REPLY TO ALL: Local X Online Multiplayer

Another fighter is about to enter the ring with Street Fighter X Tekken. Which begs the question: do you prefer your multiplayer to be online only or local?

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Every Wednesday we pose a question on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. You can answer from Wednesdays through Mondays on Twitter with the hashtag = #RE2ALL, and in our weekly thread on and Google+ posted every Wednesday. Check out this week’s responses at the end of the post, and add to it in the comments!

Street Fighter X Tekken

Where will you X?

James (Copperskull)

I prefer to have my opponent sitting right next to me so I can have the satisfaction of smacking him in the back of the head for using that same damn crouching punch move the entire match.

Josh (Joshleedotcom)

Many of my favorite gaming memories are of playing side-by-side with my best buds, sharing a screen and kicking ass together (or kicking each other’s asses). These days, though, the thought of local multiplayer is a distant one, what with online gaming being so convenient and most games shipping without the option altogether. Fighting games seem like the last bastion of local gaming.

It’s telling when we often note and celebrate a game’s inclusion of the feature ala Uncharted 3 and Twisted Metal, instead of berate a game for excluding it. I used to base most of my NES and SNES purchases on whether or not they had a 2-player mode.

Recently, I’ve been turning to XBLA and PSN for my couch-gaming fixes. Hoard and the Pixel Junk games have seen a lot of action at my house as of late.

Rob (Robeque)

I guess if I had to choose I would say I prefer local mp for fighters. Mainly because it’s more fun to drink with someone in person. Since your view on screen is the same whether you’re playing mp locally or online it makes no difference there. I definitely prefer online mp when the local requires split screen. I’m too spoiled with having the full screen to myself now. I can’t believe I played so much GoldenEye and Mario Kart in that tiny little corner of the screen.

Josh does make a good point, though. It’s definitely more of a bonding experience when you’re sitting in the same room. It’s really hard to fist bump over the internets…. unless you’re playing Army of Two, right? I still prefer the non-splitscreen games, though.

Army of Two

I've got your back, from across the country, bro.

Justin L (JDevL)

I will always prefer local multiplayer with a group of close friends, because even when I go online, I’d rather be in competition with people I know or am getting to know. However, if I’m really being competitive that is secondary to my comfort and game environment. If I was settling in for an intense co-op or competitive session I need to have my own screen and my own sound without being distracted by others.

I look back out our epic horde run at the game marathon and I’m torn. In game, it didn’t matter where my friends were, however, as soon as we took breaks and wanted to commiserate on our exploits I wanted my friends in the same room. So what I’m saying is, we need to invest in a giant house with separate rooms for all gamers and a decked out common area/bar where we can meet up as soon as the session is over.

Andrew (Coopopolopolis)

I’ll always prefer local multiplayer as well even though I agree that anymore that really isn’t a reality with most games. Our horde run wouldn’t have been the same if we weren’t all sitting next to each other yelling and swearing, or looking over the shoulder of our last survivor trying to pull us through to the next wave. The fighting genre I feel even more strongly about local being necessary. I’ve kind of lost interest in fighting games, but all the memories I have from when I loved them all go back to the arcade, standing next to your buddies playing Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. I just can’t really see that experience being anywhere near the same online. I can compare it to trying to do a Rock Band battle online. You really just feel like you’re playing yourself and that’s not cool… when gaming.

Aaron (BGRadio)

I’m a homebody that has needy social dogs and a love of comfortable pajamas, so that means I’m mostly online. I did grow up playing a lot of local multiplayer and that’s got a special place in my heart though. Plus playing online means I have to drink my own supply of toxins and that’s just crazy. If I joined in on a LAN party every now and then, that’d probably be the ideal solution.

Justin G (GiffTor)

I think we’re likely to be heavily on the same page since we all grew up with local multiplayer and James said it: I like to be able to physically hurt someone if they’re being a cheap bastard. I’m pretty down on online multiplayer for a lot of games, but that’s more because I’m generally a solo gamer, anyway. That said, split-screen sucks, so I was a huge fan of playing local/online multiplayer at our Horrible Nights Out since you get the best of both worlds – your own screen and the ability to throw things at each other when someone needs to be distracted or instructed gently to pay more attention by being hit by an empty coke bottle.

Justin L

I wonder if our preference is purely based on how we grew up and if kids today just stick with the one they are used to?

Dungeon Defenders

Maybe we should defend closer together?

Brandon (H21)

I don’t know about that. My son loves to play in the same room as I, and he also loved getting the chance to play Dungeon Defenders with a cousin of his online. So I think it’s really just a preference of personality and the game type. For instance, I really only like playing fighting games in local co-op. Online I can’t stand them. Part of that is I’m not that good at them, and the other part is there is a little something about trash talking your friends as they sit next to you. Most other games I prefer online because I’m greedy and want the screen space without splitting it with someone else. Technology is good enough these days that we can interact almost as well in person.

Justin G

General +1 to Brandon except there at the end. I think one reason that I’m not nearly as big of a fan of online MP unless there’s no other option is the same as why it’s harder to podcast on Skype rather than in person: It’s harder to communicate without visual cues. Whether it’s co-op or competitive, I always feel like there’s something lacking when I have a headset on. It doesn’t mean I refuse to play online multiplayer, but the in-person thing is just hands-down better, particularly if you have a setup where you don’t have to share a screen. I think Valve has done the best job of that with Portal 2‘s whaddyacallit’, the little pip you can use to show your partner what you’re looking at.


