Back 4 Blood

There was a moment in gaming history where four-player co-op was sort of the big thing. Obviously, Left 4 Dead didn’t invent it when it came out in 2008, but I think a good deal of credit goes to the game for making the formula so ubiquitous in the decade that followed.

So here we are at the Game Awards in 2020, seeing an onslaught of four-player co-op games. And it starts, of course, with an actual follow-up to Left 4 Dead called Back 4 Blood. This is coming from Turtle Rock Studios (developers of the original Left 4 Dead), and it adds 20-foot tall monstrosities to the mix to freshen up the 12-year-old format.

The four-player cooperative action didn’t end there. There’s also a four-player Medieval heist game (think Assassin’s Creed meets Payday: The Heist) called Hood: Outlaws & Legends that’s coming out in May. Now, four-player heists seems like a good idea on paper (and Grand Theft Auto V actually did it really well), but I found that Payday‘s charm wore off pretty fast (fun fact: I was actually quoted on Payday’s website).

Hood: Outlaws & Legends

To be fair, Hood is actually a 4v4 game, which I guess makes it stand out here (it’s being billed as PvPvE). It pits two teams of four against each other in a race to swipe some sort of treasure. This does have my attention, honestly.

And then there was a Warhammer 40,000: Darktide gameplay debut. I really don’t have any strong opinions about the Warhammer franchise, but this is apparently yet another four-player co-op game.

We also saw a reveal for the first free season of Black Ops Cold War, and while this is maybe cheating, Cold War did bring back the famous four-player Zombies mode. So there’s that.

After that, the Game Awards announcements got noticeably less four-player-y for a good long while, though there was a quick teaser for Monster Hunter Rise, which will also include four-player co-op.

4-Player Co-Op

Then came a new trailer for Thunder Tier One, which is different spin on four-player co-op. This seems to be a top-down shooter that has more of a tactical feel to it.

Also, there was Just Cause Mobile, which has some sort of co-op, though it’s not clear how many players this will cap out at. They did show a lot of footage that had four characters in it, and…. okay, VentureBeat is reporting four-player co-op now. So there you go.

It really does feel like the four-player co-op thing is gearing up for a big comeback.

Well, can it really be called a comeback if it never fully went away? Four-player co-op fans have certainly not been without options since Left 4 Dead‘s mega-success, from Diablo III to the entire Borderlands franchise to even Genshin Impact. Still, this really does feel like it’s ramping up again after hiding in the background for a while.

And I guess that’s cool if you’re a fan of four-player co-op games.

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