How Multiplayer Can Make a Mediocre Game Great: Homefront

Homefront’s single player was rather awful. After an incredibly harrowing start, the game settled into a linear structure that was unbearably restrictive, with a mission structure that went something like “Follow Connor,” before turning into the next mission which was likely “Follow Connor,” and then concluded with a mission where you would have to “Follow Connor.” The structure never means seeing any of the devastation of the Korean invasion past what you were supposed to; there were no images to see, and much of the fighting was contained to the streets.

Then you click on multiplayer and it all changes.

To be clear, Homefront is mechanically sound, the single shot rifles delivering some of the most satisfying kills of this current generation. Shooting the invading force is a sickly, even a bit twisted experience, the sound of a bullet passing through a brain a little too realistic.

It’s that base that Homefront finds itself in when moving into versus play, 32-players vying for a top spot amidst ruined homes, dreams, and lives. That’s when it clicks. Suddenly, you’re sniping out of the average American home. Ruined pictures line the walls. Photo albums are treated as trash. Kitchens are devastated.

The single player goes for spectacle, scenes of attack choppers bombing neighborhoods in the distance, but the real impact is the home. As it was stated before, the opening to Homefront worked, a family gunned down in plain sight, their child rushing over screaming for his parents. You never feel like you’re fighting for their home though, and while there’s not much time to think while playing against the general populace, the idea of what Homefront was trying to achieve seems to click together.

You can almost play at your own pace in multiplayer, or at least when the other team isn’t using a heavy rush tactic. You can’t creep around someone’s swimming pool looking for a perfect shot when solo because you’re berated for not being in the fight. Tactics matter in multiplayer, and suddenly, so do the environments. Isn’t that what Homefront was trying to convey all along, the emotion of lost families and the devastation caused by a war that hits too close to home?