Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017 PC Coop Games

Welcome the definitive listing of all the cooperative oriented PC video games for 2017!
This list will be continuously updated throughout the year.

Coop list for a different year 

The games on this list, must meet the following criteria:

  • PvE - Player vs Environment
  • Online, no split screens
  • Available/announced for PC
  • Involve 2 or more human players
  • Players must work along a progressive storyline, campaign, or various goals
  • Generic RTS Skirmishes and Team based game types like CTF and Deathmatch are not included
  • No MMOs (game must have a conclusion or set goal)
  • Greenlight & Early Access games are generally not listed unless intent for release is stated
  • I'll be subjective with Survival/Horde modes as the genera has matured a bit. However, most are slapped-on after thoughts and not list worthy.

Shooter

Ghost Recon: Wildlands 4 player
Tom Clacy series returns with its signature open world tactical shooter; focusing on the drug war in modern day Bolivia. i.e. 'Merca vs drug cartels.

Dead Rising 4 - 4 player
saints row goofiness with focus on zombies.

Metal Gear Survive
Zombie survival.  Takes place in an alternative MG universe.

OverKill's The Walking Dead
Makers of Payday hit pay-dirt with this upcoming licensed shooter with the same winning formula of payday gameplay.  Perhaps its a Payday re-skinned in the Walking Dead Universe.


RPG

Dauntless - 4 player
action RPG, 3rd person.

Divinity: Origin Sin 2 - RPG - 4 player
Original Sin 1 won my coop award a few years back for finally delivering the coop isometric experience we wanted since Baulders Gate.  High expectations this time around, as with the costs of success.

The Escapists 2 - 4 player
8-bit prison break.

Underworld Ascendant - aRPG
Kickstarter, from the makers of the original Ultima Underworld series

Strategy

Sea of Thieves
Not quite like piloting a starship, here you work together to sail a ship and find treasure n stuffs.

We were Here - puzzle
Cashing in on the 'escape room' rage; this is an e version of clue collection and note comparison

Mass Effect Andromeda4 player


Simulator

Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Designed for VR, a licensed version of the well loved Starship bridge sim.


Action

Scalebound
Similar play to Bayonetta

Nine Parchments -  4 player
From thew makers of Trine; This is a Magicka clone without the keyboard mashing. More weight on aRPG with the wizard ’em up.

Styx: Shards of Darkness - 2 player
Stealth based coop with a twist; your a goblin assassin.

Guns of Icarus: Alliance -
Not to be confused with it Online namesake; this is a standalone of the same concept.  Work together to pilot and fight within a flying steampunk war-airship thing.

Hive Jump - 4 player
Run and Gun side scrolling shooter

Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour - 4/12 player
Top down shooter in the world of Serious Sam. Player limit dependent on story & horde mode.

Survival

The Wild Eight8 player
Survive after a plan crash in wintry Alaska

State of Decay 24 player
Open world, Survival RPG people v zombies.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Scumbag microtransactions

In response to scummy tactics mobile market apps use to trick kids into clicking on micro-transactions. 

"The great mobile paidophile. Lays in wait for your children to microtransact."
 - GoodTeletubby & jamiemac2005

 Just remember kids, Apple skims some of that profit and does little to prevent the tactics.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016 PC Coop Games

Welcome the definitive listing of all the cooperative oriented PC video games for 2016!
This list will be continuously updated throughout the year.

Coop list for a different year 

The games on this list, must meet the following criteria:

  • PvE - Player vs Environment
  • Online, no split screens
  • Available/announced for PC
  • Involve 2 or more human players
  • Players must work along a progressive storyline, campaign, or various goals
  • Generic RTS Skirmishes and Team based game types like CTF and Deathmatch are not included
  • No MMOs (game must have a conclusion or set goal)
  • Greenlight & Early Access games are generally not listed unless intent for release is stated
  • I'll be subjective with Survival/Horde modes as the genera has matured a bit. However, most are slapped-on after thoughts and not list worthy.

Shooter


Plant V Zombies 2: Garden Warfare
Metacritic - 82 ]
3rd person tower defense game similar to the last but more flushed out and perhaps less micro transactions.

Battleborn - 4 player - May
Metacritic - 69 | video ]
From the makers of Borderlands, its a 1st person PvE MOBA like game with a SP/coop story.



The Division - 4 player - March
Metacritic - 79 ]
Tom Clancy's open-world RPG shooter oriented around a pandemic in New York.


Killing Floor 2 - 6 player
Metacritic - 75 ]
Coop wave battles, with better graphics & more gore.  More sci-fi guns.


Shadow Warrior 2 - 4 player
Metacritic - 78 ]
I didn't play the original, but it looks a heck of a lot like a Painkiller game.

Homefront: The Revolution - 4 player
Metacritic - 54 ] 
A separate set of missions, separate from single player story. Picking from classes with different abilities, following little stories.

