Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Single Player gaming in a multiplayer World

Nope, I am not talking about MMORPGing. I am actually replaying the single player campaign of Company of Heroes. Despite enjoying it very much I am aware that the real value of CoH as in any RTS lies in competitive multi-player matches.

Single player RTS gaming is a fairly ponderous cerebral affair favouring a slow defensive strategy (turtling). In almost every case one's computer opponent starts out with the lion's share of territory and resources. A players best strategy is almost always to mount a strong defense from a small region around your base, holding off any attackers while slowly amassing resources. Don't attempt to break out and actively engage the computer opponent until you have managed to build up a substantial army.

An unfortunate consequence of this is that tipping point often occurs long before the end of the mission after which the player is clearly in a winning position but must still go through a long tedious process of mopping up enemies and ticking off mission objectives. Another consequence of this "turtling " strategy is that by the time a player goes on the offensive they have already advanced up the tech tree and only the most advanced units are used (in CoH's case this usually means tanks).

To be fair to CoH's single player campaign they do try to stir things up a bit by triggering new objectives as you progress through the mission, often spawning enemy re-enforcements to try and upset your careful advance. This forces you to pay attention once you go on the offensive but it only emphasises the need to turtle early on. The last thing you want is to spawn enemy re-enforcements while your own forces are still weak.

I doubt that any human opponent would be content to sit back and let you slowly amass resources and troops. Hard fought battles over resource points from the earliest stages of the game are a much more likely outcome in multiplayer.

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