Multiplayer is often synonymous with the Call of Duty series and it seems only natural that my first experience was with Black Ops 3. I had been watching my friend play for the better part of an hour and though the game was still quite new at the time, he was kind enough to let me have a go of it. I'd never really understood shooter games before then, but it became remarkably cathartic to finally achieve a headshot (I was also terrible at them) and to watch five enemies go flying after a well thrown grenade. The multiplayer aspect would have been cool if my friend's team had slowed down enough to help me understand what they wanted out of me. I now know that it was probably a rather frustrating moment to suddenly have their teammate switched out for a total n00b. No, there were no sexist or horrible comments just because I was a girl – rather they simply expected me to learn faster than I could without having played the single player campaign. It put me off of multiplayer for a long time.
Until very recently. First, the Overwatch demo. I died about five times in as many seconds, but once I got the hang of it, it felt so good to work together with a team to achieve the end goal. And then to receive play of the game! It was like winning the lottery. The demo ended too soon, of course, and I'm way too poor to afford the game. Second, along came The Trail. This is an adorable mobile game by Kongregate Simulation that takes the player on journey to Eden Falls. On the way there, you collect objects to craft and trade. The trick is to both survive and make enough money for the ferries. Once at Eden Falls, you essentially build your own settlement. I haven't gotten that far yet, so I'm not sure what it looks like, but the game advertises it as this paradise of upper level luxury.
You can only interact with other players during trade (you literally sell each other the stuff you crafted or collected) or in set speech options. These include, taunt, hello, thank you, sorry, and well done. They do force the players to be nice regardless, but it was still pretty cool. Reaching the next camp was always major achievement for me once I got to the upper levels, I often ran out of stamina. And when this happens, you lose everything in your pack and pray that no one steals all your stuff. The first few times this happened, I could watch other players go by and some would say hello, or another said “nearly there!” to cheer me on. The sense camaraderie was very sweet and in great contrast from what I remembered in Black Ops 3.
My happy experiences in The Trail and Overwatch convinced me that maybe, just maybe, multiplayer isn't as bad as I thought it was. Granted, sometimes it takes more skill than I currently have, but I finally feel like I wouldn't mind working towards that goal just to feel that sense of camaraderie and teamwork again. My next mission is practicing like hell in Overwatch and advancing to either Call of Duty or GTA 5. Who knew such a tiny indie mobile game could turn multiplayer around for me.