Gears of War 4 - 2 player
Metacritic - 86 ]
Action shooter bromance returns to PC. Oddly, coop is the big selling point for this series.

Space Hulk: Deathwing - 4 player
Metacritic - 58 ] 
Takes the Space Hulk concept of space marines wondering in a gothic space ships shooting space bugs, ala 1st person l4d.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - 2 player
Metacritic - 86 ]
DLC adds survival mode

RPG

Grim Dawn - aRPG
Metacritic - 83 ]
In developmeny forever, this will be released this year.

Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear - RPG - 6 player - Q1
Metacritic - 77 ]
An expansion for the Enhanced Baldurs Gate, takes place between 1 and 2 with option to carry over players from v1.ED.  25 hours of gameplay.

Moon Hunters - aRPG 4 player - Jan 2016
Metacritic - 62 ]
Procedurally generated pixalated Diablo clone.

The Technomancer - RPG
Metacritic - 56 ] 
Fantasy gameplay on the planet Mars.

Strategy


RollerCoaster Tycoon: World - 2 player - Q2
Metacritic - 43 ] 
Build a theme park with a friend. Details limited.

Plague Inc: Evolved
Metacritic - 80 ]
Work together as the Plague to wipe out humanity

Thea: The Awakening - 2 player
Metacritic - 73 ]
2015 game that recently added coop to the non-linear campaign.  A survival 4X RPG roguelike with crafting and card combat

Action

Enter The Gungeon - aRPG/shooter - 2 player
Cute cartoony Isometric shooty fest.  Second player limited to a single character.
Metacritic - 84 ]

Ultimate Alliance 2
BAD
Older Marvel superhero game that never made it to the PC.  Port has been reported a down right the worst in recent memory.

Super Dungeon Bros - Action
BAD
Looks like a fantasy version of BroForce.  Cross Device gameplay (Xbox & PC)

Cobalt - platformer - 2 player
Metacritic - 69 ]
Notable as its from Mojang

Ghostbusters
Metacritic - 38 ] 
Isometric shooter takes place after the new movies.

Necropolis - 4 player
[ Metacritic - 59 | video ]
Rouglelike dungeon crawler made by the Shadowrun Devs.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan - 4 player
Metacritic - 51 ] 
Continuing from the success of the retro transformers game using cell shading; We get a full campaign of TMNT as a throwback to the old coop arcade era.


Simulator


Trackmania Turbo - Driving Arcade - 2 player - Q1
Metacritic - 79 ]
2 players control same car.  Unclear if this is online or local only coop.

Survival

Don't Starve Together - Survival 4 player
Metacritic - 83 ]
Due to popular demand, developers add coop to the Don't Starve license.

Congo - Survival - 4 player
[ no review | video ]
Isometric survival game where you and friends scavange for stuff in the jungle, fighting off demons that hate the light.

2015 Coop Summary

While 2014 was a stellar year for coop gaming, 2015 slipped into a slouch.  Many games were criticized heavily for failing to innovate, move a series forward, and provide sufficient content with the time of release (blame DLC folks).   An amazing 35 games were defaulted to 2016 mostly due to games stuck in early access hell.  Indie games are now set to a higher level of expectations, while money-grabs become apparent from both indie and established developers.

For the full 2015 List

8 shooter avg rating 76.  A 1 point decrease from 2014.
7 rpgs avg rating 62.  A significant drop, with a 15 rank dragging it down; 70 if omitting.
3 strategies, 80 average; an increase of 10.


The Winners:

Grand Theft Auto V  - The wait for PC gamers is unfortunate, but was was well worth it, as GTA delivers a very new enhanced experience to PC gamers and a next gen release for consoles.  PC gamers get to bypass all the coop woes of the original release and receive a fuller experience; avoiding the common complaint among games these days.  The result is an amazing sandbox coop experience with multiple gaming options and  a huge modding community to shake up the core ideas.  Its everything one can expect for coop gamers looking for a great sandbox experience.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes - This game gets the surprise of the year award as it encourages communication & teamwork while delivering a steady amount of pressure.  The game feels more like a college psych test, but as long as its entertaining, it'll get my vote.  A great party game.

Notable mentions:

Starcraft 2:Legacy of the Void - The final release of Starcraft 2 gets a notable mention for finally giving RTS coop players some attention.  Although not a new idea, this is a first for the Starcraft universe, breaking coop players out of the skirmish against AI setting into real campaigns and hero upgrades.

Rainbow 6 Siege - was a mixed bag.  It suffered from the shallow experience themed complaint, however it did provide a solid experience for what it delivered.  If anything it may have given credit for a new SWAT game which is really the game FPS coop players would like to see.

