Up For Debate - How Long Should Co-op Games Be?

Written by Neil Soutter on Thu, Dec 28, 2017 9:29 AM
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Co-op games are some of the best experiences you can have in gaming. You and your mates working together towards a common goal, or just strapping a block of C4 to their car before they unwittingly drive off, sending them soaring into the sun. The best cooperative games offer truly unique experiences that just aren’t possible while playing solo with NPCs - hurling insults and instructions at one another as you attempt to scrabble to victory.

Finding the time to play just about any game can occasionally prove tricky though, and it gets even trickier when you want to get several mates together, regularly, and all at the same time. You could get by without them perhaps, or just draft in someone else, but nobody wants to be the one missing out on the complete co-op Divinity 2: Original Sin run, do they?

Which brings me in a roundabout way to my point - how long is too long for a co-op game? Some really do excel with their short running times. A short free one I recently played on PC was We Were Here. It clocked in at just over an hour, yet it was perfect at getting across its core ideas of efficient communication and accurately describing what you can see in front of you to your buddy. It’s a little bit like a long Crystal Maze challenge. Crucially, it never outstayed its welcome.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime and Overcooked are a pair of games which can reasonably be finished during a couple of long evening sessions, stretching on for about 6-8 hours. I think it’s reasonable enough amount of time to expect the average gamers to be able to get together, offering just enough fresh mechanics and ideas over the running time to keep players hooked. A shout out too to Portal 2, which is really excellent in this way. Your co-op runs are going to vary depending on how often you get stuck, but there’s a decently lengthed game here with neatly segregated challenges that make for the perfect stopping points.

And then there’s the other end of story. The Divinity: Original Sin 2’s of this world. Co-op games that can feasibly run on for in excess of 100 hours. I probably could have got through this back in my uni days but there’s no chance I’m going to get someone to sit through an entire game that long without really and truly committing to it. Other biggies include the Borderlands series, The Division and Diablo 3, all of which require a significant time investment.

I’m of the opinion that the strongest co-op games are those that sit in the mid-tier, around the length of Overcooked or Portal 2. It’s why I’m hoping the upcoming A Way Out clocks in at a slim 6-10 hours, rather than dragging on for far too long and eventually falling by the wayside, never to be finished.

Of course, not everyone's the same. How long do you think the perfect co-op game should be? What's the longest game you've actually managed to complete co-operatively with a buddy? Let us know!

How long do you prefer co-op games to be?

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16:43 Dec-28-2017

Any game with co-op should be long and challenging. ALL online multiplayer functionality should be split from the main campaign and sold separately if it is the main focus of a dev (COD, Destiny, Halo, ect.)

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12:00 Dec-28-2017

I wish diablo 3 had Local TCP/IP multiplayer mode, like good old d2 and d1

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10:48 Dec-28-2017

It really depends on the game itself, what sort of gameplay you're getting, how immersed in the story you can be and most importantly, for how many players is it meant. A 5 player squad co-op can go on and on, but if you're just 2 then it can get a little boring after a shorter while. Also very important, do you just play levels together or is it a complete joint experience.Pretty hard to answer that question as a general one.

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11:09 Dec-28-2017

Replayability is also a factor. Portal 2 for example has the issue of being able to remember the solution to a puzzle, no matter how long ago you played it. So when I play with someone who's never played Portal 2, I just can't help but instantly see the solution which isn't fun for them.

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10:06 Dec-28-2017

I don't like playing campaign types with other people. Never played D:OS 1 or 2 co-op mainly because I like to be in control of who builds what, and the fact that I can't play 24/7

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12:26 Dec-28-2017

exactly - I don't know how this came to be, but most recent single player games have shifted toward co-op modes, instead of good old solo mechanics. I have nothing against co-op games, but don't ruin the solo ones because of them - just make / add additional co-op content and thats it (in this regard, I think people should not be charged to additional co-op modes if they dont want them)

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