Co-op was a hugely controversial feature less than a decade ago. It seemed every single game tried to emulate Halo and throw in co-op everywhere they could. I remember when games like Dead Space 3 added it in, much to everyone’s dismay. It completely killed the whole franchise due to the change from horror to Michael Bay-inspired action set-pieces. Fortunately, Co-op is making its way back into the world, especially since COVID hit. This means the thirst for high octane and endlessly replayable gameplay has come roaring back.
If your looking for a fun game with friends, I’d recommend this weeks game, one called Risk of Rain 2.
Pro: Gameplay Loop
The biggest driving factor for ROR2 is the gameplay loop. It has a strong emphasis on movement and momentum, as well as using the environment around you. Taking place in a third-person perspective you have a number of attacks and abilities, ranging from shields, to AOE attacks, to debuffs that you use to fight an ever-expanding roster of monsters. Overall it’s a very solid, if generic, primary loop (or second by second gameplay)
But where the game comes into its own light is in its secondary loop or minute by minute. As you run around, you’ll find chests that give you special items. These have a vast number of effects from blocking damage, to increasing firing speed, to causing enemies to explode once you kill them.
This is where the game steps into legendary status. This subtle, powerful progression incentivizes players to keep searching for every available item. Dont and you’ll get curbstomped by a boss in one hit.
By their own, the primary and secondary loop would be decent, if generic. Together, however, they give the game a ton of replayability. Its gotten to the point where everyone I know who owns the game has beaten it several times, takes a month off from it, then jumps back in.
Overall, this game has excellent replayability due to its fantastic gameplay and understanding of what makes a game rewarding
Con: Character customization
Ironic for a game which understands rewarding gameplay well, the biggest downside for me is how character customization is handled.
As you progress, you’ll unlock different heroes with different abilities which, obviously, play quite differently to each other. . The engineer for example can choose to either stationary turrets or moving turrets that can slow down enemies.
However, that’s where the game begins to stutter, because the different abilities tend to feel like different flavors of the same soda, like vanilla coke vs cherry coke. For example one character, Acrid has the choice between a poison spit and a “Blight” spit, which functions exactly the same as poison but is colored yellow instead of green.
In addition there tends to only be an extra ability if any for each ability slot, so the upgrades and different playstyles tend to wear a bit thin. There’s exactly one extra skin for each character and that’s the character customization.
This hamstrings each character’s potential replay, and railroads progression into one specific class with barely any wiggle room, so even if you like a character overall, except for their one primary attack, then you’re going to miss out on that one character due to the lack of any sort of variety.
Pro: Level Design.
When it comes to the level design of rogue-lite games, most games tend to screw it up due to the randomization element. Fortunately, ROR2’s randomization elements are only tied to placement items and teleportation altars.
Each level is designed to be actually fun to play in, rather than the cross-our-fingers-and-hope-its-not-completely-broken strategy. Ive seen overused Roguelike elements follow roguelikes around like the Black Death follows people with poor immune systems.
It’s not liked the levels are extremely complex either, the game follows the philosophy of vast open spaces, and small amounts of closed in areas. This is so that they can cram as many monsters and explosions on screen as physically possible.
While I appreciate intricate levels like Dark Souls, this more open and sparse design allows the gameplay to breathe easier. If a fight goes sideway you can always run rather than bravely make a Ruby Ridge-esque last stand. The only issue is that it’s a double-edged sword, and requires a lot of backtracking to get anywhere. The smaller roguelike elements don’t help much in the way of level design. It’s easy for the teleporter to not show up and spend twenty minutes looking for it. Half the time i just gave up and restarted the run. despite some petty annoyances, the replayability of the levels adds alot of depth, and i keep coming back time after time.
Risk of Rain is an easy sell, offering tons of replayability and a strong co-op experience for a decent price. While it does have a few pitfalls in the way of character customization, it sucks you in for hours if not days.