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide - This game channels the short intensity of Left 4 Dead series and places it in the Fantasy Warhammer universe.  Though panned as just another coop shooter with some license attached; whats notable is that it received the highest rating for all the coop shooters.  Shortcomings aside, it sounds like the devs continue to support the game after release.

The Losers:

Early Access
Early access is the practice of releasing a release candidate, unfinished product for a fee (often full price) to the Steam Store.  Although there are a few exceptions to this; early access is the worst thing we have seen in the industry since DLCs.  35 games on the coop list had to be shifted to 2016, many of which were shifted from the 2014 list.  Its becoming a blatant money grab; where a developer has no accountability for the quality of their product.  Early access saturates the market with mediocre, buggy PC stereotypes.

Trine 3 - Trine was one of those indie success stories a few years back delivering an awesome coop platforming experience.  With its 3rd release though it became clear the developers had run dry of ideas and motivation; resulting in falling from the graces of its fanbase.

Overlord: Fellowship of Evil - In all my years of writing these articles, I have never seen a 15 metacritic rating.  And to boot, this was no indie title, but rather makers of the excellent Overlord series.  May this be a lesson, don't expand you IP to a already over saturated aRPG realm when you still have plenty of room to expand and improve your flagship IP.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

The List - November 2015

PC games worthy of mention for this month, ordered by my interest. (Monthly US releases are only estimated, game may end up all hype and really suck).  

After a longer then usual mull in summer gaming; we jump right into the heart of Christmas season.

Fallout 4 - RPG
All new stories and graphics with some tweaks to leveling.  Just enough changes to be new, while little enough to wreck the formula.



StarWars: Battlefront - Online Shooter
Classic era Star Wars rolled into the usual Battlefield like gameplay.

Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms Expansion - RTS
All new races for the ancient AoE2 license.

Call of Duty: Black ops 3 - shooter
The Crysis like power suit finds its way to the Call of Duty series.  Expect the usual big budget elements to the game, with some additional coop campaign elements.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Computer Gaming 500 - The Best - Best use of a License

Computer Gaming 500 is an ongoing series about my experiences totaling 500 titles.  Here begins the listing games that received the perfect 10; see intro for more info.

I've already mention Back to the Future as being one of the worst games I've every played.  I would have never given it thought had it not been for the license attached to it.  This is a business practice repeated over and over; licensed money grabs with very little developer time or thought. ET for the Atari 2600 was the notorious grandfather of bad licensing.   Fortunately, there have been a few exceptions.  Of the 1% of license games which are note worthy, I've probably only played 5%.  Of those, I gave 2 of them perfect 10s.


Pool of Radiance (1988)
License: Dungeons and Dragons
It wasn't until 1988 that the moons aligned properly to allow a great D&D game to come to electronic home entertainment. Based on the Forgotten Realms book series of the same name, This game introduces gamers to the classic user generated ragtag party of adventures which venture through a well rounded story via first person free to roam mechanics, dialog with multiple choices and outcomes, and turn based isometric combat.  So, basically D&D on the screen.  This series and others following it ultimately killed my in person RPG sessions.  SSI didn't just stop at PoR, but rather allowed the continuation of the same party via export/import to 3 more equally excellent games in the series.  I've never seen anything like it, and still a rare thing to see (even though cloud saves should make this easier).   Many purists today argue that a true RPG must be isometric, critical of Mass Effect and Fallout 3, but long before this discussion began, The Gold Box games were both 1st person AND isometric; the grandfather of CRPG has spoken.


Knight of the Old Republic (2003)
License: Star Wars
What if we could take the Bioware RPG greatness we saw in Baulder's Gate and put it in the Star Wars universe?  That day happened when we were introduced to the days long past in the Star Wars universe.  By going 4,000 years into the past, Knights of the Old Republic were able to create something completely original in a universe somewhat familiar.  Much like Pools of Radiance, this game too has its roots in classic pen and paper rules using the Star Wars system.  However, the way it was implemented in the game, the rules felt modern and fresh compared to past isometric cRPGs.  Keeping to typical Bioware of the time; the story, characters, dialog and interface were top notch.  And of course  ...lightsabers in an cRPG, hell yeah!

I do have to make a shout out to X-wing and Batman: Arkum Asylum.  These were also great use of licensed material, however overall they fell just short of the perfect 10 on my list.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Computer Gaming 500 - The Best - The Shooter rEvolution

Computer Gaming 500 is an ongoing series about my computer gaming experiences totaling 500 titles.  Continuing the listing games that received the perfect 10; see intro for more info.

Similar to how every "best of" list has a Lucas Arts adventure game or two, so too must you have the industry gold standards of shooters.  To not give the following games a 10, would ignore the decades of entertainment and ideas that they founded.


