Features & News

End of Year 2014: Best Multiplayer

December 18, 2014, Author: The TIMJ Team

Welcome to the fourth of eleven daily ‘End of Year’ pieces from TIMJ, where in each, we discuss our favourite things of 2014 from carefully selected categories.

Next up is ‘Best Multiplayer’. Which games have delivered the best social experiences this year?

Andy Corrigan (Editor In Chief) – Ultra Street Fighter IV

Over recent years, I’ve found myself preferring to stick to solo play more and more, often ignoring multiplayer modes entirely if under no obligation to review. This, of course, has led me to miss out on a few gems, such as the surprisingly solid death matches found in The Last of Us. Still, a franchise in which I play online at some point every single year is Street Fighter. This year’s release of the Ultra Street Fighter IV DLC/Upgrade has meant that 2014 has been no different.

With a number of important system changes made to its original blueprint – one capable of upsetting seasoned pros, no less – plus another set of new characters, Capcom have acted the bravest they’ve been with Street Fighter IV since it first released five years ago. For me, the result is the best version of the best, nay, most important fighting game ever made, and I’m dying to get my last few reviews out of the way so I can dive right back into it.

Runners Up: The Last of Us Remastered, Mario Kart 8

James Sheppard (Reviews Editor) – Mario Kart 8

I have a sneaking suspision that if Super Smash Bros Wii U was already in my grubby mitts, it would hands-down be my pick for multiplayer of the year. Sadly I have to wait for Santa to deliver it to me instead.

With that in mind, I’m awarding the accolade to another Wii U title: Mario Kart 8. Nintendo really nailed it with this one – the track selection is probably the finest of any Mario Kart to date, and it’s all brilliantly well-polished and heaps of fun to play competitively. It’s a shame about the poorly-conceived Battle mode, but other than that it’s hard to fault.

I’ve also had a blast on Titanfall this year, which I’ve found to be the freshest new online multiplayer shooter I’ve played in a while. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was also a pleasant surprise, being my favourite Call of Duty of the last few years.

Runners Up: Titanfall, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Andy Buick (Features Editor) – Towerfall Ascension

This is perhaps a slightly off the wall choice but I have to go with Towerfall Ascension here. It’s only local multiplayer, but get a few mates round and I challenge anyone to find a couch multiplayer game that’s more fun and addictive. There’s something particularly satisfying about nailing one of your mates against a wall with an arrow.

Runners Up: Tiny Brains, Child of Light

Dan Moore (Staff Writer) – Titanfall

This has to be Titanfall. It was the first game I played on my shiny new Xbox One and I absolutely loved it. I had gotten bored of being killed almost instantly every single time I spawned into a Call of Duty game, so I was looking for something I might actually be able to compete at, and Titanfall did everything I hoped it would.

The speed and fact you can spawn a large robot put this on my radar as soon as it was announced. Once I got it and started playing, I could compete, and even came first on several occasions. I loved the mobility the parkour gave your character, and while climbing into your Titan actually made you more vulnerable, it was also super cool to watch it drop from the sky before you start wasting fools with its comically over-sized guns.

The range of perks and equipment you could unlock wasn’t massive but that was actually a good thing; by being smaller you can feel like you’re getting closer and closer, little by little, at maxing out and having the best stuff. It is a truly great multiplayer game.

Runners Up: Destiny, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Josué Cardona (Staff Writer) – Super Smash Bros. Wii U

8-Player Smash. I was hoping for the announcement of 5-player battles on Wii U ever since the new Smash Bros. was revealed and finally it happened… 5… 6… 7… 8 players!

I love the chaos of it, and I can’t think of a better party experience. It’s even fun to watch. I set up all-CPU, 8-Player Smash matches sometimes because it’s better than most of what’s on TV. There is a lot of potential for surprises with around 50 characters to choose from, you can even have Bowser Jr. and the seven Koopalings duke it out all at once.

Runners Up: Destiny, Share Play (PS4)

Matt Parker (News Editor) – Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

This is a tough one for me. For most of the year, I was stuck in the ‘last-gen’. All of my friends had jumped ship to play on their PS4s and I was stuck with my 360, playing on my lonesome. Eventually, I bought a PS4, but I didn’t have any multiplayer games – until I bought Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

This game is my winner kind of by default. Sorry.

