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.