To cap off this week, I originally planned to write up some impressions of the recently released Umbrella Corps. Unfortunately, for an online multiplayer game to work, other people kinda have to be playing it.
So, I decided to conduct a little experiment after waiting in an empty lobby for 30 minutes last night. This morning, I jumped into all of the multiplayer games I currently have installed—new and old—to test just how dead Umbrella Corps truly is. With my stopwatch app at the ready, I timed how long it took from the point where I triggered online functionality to when I could actually begin controlling my character. And, for the sake of fairness, I opted for the most instant, potentially populous online mode with each game. Granted, this might not be the most scientifically sound experiment, but it should prove that, just a little over a week after releasing, Umbrella Corps is essentially D.O.A.
Umbrella Corps (PC) - 2:00:00 (No Results)
Unfortunately, we have to start with the saddest entry. Even after playing all of the tutorials, I can't actually tell you how Umbrella Corps holds up, since two hours of waiting in a public lobby yielded not a single multiplayer session. That's not to say it was totally dead, though: Over the course of those 120 minutes, three or four people trickled in, but eventually trickled back out as soon as it was evident the room wasn't likely to fill before sundown. It's not entirely surprising, given Umbrella Corps' poor word of mouth, but I assumed the whole Resident Evil connection would at least lead to a single roomful of poor souls who purchased it outright. Consumers must be getting a lot more savvier, though, since not even the connection to a popular mega-franchise can give Umbrella Corps enough of an audience to function as intended—on the PC, at least.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC) - 00:10:40
If you want to jump into a Final Fantasy XIV multiplayer session, many more variables come into play. If, like me, you're playing a DPS role, the sheer number of other players doing the same means you're not really in demand. (I've had to wait upwards of two hours to take on some of the post-game challenges as a Dragoon, for instance.) So, for this experiment, I chose "Duty Roulette - Leveling" as my multiplayer mode of choice. Selecting this option essentially drops you into a random dungeon you've already completed, and scales you down appropriately so many options are available. Even though I started at the crack of dawn on the West Coast, it only took ten minutes and forty seconds for Final Fantasy XIV to group me together with three other people for the sake of running a dungeon. FFXIV's subscriber base may never hit the heights World of Warcraft did in its heyday, but you'll never have to wait too long to group up with strangers.
Dark Souls III (PC) - 00:01:22
It's been a while since I touched Dark Souls III, and in those early post-release days, the online functionality kept me waiting more than I assumed it would. So for this test, I entered the Dragon Barracks, joined the SunBro convenant—which seems mighty popular amongst players—and threw down my summon sign right in front of the bonfire. All told, it only took one minute and 22 seconds for someone to pull me into their game; not bad, considering Dark Souls III released over three months ago.
Overwatch (PC) - 00:00:57
This might be an unfair comparison, considering everyone in the universe is seemingly playing Overwatch, but hey, it's Umbrella Corps' competition, right? As someone who often turns to Overwatch as a way to jump into a game quickly with no B.S., I wasn't exactly surprised to see my game start so quickly—even if my morning play session took a smidge longer than what I'm used to waiting. After selecting Quick Play, Overwatch searched for a session, and I was in direct control of my selected characters in just under a minute. I've seen some complaints about how you can't select a game mode unless you're rolling with a Custom Game, but by reducing its potential online lobbies to just three, Overwatch does a very efficient job of making it so you'll always have a group to play with.
Rocket League (PlayStation 4) - 00:00:52
Thanks to the multiplayer phenomenon known as Overwatch, the hype for Rocket League seems to have cooled down—but not by much. That said, since I typically play in a group with two friends, I wasn't quite sure how long it would take Rocket League to find me a standard, public game to join by my lonesome. Though we're coming up on its first birthday, the Rocket League community hasn't dwindled much: Just under a minute, and I was already in a game. Even if Rocket League was such a hit out of the gates, you definitely have to credit developer Psyonix with gradually adding new modes to maintain the enthusiasm of their player base. Without them, I might have had to wait (gasp) two whole minutes.
Left 4 Dead 2 (PC) - 00:00:23
I've been dabbling with playing public Left 4 Dead 2 matches here and there in recent months, but wasn't sure how well my multiplayer luck would pan out at 7:30 in the morning with a game that's quickly approaching its seventh birthday. Even so, Left 4 Dead 2 essentially won this little contest by tossing me into a session alongside three other human players in under 30 seconds. To be fair, I wouldn't have had nearly as much luck had I decided to go with lesser-played modes like Scavenge, Mutation, Survival, or Realism, but the fact that Valve has maintained such a healthy player base for nearly a decade is certainly impressive. Even if we'll almost certainly never get a Left 4 Dead 3, it definitely warms the heart to know this multiplayer zombie shooter from the first year of the Obama administration is currently beating the pants off of one released last week.
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