Among Us has taken over Twitch and social media, with everyone firing memes back and forth over who’s sus, who isn’t talking during the emergency meeting, and silly moments or funny accusations. But getting into it isn’t nearly as easy as one might think. While streamers are popular enough to rustle up a whole lobby, regular users sometimes struggle to fill up the eight to 10 necessary spots. This, in turn, means some folks are going solo — and that’s where the issues start to pop up.
Going it alone in Among Us sucks, frankly. The subterfuge game is flooded with poor sports and people leaving games. If you’re playing solo — or even with a regular group of four or five people — then the obvious choice is to join a public lobby. These lobbies fill up fast, and it’s not a total crapshoot. I’ve had some perfectly lovely games with random players! But there’s no way to add them to a friends list; after someone has to leave, they disappear into the ether, never to be seen again.
But it’s far more likely you get someone who’s disruptive to the game.
Accurate depiction of among us games in public lobbies: pic.twitter.com/EFyr0jfD7D— grapefruitbush (@grapefruitbush) September 29, 2020
Random players only seem to care about what they can do in Among Us while they’re alive, despite being able to help out as a ghost by repairing things or sabotaging equipment. Sometimes they enter the room and immediately get extremely racist. Even when things go well, the text chat emergency meetings turn from a careful round of chess into a game of immediate, random accusations with no rhyme or reason.
“Periodically, you’ll get someone in the lobby who’s fun, communicative, and plays well,” says Jacob Corbin, a friend and a regular Among Us player who got into the game recently, over Discord. “But that’s the holy trinity, and a lot of randos fall short in one or more ways.”
Some players mutely go through the motions and won’t contribute to conversations, miss opportunities by not sabotaging or doing tasks, or might do an entirely different kind of sabotage. “They only wanted to play impostor, so they quit the instant the round starts,” says Corbin, describing a common occurrence with public lobbies. “Or they quit the instant they die, making things harder on everyone else. Or they quit the instant someone points the finger at them, and sometimes name their partner out of sheer spite, tanking the round for everyone.”
These community tendencies put Among Us in a weird place. The game is two years old, and when it initially came out, it wasn’t anywhere near as popular as it is now. There wasn’t a need to solve such a massive matchmaking problem. Now that the game has exploded, developer InnerSlot has found itself scrambling to abandon its existing plans to make a sequel. The studio’s aim is now to continue improving the existing game, which could eventually mean better ways to connect players with one another. For now, the community is assembling to create some solutions. Fans are congregating on Discord to find other players with good sportsmanship.
But coming together on Discord can also lead to problems. I spoke to a player named Eorlanas over Twitter messages, who described seeing a more sinister kind of troll. “There’s a lot of what I suppose could be called soft cheating — people in groups that communicate during rounds and after one of the member’s deaths, for example, usually slanting the game in the crewmates’ favour,” he said.
While players are frustrated, they’re optimistic for the future, and have faith in InnerSloth. “I’d like a way for hosts to push important announcements to every player,” says Corbin, mentioning examples like the ability to share that impostor notifications are turned off. “[I also want] stronger sanctions for kicked, banned, or quitting players.”
“I know all of this is easier said than done so I’m totally willing to give the devs time to hash it out,” says Corbin. “But I do hope that in a year or two’s time I’ll be able to fire up Among Us and have a smoother, more stable, less inconsistent experience.”