Having said that, this is the first MMO I’ve ever really played and as dumb as it is, I can see the appeal. Even if all I do is fish and learn stupid dances, the social aspect of meeting all of my friends (one’s in Liverpool, one’s in London and the other’s in Munich) online is still a neat feat.

Runners Up: Animal Crossing, Madden 15

Jasper Pickering (Staff Writer) – Far Cry 4

I don’t play a lot of multiplayer, especially when it comes to competitive. Whether this is down to a misguided sense of chivalry or poor motor skills is up for debate, but my competitive streak is lacklustre in the best of terms, and crap in the worst.

As a result, I much prefer to play cooperative multiplayer, which is why my best experience online was on Far Cry 4.

Having the expanse of Kyrat as your playground, coupled with the unbeatable power of friendship, Far Cry 4 is the epitome of sandbox mayhem, or as I like to refer to it: a ‘dicking-around simulator’.

The sheer pleasure of riding two elephants directly into an enemy stronghold and running away from the resulting chaos reminded me of why I play games like Far Cry in the first place; it’s just so much fun. It may not be big or clever, but it’s hard not to crack a smile as you pilot a gyrocopter – with a friend riding shotgun – taking pot-shots at passing cars with a grenade-launcher over the Himalayan vista, as the sun sets on the snow-capped troubled paradise.

Runners Up: Destiny, Titanfall

Matt Best (Staff Writer) – The Crew

I’m not a big multiplayer person, mainly due to my lack of skills and fear of embarrassment. As a result I prefer multiplayer experiences that do not involve being on the receiving end of abuse from some 12 year old with intimate knowledge of my mother. When it comes down to just sheer fun, I found The Crew to be at the top of the pile this year.

Whether it’s cruising around with some friends, teaming up for some co-op, or just bumping into randoms and racing around the streets together, it’s all just fun. Often I’ve found myself alongside some unknown player and, without a word, being spoken we’ve taken off in one direction together, weaving amongst the traffic on a race to who knows where. Then when it’s all over, we just spilt off on our separate ways and continue exploring. It’s chance encounters like these that make for a great experience, especially when you’re as bereft of skills as I am.

Runners Up: Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition, Destiny

Jonn Blanchard (Staff Writer) – Titanfall

As a day one Xbox One supporter, I guess my choice of best multiplayer isn’t going to be too shocking. Step up Titanfall.

The creators of the original Call of Duty series, then the year-on-year grind of minor updates, decided to switch things up when they split from Activision. It’s a wonderfully balanced game which manages to include big stompy robots but not make them an utterly overpowered nightmare. The main multiplayer mode is just a rebadged zone control game at it’s heart, but the speed and agility of the human controlled pilots makes it completely manic. Add the endgame, where you have to either escape if you lost or stop the opposition from escaping if you won, and it’s just brilliantly realised.

As Infinity Ward, the developers bought a lot of new things to the FPS world, and Respawn has continued that trend with the addition of burn cards. It’s an evolution of the perk system introduced in Call of Duty and provides an extra edge by giving you overpowered weapons or decreasing the time for your Titan to arrive.

Ah yes, the Titan. Surely there’s been nothing more thrilling in a multiplayer game this year than seeing a giant robot drop from the sky? The only thing I can think of is seeing it drop from the sky and obliterating some of the opposition by landing on them.

As part of a DLC add-on, Respawn also added a pilot only mode, but this just seems to be a bit of fan service for the old school CoD fans that couldn’t quite make the transition to the new game.

Runners Up: Destiny, Grand Theft Auto V

Jade Sayers (Staff Writer) - Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

The accolade of my favourite multiplayer of the year goes to an unlikely candidate; Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

Garden Warfare adds something different and gives a fresh take on the multiplayer shooter, managing to feel completely tongue in cheek but still being involved enough to make you take the game seriously.

With plenty of modes to choose from, my favourites are its local co-op split-screen mode, which has you planning your tactics down to the finest detail, competing against waves of zombies as you defend your turf with your buddy. Playing split-screen mode, you’re really competing against yourself as you vie to do better next time and send that stupid Disco Zombie.

Equally good and even more infectious is the Team Vanquish mode, whereby you choose a side, Plants or Zombies, and race to obliterate the other team. Having sat listening to my team giving tactical talks on a few occasions, I can tell you people take it very seriously!

Runners Up: The Last of Us Remastered, SingStar