September 16, 2021

Xbox One X

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The year in playing together

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If you had asked me at the start of this year what I thought a year spent playing multiplayer games would look like, I probably would have talked about muting people and about the frustration of being shot from halfway across the map by someone I couldn’t even see. Crucially, I wouldn’t have thought of Hearthstone or Diablo or any of the other multiplayer games I have always loved, because multiplayer – online multiplayer – for me still meant the unexamined cliches I had carried with me for years. Multiplayer was something I did not do, so the multiplayer games I already played all the time must be something subtly different.

I would love to say that this year I had an awakening, but there is nothing personal about it. 2017! There have been cheap tricks and huge games sunk by loot boxes, but my colleagues will be covering that stuff. And it’s worth remembering that 2017 is also the year that even a fool like me could not fail to notice that so many of the cliches surrounding online gaming – particularly online shooters – are no longer as firmly rooted in the ground as they once were. And maybe they haven’t been for some time.

In fact, a lot of my year – a year spent playing multiplayer games, as it happens – looked nothing like I would have expected it to. For an awful lot of it, I was hidden in shrubbery or taking long walks in the wilderness. Then there was downtown, the lights, the stores, the sidewalk cafes. Then there were those crazy, telescoping limbs. Again: not just me. This has been an incredible year for multiplayer games, and it’s all hinged on the sheer variety and invention that’s out there right now.

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