Welcome back to Shack Chat, our Friday feature where the Shack Staff opines on a subject related to video games, then invites our Chatty community to weigh in. This recurring feature offers the staff an opportunity to learn more about our gaming tastes and invite you, our readership, into the discussion.
This week's Shack Chat is inspired by some of the biggest video game releases of the year, a couple of which happen to be co-op focused and releasing in the same week. Of course, we're talking about Gears 5 and Borderlands 3. These games have been co-op mainstays for years and most players would agree that their releases have been highly anticipated.
Have fun reading the entries, and be sure to respond to our picks and share your own in the Chatty comments below.
Question: What is your favorite co-op game?
Portal 2 - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor
I generally enjoy a lot of co-op experiences, but I don't think there's been one as memorable as Portal 2. The amount of collaboration involved between both parties, which often involves coming up with complex solutions is more than a good team-building exercise. It's a relationship builder. It's two people coming together and solving crazy problems, while laughing at GLaDOS' quips in-between tests.
As much as I've enjoyed the single-player story that's unfolded across two Portal games, I've come to truly appreciate what Portal 2's co-op has brought to the table. Nothing brings two people together more than seeing how their problem-solving process works.
Warframe - Blake Morse, Reviews Editor
Look, I know I talk about Warframe a whole lot, but it’s not my fault that this game just happens to check all the boxes for me. I spend a lot of time with my friends each week grinding for resources and loot while chatting it up. Even if my homies aren’t around the Tenno community is usually pretty upstanding compared to a lot of online games. People tend to be helpful and are usually down for whatever when it comes to missions or exploration. I’ve probably made more new gaming friends in Warframe than any other title I’ve played. It also happens to be the only game where I’ve founded a clan. I’m even logging in to PS4 while I’m here in Japan (I’m in Japan right now BTW) to get my grind on with the crew and catch up with everyone. Maybe someday I’ll stop singing the praises of Warframe, but today is not that day.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance - Greg Burke, Lives in the mines
There are a lot of Co-Op games, but the one I remember very fondly is the very first Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Mainly because my girlfriend (and now wife) spent hours building our teams learning combos, and just all in all having a great time. Dungeon crawlers are great games, especially for couch Co-Op, but those memories of Marvel Ultimate Alliance are certainly the strongest. It was also before the huge Marvel MCU hype, so we both felt like huge nerds while playing it, which was great.
Dark Souls 2- David L. Craddock, Longreads Editor
The day Demon’s Souls released in the States, my wife was skeptical. I’d watched a single video review and, in my enthusiasm, inadvertently exaggerated the game’s difficulty. “Every time you die, you lose half of your max HP!” (That would be something.)
I brought the game home, tore off the shrinkwrap, inserted the disc into my PS3, and played with her beside me. She was quiet, but her body language spoke volumes. For the first hour, she was nearly hostile: arms crossed, one foot jittering with impatience.
During hour two, she asked questions.
During hour three, she sat forward. During that hour, she moved from the couch to my computer nearby and was poring over the game’s Wiki, sharing notes about the game’s systems, characters, and worlds.
I played for nine hours that night. She stuck with watching, but after sitting at the computer for a while, she made her way back to the couch and sat beside me, pointing out traps and ambushes that had killed me before, and making suggestions about weapons to try and upgrades to pursue. Before we went to bed at five a.m., she floated a suggestion: “It would be great if we had two PS3s so we could play together.”
Five years and a cross-country move later, the dream came true. Two HDTVs, two PS3 consoles, two copies of the latest game, Dark Souls 2, and hundreds of hours spent picking apart the crumbling kingdom of Drangleic. Dark Souls 2 is special to me for many reasons, but number one is because it was the game where the stars aligned and my wife and I were able to play together. We’ve since played through Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls, but Dark Souls 2’s near-infinite weapons and character builds keep us coming back to Drangleic for more--first on PS3, and since 2015, on our two PS4s.
