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Multiplayer in Action-RPGs, what works?


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One of my clients is doing analysis of Multiplayer Action-RPGs. Basically, they are interested in knowing which games do it well and which ones don't, and what specifically about the MP in these games are the factors. They are considering both PC and Console games but probably not going back as far as Diablo. Further, they aren't really looking at Japanese MP-RPG games.

Games they are looking include:

Marvel Ultimate Alliance (console/PC)

Xmen Legends (console/PC)

Titan Quest (PC)

Untold Legends (PS3)

Baldur's Gate

Yep, they are mostly looking at fantasy and comic book style settings.

1. What other games would you put this list for Action-RPG games that have MP, either co-op, online, completitive or non-online same screen etc.?

2. What works about the MP in these games? What doesn't work?

Bust out your soap boxes and rant away!

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Dark Messiah should be on that list! The Multiplayer is awesome (Arena Mode, CTF, Campaign). CTF is basically like TFC-CTF but with RPG-Classes and Leveling - Super-Awesome. Arena Mode is more boring - leave it out. Campaign is just like TFC's Dustbowl but with entire Maps and the above mentioned Class-System.

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I know its old, but Diablo II's playerbase is still strong : - ). Appareantly the multiplayer (pvp) in it has kept fans playing over the years...


and, for the record, Titan quest (and the addon-pack Immortal Throne) kicks ass! Some classes are a little unbalanced, but overall a really incredible game :)

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Its a rather old mod (of a mod) but personally I have always thought the Ultimate Warcraft 3 mod of Counter-Strike was awesome. CS with RPG type experience, leveling and a choice of skills, attributes and resistances to be earned.

Since I added one to our gaming community's list of servers, most of the guys I game with have been playing little else :)

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Dungeon Siege 2 and Diablo 2 are great for mutliplayer.

DS2 had a huge world to explore with loads of items and monsters to pwn with your mates. The sp was poor but with a band of your friends it was really fun.

D2 - well its D2 its hack and slash fun. Blistering fun with friends. My only crit is its old.

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The game your gathering data for had better be stupendous after all this!

Dungeon Siege is an obvious one not on the list, I’ve burnt countless hours on that with a friend and it’s good fun. Like Diablo 2 it hooks you on advancement while having pretty basic gameplay – a few extras and quite mod-friendly, though nobody really took advantage of it as far as I know.

Neverwinter Nights was quite funky, had some really good features like the Dungeon Master, where one guy floats around with uber powers placing down enemies or writing out some pretentious speech. Again easily mod-friendly but I personally didn’t see anything too ground breaking for it.

Guild Wars, unlike the other two, is highly competitive. And unlike, say WoW, it’s competitions are vaguely balanced (though hasn’t the money to host any tornaments or such like). I personally loathed it, but lots of people out there like it. I’ve heard it classed as a MMO which is a scandalous lie.

World of Warcraft is technically an Action MMORPG – as it’s not turn-based and that seems like the only requirement. Again, like Diablo 2 and Dungeon Siege it grabs plays with amazingly simple mechanics and holds them with promises of progression. Only is substantially more catass.

The common features through this list are simple gameplay and very solid progression – mainly through gear. Lots of people walk away from every game mentioned here and say “why did I play that with a friend through my entire summer?” because the gameplay is bland, but compelling. It’s the tiny little upgrades that feel substantial and things to aspire too that keep people playing these games. Your little troupe of friends getting stronger and overcoming things by the power of right click and number generation.


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oh and speakin of RPGs MP - Make em create a good SDK (maybe two-depths: one is lego-principle: stick ready to be used blocks into another, and then the mapper version there you can define more details and work from scratch on your own) - Most RPGs Lag in Custom Content - that's why theyr MP does not work for long. Look at Never Winter Nights - Full of CustomContent, Full of Players after years - and it's not a that revolutionary game or too good imho.

So the SDK that allows every nub to create a quick CTF Map with Power Ups and a Healing-Fountain will give you the kick in the community while the indepth modus would allow more creativity and maybe even new playmodes and skill-modifiers. (Look at Warcraft III (RTS) where making an easy Skirmish-Map was the easiest thing in the world while creating own texture-sets, models and so on and scripting and rebalancing was possible on the other hand as well.

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Yes I am hoping my client is working on a good one. It's going to be a good balance between RPG and Action. RPG not as deep as KOTOR or Elder Scrolls IV, and action not as exciting intense as a God of War (which is an action game and not an RPG). They need to make decisions about how much depth the SP game should have given they will have to sacrafice some for more MP depth.

Since the only multiplayer RPG I've ever really been into sadly is WoW, I have some more specific questions about DSII in MP because I don't have time to play and the reviews get this specific:

1) Are player characters persistent in MP? i.e., if my buddy and I go online and play, does our progress in the quests and story get saved if I go back into MP later? What about loot and characters?

Wait that's all on DSII.

I'd love to hear more about Dark Messiah and Titan Quest MP...what worked and what didn't from anyone who's played it. STALKER is not really in the consideration set since it's a shooter with some RPG elements. Still a kick ass game...

Thanks for all the insight...keep it coming!

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Fallout come to mind
You played Fallout on multiplayer? :?

Only tactics afaik had multiplayer, and there was no real RPG features in it.

Can Stalker be on that list?

Well to get technical, the only true role playing game on the list really is Baldurs Gate.

Games like Guildwars, Diablo 2 are just top down view hack and slash, there is no character bios, or anything like that.

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What was really cool in Dark Messiah was that the server saved for the length of your session. E.g. I join a server and just stumble into the fight after taking warrior as class. At the very beginning I get killed because I am dumb enough to fight a Level 8 Warrior and a Mage at the same time. But next respawn I find the Mage walking alone towards my flag so I can easily kill him. I gain a level and woosh new abilities, new fun. So after about 15 minutes map changes but the server saves your level so in next level I can play as Archer and build up my Levels there - and if it is too slow or my team is gonna lose i just switch back into the warrior class where I already have my 5-6 levels.

Allthough - when I disconnect or switch Server my Stat gets lost. On the one hand this gives me a new thrill everytime I play and the abilities don't get boring, on the other hand it'd be kind of interesting to see a long time save for the levels and some more than the 10 levels you can gain.

The principle as it is now works fine with the CTF and the Campaigns (they can't be too long for a non MMPORG with inconstant Playerbase and a very limited level-number (5*10).).

Maybe I can take a video the next days showing a decent round of CTF and Campaign Mode.

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