I love you, Valve, but ya done goof’d. Cooperative horror is where it’s at these days, what with games like Killing Floor 2, Warhammer: Vermintide 2, and State of Decay 2, and even Friday the 13th and Dead by Daylight, both of which blended PvP with their PvE. I love every one of these games for different reasons – alright, “love” may be too a strong word for State of Decay 2 after that unforgivably buggy launch, but still – and yet, none of them have successfully replaced Left 4 Dead’s near-perfect take on the genre.
I get it, I really do. Why would Valve break their streak of ending wildly popular series when they’re only two games in – surely I don’t need to bring up Half-Life: Episode 3, Portal 3, or Team Fortress 3, but oh well, I did it anyway – when actual games development is just so hard. I imagine it doesn’t look as enticing for a company that’s found such a cozy spot to rest atop the veritable mountain of gold that comes with hosting one of the world’s most popular digital distribution platforms.
It’s a good thing, then, that Left 4 Dead isn’t the only game in town that lets you team up with no more than three friends for good ole fashioned monster slaying. Have a look at this gaggle of upcoming video games that ought to do a swell job of filling that Boomer-shaped hole in our hearts.
It’s somewhat uncommon for a video game adaptation of a popular movie, book or comic to see the same level of success The Walking Dead has had. Telltale did a mostly fantastic job with its episodic series, and soon another developer will be bringing their own twist to the franchise. There’s a lot I can say about this game, but you really only need to be aware that it’s a cooperative Walking Dead game that’s being realized by Payday developer Overkill Software. You really couldn’t ask for a more perfect fit.
Like nearly every other game on this list, Overkill’s The Walking Dead features four-player co-op and something spooky to shoot at – in this case, it’s the slow-moving, Romero-esque undead we all know and love. A collaborative effort with series creator Robert Kirkman, the game is played from the first-person perspective with light role-playing mechanics and a strong emphasis on basic survival, against both the eponymous walking dead and the scant few humans who remain in this desolate world, the majority of whom you can expect to be the absolute worst.
It’s also set in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C., like another upcoming game, The Division 2, because art imitates life, I guess?
Release Date: November 6, 2019 (PC), February 2019 (PS4, XBO)
From the Swedish indie outfit 10 Chambers Collective comes GTFO, and while I’ll admit I wasn’t initially a fan of the title, it has grown on me a bit since its reveal at E3 back in June. The debut trailer was certainly intriguing, but it wasn’t until we were shown new demo footage at Gamescom last week that I really started to see what it’s trying to do.
The game has something to do with scientists finding something spooky buried in the Chicxulub Crater, which leads to a group of well-armed scavengers being sent in to raid the newly unearthed complex of all its valuable treasures. This, of course, results in a lot of bad, bad things being rightfully pissed when they’re awoken by all the drilling and raiding. It’s difficult to tell exactly what these creatures are, but what they’re not is more of the same. I’ve seen lumbering giants and wandering humanoids that send “feeler” tendrils to spot prey, summoning swarms of dog-like creatures that come out in numbers to slap you with what looks like shoulder-mounted tongues. It’s weird but in a good way.
Side note: I feel like people may actually be the bad guys here, because who enjoys being having their peaceful slumber cut short by a bunch of nerds? Anyway, I’m very much looking forward to killing them all with fire when GTFO arrives later this year.
Release Date: 2018 (PC)
Developed by Crytek, Hunt: Showdown is a gorgeous horror game that’s been in Early Access on PC since late February. It limits its co-op to two-player teams of monster tracking bounty hunters, with a handful of teams competing for a single bounty. Each match is set on a wide open map that’s brimming with monsters and hidden clues that hint at the secret location of a Big Bad. If you and your comrade can survive long enough to find it, you’ll need to kill it. However, doing so will immediately reveal your location to whoever’s left breathing, forcing you to survive against the remaining human players long enough to collect the bounty and bounce.
If that sounds like a lot of work, you’re right, it absolutely is. If Dark Souls has taught us anything, it’s the value of hard work and that uniquely rewarding feeling that comes from successfully chipping away at a seemingly impossible task long enough to be victorious. Perhaps more than any other game on here, in Hunt, teamwork is key. So if you’ve been blessed with the kind of special someone in your life who will gladly watch your six for any wandering bug ladies, this is game is for you.
Release Date: PC (available now), TBA (XBO)
The film adaptation of Max Brooks’ excellent novel had its problems, chief among them being the simple fact that it didn’t have any real connection to the source material. I should know, for this is one of maybe four books I’ve read before Hollywood discovered them (in semi-related news, Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy is something I’d highly recommend) but despite that, the movie was extremely memorable in one major way.
Arguably the coolest thing about the film, aside from Brad Pitt’s scarf, of course, was the swarm-like movement of the infected. I’m not making it up when I say the first time I saw the infected form a zombie ladder over the Wall of Jerusalem, my inner monologue went something like, “man, that’d be a cool thing to see in a video game”. Then, as if through sheer willpower, I made it happen. Oh, and Saber Interactive helped, too.
World War Z, the game, is broken up into bite-sized chapters that pit up to four players against swarms of fast-moving zombies that can overwhelm through sheer numbers, often during strategically placed “crescendo events” (they’re not called that, but if you spent any significant amount of time with Left 4 Dead, you get it). Unlike Valve’s series, it’s played from a third-person perspective, features unique character classes, and won’t incorporate any “special” infected types. Instead, its zombies act as they did in the film, crawling over each other in a desperate effort to sink their teeth into warm flesh. Boy, does it look fun.
Release Date: TBA 2019 (PC, PS4, XBO)
Between Hunt: Showdown and Generation Zero, fans of gorgeous visuals should have plenty to look forward to in the coming year. Thanks to the seriously impressive Apex engine, Generation Zero’s wide open world comes alive with a day/night cycle, dynamic weather, and persistent enemies. The latter of which simply means that if you kill something, it stays dead, and should you decide to sneak past another something, that something will absolutely be waiting patiently for you should you decide to return.
This game also manages to set itself apart by setting the action in a reimagined 1980s Sweden that’s been overrun by killer robots. Now, unlike zombies and grumpy aliens, robots don’t have a soft underbelly for you to eviscerate with hot lead (they do have glowing weak spots, because video games). With nary a soft target in sight, you and your friends will need to get creative in order to survive. This means making the most of each character’s unique skill set, as well as using guerilla tactics to topple those rogue toasters. Running in guns blazing will only get you killed, then the robots will probably harvest you for parts.
Release Date: TBA 2019 (PC, PS4, XBO)
The Blackout Club is being made by The Magic Circle developer Question Games, and it too is set in the 80s, though it follows a group of teens who have found themselves tasked with exposing a deadly occult conspiracy in their town. This was before mobile phones and the Internet made exposing such small town conspiracies super easy, so I suspect these tenacious teens will have to make a real effort if they’re going to be successful in ridding their hometown of its ghoul infestation.
The art style is on the quirkier side, with colorful visuals that I’m really digging, if only for the refreshing change in scenery. The monsters are still sufficiently creepy, and I imagine the funky visuals will gel nicely with the era in which it’s set.
Release Date: TBA 2019 (PC, PS4, XBO)
That’s it! You made it this far, so you may as well let me know what you think. If I missed anything you feel I should’ve given a mention, feel free to set me straight in the comments below. Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, I can take it.