Uncharted 3 multiplayer beta.)

That’s why I hope that multiplayer DLCs, for the most part, stick with their strengths, giving gamers a way to play their favorite games with others — and in my opinion, that means keeping the cutscenes pretty much totally out of it, please.

— Ashley

6 thoughts on “Multiplayer DLCs: No Cutscenes, Please”

  1. I think cutscenes should be for the single player campaigns or the story modes in games only. At least if you want a balance of story and gameplay you can go through those modes. Multi-player is really about the action and playing with your friends to shoot things and watch stuff blow up. A focus on the action is especially good when you want to let off some steam.

    1. I definitely agree. It seems like multiplayer DLCs attract mostly the same people who enjoy the single-player campaigns (like us) but want something totally different — and that’s to play with friends and get straight to the action, like you said. It’s a nice change of pace. And I agree that multiplayer is good for blowing off steam sometimes!

  2. Action packed multiplayer games should not have cut scenes. MMORPGs that are community, social, and story based just need better ones.

    1. Definitely. If you want story with the multiplayer action, you play an MMORPG, so I agree that improving those cutscenes would be great. A distinction is necessary (with multiplayer DLCs being their own thing) so people know that multiplayer is all action… otherwise the overlap is bound to alienate players, and before long everything will be a “movie.”

  3. I agree. I understand maybe having say establishing cutscenes at the start of the campaign or maybe for certain areas (like an overview) or maybe ones for when you finish the mutliplayer campagin but constant full blown, dialogue heavy cutscenes doesn’t exactly seem necessary for mutliplayer.

    1. That’s true. I’m not against maybe an establishing cutscene and one at the end of the campaign, like you said — might add to the immersion. But when you want to be tearing up the place, cutscenes get in the way, and multiplayer would be way too repetitive with cutscenes for every battle. Good point!

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