Dead Space 2’s single-player is spectacular, there’s honestly little I can say I’d like tweaked or changed about it overall. It’s relentlessly scary, twisted, fun, immersive and easily this year’s first contender for game of the year. One of the things that made this game great is Visceral Games’ willingness to take risks, and they risked a serious backlash from fans of the series when a multiplayer component was announced for the game. Now that the game’s been out for awhile and most of us have had the chance to sink some time into its multiplayer offering, it’s actually pretty damn good. But you know what? It could be better.
Some of the items in my wish list might not be possible for Dead Space 2, we might have to be patient and wait to see what’s fixed and added in the all but confirmed third installment. But there are a few ideas that are minor refinements at best, perfect for a patch (or DLC) down the road. So if you’ve played the game’s multiplayer but feel it didn’t quite reach its potential, read on so we can gather by the burning pile of corpses, maybe roast a few marshmallows, and discuss what we’d like to see added or changed in Dead Space 2’s multiplayer.
On more than a few occasions when I first began my adventure as a Necromorph I would find myself as a lowly noob, under level 10, paired against level 30 players and above. Sometimes this issue would become even worse and the entire team, likely consisting of a party of friends, were all way ahead of me experience-wise so I was essentially screwed. If this happened a few times it wouldn’t be an issue but that’s the thing, it happens often. Unfortunately, there’s no way for the player to control the issue so giving us the ability to choose in the ‘find a game’ options what range of level from our own we’d like to play against would be a welcome addition. Or just fix the balancing so I’m not constantly fighting against players two to three times my level.
So far the extent of Dead Space 2’s character customization is limited to unlocking colors for your guy’s armor. This is a paltry offering at best, I want more. Call me greedy, but I’d like to be able to choose what color my armor is right off the bat. There’s nothing exciting about unlocking seafoam green colored armor at level 40 when I’d much rather be getting something useful. So replace the armor colors with different variations of armor, like the security and elite suits. And while we’re on the topic of unlocking new equipment, please give us more guns. Five weapons is a pitiful armory, we’re badass security dudes with a thirst for Necromorph limb-flailing action and you’re limiting us by limiting our armory. Don’t do that, let us spread our wings and fly.
This is one of those things they likely can’t add to the game until its sequel, but I’m on a roll so I’d very much like to continue rafting down this babbling brook of disapproval to the shallow Necromorph selection. Really, my main issue is this game is very similar to Left 4 Dead in ways I hope I don’t have to explain at this point, so why not give us a Tank? By Tank I mean a uber-powerful Necromorph like the Brute in the single-player that we get to use at some point in the game. Unlike the Tank in Left 4 Dead the Brute can be taken down fairly easily, so I don’t predict too much balance tweaking being required. But if that does ruin the balancing too much then in a downloadable map down the road (which you better have planned) have one of the maps revolve around an epic fight with a Brute (or Brutes) before the humans can win the scenario.
If none of that is possible I’d be content with being able to play as another Necromorph from the single-player campaign. You can’t use the Stalkers because that would ruin their animalistic personality in the main game, so that really leaves the Divider and Pregnant. Either could be interesting, but I vote for the Pregnant, because in all honesty, a lot of dudes play Dead Space 2 and we’ve all wondered what it’s like to be preggers so this game could fulfill a lot of dreams. But Seriously, how cool would it be to run up to a group of humans and explode, covering them all in a thick coat of flesh giblets that begin tearing them apart? A lot of cool, that’s how much.
Alright, if no one’s going to say it, I will. The use of stasis has gotten out of control. Seriously, you people have a problem and I feel an intervention is in order to break you from your stasis addiction. I think for each life you have you get one stasis, two max but your meter should not recharge, you should not be able to pick up stasis packs and you should not be able to house up to three stasis charges once you get to a certain level (I think you unlock the third one around level 30). This completely breaks the multplayer balance because as a Necromorph you end up spending a majority of your time fighting in slow motion. Sure, in Dead Space 2 you don’t have to contend with crazy long respawn times a la Left 4 Dead but that’s only been replaced with a ton of time being spent acting out scenes of The Matrix.
