4v1 – The New New of Co-operative Gaming?
Gaming is certainly looking for new and innovative ways to entice people to not only play their game but to keep them coming back. This is an increasingly hard achievement to reach with games (especially new IPs) today given the powerhouse titles that seem to dominate the multiplayer online market. Even MMOs are having a hard time maintaining their numbers unless constant content updates revive the landscape with new areas, new enemies, and new character customization options.
Apparently, games like Dying Light, Evolve, and others are crafting their innovation around an updated coop concept in 4v1 gameplay. The idea is band a team of players together against an overpowered player and invent a gamespace that requires the team to work together and use tactics and cooperative abilities to take down the enemy player.
Recently at Gamescom, Dying Light developer Techland showed off a ‘Be The Zombie’ multiplayer mode that was originally announced as a pre-order bonus. In this mode, the players were expected to carry out a number of tasks amidst hordes of zombie bots all while under the duress of a constantly attacking Night Stalker zombified player with enhanced strength and speed. While the Night Stalker can’t be killed, it can be stunned enough to escape using a specific UV tool as well as tracked with another radar styled tool. While this is a cool sounding mode, it is not the only mode the game has. Much more like an enhanced version of Dead Island, Dying Light is looking to make its own mark beyond the 4v1 mold.
It seems as if modes of this sort are becoming the new in thing as Fable Legends crafted the core of its gameplay around this 4v1 tactic as well. As shown during E3, one player acts as a sort of evil overlord with the control over the entire map. In real-time as the other 4 players battle through enemies, the overlord is tasked with setting traps, spawning enemies, and deterring the other players by any diabolical means necessary.
Another game that has seen a bit more buzz and fanfare is Evolve. Developed by Turtle Rock Studios (aka the minds that made the Left 4 Dead series), the core mechanic is a group of hunters are sent into a world to purge the landscape of aliens so that a colony can be set up in safety. The hunters must band together their abilities and weaponry to blast through alien bots and achieve victory once the player controlled alien is defeated. The player controlled alien is tasked with either taking down all of the hunters or destroying the human base or generator. They become more powerful throughout the session by eating other alien bots and then ‘evolving’ into a more powerful version of themselves.
Bioware apparently is dipping into this as well with their new game called Shadow Realms that was recently announced. Crafted as a kind of PC-only online story based RPG, Shadow Realms puts the players into a modern meets fantasy setting that plays out more like a pen and paper RPG apparently. Personally, that one statement already has me sold as the focus on story is something that has always gravitated my interest towards Bioware’s legendary catalogue of RPGs (Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Jade Empire). Gameplay as the heroes or the evil Shadowlord are customizable and progressive that promises a different experience each and every time through regularly released episodes (much like a TV series apparently). I see the Shadowlord as a player based Dungeon Master (much like the same role in Fable Legends) that controls a large number of aspects that challenge the other players.
Each of these games are up and coming and have yet to make their crater marks on the gaming scene. It will be interesting to see what other games in the future take up this mode to diversify their gameplay.
Personally, I’d like to see something like Battlefield Hardline take up this as a mode. The gameplay seems like a blah reskin of Battlefield 4 that could use some spice. What if a 4v1 mode was made where one side was the criminals and the other side was a police dispatcher. The dispatcher could play the game much like the commander mode in BF4 and control the action by spawning and leading AI bots against the players who are criminals out to achieve some sort of heist. Even Battlefield 4 could probably use a mode of this sort that could boost the use of the commander mode somehow.
A personal fav of mine could definitely use this model. In the coming months, Warriors Orochi 3 and Samurai Warriors 3 are set to make their next gen debuts with their host of legendary and historical generals and heroes. While their action is typically hack n’ slash, at times each of these series (including Dynasty Warriors) typically end up with an Empires version or mode. It would be quite interesting to see the co-op gameplay in the game spiced up a bit more than just having onlookers pop in help and harm as was done with Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends. Instead, a full on 4v1 mode where the lone player can control the main general as well as the entire army’s reinforcements and movements would certainly spice up the old formula.
Imagine if Halo 5 managed to reintroduce the Flood and throw in a mode similar to Evolve where you controlled the creepy crawlers? How about Gears of War horde modes where the beasts are controlled AND generated by a lone enemy player? Titanfall could certainly benefit from this given their grunts, spectres, and Titans all AI controlled in some kind of objective based mode.
What other games do you see that could benefit from 4v1 coop?