Multiplayer allows you to play Five Card Draw online against other human players and against an entirely different AI. In addition to the human factor, the gameplay itself deviates from the singleplayer experience in a number of significant ways.
For one thing matches are comprised of only 4 players (down from 6). Antes double every other hand, so this means games are faster-paced. Since the game is played over the wire, each player has a turn-timer; if the timer runs out during a hand your character will fold, and if you fail to Ante for a hand before the time runs out you’ll be disconnected.
Instead of using the Fame system from the singleplayer game, players are awarded Poker Points dependent on both the number of opponents they defeat and on the venue. Poker Points can be spent at the shop to purchase items that can add game variants and house rules. Some game variants (such as Hi-Lo and Double-Draw) are only available in multiplayer. There is also a fixed limit to how many Poker Points a player can accumulate per week.
In addition to earning Poker Points, your character also has a rating which will fluctuate depending on your performance during the game. The rating system used is similar to the ELO rating popularily used by chess players. Essentially your rating increases as you outperform players who have higher ratings than your own – generally the higher their rating, the more yours increases when you defeat them. For the most part ratings are just an aesthetic way to show off your skills, however ratings do determine your world rank and you need to be ranked within the top 500 players globally in order to play games at The Golden Ceiling.
New matches in multiplayer begin every 30 seconds, so you won’t wait in queue for very long. If there are less than four human players when a match begins, AI opponents will take their place. The AI in multiplayer should play differently and oftentimes more realistically than their singleplayer counterparts, as I completely rewrote the AI from the ground up so that multiplayer has a different feel and takes into account the differences in gameplay.
While intended to be a stand-alone expansion, multiplayer does tie into the singleplayer game in several ways. Your character may use the avatar of any opponent you’ve defeated during the singleplayer game. You may also customize your character through setting a title if you’ve earned any – other players will see your title when they play against you.
In addition, multiplayer uses a different currency than singleplayer, and you may exchange between the two at the Currency Exchange Booth. Each game played still takes up 1 day, so keep this in mind if you have any current loans taken out with Loan Shark Tino. Multiplayer has it’s own inventory and unique set of items to acquire, and items collected in singleplayer will not work here (and vice-versa).