Real Replay Value Doesn’t Mean Multiplayer


(This is another edition of </RANT>, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)

I’ve almost beaten Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine after receiving it just yesterday. It’s got a rather cool multiplayer mode, but the single-player campaign is looking to be a particularly short affair. This is common among third-person action games, especially those with multiplayer, where six to eight hours of single-player gaming seems to be the limit. To some, this is a gross oversight, because according to a particular segment of gamers, eight hours just isn’t enough. No matter how good the game is, no matter how interesting its story or unique its ideas, a game that’s only eight hours long is a poor monetary investment.

The issue, according to these skeptical fellows, is that every game needs replay value. One hears that term a lot — replay value — and I have to say I’ve grown rather tired of it. I’m sick of it because people don’t know what replay value actually means. Through frequent misuse, the term has mutated to mean multiplayer or co-op — something that consistently delivers fresh content. On the contrary, that’s not what replayability is at all. By the very definition of the phrase, replay value doesn’t mean playing fresh content and indulging in new experience. Replay means — quite simply — to play something again. To redo. To play the same thing you just played. In other words, a game’s replay value is not in whether it has multiplayer, downloadable content, or any other extra mode. It means one thing, and one thing only — is it good enough to play again?

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite games — Metal Gear Solid. While it does have a negligible new game plus mode (infinite ammo or optic¬†camouflage¬†depending on which ending you got the first time), it is inherently a single-player game with little in the way of what some would call “replay value.” No multiplayer, no fresh content, just a linear experience that does the same thing every time you play through it. However, Metal Gear Solid, to me, has a ton of real replay value, because of that one important factor — it’s just that damn good, and I want to play it again. I absolutely love Metal Gear Solid’s story. I adore the characters. I think the boss fights are really engaging and the stealth gameplay still holds up today. I’ve played Metal Gear Solid more times than I care to remember, because it has real replay value.

When I am done with Space Marine, I will review it on Destructoid and say that the campaign is short. People will comment, and some will declare that they won’t pay $60 for a short campaign with no replay value. But Space Marine is a game I am going to keep, and play again, because it’s just too much damn fun to throw an Ork to the ground and stamp its head into paste with my big metal boot. Even without the multiplayer, it has a ton of replay value, determined by the simple fact that I want to replay it. That’s all a game needs to boast replayability — it has to be fun enough to encourage people to come back after the credits roll.

Once you embrace that, you find that a game’s paltry six or eight hours of gameplay has become twelve or sixteen hours. If it’s really good, you’ll quite possible be able to bump it up to eighteen and twenty-four hours. It’s all about how much it draws you back — how engrossing the combat, addictive the puzzles, or compelling the story. I’ve gotten more gameplay out of Metal Gear Solid than I have from any thirty or forty-hour RPG, because it’s one of those games I can just dive into again and again. Hell, I’ve replayed the single-player in Gears of War about four times, because as silly as the story is, it’s a great little action yarn with some excellent pacing and solid action. Again, without even mentioning the multiplayer, I’ve gotten so much replay from the Gears titles.

The next time someone bemoans the lack of replayability in a game, ask them what they mean. If their complaint stems from missing multiplayer or some other extraneous content that wasn’t available, then please do me a favor — cut them. It doesn’t have to be a major, scarring cut. Just a small slice across any exposed area of the skin, just to send the message that what they said was absolutely abysmal and that they ought to be justly punished for their stupidity. Afterward, calmly explain that replay value doesn’t mean what they think it means, and if the game was fun, and worth playing a second time, then they just found exactly what they were looking for.

Because after all, if replayability meant what we’ve taken it to mean, then Pac-Man is two f**king minutes long.

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8 Comments on Real Replay Value Doesn’t Mean Multiplayer

FoxR

On September 8, 2011 at 9:18 am

I can’t remember how many times I have played resident evil 4 on the gcn, wii and pc it’s such an awesome game.

Heru

On September 8, 2011 at 9:23 am

Amen brother! I could not agree more. There are many things that make a game replayable, but multiplayer isn’t necessarily one of those things. Oblivion, Fallout 3/NV, Mass Effect 1/2, Dragon Age, and countless others going back to the 8-16 bit eras all seems to understand what many of this era don’t. Quality of the game is more important than the amount of you can shoehorn into it.

Thomas Kiefer

On September 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

I love that you’ve made this article, the amount of times I’ve seen people completely disregard games because there is no multiplayer, then devs waste time and money adding multiplayer to games like Dead Space 2 :/

SquireZed

On September 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

Agree, but multiplayer can add re-playability. It just shouldn’t be the only reason to replay the game. That said, games that tack on multiplayer just to add x hours of gameplay make kittens cry in corners. Alone.

JosephPS3

On September 8, 2011 at 12:24 pm

DEHR has infinite replay value for me.

I thought I’d get tired and trade it in for $42 (gamestop powersale right now) because that’s quite a lot of money back for a brand new game but I just love this game too much. I’ve got save points and I keep going back to them and trying different things or even trying the same tactics but aiming for perfection.

DEHR is like Starcraft2 or Civilization5. You can finish it 100 times but you want to go back and do it all over again cause its so much fun and each time its a little different.

Donlizzle

On September 8, 2011 at 12:39 pm

MGS is one of my favorite as well to replay and couldn’t agree more. Bioware games are the same way.

Great article, replay value is NOT (just) multiplayer :)

himroyd

On September 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Multiplayer isn’t replay. It’s a separate game that uses the same graphics and setting as the campaign.

joder666

On September 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm

At last somebody clears out the fog on this. I know that DLCs, the achievement/trophy are meant to add to the re-play value of a game, but is not all.

As you said re-play value is base on how enjoyable a game is or can be. I’ve beaten Vagrant story and Resident evil 5 so many times….