Why Did It Take the Industry So Long to Finally Make a Co-Op Game the Way Co-Op Should be?

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Yesterday, EA had a relatively successful press conference, with numerous new titles announced and new information revealed regarding their existing titles. Amongst all those, one game stood out the most, and it’s A Way Out. A Way Out is being developed by Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons developer Hazelight Studios, which proves their capability of bringing us another excellent co-op title.

However, why did it take so long for the industry to finally find the right formula for a co-op game? There are a lot of co-op titles out there for players to enjoy, each with its own atmosphere and unique gameplay, ranging from shooters and fun games such as Payday 2 and Lego games respectively to cartoon-ish cooking games such as Overcooked. My question raises suspicion that there is no good co-op games out there, on the contrary, I have personally experienced some of my most amusing gaming moments with my friends cracking bank safes on Payday 2, organising our own jousting tournament with elephants instead of horses on Far Cry 4 or just blowing random stuff up and trying to conduct the biggest traffic jam in history on Grand Theft Auto Online.

All these in my opinion lack the narrative and story-driven nature Hazelight Studios’ title promises. There are a lot of titles that prevailed and earned their spot as the best games ever made and were solely dependant on single-player, including the likes of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, The Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Horizon Zero Dawn and the list goes on and on and on. A Way Out is set in prison, where you take control of Leo and Vincent and help each other escape prison. Writer and Director at Hazelight Josef Fares promised the title is a “co-op experience unlike anything you have ever seen before,” and continued to discuss Leo and Vincent’s unique and different personalities.

Another huge bonus for the game is the way Hazelight emphasised the need to experience this game in split-screen co-op, something most games nowadays ditch or forget about completely. Split-screen games were the building blocks of the co-op genre, and Hazelight’s approach with A Way Out is to go back to what the genre as great as it is today. Split-screen co-op means players will have to be present next to each other, making the experience much more enjoyable and intense than just playing it online.

In my opinion, the reason why it took so long for the gaming industry to find the perfect formula for a real co-op game is the lack of technological advancements and engines available today. The fact that one player can walk around and see the other player in front of him while the other character is in a cut-scene was simply unachievable before today. I am very optimistic with Hazelight Studio’s title and when you look back at their previous title, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, it proves their capability of developing co-op games the way it should be.