Cooperative multiplayer overview

My wife loves games as much as I do, and luck­i­ly we love play­ing games togeth­er. We laugh and cheer when we do well, we groan when we can’t get past a cer­tain point. Play­ing togeth­er is the most fun part of video games. It’s a great social thing that we can do.

My favorite coop­er­a­tive mul­ti­play­er expe­ri­ence is prob­a­bly old-school pen-and-paper role­play­ing, which I could speak a near­ly infi­nite amount talk­ing about. But phys­i­cal­ly get­ting adults togeth­er on a reg­u­lar basis is a lim­it func­tion that approach­es infi­nite pain. And my wife’s not into it.

Board games are a won­der of social, non-sport mul­ti­play­er gam­ing. My wife and I are down with BoardGameGeek, we own maybe a dozen excel­lent board games. We play them with our game-inclined friends when­ev­er we get the chance, but unfor­tu­nate­ly they require get­ting togeth­er in per­son, which is hap­pen­ing much less fre­quent­ly now that we’re new par­ents. There are a great num­ber of two-per­son board games, and we own and enjoy our share. Lost Cities is always a great time. The prob­lem is that most two-per­son board games are com­pet­i­tive, which gets old faster than coop­er­a­tive play for us. So while board games will always be an inter­est, coop­er­a­tive video games get a lot more time.

The prob­lem is that coop­er­a­tive video games aren’t at all com­mon. You can’t search based on it in any game engine that I’m aware of. You can occa­sion­al­ly search to find mul­ti­play­er games, but with­out the coop fil­ter you pret­ty much get the ocean of shoot­ers as your out­put. And on Gamespot, even with the coop fil­ter you get an ocean of shoot­ers.

We loved Bal­dur’s Gate: Dark Alliance on the PS2. The Gaunt­let-style game­play, done well, nev­er gets old for either of us. We played straight through that game, as well as the crap­py sequel and crap­py knock­off that fol­lowed. Even crap­py coop is good coop. Where’s a real­ly good Gaunt­let for my PS3? Don’t tell me that the crap­py Rock­et­man is our best shot.

And yes, we tried Dark King­doms, as well as Lego Star Wars for the PS3. Actu­al­ly, those two games failed for the same rea­son: poor cam­era behav­ior + coop + plat­formy jump­ing puz­zles = utter frus­tra­tion. The games were obvi­ous­ly designed for a sin­gle-play­er expe­ri­ence, and then coop was added on and most­ly untest­ed, because no human would suf­fer that lev­el of frus­tra­tion.

It’s not that the PS3 has no coop games. We’re lov­ing Pix­eljunk Mon­sters right now. The game’s so good that we’re going to pur­chase the expan­sion on day one of its release, and give a good look at the oth­er games the com­pa­ny devel­ops. Also, Rock Band is pure joy. We’ve got a two per­son band, and then a four per­son band for when our best friends come over. And it is so ridicu­lous­ly fun.

There’s some good coop mul­ti­play­er on the PC, but unfor­tu­nate­ly it requires the upkeep of two com­put­ers. We played through Titan Quest and the expan­sion. We tried Hell­gate Lon­don, the hor­ri­ble expe­ri­ence of which I’ll relate lat­er. MMORPGs are excel­lent can­di­dates, and World of War­craft is the one for us. We’ve been play­ing it for years, and the game would nev­er have last­ed this long in our lives if we could­n’t play togeth­er. I won­der how much of these games is the social ele­ment; the abil­i­ty to play with friends?

Why aren’t there more mul­ti­play­er coop­er­a­tive games? Are me and my wife the only ones who love it? Or is our demo­graph­ic that small? Are there oth­er good duo or mul­ti­play­er games out for the PC or PS3 that I’m unaware of?

So game mak­ers: chop chop! More coop­er­a­tive games, please. My wife and I have mon­ey for you.

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2 thoughts on “Cooperative multiplayer overview”

  1. I always loved the dark alliance games. Even bet­ter i think is the Cham­pi­ons of nor­rath games for ps2. Bliz­zard needs to make a Game sim­u­lar to these set in the War­craft uni­verse.

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