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The "shared world" game, the now familiar "MMO-lite" experience that encompasses titles like Destiny, The Division, The Crew, Sea of Thieves, and the upcoming Anthem, have become quite prominent this generation, whereas MMOs have never been a truly huge deal on consoles before. Of course, they have the same common problem: they require the internet to function. Online-only games are something I've refused to invest in.


Well, not quite. I did give Destiny a chance because of Bungie, and later regretted it; I haven't touched it in 3 years. It did nothing but remind me why I was always skeptical of such games to begin with. Even ignoring Destiny's tiresome "Quest for More Loot" endgame, which to me dragged down a game that did have fundamentally sound combat mechanics, an interesting setting, and Bungie's always-excellent art design, there was more than one occasion where I couldn't play, either because my internet was down, or because Bungie's servers were down, or PSN was down. I could be playing missions entirely solo, and suddenly get kicked to the main menu because of things completely out of my control, even though I could boot up any of my other games and play them just fine without an online connection.

The idea that my ability to play a game should be contingent on multiple other things other than my console and the electricity to power it just doesn't sit well with me. And one of these days every one of those shared world games will get shut down, rendering them permanently unplayable (at least in any official/legal capacity). And the sad thing is, most of those games could have, at least in principle, been designed to where they'd be playable completely offline.

Then Forza Horizon 4 gets announced, and shows how such games ought to be done. Playground Games has taken the right approach to "shared world" games. The game is advertised as "playing best online" (paraphrasing here), being able to drive around this massive open world to play with other players if you so choose. But they also found a way to make the online part optional, that way if you want that experience it, you can, but if you want to play the game offline, you can do that as well. The game is still playable even if your internet connection goes down, or XBL or the game's servers are having issues, or we reach the inevitable point where the game's servers are shut down for good, or you simply don't want to connect your system to Xbox Live at all. If you lose connection to the game's servers for any reason, human players are replaced with AI bots, instead of the game kicking you out to the main menu and becoming completely unplayable. Every developer that wants to make a "shared world" title from now on needs to take a cue from FH4, instead of forcing a game to be online-only like we've seen with so many other games of this type. Any game that, at least in principle, could potentially be made playable offline, ought to be made to where it's playable offline. "Yes, you can play solo if you want," should always come with "And you can play offline if you want, too" attached to it.


Playground Games has set a good example. I hope it becomes the norm in the future.
Last edited by Shadow1980 - on 25 August 2018