Next month, Turtle Rock Studios’ Evolve finally comes out. It’s an asymmetrical multiplayer game that pits a group of four hunters against a single player-controlled monster that grows and evolves the longer it survives. It looks like a it’ll be a solid break from the team-on-team firefights that we’ve been seeing from Call of Duty, Halo, and Destiny. But you don’t have to wait until Evolve hits the shelves—you can play these 5 asymmetrical multiplayer games right now.
Left 4 Dead Series
Unsurprisingly, two of Turtle Rock’s previous games include asymmetrical modes that make for really fun multiplayer action. In both Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, the Versus mode sees one group of four players taking control of survivors and the other group playing as zombies in a normal campaign stage. The survivors must make it to a safe room, while the zombies must stop them. Unlike campaign mode, however, once a survivor dies in Versus, there’s no coming back until the next stage.
At the end of a level, the teams switch roles, allowing both sides to experience both types of gameplay. The total amount scored by each team when playing as survivors is compared at the end, with the team who performed better as the survivors winning the match.
Left 4 Dead 2, one of the best games on Xbox 360, also includes Scavenge mode, in which one team of survivors needs to collect fuel cans to fill up a generator while the opposing team of zombies needs to stop them. Again, the different objectives of the teams makes for a cool asymmetrical matchup.
Natural Selection 2
The Natural Selection games, which began as a mod for Half-Life, combine first-person shooter and real-time strategy elements to form a unique multiplayer experience: one member of each team plays as a commander, and gets a top-down view of the battlefield from which to command troops, place buildings, and research upgrades. A team of aliens (Kharaa) and a team of space marines battle for supremacy over the map.
What makes Natural Selection 2 asymmetrical is the vast difference between the play styles of the Kharaa and the marines. The marines rely on guns and technology to subdue their enemies, while the Kharaa use melee attacks and special abilities, such as running on walls, flying, and teleporting. Both teams need to take advantage of their particular strengths to win.
The ctOS mobile mode in Watch Dogs raises the bar on asymmetrical multiplayer games by not only making the objectives and abilities of players differ, but also the systems they use. One player, on a PlayStation or an Xbox, needs to outrun the police, who are controlled by another player from an app on their phone or tablet. Rupturing steam pipes, creating barriers, changing stop lights, sending squad cars to chase down the player, and deploying SWAT teams are all among the mobile player’s arsenal.
The online hacking multiplayer mode is also asymmetrical, as it requires one player to stay stealthy and avoid detection while installing a backdoor into another player’s network. The second player aims to hunt down and eliminate the first. It’s a cat-and-mouse game where each player has different priorities and different effective strategies.
Metal Gear Online
The Metal Gear games are known for their great plots, but there’s actually some pretty good multiplayer action as well. The Sneaking mission type in Metal Gear Online sees two teams pitted against each other in a battle to the death… and one player as Solid Snake, sneaking around the map and trying to collect three dog tags from foes without dying. If Snake makes it to three, he wins. If one of the teams kills Snake a certain number of times, they win. If neither of those conditions are met, the team with the most kills of members of the other team wins.
With three different victory conditions and three opposing sides, this is a very asymmetrical game that rewards stealth, detection, and combat. The Bomb and Rescue mission types also use teams attempting to complete different objectives, though these modes will be slightly more familiar to players.
Batman: Arkham Origins
Like the multiplayer in Metal Gear Online, Arkham Origins pits two teams against each other and throws a third in the middle. In this case, two rival gangs headed up by Joker and Bane duke it out, with each trying to kill off the other gang’s reinforcements. Meanwhile, two players take on the roles of Batman and Robin while trying to get rid of as many members of both gangs as possible, eventually winning if they accumulate enough intimidation points.
Batman and Robin can use some special abilities, and the gang members can use a variety of guns and explosives. Each member of a gang also has the ability to become Joker or Bane, gaining some extra-powerful special abilities. Playing as a superhero is always fun, but it’s even better when you get to thrash bad guys that are played by your friends!
Asymmetrical multiplayer has always been around, but it seems to have gotten more popular in recent years. I’m really looking forward to playing Evolve, as it looks set to fully take advantage of the medium. Until then, however, it’s time to get caught up on some favorites.
What are your favorite asymmetrical multiplayer games? Or do prefer to stick with deathmatch- and capture-the-flag-style games? Share your thoughts below!