Multiplayer has become an integral part of gaming. Anytime a game shows any promise of multiplayer, a lack of the feature results in the outrage of fans. Even when multiplayer is part of the development plans, gamers are always coming up with new ideas and concepts to improve the experience. The alternatives to single player games with multiplayer are the obligatory multiplayer fan fests that became so popular in the past few years, with League of Legends and Overwatch now leading the ranks.
What if you don’t have many friends or your gaming interests don’t match? Or maybe you play on different platforms? Perhaps you could play together if your schedules would allow? What if you could play with your friends while they sleep or have fun with a completely different game? The proposal may seem absurd, but there are games to satisfy this unique necessity. In no particular order, here are our top five picks.
Alright, yes. Obvious choice. As a life and building simulator, the The Sims franchise allows players to build almost anything they want as well as create whomever they want. You can recreate yourself, your high school crush, and your idols so that your life can, at last, be perfect. Or you can recreate your friends and spend time together because why not? Friendships over the internet don’t have to be limited to awkward conversations over messengers, hanging out in MMOs, or voice chatting while delivering head shots. Screenshots of the stupid things your friend’s Sim do can be just as fun!
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
In this military grid-based strategy game you command a squad trained to defend Earth against an alien invasion. The XCOM unity counts with a plethora of capable soldiers with varied sets of skills. Should they die in combat, they remain dead—if you don’t just reload your saved data. Although each soldier is somewhat unique, you are free to fully customize most of them, including their name, hair, skin tone, and ethnicity. Although the options are limited, why not make super soldiers named after you and your best friends? Or maybe even your “frienemy” so that you can watch as they slowly fall to the ground, dead. That’s a thing. If you prefer something from this generation, XCOM 2 has double the super-soldier-best-friends and frienemies.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
One of the best action RPGs of the past console generation, Dragon’s Dogma (later expanded with the subtitle Dark Arisen) has a lot of options in its character creation menu. Sliders might be all the rage today, but an overwhelming amount of presets can be just as satisfying. In addition to abusing shapes and sizes, the game allows you to have a companion called pawn. According to the in-game lore, pawns are human-like creatures void of will that exist to serve the Arisen, the human who’s been touched by the dragon. The game’s mechanics play a lot with that concept, with pawns helping populate settlements and roads. Players may create their own pawns however they wish so that others can hire them over the internet. It’s multiplayer without the player part, so we could call it… multiNPC?
PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2
I know what some of you are going to say. “But Gabriel, PSO2 wasn’t released in the West. No one on this side of the world is playing it, so it doesn’t matter.” Truth is, a lot of Westerns have been playing it since its release in 2012 and ever so often, more face the Japanese captcha super boss in order to try it out exactly because it isn’t coming West. There are many reasons why PSO2 is worth it, but one of them ought to be the NPCs. Not Matoi, not Zeno, not the awesome event characters we get to have on the roster; the friend and support partners are what we’re interested in. Similar to Dragon’s Dogma Online, which retained the pawn concept from its predecessor, PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2 allows players to save their character data so that their friends and even strangers can use them in quests. In addition to that, each player is given a free support partner, a tiny NPC that they can freely customize, boss around with boring fetch quests, or bring along in the field. The AI isn’t as bright as an actual player, but it may carry the essence of your friends through awkward auto-messages.
Death Road to Canada
Just as popular as multiplayer has become, party games have taken over a corner of the Steam storefront. Whereas it is Crawl, Legend of Dungeon, or Enter the Gungeon, most Steam users have heard of recent local co-op games that seem like a lot of fun. If only I had friends, they think. Or in my case, if only my friends lived down the block. Your dream of hanging out with your besties during the zombie apocalypse have now become reality with Death Road to Canada! In this road trip simulator, a group of survivors must drive through the United States toward Canada, where it’s rumored to be safe. You can play with randomized characters, unique ones, or custom made personalities, the only right choice. By choosing among a diverse selection of customization options including traits, you can grab whoever your heart desires as your faithful sidekick. Ozzy Osbourne, your parents, your crush, your friends? Bring them along the humor-filled trip! Just be careful not to die, or else you’ll be pulling Ozzy’s strings. As awesome as that sounds, no, you can’t have a zombie army.
It wasn’t particularly easy coming up with this list. I mean, who’s interested in a single player game where you can play with your friends, except they’re just a pile of data someone put together? That sounds like the most lonely thing, but we would still like to know your thoughts on the matter. If you were to play or if you have played any of these games, would you have your avatar kicking ass alongside your friends? Or would you recreate unpopular celebrities so that you could watch them die over and over again? Have you any suggestions of such niche games we aren’t aware of? Let us know all the details in the comments section below!