Wolfenstein 3D  (1992)
Wolf3D introduced to gamers a cool new way to game (ala 1st person) wrapped in a familiar story that pits you against the classic go-to villain: Hitler.  But they didn't stop there.  What begins as a basic 1940s era Freedom vs Fascist story, later turns into a sci-fi high tech parallel universe as the game progresses.  A huge surprise for anyone that played only the shareware version and waited to play the other chapters.  The game also introduced to something else that was a bit taboo,  and encouraged users to tweak aspects of their game and create modifications (mods) of their game.    Even I felt inspired to create mod, which perhaps for the best,  has been lost to time due to death by upgrades.

Doom (1993)
While Wolfenstein was one of first to give us smooth FPS, it had still felt a bit like a pilot.  Doom managed to take the idea and make it into a complete package.  Adding immersion via survival horror alien Sci-fi environment, special effects via music, graphics & sound.  This was truly an interactive big production movie we had hoped for since the day the Atari 2600 was introduced.  As if this wasn't enough, they introduced 1st person PVP multiplayer and continued to encourage the mod community to give the game longevity.   No other game has shaped the gaming industry quite like Doom had, a title that will likely never be matched.

Battlefield 1942 (2002)
It took almost a decade later for the gaming industry to break out of the Doom clone molds that had been plaguing the 1st person genera throughout the late 90s.  Coincidentally, it was a game that would take us back to the 1940s.  Only this time, developers embraced the simplicity of the era and creating a sandbox where up to 54 players could battle it out over land, sea and air.  If it wasn't bolted down, you could use it.  Along with mixed classes to choose from, this game introduces mass gaming collaboration to a whole new level.  Once again mods led to a huge component of its success ushering us into the Vietnam, and Modern eras of warfare to name a few.

I can not stress how much mods have helped mold and shape the industry.  To finally give gamers the chance to be a rampaging Santa Clause, or to play as the "axis of evil" in the controversial current day Persian Gulf.  From taboo subjects to intellectual properties, there were no limits; because simply there were no consequences. Mods even gave us a taste of PvE coop, before developers opted to dish it out.  Mods opened up the industry to go after new and untouched ideas, because the risk had already been proven.  This would have not been easy, had developers not opened their games to modifications.

Doom Simpsons Mod
Battlefield 1942 Pirates


BF1942 MuRa mod
Doom Barney mod

BF1942 - Desert Combat





Monday, September 07, 2015

Computer Gaming 500 - The Best - Golden Age of EA

Computer Gaming 500 is an ongoing series about my computer gaming experiences totaling 500 titles.  Continuing the listing games that received the perfect 10; see intro for more info.


Once upon a time, there was a game company that seemed to do no wrong.  They were new, with fresh innovative ideas, and wow were they original.  The games they produced were fantastic.  They were not ashamed to break the mold, from their signature square boxes that looked like record sleeves, to their support for game developers that swam against the flow of the norm. They had heavy production value on not only the game, but on the intros as well, telling the gamer its not going to be just a game, but a production.   Believe it or not, this company was Electronic Arts.

Archon: The Light and the Dark (1983)
Its has a checker board black and white squares, its turn based strategy, and has pieces with unique moves and abilities, has a fantasy/medieval theme.  But this game is not chess.  This becomes apparent the moment you move to an opponents square.  Unlike chess where you simply remove the piece, Archon switches to an interactive board where the two pieces now have to duke it out for survival, very similar to Star Control or that scene in Star Wars on the Falcon.  The idea is you must weigh the abilities of your piece vs the opponents while determining if the spot you are trying to take is worth the risk.  This game did a terrific job merging the old school board game with modern arcade gameplay.
MULE (1983)
Mule (Multiple Use Labor Element) is an up to 4 player economy simulator.  Try selling that in today's market.  Sounds horrible just typing it!  But this is where brilliant execution and design wins the day.  Its built with a sci-fi theme, where you are colonizing a planet called Irata (Atari backward).  The Races you can select all have pros and cons, while all charming in their own way.  The game goes through cycled turns, with random events, bartering, and ultimately an end game based on turn cap.  This game introduce the idea that you could form alliances to gang up on another player, then break terms the next round, all without shooting or killing anyone.  Money here is the weapon of choice, a life lesson indeed.

Seven Cities of Gold (1984)
We come in peace; shoot to kill
Another colonization game, but unlike MULE, SCoG  examines the historical days of Spanish colonizing of the new world Americas (or random gen map).  Economics, man power, Fort building, seasons, fog of war, and supply management are all in play.  Keep in mind, this was seven years before the Civ series!  Like history you could make friends or lay waste to the natives.  What makes this game great, is how it twists the player from starting as a fun loving free spirit explorer, then digs into the darkest parts of humanity, by slowly turning the player into a monster all in the name of survival.  Another life lesson leaned.  History will repeat itself.

Looking back, EA did a lot for edutainment without actually marketing it as such.  As for the intro music, its was some of the best.  For more about the Golden Age of EA, I highly recommend reading this article from DotEaters.

Music intros: