A reader hopes that the next generation will see an increase in online co-op, as it expands to games ranging from Zelda to Elder Scrolls.
I was thinking of writing this feature anyway, but when I read GC’s preview of Man Of Medan it only underlined what I was already thinking: all video games should have a co-op mode. Now you may think this is impossible, because many games do not suit that style of play, but I think it can be made to work in almost every case. Sometimes it’ll be too much work that’s it not worth, especially for indie games or games with a very niche audience, but I’d love to see it become the norm and not just an unusual novelty.
One of my fondest memories of gaming as a kid was Secret Of Mana on the SNES, which was an action role-player a bit like Zelda but without the puzzles. Unusually for that kind of game though it had a three-player co-op mode where you could run around with friends and play the whole game together. I loved doing that and really resented it not being in other similar games.
But then I love Resident Evil 5 as well (I wouldn’t go so far as to say 6) because of the co-op and though it really raised up what was otherwise obviously quite a poor entry in the series. But this only makes me all the more certain that co-op is a very positive thing and should be added wherever possible.
The only issue for me is voice chat, which has the potential to ruin the atmosphere and/or involve idiot randoms. But it sounds like Man Of Medan has worked out a simple rule for that by not making it the default option and not having matchmaking. I think that works best for ‘serious’ games, with action games free to have an all-comers style approach.
But I’d love to see things go further and have co-op for games like Zelda, GTA, Skyrim, and God Of War. Many of these games already have computer-controlled allies at some point, or sometimes for the whole game, so it would be very easy from a story point of view. While some of them, like GTA, do have co-op in separate multiplayer but not in the campaign.
I realise in the past we’ve been in the position where there are technical limitations to this sort of thing, but I don’t really think that’s the case anymore, especially not with streaming coming up. I can accept that local couch co-op wouldn’t necessarily work a lot of time but online I hope that online co-op is one of the things that we see a lot more in the next generation.
The only problem is that when games do get the idea to do co-op they tend to make a separate game or spin-off from it that takes out all the best stuff from the mainline games, with Fallout 76 being the best/worst example of that. My idea is that the co-op option would be for the main game and all the way through.
Of course, it would be only an option, so you wouldn’t have to do it, but I can see it actually saving some genres from going extinct and ironically making single-player games more viable, because all they have to do is add in co-op and it’s actually a multiplayer game. Best of both worlds!
By reader Scooter
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