YES. Every online mp game need the little pip to point things out somehow included.


We use this religiously on Battlefield 3. You can mark a capture point, MCOM, enemy soldiers and tanks which highlights it on your screen as well as your map. I think that’s where I’m deriving most of my opinion from. In Left 4 Dead, there was nothing to indicate what people were seeing so there was constant chatter which was beneficial, but it was also a little annoying at times when you’re trying to plot your next move.

Battlefield 3

Do you want me to drive? Because I'll take your controller if you can't handle it.


Yeah, sorry Brandon, but I don’t buy that either. Online voice chat is just a lower quality telephone call.

Gifford knows what’s up. There is something sorely missing from the online experience, socially. Maybe if we all had Cisco TelePresence systems installed next our TV’s we could get a little closer to the real thing. All the nuances are lost through voice chat, though.

I always played games with friends (in person) for the social experience. You know, to hang out. While I’m glad that we can still enjoy some games together when our busy lives keep us away, I’d still rather find a way to fit in some face time every now and then. I know it’s easier for me to schedule since I don’t have any kids, but I think we should all be jotting down more real game nights in our calendar.

Who’s got a comfy couch? Also, FYI, 12 year olds have been playing the 360 since they were 6.



Maybe I’m spoiled because I play with the same people most times and don’t require to have to see what they’re seeing to relay information. From our conversation we can usually relay what information is needed. I’m not saying I don’t like to play video games in person with friends, but to be honest, my reality forces me to prefer online play. Playing online, against different opponents other than my friends, allows me to have a different game experience quite regularly. Otherwise we often stalemate each other.


It’s not just about playing competitively. Sure, a session of Battlefield 3 or Call of Duty is going to be great online.

What about all those same-screen co-op games? Side scrollers? Shoot ’em ups? Beat ’em ups? NBA Jam? If you’re playing any of those games for any reason other than just kicking it with buds, then I think you’re doing it wrong.

It’s not just me is it? Don’t you guys like to get your social and gaming fixes at the same time?


I need to see your face when I jam in your face.


I did preface my statements that it does depend on game type.


Woah. Settle down now… let’s keep this conversation friendly.


Oh, I know what you’re saying, Brandon. You don’t want to look at my face when we play games because you think I’m ugly.



And I know what your’e saying, Josh. You want to play with me in person because my voice sounds like a raspy old hag on headset.

Justin L

I’m an one or the other kind of guy. I just happen to prefer casual/social over competitive these days. But sometimes I need to be walled off and mic’d up.

Justin G

Brandon and Josh’s lovers’ quarrel aside, there’s no comparison to in-person multiplayer. I suppose part of the limiting factor for me is that I don’t have a regular group of people I play with, which probably makes things more fun (and, flip side, keeps me from getting more into multiplayer.) I guess part of it comes with the whole “I deal with people doing stupid things all day, I really don’t want to deal with them when I’m relaxing, playing games.” Or maybe I’m just a misanthropic jerk.

Ethan (Wizardtrain187)

People need people man. That’s why computers will never know true love and ultimately why they will never get many hits on their eHarmony pages.

That being said, I enjoy the freedom that comes with gaming in my skivies.


So you’re saying you like playing in your underwear while your friends are over?


Do they have theirs on as well? the answer is maybe…

Justin L

I’m never going to either of your places for Soul Calibur.

Soul Calibur V

Put some clothes on.

Cole (Colefacekilla)

My quarters have been on the machine for a while now so I’m next. After spending some time this past weekend playing some couch co-op I have to say that I prefer that way of multiplayer madness over strictly online. And I do think it has to do with how we came up alongside the video game world. I made and lost friends over some heated multiplayer exchanges that I just don’t get playing online.

Sure the opportunity to play a multiplayer game whenever I want online is a way better option than trying to coordinate schedules with a friend to play in person, but sometimes I just don’t want to play with douchebags. Especially when it comes to fighting games. I can usually hold my own against my friends but once I step into that online arena my skills are a joke. I can stomach first person shooters with strangers, but strangers can’t stomach me when it comes to online fighting games.


I have to agree with the majority that the best multiplayer experience is dependent on game type. Fighters, shmups, etc. are great on a single screen because there’s no real advantage to having a screen to yourself. First person shooters and any other games that give each player their own point of view are best played on dedicated televisions. I would still rather play most of these games at a good old-fashioned LAN party than online with strangers and lag.

Community Responses

@Scoooorn – 100% local.

@somethingpc – Local. If I want to chat with strangers, I’ll use Twitter. Also, retro gaming can’t be played via the Internet.

@IncreaseBlue – Online is convenient but local is more fun and less rage.

FB – Henry Hogue – Local! When playing locally you get way more feedback during the experience than any mic chat system can offer. Player skill levels vary wildly online and it’s hard to find level competition that really keeps you on the edge of your couch. Teaming, spamming, hacking, and other malignancies also pop up online due to the veil of anonymity. It’s too bad.


Maybe it’s not so much about choice as it is about availability, but the consensus is when given the option our staff prefers the social aspects of gaming together locally with friends over online. Which do you prefer?

REPLY TO ALL – Our weekly conversation where our writing staff offers up their opinions on the gaming topic of the week.


Giant Bomb (images)