Not killed enough undead monstrosities this Christmas? Let Valve fix that for you. Left 4 Dead 2 is now free on Steam. In case you've missed it thus far, Left 4 Dead is blooming brilliant. You and up to three human buddies fight through 90 minute missions set in different zombie-infested locales across America. The zombie throngs are managed by an AI director, which measures your health and stress levels and doles out varying degrees of punishment to match your perceived mood. Watch out, also, for the special infected - hideous supermutants with unique ways of punching/eating/melting your face.
A thing that most co-op games don't understand is that people aren't gruff identikit badasses, happy to brofist their way through an AI genocide. People are complicated, with different skills, tastes and beliefs. Some may like violence, others might be more interested in twerking. That's why Clandestine, an asymmetrical co-op game, sounds like such an interesting prospect. Er, because of how it caters to different tastes. I don't think there'll be twerking.
Other reasons to pay attention include its use of phrases like "post-Cold War spy conspiracy", "tactical stealth", and "set in the mid-1990s". To throw an extra EMP on this espionage topping, it's being made by Logic Artists, the people behind the warmly received Expeditions: Conquistador.
Oh phew. After the news drought of the last few days, I'd assumed an evil wizard had cursed digital entertainment, ensuring no new game releases would ever be made. Thankfully, the spell has been broken by the aptly prolific Traveller's Tales and their unstoppable Lego series. Lego: The Hobbit is to be the latest in their catalogue of blocky retellings of all things cinematic.
I could have made a really funny joke about Overkill having pilfered the U out of their own title, but such geographically targeted japes have no place on an international news juggernaut. Having had such hilarity snatched from my hands, I'll have to settle for telling you about Armored Transport: a new Payday 2 mission pack that's planning to launch an attack on its co-op crime fans tomorrow.
Monaco - the excellent four-player stealth/heist game from Pocketwatch Games - hasn't quite lit the world on fire as I thought it would, but for all I know there could a million Linux users sitting at their PCs right now waiting for a cracking co-op game to get stuck into. They'll be well catered-for on Monday, when Monaco: What's Thief's Was Originally Mine breaks into the open prison known as Linux. It will come with "a ton of free/new content", though the cunning devils at Pocketwatch haven't elaborated any further.
Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator is a co-op game about flying a starship. Each member of the team takes a separate screen to take care of one aspect of the ship's operations - weapons, science, communications, engineering and piloting, for example. Then you head out to explore space, meet mission-givers at space stations and battle space bandits while swaying theatrically in your chair every time the ship takes a hit.
Also, whenever you put all power to the engines, you have to say "all power to the engines!" and the captain has to say "engage!" There will be no tangible affect on your performance if you don't, but it is nonetheless absolutely mandatory. Artemis is available on Steam now for £5 / $7, which is all the excuse I need to recommend it to anyone who can get a group of friends together in the same room to try it.
If dense strategy isn't your thing, then maybe the dense action promised today's other big release is. Payday 2, the sequel to Overkill's criminal spin on Left 4 Dead style co-op, is out now. To mark the occasion, here's a launch trailer that sweeps through a single moment of chaotic heisting. Of course, being frozen in time, what you don't get is the near-incomprehensible shrieking of your friends as your carefully laid plans fall apart.
Tripwire continues to create reasons to hop back into its four-year old co-op shooter. After bestowing a low-grav moon base map last Christmas, Killing Floor kicks off a new holiday event tomorrow, the Summer Sideshow Pier of Pain, bringing with it the first new mode since it released.
If you remember steampunk co-op shooter The Chaos Engine, then you are officially Old. I'm sorry to break it to you, but those low-slung trousers and your inappropriate use of the word 'hench' is fooling nobody. On the bright side, however, I have some news that (if you're anything like me) will make you do your special Happy Dance. Just be careful you don't break a hip. The Chaos Engine is being remade/rebooted! And it's being published by Hotline Miami co-conspirators Devolver Digital! Stick around for a brief, entirely content-free teaser trailer.
