Looking for Cooperative Games in 2016

It’s a new year which means more punishing winter weather in the northeast and too many times we’ve had to scribble out the year on a personal check or two, but also this year brings the promise of a resurgence perhaps of the cooperative game.  After all, last year pretty much sucked for coop gaming as our game of the year for coop experiences, Destiny, actually arrived in 2014 but thankfully qualified for 2015 thanks to some much needed DLC.

So what experiences have our interests piqued this coming year? Ignoring the usual siren’s song of a Call of Duty with another bizarro celebrity cameo or perhaps another Ubisoft brawler that tries to shake lose the dormancy of lackluster gameplay with the promise of coop, there are several very promising games on our watch list.

Here now are 7 cooperative games to watch for in 2016:

1. Cuphead (TBA 2016)

cuphead cooperative
We can’t wait to live out our cartoon violence rage in game!

Inspired by the Max Fleisher’s surrealist cartoons on the 1930s, Cuphead promises retro style challenging run and gun action that revealed a two player mode in some earlier promo videos of the game.  The game comes from two brothers out of Canada who have been working on this title since 2010.  The game has been absorbed into Microsoft’s growing list of exclusive titles and, not surprisingly, there’s already talk of DLC in the form of additional boss battles – apparently trying to beat the Guinness Record of 25 boss battles in a single run and gun style game.

Why it may suck:

Honestly the limited information about this title scares us.  We’ve seen demos of this title for close to two years now with no confirmed launch date yet.  We appreciate this is a launch title for an indie game studio but beyond the novelty of the aesthetic (and that is indeed captivating), we don’t know why this would take so long to produce.  Are they really rounding out the mechanics of hit boxes and invincibility timing or are they having more systematic development problems?

 

2. Gears of War 4 (Holiday 2016)

gears of war 4
“The Search for Dom” – Oh wait, too soon?

We have fond, fond memories of the CliffyB’s massive (and in our eyes) best franchise.  Gears 1 represented perhaps the best of the experiences to be had on the Xbox and cemented the wall cover mechanic into shooters.  Subsequent Gears games paled in comparison to the original but they were all always enjoyable romps covered in gore from yet another Lancer chainsaw bloodbath.  Of course, including the always powerful Mad World in your marketing materials will always invoke the feels.

Why it may suck:

Well there wasn’t much left in the tank in the franchise.  Gears 3 did offer the powerful, but unnecessary, send-off for Dom but otherwise was a fairly forgettable title.  This is the first title to not be developed by Epic, rather Microsoft’s own The Coalition will take a crack at the Gears franchise and try to convince us there’s a reason to continue the story of Marcus Fenix.  To us, that means this is a coin toss right now, new blood could be great to this series or we’ll finally find out if it’s time to put this one to rest (much like Halo Guardians).

 

3. Crackdown 3 (Q2/Q3 2016)

crackdown 3
The hero this city will get, but probably not the one it deserves

Oh Crackdown, how you romanced us so long ago.  Crackdown 1 was a unique if surprisingly dull Xbox 360 game that allowed us to blow the hell out of massive city on different sides of the map once.  That, to us, was a significant milestone in gaming.  No artificial barriers keeping us in close proximity, no loading time, somehow they were rending the entire landscape at once for us to explode real good.   The plot was absolutely threadbare but we had a blast all the way through to that final chapter climbing the giant tower from the inside.  Crackdown 2, well, it was embarrassingly bad.  Reusing the original game’s map and adding zombies isn’t enough to merit a full price tag.  But, Crackdown 3 hopes to make up for its predecessor’s shortcomings.  With the promise of cloud compute technologies, Microsoft certainly seems excited about how much more explosions we can cause in this open sandbox shooter.

Why it may suck:

Well it’s obvious but so far the developers have yet to captivate us with an actually decent story.  If you’re not going to worry about the story then you’re openly competing with Just Cause or Saints Row which have both cornered the markets of silly, surreal sandbox gaming.  We’re not yet sure what cloud computing will bring to the table here but maybe we’re just getting old.  Tell me you’re focused on a tight, memorable coop experience and we’re sold.

