Rockstar Games' Max Payne 3 and Grand Theft Auto V might not have much in common in terms of narrative structure. The former is a linear thrill ride through the fractured mind of a hardboiled detective; the later -- while we haven't seen much outside its reveal trailer yet -- is almost guaranteed to be a sprawling sandbox of assorted personalities, diverse storylines, and more than just alcohol for our protagonist to bury his troubles in.
One way in which Rockstar is planning to tether the two experiences, though, is in the social interactivity afforded by their multiplayer components.
Thanks to the Rockstar Social Club, the developer's online hub for all of its games (think Call of Duty ELITE or Battlelog, but less stat overload and more event-focused), Max Payne 3 will allow gamers to organize in "crews." As explained by Rockstar Creative VP Dan Houser, in an interview with IGN, these crews are designed to help organize groups of players in ways not feasible through the constraints of Xbox Live and PlayStation Network:
"Jumping into online matches and making friends isn't easy — often if you're not already playing with friends the entire process can be fairly intimidating, especially in competitive matches. We found a way to get around that through the use of Crews in Max Payne 3."
In addition to corralling an unlimited number of players together, assigning them to special XP-earning tasks, and providing customization through crew-exclusive armor emblems and gear, Houser says that Feuds and Vendettas will erupt to keep rival crews at each other's throats:
"In multiplayer games we have a feature called Vendettas — if someone kills you twice, you can initiate a vendetta against them, which lets everyone know that you're out to get that person."
"Crew Feuds are essentially Crew Vendettas. Impromptu skirmishes between crews can spring up in multiplayer matches that quickly spawn a first-to-10-kills battle. You can be playing any team-based game with a completely new set of players, but if you spot two or more members of a crew you're feuding with on the opposite team, any kills you get against them will count to the overall feud so rivalries will spring up automatically — and when they do, you'll be notified and the grudge will come to the forefront of the game."
In the interview, Houser claims that the goal is to create more drama in multiplayer by allowing for an unlimited number of narratives to flare up between crews and their members. The premise isn't much different than that of a clan, but we're interested to see how Rockstar improves accessibility for those who might feel alienated by what are often hardcore groups.
Of course, all the bells and whistles in the world won't save a crew when its community leaves for next big thing. That's why Rockstar plans to maintain the feature as a permanent part of the Social Club, one that transcends any future Rockstar releases -- including the wildly anticipated Grand Theft Auto V:
"We made a promise not to talk too much about forthcoming games until a little further down the track but, yes, crews will feature in Grand Theft Auto V multiplayer."
It's not much to go on, but it's about all we know regarding GTA V's multiplayer (then again, the paucity of info on the single player side isn't much different). For Max Payne 3, however, the news complements prior knowledge that multiplayer would attempt to include single-player narrative aspects and various aesthetic customizations (as seen in these multiplayer screenshots).
There's always something to be said for the accentuation of drama and intensity in cooperative and social gaming, so we hope Rockstar embraces the concept wholeheartedly.
Ranters, what's your take on the "crews" of Max Payne 3, GTA V, and beyond? Will they improve the multiplayer experience or are they just glorified clans?
Max Payne 3 releases May 15, 2012, for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
Grand Theft Auto V is expected to release at the tail end of 2012 or beginning of 2013 for the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC.
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