Is Co-Op the New Versus?

When I think back on the times that define my life as a gamer, the moments that stick out to me typically involve other people. Sure there are those fantastic single player experiences like Mario 64 or Final Fantasy VII that will always stand out in my mind, but something about playing a game together with others seems particularly memorable.

To be honest, I think this love affair for me with multiplayer began in the days of the Nintendo 64, the first system that brought that LAN party feel to the console realm. I remember after school, several of us would play through 4 player titles like Goldeneye, Conkers and Wrestlemania 2000 for hours on end. We’d make characters, perfect taunts, and listen to the Bond theme play endlessley while my brother mowed us down with the RPC 90.

Now that the console systems are becoming increasingly immersed in online play, save for a few latecomers (cough, Nintendo), experiencing multiplayer gaming on a regular basis is possible in a way that it never was before, beyond even the PC. While gaming online on the PC has been incredible for years, something about sitting on my couch and talking trash to my friends while teabagging them hits that special spot in my soul.

But recently, something has started to shift in the industry’s approach to multiplayer, and I find that as I get older, my tastes are shifting as well. I can’t help but wonder: is all of this fragging becoming old hat? Sure, it’s fun to dominate an opponent who told you in the pre-game lobby about the sexy things he did to your mom last night, but it’s all becoming same old same old:

Kill. Reload. Die. Respawn. Spawn killed. Anger. Repeat.

For me, I’m finding that I’m starting to have a better time engaging in co-op multiplayer games instead of just versus all the time. It’s a way to battle the monotony, to experience a new story or just goof around with your friends online or on the couch in a non-pressure situation.

What’s interesting is that a look back at some of my favorite gaming memories has revealed that this might not be a new thing, but rather, something that just wasn’t impossible in the gaming days of yore.

Here are some of my favorite co-op gaming moments:

Diablo II Co-Op LAN party. Nerdy, I know, but playing this game with a few friends late one Friday night is maybe the most fun I’ve ever had playing a game. The best part of the night? When Nick realized how nerdy he sounded shouting for one of us to give him a scroll of town portal.

Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. If you’ve never played the co-op mode on this, you’re missing out. I remember spending late nights in college playing this with my roommate, to the point where we mastered the 4 scenarios. There’s something uber-satisfying about pulling off headshots in the dark in a room full of enemies.

Halo 3. I know it’s the cheesy thing to say, but playing this over XBox Live on the night of its release with my brother was some of the most fun i’ve had gaming. The highlight of the night was trying to jump our warthog onto the scarab in the Ark level, only to be blasted over the edge by his crazy green beams.

Champions of Norrath. This PS2 game required a multi-tap to even play, but man was it worth it. Yelling about loot whores and randomly generated weapon drops is a good time.

Like I said, I’ve got a lot of great gaming memories, but some of the best ones always tend to be multiplayer-related, but more specifically, playing co-operatively with others. I don’t think that’s just a coincidence.

So how do you guys see this? Would you prefer co-op in a game, or versus? Or do you even care, and love them both equally. I really think that co-op is starting to become the new standard, as more and more games seem to go out of their way to deliver excellent co-op experiences.

Feel free to join in on the discussion and drop some of your favorite multiplayer moments as well!

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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

15 thoughts on “Is Co-Op the New Versus?”

  1. Dark Alliance was just like Champions of Norrath and my brothers and I played that all the time. We would banter about one of us killing enemies while the other just grabbed the loot.

    So in revenge, when my brother’s elf was killed, I grabbed all the loot I could before bringing him back to life. Great times.

  2. I will agree that now Online Co-op is the ‘hot’ thing. Lots of games are starting to add this feature. I think its fun, its as close as you can get to playing a game (non versus) with someone who isn’t near you. It does bring back the fun feel of the 64 days.

    What I think leads to this is that versus is settling down. It was a huge phenomenon when the xBox came out. Sure the PS2 tried to delve into that world but honestly the xBox and its streamline online abilities ushered in a new era in gaming; online multiplayer.

    Co-op the new Versus? Yea, you can defiantly say that. With games like Halo and now G.O.W. 2 adding in the feature, its the new thing in the gaming world.

  3. Well on top of that, developers are figuring out ways to make even co-op competitive with things like Halo’s meta scoring, and I believe CoD: World at War will have a similar feature. It’s cool to turn stuff like that into a friendly competition.