Destiny 2 - Bill Lavoy, Managing Editor
You’re going to make me choose Destiny 2, even though there are so many other great options to pick from. I could go with Monster Hunter World partly because it’s fresh in my mind and also because it’s true. I could go with Ghost Recon Wildlands, because nothing compares to lining up perfect sync shots with your buddies, or having one cover you with a sniper rifle from range while you sneak in undetected. I’m probably missing a few dozen honorable mentions here.
There is no way to ignore Destiny 2, though. I’ve put more time into it than all those games added together, and it’s the game that my friends and I consistently return to for both content and a spot to socialize together. Nothing compares to clearing a raid with your six-person fireteam or racing against the rest of the community to clear a surprise exotic quest, like The Whisper or Zero Hour.
Other games have done co-op well, even surpassing Destiny 2 in some ways, but no game has kept me coming back to play with my friends for five years running like the Destiny series has. I sometimes burn out and drop it for a couple of months, but I always come back, and so do all my friends.
Gears of War 3 Horde Mode - Asif Khan, Still upset about Dom’s passing
I love the Gears of War franchise, and my favorite part of the game is Horde Mode. I have played hundreds of hours of that mode with friends. Horde really brought my group of buddies together than most other games. Sure, there were online multiplayer games like Halo 2 or Rocket League, but Gears of War 3 was my definitive co-op multiplayer experience. I even chose to grind it out for the Unlimited Ammo mutator, which just makes Horde Mode even more enjoyable.
Halo - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor
I don't like to play games with other people, and as such, I don't actively seek out co-op titles. I'd prefer playing the same game side-by-side on separate setups to experience a game with friends or family, not playing with them. That way I don't have to wait on them to stop sniffing around an area for items when I want to move forward, which can drive me crazy. That said, I always enjoyed a good game of Halo with my dad through the magic of couch co-op. We had a ton of fun together growing up as I showed him the ropes, and I’m always down for going through each game with him again.
Sea of Thieves - Josh Hawkins, A pirate’s life for me
There’s so much to love about Sea of Thieves. Not only does the game offer a way to scratch that exploration itch, but it also gives you ways to enjoy PvP, PvE, and even simple things like fishing and cooking. Starting out from release Sea of Thieves has always had a way of pulling me in and letting me get lost in it. In fact, most of my experiences in Sea of Thieves have been me and my friends mindlessly wandering the world, looking for chests and vistas to enjoy.
Few cooperative games have managed to capture the same essence that Sea of Thieves has. Sure, I love the co-op in Destiny and other games like that, but Sea of Thieves is just about the only game that allows me and my friends to just get lost as we enjoy our time hanging out together. It’s this simplicity that continues to drive me back to the game, and it’s the amazing updates the team continues to put out that keeps things feeling fresh and new.
Turtles in Time - Chris Jarrard, Bury my shell at Wounded Knee
This one is pretty easy. From the moment I saw the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade cabinet back around 1990, I was infatuated. Any chance I got, I would dump quarters into the slot thinking to myself that it couldn’t possibly get any better. I was wrong — it got much better. A couple of years after the first game hit arcades, Turtles in Time was released around the world. It took the concepts from the first game and cranked everything up to eleven.
Turtles in Time was bigger, badder, more colorful, and enticing than its predecessor. The core gameplay remained mostly intact from the original arcade cabinet while picking up some new combat moves such as tossing foot clan soldiers into the screen. The music in the game was mostly comprised of uptempo rock beats and remains one of my favorites to this day. Turtles in Time also received a pair of outstanding home console ports in the form of TMNT IV: Turtles in Time on the SNES and TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist on the Genesis.
If I had friends over to my house or I was going to their house, the Turtles in Time cartridge was always the center of attention.
Borderlands - Donovan Erskine, Intern
The Borderlands games have some of the best co-op experiences in gaming. Running through the story with friends collecting loot, finding weapons, and defeating bosses together is a fun marriage of classic MMO gameplay with modern shooters. Borderlands holds a special place in my gaming memories as it was one of the first time I played a game of that nature with my own created character rather than being my older brother’s player 2. Fingers crossed that Borderlands 3 can capture that magic for the third time.
Agree with our picks? Disagree? Agree to disagree? Chime in in the Chatty below.
Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: What is your favorite co-op game?