Valve Love Co-Op, I Don’t
I am going to say it, I think Valve are falling in love with co-op a bit too much, along with many other developers, but I am going to highlight Valve right off based on what Geoff Keighley wrote in his The Final Hours of Portal 2 epic.
According to RPS Geoff wrote “Portal 2 will probably be Valve’s last game with an isolated single-player experience” which, if true, could mean a variety of things. The first potential meaning that comes to mind is that Valve are just going to make multiplayer games like Team Fortress 2 from now on. This is clearly a ludicrous suggestion as that would mean the Half-Life series either ending with Episode 2 or turning into some strange multiplayer shooter full of hats.
The more likely meaning is that any future Valve titles will include co-op as a minimum, and more likely they will have the main game be a drop in/out feature. That just doesn’t sit well with me, I don’t mind games like the Lego series as they are all about having fun and work especially well on a console with two controls, or even on a PC with two control set ups. However, a series like Half-Life is a story driven first-person shooter which has been solely single-player (with the exception of console only expansion Decay) since the original was released.
Now I doubt that any possible future Half-Life title will force you to play with someone else in the main story, so the drop in/out won’t be quite as awful as it could be. My real problem lies with Portal 2 where a whole chunk of story exposition comes from the co-op mode, for some people co-op just isn’t practical or attractive. Personally I find my gaming time lies on a different slant to my friends’ and that if I wanted to co-op they wouldn’t be available. For a game like Portal 2 I would hate to experience co-op with a complete stranger with little understanding of how the other person plays.
A co-op mode in Portal 2 would have been fine by me, as long as it didn’t include a whole heap of story. My rambling, semi-ranting point is that I don’t like games which force co-op upon you to get the full back story, drop in/out is bearable as long as it doesn’t become too obvious that you are missing a second human player, but at the end of the day, the main story mode of a game should be single-player and nothing more.
3 thoughts on “Valve Love Co-Op, I Don’t”
I believe you’re wrong to say that “a whole chunk of story exposition comes from the co-op mode”. The story in the co-op was very, very thin, and really only served as a justification for having some of the co-op puzzles occur outwith the test chambers.
The co-op mode in Portal 2 focused on the puzzles—many of them noticeably more complex than in the singleplayer—and not the story.
That may be so, but with so many people saying at first ‘don’t play co-op until you have done the single-player’ it creates an impression that it features a bunch of story. I haven’t even gotten round to finishing the single-player yet =/
I followed that same advice and only played co-op after the single player, but I don’t believe it was actually a necessity to do so. It’s arguable the co-op contains some small spoilers for the single-player story. Not, I think—having now played both—anything significant enough to worry about*.
But the single-player does a better job of leading you through the new puzzle elements, so it’s valuable to have done it first just for the mechanical knowledge gained.
*Yes, GLaDOS’s voice is in the co-op, so it’s technically a spoiler that she’s returned. But then Valve’s marketing also revealed that, and it’s also entirely predictable, given that she was “still alive”.