So MotorStorm Pacific Rift has been out for a week now, and you’ve driven the AI into submission around the testing tracks of the island, and your kid sister kicks your @$$ in split screen. So what next. Well how about a bit of online play? There’s a few different ways of experiencing Pacific Rift online, here’s the low down and some tips –
We wanted to ensure that players could find another game quickly, but also that once they got into a game they didn’t have to rely on the host to get the race started. There are two options when matchmaking: Ranked or Casual. Ranked pitches you against players of a similar skill level whilst Casual will put you up against anyone and everyone. Matchmaking will, quite simply, group players together who are looking for a game, pick a Ticket for them (a race setup) and get them into a race as quickly as possible. And don’t worry, if you don’t like the Ticket that is randomly chosen for you – it’s possible to veto it (if you get a majority vote).
If you can’t find a matchmaking game (Ranked or Casual) when you search the reason simply is that no-one else is currently searching for another ranked game. The system relies upon there being other people looking to play, so as the servers get busier it’ll get easier to find games, so don’t be disheartened if you can’t find a game first time around, the more people looking for games, the more games there will be.
On top of the matchmaking it is still also possible to create a game of your own and let others join (privacy is optional). This session will stay up as long as there is a single person present and you can configure the race at any time in the lobby to create your own experience. Custom games do not contribute towards your ranking, but they still track your statistics.
Competitive play is important online, as the best races are most often the closest. So by implementing a ranking system which grades players based upon how many players they have beat and been beaten by, it allows us in conjunction with the matchmaking to gather players of the same or similar ranking together to provide the fairest and most exciting possible racing experience. There is also a Ranked leaderboard which lists every player, showing who really is the best MotorStorm player in the world.
Playing online is always more fun with friends, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible to do so. We’ve done this through Groups; these are quite simply a way of keeping friends together. They are initiated by sending a friend an invite; when they accept they become part of your Group, and wherever you go they then go with you, until they decide to leave (or if you choose to kick them from your group). Groups can be up 12 players, but when playing Ranked it is only possible with groups of 4 or less (to avoid cheating).
On top of these 3 major improvements, we also made online play global, so that wherever you are in the world you can play against anyone else who happens to be online. There is now the ability to check and compare other player’s statistics, side by side, and not just online statistics, either: this includes all the offline ones, too. We’ve improved the voice chat – not just in terms of general quality, but also the number of players that can talk simultaneously: in the lobby up to 8 players can talk at once, and during an event it’s 4 – that’s twice as many as in the original MotorStorm!