Generally speaking, I don’t do multiplayer. The idea of playing alongside or against another human being has rarely held much allure for me. Maybe this is due to my having grown up with a fairly poor internet connection. Maybe my Napoleonic control issues make it impossible for me to share the gaming spotlight with a co-op buddy. Or maybe I just find it difficult to feel immersed in a world of faceless fetch quests and kill quotas, particularly when surrounded by thirteen year-olds shooting mail boxes with RPGs and calling everything gay. However, if Grand Theft Auto V’s recently released multiplayer trailer is anything to go by, my days of keeping things offline may well be numbered.
At a glance, things don’t look much different from the single-player. In both, you’re dropped into the Los Santos/Blaine County area, commit heists and other crimes to make money, and then spend that money on weapons, vehicles, clothing and more. So is the multiplayer just the same thing with the added option to wreak havoc with your friends? Yes and no.
This is your story.
While the single-player puts you in control of Michael, Trevor and Franklin, here you create your own avatar, much like in the Saints Row series. This allows for much more in the way of customisation and personalisation of your avatar, including the option to be a woman. It’s about time we got to play GTA as a woman, even if in multiplayer it risks us being subjected to armies of scantily clad avatars machine gunning their way across the county and tea-bagging the corpses of policemen. Nevertheless, I am pretty pumped to build my own avatar. The three protagonists’ story is looking to be an amazing ride, but it is still their story.
Go it alone or with a crew.
Being forced to cooperate with other players is one of my chief reasons for avoiding online gaming. Even the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer grated with me after a while, in part due to its lack of variety, but mostly due to the player imbalance. On my team of four, I always seemed to end up with some combination of guys who are way too good and leave nothing for the rest of us to kill, guys who are way too bad and keep needing to be rescued, and guys who seem to be actively working against their own team.
Mercifully, GTAV’s multiplayer has no such restrictions, letting players tear apart the city on their own. However, this might somewhat defeat the purpose of online play, and one could argue you might as well just stick to the single-player. But it’s nice to not be forced into an arbitrarily numbered squad, and if in my solo travels I happen to come across another player whose skills and play style complement my own, then I might just have a buddy to rob banks with, provided he doesn’t then shoot me in the back to get my cut of the loot.
I want to break free.
The other big reason that has kept me away from online gaming is grinding. Whether it’s MMOs or Facebook games, there always seems to be some arbitrary barrier between where you are and where you want to be, whether it’s needing to be about ten levels stronger to have a chance against a certain boss, or having to sign up four more of your friends to expand the map. While GTAV’s multiplayer trailer mentions that the player gains “reputation” as they complete jobs, hopefully this will be more about incentive than restriction. Given that Rockstar claims to have built the game with freedom as a major priority, I’m not worried.
Above all, the thing about GTAV Online that makes me consider trying it (beyond the fact that it comes free with the game anyway) is that it the game in general looks so good that I want to share it with my friends. I want to buy a garage to show off all the cars I customise. I want to take on jobs with someone because it’ll make a good story for us to talk about later. Maybe this is how other gamers feel all of the time, but for me? For me, it’s a big deal.