In the words of Hannibal from The A-Team: "I love it when a plan comes together." Larian Studios' Kickstarter for Divinity: Original Sin has crossed the $400,000 threshold with 16 days remaining. The company's upcoming fantasy role-playing game which will feature single and co-op gameplay for up to four players.
God Mode is out on Steam on April 19th for $10/£7. It's a diabolical four-player co-op shooter which spits magnetized hellbeasts at you—the kind you describe by cursing what they do, like "those ******* flaming axe throwing bastards"—until you either kill them all to advance or die trying. The tried-and-true horde survival mode has been outfitted with handicaps, mutators, customizable characters, and gun upgrades—I played it briefly a couple weeks ago, and it impressed me.
Pocketwatch's top-down heist game Monaco picked up a lot of attention from us for its co-op team of specialized burglars and the carefully constructed capers they can execute. After years spent in the boiler, it's ready for go-time. Monaco's Twitter account says the robbing will begin April 24 on Steam.
Digital Extremes isn't just working on naked space dinos. It's also busy with bringing us armored space cyborg ninjas in Warframe, its co-op third-person shooter showing up later this year. It hit open beta earlier this week, and Nvidia has shared a tech trailer showing off the slick PhysX effects owners of its cards can glimpse while cartwheeling off walls and stabbing things with nano-swords.
Games get a bad rap for being a solitary, violence-obsessed form of entertainment. But they can also be a collaborative, violence-obsessed form of entertainment. Just ask the close-knit PC Gamer team. Tom F Co-op based games teach us the value of teamwork better than any kitten based motivational poster, by showing us how many more of our enemies we can crush if we can just learn to work together.
British Characterisation Alert! In case you couldn't tell that Callum - the narrator of this Far Cry 3 co-op trailer - was Scottish from his name, his unquestionably authentic accent, or the caption that labels him the "Scottish thug," Ubisoft have tried to really hammer the point home with his swearing. Within the first thirty seconds he's said "wanker", "bloody", "cock-up" and "cocksucker". Crikey.
Caring, sharing types rejoice: Valve have released a patch which enables two-controller splitscreen play for Portal 2, making it all the easier to give your co-op buddy a purple nurple when they "accidentally" mis-time the placement of an Excursion Funnel. Again.
And you aren't restricted to squinting at a fraction of your desktop monitor, either: the update adds support for Big Picture mode, allowing you to bicker over who gets to hold the Discouragement Redirection Cube in the comfort of your own living room.
We recently gave you our selection of the best Portal 2 single player maps and campaigns available on the Steam Workshop. There's some great feats of level design in that list, but if you really want to see mapmakers skills stretched to the limit, you have to turn to co-op.
With two brains and four portals available, the levels must be exponentially more complicated. They need to emphasise teamwork, provide an inventive challenge and be tightly crafted so as to stop players exploiting their way through. With that in mind, I enlisted the help of my Perpetual Testing Partner to dig out the ten best co-operative maps around. As always, if you've a favourite that's not listed, let us know about it.
Emulators already garnish the PC with scores of cross-platform classics for retro romps down the green pipe of nostalgia. Console luminaries like Super Mario 64 exist in fully playable form through emulation software, but now there's a surprising creative twist. Modding—yes, modding—ROMs for additional perks, such as emulator wizard Skelux's implementation of online co-op in Nintendo's magnum opus, is officially now a 'thing.' I predict many a shattered friendship fighting over various mushroom products.
Something's amiss in Wizarbox's action-RPG Realms of Ancient War. It's got slashing swords and magical mayhem galore, but what's needed is the evil-vanquishing power of friendship. Publisher Focus Home released a trailer today showcasing War's 2-player co-op support - if you've the stomach of steel to push past the spastic camera movements, you'll find a potentially entertaining monster genocide awaiting you and your buddy. And remember: loot creates compromise, not conflict. Now give me that gauntlet.