Why Sekiro Has no Multiplayer and Why it’s Great News for Boss Fights
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice follows a long legacy of FromSoftware games, and part of that legacy has been multiplayer. In Dark Souls and Bloodborne, players could challenge each other or help each other. In Sekiro, there will be no multiplayer elements to speak of. You are truly a lone shinobi, wandering a land filled with only enemies. Today, we’re going to be taking a look at why that might be good news, and how it’s going to change the landscape of Sekiro’s boss battles and further beyond.
A Departure from Beloved Origins
The Soulsborne games were rightfully loved and hated in their own ways. Part of that relationship was with multiplayer; the regular players found the game hard enough without being invaded by enemy players, and the hardcore players wanted to hunt those players down without fear of anyone coming to their aid. In boss fights, inviting a friendly player to help you take down that giant thrashing horse or pair of demons was always a great crutch for frustrated players, but most tried to defeat those bosses alone. Nonetheless, bosses had to be designed for multiplayer fights, increasingly so as the series continued. In Sekiro, we’re going to be going toe-to-toe with our opponents without any of those fears. The only thing we will have to fear is whether our blade is fast enough to stop our foes.
Miyazaki has noted himself that Sekiro will take an entirely different approach to how your character is built and developed, that will result in a more independent, player-driven power scale. He told Game Informer that: “This way of building the game, it gives us greater freedom and it gives the player greater freedom to decide how they want to tackle this or to encourage them to try to find something else and to keep adding to their arsenal and to use every little bit of it to defeat these challenges.”
It’s worth noting here that all of those quotes in this article are from Game Informer, as they are the only source with official access to Sekiro news. It’s unlikely that many more secrets will be revealed about Sekiro, and so most content creators are working with similar information. This means we’re going to have to make our own minds up about the little evidence we have, and I can’t encourage you enough to discuss in the comments section about what you all think.
Miyazaki adds more details later, noting that in Sekiro our access to traversal tools, like the grappling hook, and new mechanics will allow for more dynamic interactions in boss fights. He said: “The traversal options allow much more dynamic movement within the boss arena, both for yourself and the boss character themselves. It really increases the dynamism in how the player and the boss player play off each other.
Previously, you would have just had to run around a huge boss’ feet and hack away at his ankles, but now you have all these movement options you can both use – fully use – the extent of that arena. Stealth in mid-boss and boss fights, it does depend on the situation, but, again, it’s meant as another added level of spice. It’s not going to be present in all boss fights, but here and there it might add to the experience in some clever or subtle way.”
Now firstly, Miyazaki does say ‘boss player’ here, which could be a quirk of translation or it could be hinting at other players being able to take control of bosses in the game. That would be pretty awesome, and a really cool way to integrate a multiplayer aspect without changing the single-player dynamic. It’s not confirmed at all, and it’s just a small thing, but something to keep in mind nonetheless.
Boss-wise, I am immediately reminded of the giant snake that we see teased at the end of the trailer earlier this year. It’s almost certainly going to be a ‘boss’ scale enemy, and one that (especially given how flimsy that wooden bridge looks) is absolutely going to require us to use all the movement tools in our arsenal to survive. These kinds of fights would have been next to impossible while considering multiplayer. Instead, the developers can focus on the core experience of a single player and build upon the narrative theme of the lone Wolf.
No Friends Means a More Personal World
This design philosophy seems to be extending further beyond just boss fights. Each level can now be built with the same, singular mindset. The Wolf, our main character, might be fixed, but that allows a whole world to be built around him. Yashuo Kitao, of FromSoft, has said that: “We love to create our own characters just as much as everyone else. We hope players are looking forward to something in the future where we might go back to that, but for now, Sekiro is very much its own thing.”
This comes alongside a few genuine benefits for a player looking to immerse themselves in Sekiro’s world. Firstly, a real pause button. That’s right. Soulsborne fans will finally be able to answer the phone and receive their Amazon parcels without fear of losing all their hard-earned rewards. There’s no fear of invasion for players wanting to get stuck in, too. While that might be seen as negative for players that enjoyed the PvP elements, it’s clear that Sekiro has a different direction and focus than previous Soulsborne titles. This newfound focus on single player means that more attention can be paid to getting the important moments right.
Inside and outside of boss battles, the Sekiro team is free to be much more creative when developing the play space. Katao has said that: “When creating these playspaces, we don’t have to take into consideration how players will operate with one another in these maps, or how they may exploit the playspace by cooperating or something like this, so it allows us, again, to hone in on the player experience, and really capitalize on that lack of restriction that comes with creating a multiplayer-based game, and let our imagination run wild in these places.” This imagination running wild is an enormous benefit for players, who are going to see massively expansive play spaces as a result.
Miyazaki has said even more about this, as he noted that: “We feel like Sekiro’s probably on the higher end of the spectrum in terms of the freedom the player has to explore the world if we’re to compare it to our previous games. Particularly from the mid-game onward, the world really opens up, and you have a great deal of choice and freedom about which order and way you choose to explore.” Further to that, when asked about a ‘blight-town’ equivalent, he notes that there is a similar area, but that: “one of the core concepts of Sekiro was to create this greater freedom of movement and freedom of traversal, and so we don’t want to squash that by creating these really restrictive game spaces. So yeah, you will find somewhere like that – similar to that – that is a pinpoint location in the game, but we don’t try to restrict the user in ways previous ones do.”
It’s clear that there is a whole new mentality to game-space here. Miyazaki has been very clear that Sekiro is its own world, and that they are going to be avoiding even small nods and references to their previous titles in an effort to avoid dramas like that over the Bloodborne findings in Deracine. This new direction in gameplay is going to provide a completely different focus for players, one that departs from multiplayer and focuses exclusively on the single-player freedoms.
New Opponents like None You’ve Faced Before
By eliminating considerations for other aiding players, and creating a newly ‘free’ space that the single player can explore, Sekiro is also going to allow for much more creativity in boss design. We’ve already seen the Monk boss where the fight takes place in a small, enclosed courtyard, and we think we’re going to be fighting that Snake later on. We’ve also seen an older lady, the ‘Butterfly’, who dances on razor-thin wires. These new elements will add a dynamism to fights unlike anything we’ve seen with Soulsborne in the past, and this is largely thanks to the lack of multiplayer.
Miyazaki has said that “there may be boss fights where you’re up against a huge creature and you need to use the full arena and get around very quickly and use that dynamism, but there may also be fights where you just need to go toe-to-toe and use every piece of kit in your arsenal, the prosthetic tool, the katana, and really go head-to-head on these one-on-one duels. So, there’s something we’ll cater to on each occasion and to each boss’s unique idiosyncrasies.”
Sekiro is going to be an all-new adventure for everyone. I think it’s actually really good that FromSoftware is departing from a lot of the features we’d begun to take for granted in their previous titles, as it’s really going to shake up how we expect Sekiro to play. By subverting and changing expectations, Miyazaki and his team are truly creating something new. Multiplayer simply doesn’t have a place here, and whilst I’m certain we’ll see it again in their future games, I don’t think we’re going to miss it in Sekiro.
Alright, that’s it for today’s Sekiro article, everyone. I hope you enjoyed that look into what we’re going to be experiencing in the future. Unfortunately, there still isn’t much new information floating around, as Game Informer has exclusive coverage of Sekiro. We’re probably going to have to wait until the game fully launches on March 22nd to really start to unravel all of its secrets.
Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I’m Faulty Optics and I’ll see you all again for more gaming guides and news.
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