Game Philosophy: Co-op

Heeeeeere’s Johnny! With another:


Today’s topic:

I very very VERY briefly talked about Co-op in my Game Philosophy of Split Screens, and even then that’s just to fuel my rant of lack of Split Screen games.
Well I don’t want to sound too much like a broken record so I’ll just get this out of the way first: I seriously dislike the amount of co-op games being gunbased.

I understand WHY they do it, you don’t need to do that much additional programming if a co-op game is gunbased. One enemy’s reaction to one player’s bullets is exactly the same as the reaction to the other player’s bullets.

But here I go again with the eternal question: Where’s the creativity?!
You know, it’s pretty bad when the best Co-op games I could think of off the top of my head are F3AR, a shooter, and Portal 2, where all they really did was split the single player character in two and each can only use one Portal.

There are games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance where you can do 4 player co-op, but then we get a pretty undeep combat system instead.

Look, usually I’d say you can’t have one after having another, but NOTHING is stopping a co-op game from having a deep gameplay.
“Oh, it’ll take way too much programming” you’d say. NO it doesn’t.

When you create a new weapon for a character, you practically are programming a new character.
All you’d have to do is put less effort in the AMOUNT of weapons and instead focus on ACTUALLY making a new character with his own moves that uniquely change up the dynamic of the two characters.

Sacrifice half of the weapons to make a new unique character, I’d be down with that.
Of course this is specifically speaking of Beat ‘Em Ups in terms of gameplay, but what about Platformers?

Well in my opinion a great feature is a feature which without it you can actually get pretty far in the game, but the feature simply is so helpful you’d WANT to use it.
And for Co-op in Platformers, that is where it’ll be the most obvious.

Say we go back to that wizard game I talked about much earlier, wow that’s a long time ago, where you can play as a Wizard who summons dragons and a Knight with the power of the wind.

To make a great co-op game out of that would be to have the powers compliment one another. Say there’s a big thick forest in front of you. Normally with the wind power of the Knight you can’t cut down trees one by one but you are instead much much faster than the Wizard, and normally with the dragon power of the Wizard you can break the trees easily, but the dragons aren’t as fast as the wind. So maybe the Wizard has the ability to summon a dragon and the Knight will enfuse the dragon with the power of Wind, thus making you go through the trees much more easily and faster.

You don’t NEED the combine powers to get through the forest, the Knight alone can cut down trees one by one with his Wind Power and the Wizard can surely but slowly destroy the forest to get through with his Dragons. But the combine efforts would make it much faster and thus if you have the chance of using it, you will.

And you would need to think like that with most obstacles in the Co-op game.
Keep it in balance, just keep thinking in Yin and Yang.

However, the greatest form of co-op to me is in a Survival game, and most of the time it’s these that get co-op features in games these days. That however is also the reason why so many co-op games are shooter-based, simply due to the fact that when people think “Survival” they think “Zombies”.

You know, I’d love to see a zombie game where you DON’T use guns. I dunno, have all the guns in the world be destroyed after world peace has happened and then out of a sick irony from god the Zombie Apocalypse starts. But we’ll talk about zombies some other time.

The thing with co-op in Survival is how in survival you need the help of the other the most. And how to accomplish this without guns can, I admit, be kinda tricky.
For one, what kind of survival game is it? Is it the kind where it’s realistic and technically you should be doomed from the start without guns? Or maybe it’s a bit more unrealistic with fantasy weapons like a giant taser sword or something? Do the characters jump at a normal height or do they jump Dragon Ball Z amount of heights? Are the speed they swing their weapons realistically sluggish or are they so fast that only thanks to the trails of their weapons can you see what the hell they even did?

The more realistic you get the more reason you have to use a gun. And since there’s so many of that lately, why not go the opposite route? Hell, it doesn’t have to be zombies, they could be Kung Fu fighting Aliens for all I care. I just want something different, dammit! How about the Aliens are abducting humans one by one, and you fight whoever is still on earth. When you’re abducted, that’s one human gone. With co-op you can control two humans at the same time. And for some reason all humans fight like Jet Li. Why not? Hey it’s fun, one kicks an Alien in the nuts and the other then grabs the Alien while it curls up in pain and he’ll break one of his 5 neck.

Either way, Co-op games need more variety, as well as all other games. And I really hope we’d get out of the age of stagnation these days.

“Oh, it’ll take way too much programming” you’d say. NO it doesn’t.

Published by Huy Minh Le

Huy Minh Le is a Video Game Enthusiast, Movie Lover, Writer, Content Marketeer and regular TvTropes reader! His studies in Game Design, Art, and Writing has led to a very creative, yet analytical mind.

3 thoughts on “Game Philosophy: Co-op

  1. Another great article as usual. ;) I think it’s quite sad co-op has mostly died off, I think if it had been stronger my sister would be more into games and we’d play together more often, but oh well. I think if I had to guess which game gave me the most fun would either be SA2B, or SSBB. Ooh, or LEGO Star Wars, that would have been a good game to look at for the article. :P


    1. The Lego games in general do have good co-op, but that’s only in relative to today’s games where the only co-op we have are either buttonmashers with no depth or just shooters where they copy-paste the single player character two times.
      SSBB is a great example though. It has depth in it’s combat despite it being based on multiplayer in versus and co-op alike, probably because it’s a platformer and fighting game in one.
      To be a bit nitpicky SA2B’s multiplayer, while fun, isn’t actually co-op as it only has you opposing the other player instead of working together, but I would love co-op gameplay in the style of Sonic 06 to come back. With improved gameplay in general of course ^^;


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