One thing I hope to see in the game industry going forward is design elements of the best competitive games being applied to co-op ones. The excitement of PvP is unique, but direct competition with other people can sometimes give me the kind of anxiety I play games to avoid, and I know I’m not the only one. But I think looking to those games for inspiration can improve the cooperative experiences a lot of us prefer. I think there’s enormous potential in a co-op game based on the current big trend in PvP: battle royale games. I imagine it would work something like this:
The game matches together a hundred random players. Each game begins with them all together, storming onto a island-based map like the beaches of Normandy. AI enemies attempt to eliminate the players throughout the game. When a player dies, they’re out of the game for good, and can continue spectating until the game ends or leave to find another one.
Once the players have made it onto the island, multiple objectives will become active. They’ll be spread across the map, so players will have to begin splitting up. The objectives would begin simple, like clearing a set area of enemies or eliminating a specific target. Clearing all current objectives activates new ones- each time fewer in number, but greater in complexity and difficulty. Light puzzle elements would start to be introduced (like, say, buttons needing to be pressed by different players in a specific order). This would create a funnel effect, gradually bringing the remaining players back together. The game culminates with a single, high-challenge goal everyone must work together to achieve, perhaps a boss battle. If even one player survives to complete this final objective, everybody wins.
Players will earn points based on their performance, so they’ll keep making progress as long as they play, but bonus points will be awarded for participating in games that end in success (even if you die and leave the match before it ends). Points can be used to purchase new weapons, cosmetic items, and abilities, such as increased movement speed or health. These abilities would be relatively tame in their effectiveness; more to customize play-style preference than to give heavy advantage to higher level players. My thinking behind this is that for this kind of game- even though it’s non-competitive in nature- you’ll want all players to be on a relatively even playing field, so low level players don’t feel left behind and high level players still need to play cooperatively.
I’d love to see this kind of game be attempted, and I think it would be very exciting. Imagine 99 players on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if the last one standing can save the day- the elation of that unlikely victory or the shock of one just missed. The cooperative nature will also allow more players to experience the thrill of winning than in battle royale games. I think it’s got the potential- if done right- to attract just as many players as the best battle royale games, if not more.