Although Yager’s Spec Ops: The Line has been big hit with the critics, the developers aren’t entirely happy with it – according to lead designer Cory Davis, the multiplayer component is a liability to the game.
Loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s bleak post-colonial novella Heart of Darkness, Spec Ops’ single-player narrative has been widely praised for daring to deal with real world issues like civilian killings, post-traumatic stress disorder, and madness – themes seldom present in military shooters that instead glorify unremitting violence and jingoist patriotism. The multiplayer (developed externally by Darkside Studios), however, was “tacked on” at the insistence of publisher 2K Games.
“The publisher was determined to have it anyway. It was literally a check box that the financial predictions said we needed, and 2K was relentless in making sure that it happened – even at the detriment of the overall project and the perception of the game,” Davis told Polygon.
He described it as a “low-quality Call of Duty clone in third-person”, also calling it “tacked on multiplayer” and “bullshit, [which] should not exist”.
“There’s no doubt that it’s an overall failure,” he added. “It sheds a negative light on all of the meaningful things we did in the single-player experience. The multiplayer game’s tone is entirely different, the game mechanics were raped to make it happen, and it was a waste of money. No one is playing it, and I don’t even feel like it’s part of the overall package — it’s another game rammed onto the disk like a cancerous growth, threatening to destroy the best things about the experience that the team at Yager put their heart and souls into creating.”
Davis makes a compelling case for exclusively single-player games, but there’s also a somewhat widespread perception that these lack value in some way or another. There’s probably an argument to be made that, should the game not have shipped with multiplayer, it would have been criticised for leaving it out. What do you think?