By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Very few mobile augmented reality games are truly cooperative multiplayer experiences and the only recognized version of that on tabletop is Dungeons and Dragons. For example: wouldn’t it be better for friends to gather to walk a dinosaur than one? Owen Grady can barely do it in Jurassic Park. Without help, he’d be dead meat. In Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, the only time players truly band together is during tower challenges.
Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic changed this particular part of the game, I’ve been finding random players to join up with far more easily. Pokémon GO has become a touch more couch potato friendly for players with access to gyms that are within eyesight.
Whatever the franchise is, I like to have a game where players solve virtual tasks together instead of always fighting an opponent. That is, we need a mobile game that encourages team play throughout. Wizards Unite has shown how one profession can be weaving healing spells in the background while others are fighting. When considering developers have figured out how teamwork can be done realizing, turning Wizards of the Coast (formerly TSR)’s flagship product, D&D, is a natural next step!
WotC’s Digital Games Studio teased at AR products for the pen and paper game, and it’s not the same as as having a standalone product. Niantic is trying to build a global AR alliance so this technology can go into new places. The current global mission in Pokemon GO is a great example of a Dungeons and Dragons style Living Campaign.
The company hopes players worldwide will accomplish an enormous task of doing two million mega raid to unlock the next Mega Pokemon. I can only imagine Temple of Elemental Evil being challenged by multiple parties to defeat a huge foe. Instead of focusing on dungeon crawling, why can’t we have more players working together to deal with a global threat?
What can be played overlaid in our real world can include Blizzard’s Diablo. With IV coming, this company is not likely to develop for the mobile world soon. However, the producers can consider Worlds of Warcraft since the concept of wandering around and killing things (than catching) can be appealing for those who can distinguish fantasy from reality. The ESRB rating will have to be heavily plastered as a warning sign, but designing such a game can be done. Just look at Ghostbusters World!
As long as the graphics don’t overshadow the game, anything is possible. Blizzard was considering it, but there’s been no new further updates since the idea was reported at UploadVR.com. Getting gamers to explore the real world versus augmented can get amusing. It’d be funny (or exciting) to meet the person named BeggingforBagels. Just look at Ready Player One.
The upcoming Witcher, Monster Slayer game shows it’s possible to interact with non-player characters. The teasers show how sword play has been translated over and this is the only part of the game I’m excited for. Honestly, we don’t need another clone of Pokémon Go where you’re just collecting and leveling up. Imitation of another company’s property is not helping the AR gaming industry any.
The best multiplayer experience is still with Ingress when players negotiate how to expand zones of control. I can see this idea being changed around to see characters from different alignments owning different parts of the world. Fantasy fiction is often about good versus evil more than anything else.
Because of the COVID pandemic, to have a game where social gatherings are encouraged will not be immediately welcomed. It can be developed now so that when this situation is under control, we can have small meetings–players forming dungeon raiding parties–to handle scenarios (community days) under a mobile situation. All we need is for Wizards of the Coast to update Dungeons and Dragons past its pen and paper beginnings for today’s mobile generation!