Even Though It’s Single-Player, New Pokemon Snap Is My Favourite Multiplayer Game This Year

New Pokemon Snap is a single-player game. That might sound obvious, but it’s not just a single-player as in ‘you play it by yourself’ – it’s a quintessentially solitary experience. You go out, by yourself, in a little glass dome and move through an area with no other people around. You return for a bland, pointless conversation with the other humans, then you head straight back out into the world. The game offers up a rival in Phil, but he’s utterly pointless – he never actually competes with you, but still insists on acting like a competitive twerp. All this does is make you want to spend all of your time out there in the wilderness, alone.

There are no enemies, no NPCs to meet beside the handful in the hub, and no obstacles aside from ‘how do I get behind the waterfall’. You are completely on your own. It’s a solo adventure in every conceivable way. Yet somehow it feels like a multiplayer game, and one of my favourites in a long time at that.

I should probably point out that I don’t really like multiplayer titles, which goes some way to explaining why a game like New Pokemon Snap appeals to me. It’s not so much the multiplayer part though as it is the genre – shooters are by far the most popular type of multiplayer game, whether that be PvP, PvE, battle royale, hero shooter, deathmatch… there’s a lot of depth to the shooter space, but when you’re not that fussed on shooters as a whole, these nuances don’t feel that important. When I find multiplayer in a genre I do like though, I tend to engage with it a lot more, and become very competitive – which is exactly what happened with Pokemon Snap.

During the review period, before it was out in the world, our own Cian Maher was ranked number one in the world – that’s why our Snap guides are the best around. Naturally, I have made it my mission to eclipse his score, and the scores of all my friends on the Switch. After every few new shots, I go and check my score. Mine ticks up. Theirs ticks up. I overtake, I get pulled back. There’s no voice chat, no course ghosts, and we aren’t playing on split screen or online, but make no mistake – this is a competitive multiplayer experience.

I’m currently third out of my friends list, and I will not rest until I am at the top. My plan involves relying on our guides – seriously, give them a read, we’re doing every request and every four star – to climb to the top of the leaderboard. The best part is, the two friends above me are the ones writing the guides. They’ll be hoisted by their own petard, whatever that means. Like if I stole their own gun off them in Warzone and shot them with it, only significantly less violent.

What I love most about New Pokemon Snap as a multiplayer experience is that it’s only as competitive as you make it, and allows you the focussed intensity of solo-player runs while adding the scoreboard pressure of a multiplayer competition. It’s perfectly suited for a player like me, and by the end of it all, I will reach the summit. I will be the very best, like no one ever was.

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