Is it just me, or did every gamer suddenly impregnate themselves with the seed of Microsoft, give birth to the ultimate gaming buddy, and then start smashing Halo 3 co-op on legendary?
When did this unquenchable thirst to complete games in co-operative mode reach such stellar heights?
In this editorial, I aim to look at how countless developers are attempting to distance themselves from the archaic single player format and encourage a fully co-operative experience for the gamers. Read on to hear the sad tale of a man who missed the co-op boat.
I picked up Borderlands for my 360 over the weekend. I had tried to avoid buying a ticket on the hype train, but unfortunately, the incredible coverage it was receiving, not only from the gaming community, but from my group of friends as well, was far too overwhelming to elude.
Expecting a cross between Fallout 3 and XIII, I was disappointed from the moment I took control of my character. Single player felt oddly empty, and a strange niggling at the back of my head kept reminding me that Borderlands was supporting co-operative play unlike anything ever seen before.
Immediately, I called up a friend of mine who had bought the game on the day of its release. We both jumped on Xbox Live, and I am sad to say, we had the time of our lives. There is a unique flavor to co-op mode that is unrivaled in most games, and it offers the sort of revolutionary gameplay that you are certain to see evolve in years to come.
The problem didn’t spawn from co-op, but rather from returning to single player. Borderlands felt dull and lonely without the co-operative spark, and I found myself putting the game down in a fit of disgust.
This isn’t the first time that this has happened. Left 4 Dead left me with the same emptiness as Borderlands: without co-op, the game’s lifeblood diminished.
It all started back with Halo. For more than a decade, I had been enjoying the simple pleasures of single player gaming; I had a sister who enjoyed about five minutes of Columns each year before being distracted by real life, and a father who perpetuated my addiction by taking me to the local game’s trader nearly every weekend.
I was content in my solitude.
Then Bungie came along and ruined it all. No longer was it enough to simply finish a game on its highest difficulty, oh no! Now you had to join up with a friend, who was more often than not your video gaming inferior, in order to impress the masses.
The main problem I had with this, initially, was finding a friend with whom I could complete an entire game. Certainly I had a handful of hardcore gaming buddies who I would LAN with on most weekends, but they were also under the notion that if you were going to finish a campaign, best do it alone.
Gathering for an entire evening to play through a game like Halo may sound enticing, even common to some, but I simply could not find anyone willing to commit to that length of solid gaming. While my friends and I can gladly play through a title like Morrowind for days on end, I can hardly stand more than one or two hours of Halo 3 online. There is something despicably repetitive and tedious about a straightforward score-fest.
Luckily, after weeks of searching, I finally found my man. Once my new Spartan companion and I jumped into co-op mode, I was truly pleased with the result. I could hear Aladdin and Jasmine belting out A Whole New World in my head, and I knew, just knew, that gaming had taken a brilliant step forward.
I made a mistake, though. After that, the most wonderful night of my life, I went back to single player.
I had been robbed. What was this game – a game that suddenly felt so desolate and frustrating? It certainly wasn’t what I had been playing the previous evening. After that moment, I simply swore off co-op gaming altogether, and for a time, it returned from whence it came.
Now, you may be asking yourself why I would swear off co-op when I had enjoyed it so much; and that is a valid question. The problem I faced was not with the game itself, but from my decade’s worth of single player indoctrination. I simply couldn’t comprehend how gaming had evolved into this multiplayer experience. I didn’t want to share; I wanted the thrills, the laughs, and the triumph of completing the game all to myself.
Today, co-operative titles line the shelves. Gears of War 2, Halo 3: ODST, Army of Two, World at War; I can no longer ignore the co-operative genre, it has become a market within itself, and doesn’t look to be retreating any time soon.
I truly hope that single player campaigns will continue to play an important role in the progression of games, but I have resigned myself to the knowledge that by evading co-operative gameplay, I am missing out on so much more.