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It seems to me that more and more games in the last few years feature an invasion mode for their campaigns, in which another player (usually in a hostile role) enters the single player campaign mode of someone else.

When was this game mechanic of online (or maybe offline) invasion of an otherwise single player mode first introduced in video games?

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  • When was the game mechanic of online invasion mode first introduced? If someone can come join your single player game, then it isn't single player mode.
    – Mazura
    Jul 28, 2022 at 3:58

2 Answers 2

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The feature you're referring to is called invasion multiplayer.

The game that introduced this seems to be Demon's Souls from 2009 (lauded for introducing the core characteristics of the Souls game series):

Online multiplayer allows both player cooperation and world invasions featuring player versus player combat.
source

It is worth nothing that this gameplay mechanic was being developed two years earlier by Arkane, but the game which had it implemented was never released:

In 2007 Arkane Studios began creating a game called The Crossing [..]. The team behind the game wanted to include a mechanic they called “cross-player”, in which host players would have some enemy characters in their game controlled by other human players and give players a reprieve from the usual multiplayer experience.
Unfortunately, the game was never released due to publisher and financial issues, but the cross-player mechanic was definitely a predecessor to invasion mechanics in future titles.
source

Arkane did pick up some core elements of The Crossing for Deathloop.


Games that offer invasion multiplayer are:

Title Year Type
Elden Ring 2022 ⨁⨺
Sniper Elite 5: France 2022 ⨁⨺
Deathloop 2021    ⨺
Demon's Souls 2020 ⨁⨺
Dark Souls: Remastered 2018 ⨁⨺
Watch_Dogs 2 2016 ⨁⨺
Dark Souls III 2016 ⨁⨺
Bloodborne 2015 ⨁⨺
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain 2015    ⨺
Watch_Dogs 2014 ⨁⨺
Dark Souls II 2014 ⨁⨺
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition 2012 ⨁⨺
Journey 2012
Dark Souls 2011 ⨁⨺
Demon's Souls 2009 ⨁⨺

⨁: helpful ⨺: hostile

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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  • 5
    Interesting how most of these games are either Souls games or Souls clones.
    – Egor Hans
    Jul 24, 2022 at 17:56
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    9/13 of the games were created by Hidetaka Miyazaki. The Demon Souls, Dark Souls, Boodborne and Elden Ring games.
    – user136727
    Jul 24, 2022 at 18:17
  • 3
    Does Journey count? Jul 24, 2022 at 19:51
  • 2
    Dying Light --- Jul 25, 2022 at 9:55
  • 1
    @Joachim last I remember, No Mans Sky does not have this mechanic. I have not found anything about it on forums. PvP does seem possible, though extremely rare since most players have it turned off. Dying Light 2 has a feature where you could be running around and a message pops up saying "<playerName> sent a distress signal" (or something like that). If you accept it, you load into their game to assist (unsure if Dying Light has this, and unsure if you could also be hostile instead of helping since every time I tried it, it would fail to connect).
    – Timmy Jim
    Jul 25, 2022 at 15:09
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Since you included the possibility of "invading" an offline game... I want for sake of completion to point out that the idea of "forcing" your way into someone else game and potentially steal their progress was seen in at least another very famous series far before Demon Soul was even in the work.

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The older gamers may remember the "Here comes a new challenger" feature in Street Fighter II that allowed any challenger to join the game at any time, interrupting whatever the first player was doing and pulling them in an one-vs-one match: the winner would get to continue playing while a lost would mean a gameover. This fits the idea of "invading" the game since the competitive mode could be accessed at any time without the consent of the other player.

I don't know if other games before Street Fighter used that idea too, but the words "Here comes a new challenger" have become so popular by now that basically everyone takes this game as the first example of an arcade game that could be "invaded" by a challenger at any time.

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  • Didn't one of the super smash brothers have something similar to this too? I think it was one of the ways to unlock characters.
    – Timmy Jim
    Jul 27, 2022 at 16:10
  • @TimmyJim The line used there is somehow similar, maybe even a reference, but other than that I don't think there were more similarities. I don't remember any feature that allowed someone to interrupt the other player game in Smash.
    – Ꮢedacted
    Jul 27, 2022 at 16:54
  • The original smash on the N64 had the new unlockable characters show up after a match for you to fight (winning unlocked them)
    – n_plum
    Jul 28, 2022 at 16:26
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    @n_plum exactly, and later games had similar mechanics too. But here we are talking about a second, human player being able to initiate a challenge against the first player at any given time and even being able to "steal" the game should they win - Smash hasn't got anything similar.
    – Ꮢedacted
    Jul 28, 2022 at 18:36

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