  4. Thats sweet W@W will have a feature like that, we can duke it out Eddy 😛

    Like you said earlier though I think its the friendly side of it that makes it fun.

  5. I agree with Eddy. They basically combine 2 of gaming’s greatest multiplayer offerings ie. co-op + competitive (wait, they’re the only multiplayer offerings!) and blend them into one beautiful souflé of a game

  6. Yeah, Co-Op is really becoming a huge thing. Pretty much every game has multiplayer versus, but only a few games have GOOD Co-Op, and they are recognized and praised for it. It’s similar to how Online Multiplayer, or even just LAN was received when it was “the new thing.” Co-Op will definitely become a must-have, kind of like how now – if a game doesn’t have multiplayer of some sort, chances are it will not be appreciated as much as games with Online.

    Take Mass Effect for example, or really any recent-enough game with just a singleplayer experience. Mass Effect was fun, but once we got fed up with the retarded tendency of the Mako Rover to flip over and drown in a puddle of its own coolant, we went back to spanking noobs in Halo 3 or CoD4.

    Frankly, with singleplayer games, once you beat it, there’s no reason to play it. It just gathers dust on your shelf as a trophy of those great moments you had. It kind of makes me depressed when I beat a singleplayer only game’s story. Because once the game is done, I’m like: “Great, now it’s back to getting spawn killed…” There’s no more excitement, no more discovery, no more FUN. I can’t go back and play the story again, because it’s not as cool. I know where everything is, I know what happens, I know the tricks.

    Singleplayer games are a dying breed. The older games are all singleplayer because 1. Technology, but 2. We were kids back then. We had all the time in the world. Before we had tests to study for or bills to pay – we just don’t have time. Maybe with the next generation of gamers, we’ll see a rebirth of singleplayer games. For now, you can have a great singleplayer game, just include Co-Op, or better yet Online versus.

    Anyway, about Co-Op. It’s great because it’s more relaxed. There’s a big difference in reaction when you get pwned by a rocket while playing alone or with friends. With friends, you and your buddies laugh and try to find all the bits and pieces of your body before you respawn. When you play alone, you curse, beat up the pillow, and try again. Now, I have to admit, I get pissed off pretty easily. So I like relaxed, casual games. I like not having a high stress level. I like playing the Easy Difficulty, because that way, I don’t have to worry about knowing and exploiting every secret the game has to offer for me to succeed. I can just play, and have fun. And that’s the direction video games are taking. It’s not about making memories, it’s not about hardcore pwnage online, it’s about Friday Night with the Guys and Girl.

  7. I agree to a point. I don’t think single player games are dying. I do like co-op and multiplayer to extend a game’s life, but I would rather play a game alone sometimes than with other people.

    I am very independent and I don’t like depending on others.

  8. Wow, nice post there Cossack. Cool to see your guys’ thoughts on the issue.

    As much as I do love multiplayer, I find it kind of sad that a good solid singeplayer story is getting more and more lost these days. I mean, heck, even Bioshock 2 is going to have some kind of multiplayer, which I find to be unnecessary.

    However, you’re right about the replay value. After you beat Mario Galaxies, what else is there to do with it?

  9. [quote comment=”978″]However, you’re right about the replay value. After you beat Mario Galaxies, what else is there to do with it?[/quote]
    Replay value has never been a big thing for me. I can’t even count how many times I’ve replayed Hl2, and I’ve even replayed the Ace Attorney games which have no replay value at all. And of course I love playing around with the many glitches in Mario 64.

  10. Single player kinda sank back with the advent of the xBox and online gaming. The PS2 was the last real Single Player console.

  11. Good point. I loved that console, too. One of the things that does drive me crazy about XBL is that I can never finish games because I constantly get like dozens of invites from friends to come play some other game that I finished a long time ago. While it’s fun to play with those people (and I usually cave in), I have to appear offline just to make any headway into new games.

  12. Heh, I can usually only get myself to play with my friends/family unless I just really want to play it.

  13. I do Agree. The step of Kill. Reload. Die. Respawn. Spawn killed. Anger. Repeat. Do get annoying and Co Op is alot

  14. I honestly feel that there is nothing better than a game with a great campaign/story mode that can be played entirely with co-op because of that shared experience you have with the other player. Some of my favorite memories have to do with me and my brother accomplishing games together. There was nothing quite like bringing out the old Sega Genesis and finally have someone to play my Sonic games with.

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me being all mushy and reminiscent

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