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Tuesday
Feb142012

What Makes a Good Multiplayer Experience

After some frustrating nights playing BF3, Chris and I decided to give another try to an old favorite, Halo Reach.  I’m not sure the Gentlemen ever gave that game a proper chance.  For most of us back in the day, Halo was our gateway drug into the wonders on console gaming.  I still remember playing Halo: Combat Evolved at Dave’s apartment in Brighton 10 years ago, being blown away, and buying my own Xbox within the next week.  Over the years, the various iterations of Halo have brought the Gentlemen together as friends and helped us waste many an hour day. 

After a couple of hours playing Big Team, Chris and I were surprised how quickly our skills came back to us, and found ourselves in the top half of the ranks most of the time.  We were also frustrated by a number of features present in BF3 that we missed in Halo.  Which game has a better online experience?

 

Ability to play with your friends: To me, this is a critical feature.  I don’t enjoy playing online by myself.  No social aspect, nobody works as a team, and I already know every filthy word in the book, so I don’t get any pleasure hearing them from prepubescents.  When I’m playing with my friends, the teamwork is invigorating, and the social aspect is enjoyable.  As a dad of an 18 month old, I don’t get out as much as I used to, so being able to connect with other guys my age is a lot of fun.  There are 4 Gentlemen, and we have an extended group of Drs. and Fattys we enjoy playing with, and quite often there are 6 or 8 of us playing together. 

However, I enjoy playing WITH my friends and not against them.  This is very easy in Halo Reach.  We all join a room together, matchmaking pairs us with like-minded individuals, and we’re off - my friends and I in the same match and on the same team.  My biggest frustration with BF3 is the time it takes to get in the same match on the same team - squads are limited to 4 players, it’s hard to find a server with room, and even on the off chance we all get in the same match, we are inevitably broken up into the two teams.

EDGE: Halo Reach

 

Matchmaking: In BF3, once the game has spent the requisite 10 minutes loading up, getting into a match is relatively quick.  The servers are ongoing, one game follows another.  In Halo, you have to wait for a room to fill before it gets going, which can take longer.  However, in Halo, you always start with a fresh game - you’re never dropped into the middle of an ass-kicking.  Halo claims to limit matchmaking based on opponents of roughly equivalent skill.  There’s no such effort in BF3, as many of my match results prove out.

EDGE: Halo Reach

 

Gametypes: With BF3, there are 3 gametypes, all of which are 12x12: DM, Conquest, and Rush, plus the crappy co-op (the variations on Conquest and Rush don’t count).  With Halo Reach, you have Slayer, CTF, Oddball, King of the Hill, Headhunter, Stockpile, Firefight, etc.  You also have the ability to choose the team size, ranging from 2x2 to Big Team Battle, 12 vs. 12.  This is a big plus - if you have 6 guys in your party, you can choose a 6x6 gametype and not get stuck with any strangers.  AND you have the ability to vote for the gametype and map - Chris and I forgot how much we enjoyed that.

EDGE: Halo Reach

 

Quitters: In BF3, you can quit anytime during a game and BF3 will often replace the quitting player with another so the server doesn’t become too unbalanced.  In Halo, quitters aren’t replaced until the next game.   This can be great if you’re on the team with more players, and quite obviously frustrating in the reverse. When Halo games are over, you can get right out- which is fantastic if you had a bad game and need a change of scenery.  With BF3, there is an interminable wait after the game for loadout screens, stat review, a 30 second countdown, the loading of the next map, and THEN you can quit.  There’s no option to leave the server before that. Who thought THAT was a good idea?

EDGE: Halo Reach

 

Stats: The Gentlemen love stats.  Both games have excellent ways of tracking your stats and progression.  Halo gets the edge due to the ability to review game footage.  What’s better than sending your buddy a clip of him betraying you?

EDGE: Halo Reach

 

Latency: BF3 works on dedicated servers.  Halo, to the best of my knowledge has always been hosted on the player’s console.  We’ve always had lag issues with Halo, almost never with BF3.

Edge: BF3 

 

Gameplay: I realize one game is futuristic, the other realistic, so it’s hard to compare them.  Returning to Halo, Chris and I realize we missed the ability to spot opponents, the ability to easily see your squadmates vs. the random teammates, and the ability to sprint.  Even if you have the sprint perk loaded up in Halo, you can sprint all of 4 seconds.  Aren’t you supposed to be a super solider?  I also prefer the rewards system in BF3 – you get points for spotting, providing health/ammo, assists, healing tanks, etc.

Edge: BF3

 

Maintenance: It's clear the good folks at Bungie care about their online experience.  They take user feedback and tweak playlists continuously.  They ban those who cheat.  I don't see any of that from the BF3 folks.  BFBC2 had a fundamental bug - the screen at the end of the game that announced the winner was often wrong.  When I had started playing, the game had been out over a year, yet this simple but annoying issue persisted.  Fair or not, the inablity to fix that fundamental bug made me feel like the developers didn't give a fuck.

Regarding the cheating, I don't think I've seen any of that with BF3.  No flying tanks, no standbys.  Kudos to the BF3 developers for limiting these loopholes. 

Edge:   Halo Reach

 

Overall: For all the reasons stated under Gameplay, I enjoy playing BF3 more – plus it looks amazing.  However, the online experience has been infinitely frustrating.  

Halo 2 came out in 2004.  This game set the standard for ease of Xbox live play, and Bungie has improved upon this experience in subsequent iterations.  It’s astounding to me that the rest of the Xbox live community is still catching up. 

 Both are fantastic games, but for now I’m going to be playing Halo.   

 

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  • Response
    Response: superiorpapers
    I also want to share my ideas about it because i am agree with this writer that room environment and the company of the friends is very much important when kids play games. The setting of the games room, the types of the games, the company of good friends and there ...
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