Can an app really make your video game experience better? We’ve already covered how the Smart Glass app for Xbox actually enhances your gameplay on a console level in many ways, but how about apps for individual games? Are they just a gimmick to keep you more involved, or can they actually make playing the game a more joyous experience? In many cases, the answer to that second question is yes. If you play any of these games and you choose to ignore their companion applications, you are missing out on something that will make your experience even better.
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag Companion
Assassin’s Creed IV is easily one of my favorite companion applications because it actually lets you do things that enhance your gameplay experience when you aren’t in the game. Recent entries in the AC series have allowed players to send a team of Assassin’s out on missions while away. In this case, you send ships from your fleet out to trade, thus earning you some money. You can access this in the game itself, but why do that when you can do it from your phone? Send them to clear trade routes and make trades from the app, and when you come back to the game, you will have a nice chunk of cash waiting for you.
The app also includes a map that updates live as long as you are connected to your console. No longer will you have to stop what you are doing to look at the map. Instead you can sail the seas and just look down at your mobile device to see where you are and where you need to go. It’s just a well-made app that anyone playing the game would be crazy not to use.
Grand Theft Auto: iFruit
This is really the app that put companion apps on the map. Sure, there were other before, but GTA’s really showed us some basic ways you could use an app to change the actual game. The changes were fairly small, but it was still quite exciting to be able to work on Chop, the game’s dog, from your mobile device. It also added the ability to modify your cars and give them a little extra style while on the go.
We’re seeing a lot more applications come out for the new consoles, as they have a deeper integration with mobile devices, but this came for the Xbox 360 and PS3, which made it even more impressive. Sure, the servers were broken for the first few days, but once it was actually up and running, it brought a pretty solid experience to gamers who just couldn’t get enough of Grand Theft Auto V.
Watch_Dogs Companion: ctOS Mobile
Love it or hate it, Watch_Dogs is here, and with it, a companion application. If ever a game existed where a mobile app made sense, it’s in Watch_Dogs, a game where the player carries around an all powerful cell phone that allows them to hack everything in the city. With the mobile app, you can actually play with your friends from your phone. You alter their world through the power of ctOS, right from your smartphone or tablet.
As of right now, the app is not perfect. It has a cumbersome set up process, and it can take a while to get a game going with another player. Once you do, though, it’s a fun way to expand your Watch_Dogs experience, even if it’s not the greatest app you will ever use. Another thing to note is that, while this is called a companion app, you don’t actually need to own Watch Dogs to play with it, so you can feel free to download it play around without it.
Titanfall Companion App
The Titanfall app is not revolutionary, as most of the features of the app revolve around teaching about the different guns, Titans, and other things contained within the game. These are cool features to have if you want a quick refresher on the game, or if you are new to playing it in the first place, but it’s not something that will change the video game world by any stretch of the imagination.
So why am I writing about the app then? Because of the map feature. Like Assassin’s Creed, Titanfall features a live map of the game as it’s happening around you, but what makes it special is the fact that it’s a multiplayer game. In real time you see exactly what the mini map on the screen shows you, but you can have it open on your tablet, phone, or even your computer. This gives you a much bigger view of the battlefield as a whole, which is something you won’t find with other multiplayer shooter’s companion applications. It only works with the Xbox One version of the game, so PC gamers will have to sit this one out, unfortunately.
These apps do a great job of expanding the potential for the respective games. Sure, an app can simply show some statistics based on your performance in the game, but what really makes an app stand out are features that actually change the game on fly. Imagine a game like Diablo letting players tweak their skill builds while out and about, so when they get home, they can have a whole new way to play ready to go. What if you could even do some leveling and grinding in an RPG while you are on the road? The possibilities are limitless, and all it will take is a few creative developers to really make the most of the fact that all of our game consoles connect directly to our smartphones.
What are some of your favorite companion applications for games? What ideas can you think of for companion apps in the future? Hit the comments section below and let us know!