This is another of those things that probably won’t be making its way to Dead Space 2, but that only leaves more hope for the third game I say. I’d like to see some sort of cooperative option in Dead Space 2, whether that’s mini-scenarios you can play with a friend (or friends) like Splinter Cell: Conviction’s co-op option, or a sort of survival mode where you and a handful of friends have to survive against waves of enemies (not unlike what the game currently offers, only without human-controlled Necromorphs and no objectives other than survival). Some might see this as another step toward cheating off Left 4 Dead’s exam but I see it as adapting with industry trends. Left 4 Dead has Survival, Gears of War has Horde, Halo has Firefight, why can’t Dead Space have one too?
I mean, really, how is a Necromorph supposed to retire if it doesn’t know how healthy it is? You’re probably confused so let me take this opportunity to massage that confused look off your face with some elegant wordsmithery. This is actually a two-parter because I’d like to be able to see my health as well as the health and locations of my teammates. That first one isn’t a deal breaker but the second could be a tremendous help in battle. I mean, why can we see the humans but not our own undead siblings? And many time I found myself dropping onto an unsuspecting soldier dude only to die in one hit because apparently, I was fresh out of health after that last fight. Really, let me know how healthy I am so I don’t do stupid things like that. I already look like enough of an idiot running around as a Pack without a head, I don’t need any help in that department.
And back to seeing the health of your teammates; my time playing as a Spitter has really racked up my teammate killing because that guy’s ranged attack will tear your shit up, whether you’re good or bad. So if I know that friendly Lurker is on his last legs I won’t continue shooting the guys he’s attacking so I don’t risk killing my teammate as well.
You know when you turn a corner and suddenly some crazy tentacle baby jumps on you causing you to pee a little out of fright? Then, once you beat the hell out of your controller’s A button you get to make that baby your bitch and punt that thing across the room? And while you’re performing this incredible baby punt you’re being manhandled by a Puker because you can’t stop the execution animation? Yeah, most of that scenario is pretty awesome but that last part needs to be fixed. The worst one is when you decapitate a Pack and throw its headless corpse across the room because that takes so long to do. Either the animations need to be cut down a bit or we need to have a way to end them if we’re being attacked because there are times when the enemy team just spams Packs and keeps leaping on me and my team so we can’t do anything. It’s a problem.
Dead Space 2’s multiplayer is all about working as a team to complete a number of objectives or team up with your Necromorph buddies to eviscerate the humans before they can do that. Everything from the Necromorphs’ ability to grab and hold a human giving their teammates time to swipe away at their health to covering your teammates’ backs has all been designed to make each team work together. however, the scoring rewards lone wolves who don’t bother with the objectives and instead try and rack up points by killing the other team. Kills shouldn’t give such a hefty bonus in points, instead each team should get more points for each objective they complete, healing teammates (you currently get an insignificant 20 points for each teammate your heal), and rescuing your friends (which also gives 20 points). One map in particular has the human team take out a huge Marker at the end of the scenario, but I’ve been in a handful of games where the human team takes the Marker’s health to a sliver so they can spend the rest of the time racking up kills.
There’s definitely a decent level of variety in the multiplayer maps but I have issue with how close many of them look to the bloody, rusted and broken down hallways of the USG Ishimura. The elementary school was one of the creepiest and most well-designed areas of the main game and I’d really like to be able to return to it in a multiplayer game. Or what about a Zero-G section where the humans have to fight against, stick with me here, flying babies? How incredibly cool would that be? There are a lot of things the multiplayer needs but rocket boots are definitely near the top of the list.
Maybe there aren’t enough levels (there are 60 in total) or you level up insanely fast but I have friends (it’s true, I really do) that have played the game for no more than a dozen hours and they’ve already ranked up to the mid-30’s. When you can get around 10,000 experience points in each game (assuming you do well and your team wins the game, which nets you a hefty 4,000 bonus) it’s incredibly easy to level up. I think changing up the ranks so they’re not simplified to a number between one and sixty and instead having different tiers a la Halo or Call of Duty would not only look like more thought was put into it but if you go Halo: Reach’s route and break up the ranks into a few tiers that are better spaced out it would make leveling up more satisfying. If I can jump half a dozen levels in a single playthrough I start to care less about what rank I am where in the aforementioned games I actually nerd out over the fact that I’ve reached a rank like Brigadier or General in Halo.
(Special thanks to David for lending us his artistic talents to make the banners you see in this article easy on the eyes. You can find more of his work on his Deviant Art page.)