Around the time I got my Xbox 360 a few years ago, I didn’t have an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Friends who had an Xbox and a Gold subscription kept telling me I needed to get one. The reason? You can only play with your friends online if you have a subscription. This was also around the time when I was working at a part-time job and my finances were pretty tight.
Paying for a Gold subscription was quite expensive when you factor in the salary I was earning at the time. It wasn’t like I had no intention of getting one. It was just going to take some time for me to get one. The other issue was I didn’t have too many multiplayer games in my possession either. I wasn’t in any rush to get the subscription. Luckily, I’m blessed with good friends and family. My cousin took it upon himself to buy me a Gold subscription card for Christmas and one of my best friends decided to get me Halo Reach to start me on the path of multiplayer games I could play with both of them. Yup, truly blessed.
I generally like playing games by myself. I want the ability to absorb the story, the game environment, and to just have a quiet moment between me and the game. I knew playing online and on co-op with my friends would be fun, but there are times when you just want to be alone without the distraction of having to talk on a headset while you play. I like paying attention to the dialogue being said in a game, and when you have your friends talking at the same time a character in a game is talking, it’s really hard to stay focused on both. But when I do play co-op, I only want to play with people I know rather than random strangers who are paired up with you in a party match game.
I’m not the best player in the world, and I rather be playing in the company of friends who aren’t asses and judgey about how much I suck at first person shooters. From what I have read of people who do play co-op and are matched with total strangers who are playing the same game as you are, not all players are nice and respectful of other players who may not be as good as they are. Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, you may be a better player than this person from whateverville USA, and they are a sore player because of it and insult you. That’s a separate issue and a different topic for another time though.
Eventually, I did discover how some games are better to play with friends than alone. Take for instance, Borderlands. When I received the game as a gift, I was told by others who have already played the game and completed it that it’s better to play with someone else than on single-player mode. I never had the chance to try it on single-player, but when I managed to get together with maybe one or three of my friends for a game of Borderlands, they were right about it being an infinitely better experience to play as a group than alone.
Large groups of enemies are easier to take on as a group. Whatever your weaknesses are when you play the game, there’s someone who will have your back. Strategies can be built and agreed upon to take bosses down. One person might say, “You distract him by doing this and then I’ll take him from behind when he’s completely trained on you.” There’s also some silliness and goofing around when you play with friends.
I remember one time when I played Borderlands with my cousin, my best friend, and my best friend’s girlfriend. There were points in the game where you could get a vehicle, and my best friend’s girlfriend loved getting a pink car and trolling her own boyfriend by threatening to run his character over. It was hilarious hearing my best friend shout, “No, don’t run me over!” and you see his character running away from the pink car. I would sit in the gunner seat and watch as this craziness was happening before my eyes.
Another friend who I have been finishing up Borderlands with recently told me she never finished the story mode for the first game alone, but she finished it for Borderlands 2. She found the world of Pandora in the first game a bit drab and depressing while she played by herself. It also didn’t help that enemies got too hard to fight against on her own. By having the two of us play together, it made going through the entire story mode easier to do. There were also some funny moments that happened while we played and weird game glitches we experienced together.
I also think an advantage of playing a game that has co-op in their story modes is it makes you more likely to finish a game than if you played it on your own. I can’t tell you how many times I have started games on my own, only to not finish it because I get distracted by other games that keep coming out.
While I wouldn’t trade those moments where I can sit down and play a game by myself, I do enjoy finding a day and time with friends to play co-op. Not only do you get to experience the game together for the first time (or maybe for the twentieth time), but it gives you some good memories you can reminisce over. It’s also the best way to do stupid things with friends you wouldn’t have done otherwise if you are alone.