While quality is definitely valued over quantity, one has to acknowledge the shrinking of single player campaign lengths (see: Homefront). It seems as though the only developers committed to delivering an expansive and dedicated campaign are the ones developing role-playing games and games with heavy RPG influences. With most A-list video games clocking in at around ten hours or less, we can see why Human Head Studios is smugly touting the fact that Prey 2 will be a much meatier experience.
Multiplayer has become the focus of recent years, with every shooter under the sun attempting to cash in on the frenzy that games like Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, and Halo started. BioShock 2 jumped on the multiplayer bandwagon, even though the game really didn’t need it. There was also speculation as to whether Mass Effect 3 or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim would feature multiplayer (which they will not). People just don’t seem to understand that not every game needs it. Like its predecessor, Prey 2 swims against the current, eschewing multiplayer in order to give us a wholly unique and engrossing single player experience and we’re not upset by that in the least bit.
Many games that lack multiplayer clock in at a much higher play time, such as Mass Effect 2, which took 35 hours or more to complete (with the best ending). Human Head reassures that while it might take an average player 15 hours to beat Prey 2, there will be plenty of exploration and side missions that a dedicated player could find and complete. This makes it, “hard to put an upper cap on it,” according to Prey 2‘s project lead and co-founder of Human Head, Chris Reinhart. “We’re focused on making it a strong, powerful single-player experience,” Reinhart declared. Of course, for those that decide to ” haul ass, they might be able to get through it under that. But I could haul ass through many open world games and get through them in a handful of hours.”
“And we’re tied with Bethesda, which has proven they are the masters of making awesome single-player experiences,” he added.
Making a game sans multiplayer is markedly different, as all resources are being poured into making sure that important game elements like the story and AI is good enough to make the game’s world feel realistic. According to Reinhart: “It’s an interesting challenge. It makes us change some of the other things we do. The single-player game has to be larger. There’s more player choice. There’s more to do.”
Reinhart suggested that more developers follow their lead— rather than compete with the games sitting atop the pile of multiplayer corpses, such as Call of Duty.
“It would be great if more people focused on single-player… I love playing multiplayer. My big thing with that, if you’re not going to be able to beat or exceed Call of Duty, don’t do that kind of multiplayer, to be perfectly honest. If you’re going to do multiplayer, do something else that fits with your style of game, and something that’s going to be really fun, that’s going to get people to play together in this game.”
He also addressed the very real issue of game developers trying to do too much, saying:
“The other thing is, I would want to make sure developers put their focus in the right place and area. Taking and watering down both single-player and multiplayer is not good for the developer. It’s not good for the publisher. It’s not good for the game player. It’s better to focus your energy on one or the other. If there’s a focus issue and you need to be able to focus on one, do that.”
It seems as though Reinhart’s arguments have some force behind them, as the solo experience of Prey 2 is shaping up to look like it will be one of the most unique, and entertaining games of 2012 when it releases.