There’s a lot to be said about multiplayer. For many of us, multiplayer is what makes some games great. Yes, granted, I have lost myself to The Witcher 3 more than I care to admit, and spending my time ignoring everyone else to piss about in Metal Gear Solid 5 might in fact be my favourite current pastime, but in the end I always come back to the same old online games. There’s just one problem I’ve seen start cropping up more and more recently in this regard, and that’s some games almost require you to play with friends.

Recently I’ve been quite enjoying playing Rainbow Six Siege, after all how could I not enjoy a game where the closest equivalent to a door key is a sledgehammer, but not as much as I should be. Currently I am the only one of my friends to pick up the title. This leaves me in a bit of a dilemma. I really really want to get invested in the game, but it’s the kind of game that can only really be appreciated with friends. A full party of 5 who all know each other is the ideal setup here. Trouble is, anything less than that and the team starts to get out of balance.

The longer you play with friends the more you all start to work together. You start to know how each person can play a role and how they can play a map. You all know what the other can do and can thus play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You become one fantastic whole that can cover almost any situation.

battlefield
Sometimes that meant having someone prepared for Vietnam, just in case

Then we have the instance where I, along with my sledgehammer but otherwise alone, join a game only to discover I am sledgehammer number 5. Now, don’t get me wrong, five burly scottish men breaking their way through a mid-sized suburban house with the subtlety of a tornado is a fantastic sight, and quite fun to boot, but it just does not work. The problem here, as I’m sure you are all aware, is communication.

Friends communicate. Granted it isn’t always about the task at hand, said same hammer rampage would probably have involved a conversation about whether or not Tim Allen’s Home Improvement was a decent TV show, and for some inexplicable reason Taylor Swift karaoke contests (people of Battlefield 4 – be thankful for party chat), but there’s always enough information for everyone to know what’s going on. When you join random people online, those that even have a microphone plugged in are either reluctant to communicate, or far too eager to essentially sour the experience for everyone involved.

Let’s be honest, we have all at some point in our lives joined an online game, and we haven’t quite been up to the level of the other players involved. In most competitive games it means a loss, a few negative stats, and move on. In others, and in most co-operative games, however it can be a little more personal. Because the team can actively rely on you as a player, a bad match for one can mean a bad match for five. Some people can use this as an excuse to essentially make the community toxic. How many times have you been booted from a game because you didn’t know a boss’ patterns down to heart, or didn’t have the highest level gear, or dared to ask what you were expected to do.

Pictured: All year one Destiny LFG raid requirements
Pictured: All year one Destiny LFG raid requirements

There’s no flow, no real sense of camaraderie. I admit, I’m coming off a little harsh here, and this train of thought certainly doesn’t apply to every multiplayer game. Hell, I’ve had more helpful Battlefield squads when I’ve been playing with random people as opposed to my friends constantly trying to kill me. But with games like Rainbow Six Siege I just have not found the experience to be satisfying when playing in public.

With friends when you suffer a bad match and bring the team with you it’s maybe a rubbing, a few jokes at your expense, and then it’s off again. With friends a perfect Destiny raid being ruined because you thought it would be funny to shoulder charge your unsuspecting ally off a cliff is an annoyance but it isn’t a world shattering event. Stealing your friends tank in Battlefield when he hops out to repair isn’t offensive, it’s dickishly hilarious. ‘Accidental’ dismantling of the floor a teammate is using to pass above the enemy sending them plunging into a mosh-pit of brutal death is a fantastic way to lighten the mood, but doing it to someone you don’t know is just being an arse.

And that’s the difference really. Everyone has fun differently. For some it’s being the absolute best with the highest level gear to maintain a perfect 3.0 K/D ratio. Others want to see just what exactly can be blown up. Some just want to a jump in a game, bash down some walls for a laugh and get inevitably get shot because I am/they are terrible at the game. The problem arises when these interests clash. Players 1 through 3 want to have a bit of fun, players 4 and 5 want to win a perfect game. These people are not compatible in a game as teamwork heavy as Siege, so of course the game is less fun for all involved, and consequently less appealing to play further. Granted this is the extreme of the situation, I know I for one am not going to stop because I’m not having as much fun as I could be.

I just know I would be a lot happier with a few friends behind me all in the same frame of mind. That and Taylor Swift karaoke fun times.