 

4. Ghost Recon Wildlands (TBA 2016)

ghost recon wildlands
Where jurisprudence goes to die.

Ghost Recon is back after a multi year hiatus and we couldn’t be more excited (take a note Assassin’s Creed, absence makes the heart grow fonder).  Set in Bolivia in modern day, this tactical 3rdperson shooter promises an open world gameplay with missions, side missions, and RPG mechanics to build up your character.  We’re not huge military shooter guys, but Ghost Recon always presented a more captivating and solitary experience that hooked us in ways a Call of Duty never could – a thinking man’s Crysis that doesn’t browbeat you over its graphical prowess and forget to tell a story.  The campaign is fully playable for teams of 4.  We’re on board!

Why it may suck:

It sounds like there are a lot of changes to the mechanics this round.  Coop in a previous Ghost Recon game would have been great but it’s hard to tell if this new style of Recon will work in the coop mode as well.  After all, it’s hard to blend open world and cooperative into one game.

 

5. No Man’s Sky (June on PS4)

no man's sky
Can billions of worlds distract us from worrying about playing a game?

The hype is strong with this one.  It feels we’ve been hearing about the impossibly large number of galaxies this game will procedurally offer upon launch for years now.  The idea that there are so many worlds to conquer, animals to name after ourselves, and things to destroy does intrigue us.  Assuming the multiplayer pulls together to allow for a cooperative experience, this could consume our lives in ways Fallout 4 failed us.

Why it may suck:

While we’ve heard a ton about the size of this game, we’ve heard very, very little about what we’re actually going to do once we play.  It reminds us a bit of Spore in that we are talking a lot about the possibilities of this open world experience and less about the actual game and we all remember how that turned out.

 

6. Shadow Warrior 2 (TBA)

shadow warrior 2 cooperative
“Ok squad, let’s be more Halo 4 and less Daikatana, cool?”

The original Shadow Warrior surprised us as it harkened back to a simpler era of the bloody or strange FPSers of our past like Duke Nukem 3d, Rise of the Triad, Redneck Rampage, Hexen, etc.  Modern FPS games have prioritized deathmatch modes or extreme leveling up mechanics (aka prestige mode) and often times lost sight of just making a fun game.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun.  Shadow Warriors 2 looks to be doing much of the same we loved about the original but now offering a seamless 4 person cooperative mode to the main campaign.  What more could we want?

Why it may suck:

Well, nostalgia is one thing but some evolution here or there would be nice.  Perhaps regenerating health isn’t the worst thing in the world.  Perhaps slightly better visuals to reflect the modern gaming era would be great.  We’re not expecting this to be game of the year, but in a year devoid of solid coop titles, perhaps with some minor tweaks Shadow Warrior 2 could be king.

 

7. Destiny Year 2 (TBA)

Destiny year 2
Whadda ya say? Up for one more raid?

We certainly understand the Destiny malaise.  We too had explored much of The Taken King and its incredible new raid but had since grown weary of the game despite promises of sparrow races or the hunt for Halloween masks.  Destiny manages to dominate many gamers’ times during its peaks but its valleys bring such a distaste for the game.  We were prepared to write this game off after two years out in the marketplace but the teases Bungie is offering up of DLC bigger than we’ve ever seen before and the delays of a full sequel this year suggests they plan to continue to expand on the current game means maybe, just maybe we’ll sink another 20-40 hours into our guardians in some of the best cooperative gaming we’ve ever seen.

Why it may suck:

The last two expansions (sparrow racing and the festival of lights) did little to reinvigorate the series and the movement to microtransactions has us nervous.  Besides, just how many hours exactly should we all expect to spend with one game before we finally move on to something newer and better (aka an actual sequel)?

 

Any major coop games for 2016 we forgot?  Perhaps the indie scene is where we should turn but we just missed something.  Let us know in the comments below!

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