Online heists. A feature that was promised in all of the initial marketing material for Grand Theft Auto 5, and then delayed just prior to launch in early 2013. It was then pushed to “later in the year”, then “summer 2014”, then “before the end of 2014”, and then finally “Spring 2015”.

On March 10th, we will finally get online heists – arguably the most exciting missions in GTA5, playable with your friends. I’m pretty excited.

I’ve been playing a lot of co-op and multiplayer with friends recently. It’s been Insurgency mostly, with Payday 2 and Dying Light yesterday, The Crew earlier last week, and soon, GTA 5.

What are your favourite current or upcoming co-op games? 

(Substitute question for Gavin: Do you still have your “rule”?)

Friday, 1:15 pm – Gavin

Cities: Skylines is all over the web these days!  It’s been out for three days and sold 250,000+ copies in its first 24 hours.  What a fantastic success story for them, considering the debacle that was Sim City and the confusion between Skylines, Cities in Motion 1 and 2 (part of the same franchise as Skylines) and Cities XL, which is a completely different franchise.  Paradox as a publisher really seems to quietly succeed in the industry, as they have some enormous games with massively devout fanbases that never quite make it to major press – Crusader Kings 2, Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, Magicka, and Mount and Blade.

I was curious about what I’d play after Stick of Truth, but then it hit me – isn’t that a dangerous way of thinking?  I’d always be worried about “what’s next?” rather than just enjoying what’s in front of me.  I get that I’m in a different place financially now than I was twenty or ten or even five years ago, and now I have the freedom to effectively buy whatever games I want, whenever I want, but still, I’m finding that worrying about the backlog (fortunately I don’t have this anymore) and thinking about what’s next on the docket, rather than just playing what I have in front of me, is deleterious to my game-playing experience.

Steam has made it a bit too easy to cheapen the value of the properties I have in my account.  I guess I don’t appreciate them as much as if I’d paid full price for them.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m eternally grateful for sales – but I wonder if part of my affinity towards Nintendo titles is that I pay full price for them.  Maybe I’m just trying to convince myself how much I like them because I paid so much for them that they MUST be great!  I guess it doesn’t matter as long as I genuinely do like them.  I’ve been critical of full-price Nintendo games before – Super Mario 3D World most of all, but NSMBU as well.  Doesn’t mean they aren’t great games, but my critical lens was turned towards them with fervour.  Maybe I wouldn’t have enjoyed Mario Kart 8 as much if it didn’t cost $60.  I appreciate the single-player experience, but it is fleeting – there is no absorption into the game, not like I had with, say, Skyward Sword, or Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

For the record, the next title is Deus Ex: Human Revolution again.

Thursday, 9:00 am – Ricky

Here’s a great example of a genre that should stick to single player vs. multiplayer: City builders

SimyCity was the biggest disappointment of 2013 for me – the online portion did not work at launch, and yes, it was a requirement to even play the game. EA totally botched the release, and the game never quite recovered. Maxis is now closed, and the industry has lost yet another one of it’s one prolific development houses.

Enter Cities: Skylines. This is a budget ($30 USD) title that is single player only. It is getting rave reviews, and some outlets have called it the game that SimCity tried to be. Here, read this article in PC Gamer about a town with one house. It’s amazing. It’s exactly the kind of goofy stuff you used to do in the old SimCity games, and it shows that it has the charm that the old SimCity games used to have.

Tried playing heists again at 6:30 am this morning. I played the set-up of the first mission, then had to go to work. Maybe tonight will be the night!

Wednesday, 7:58 am – Ricky

Well, that was a disaster.

We spent three hours last night and played a staggering zero heists in Grand Theft Auto 5. The Rockstar servers were pounded into the ground, then smoothed out with a steam roller, then rolled up into a nice cylinder, then pounded into the ground again.

I guess we should have seen that coming. In this day and age, very few games launch their online features and modes without at least a hiccup or four. It’s one of the reasons why I’m generally OK with waiting a while before hoping into a new multiplayer or co-op game.

So, we’ll try again later in the week. Well, I will. matt and our buddy Degenotron will likely have finished all the heists by the time I have logged back into the PS4. Oh life, you so crazy.

And yes, so far, Dying Light is winning the co-op GOTY race. And now that I think about it, the game launched without a single online hiccup. Huh. Well, there you go: Techland is now winning studio of the year, too.

Tuesday, 11:37 am – Gavin

Gavin’s rule: I will not play a multiplayer game with someone unless I can actually punch them in the face IRL.

Despite my predilection for couch co-op, I have to say that I’ve grown tired of split-screen.  Part of the appeal of so many modern games is how beautiful they look, but there’s a problem with split-screen – that aesthetic is ruined.  Mario Kart 8 is my leading example of this – it’s a phenomenally beautiful, bright game with so much going on, but the split-screen is vertical, which narrows the field of view substantially.  It becomes more awkward to control and the visual experience is ruined.

Same-screen co-op is the new hotness, so I turn to games like New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario 3D World, Nidhogg, etc.

If I’m playing online, it needs to be a game that fosters cooperation.  My gold standard for this is Portal 2, with Left 4 Dead 2 coming in second.  You can’t play Portal 2 without cooperation, and you can’t be a cowboy in Left 4 Dead 2 or else you die quickly.  There’s little funnier in cooperative Left 4 Dead than watching someone run off ahead, get nailed by a Special Infected, and then leave them to wallow in their own bravado.

Monday, 7:28 pm – Albert

My answer is obvious: Dying Light. This game is so incredibly fun single player but only got better when you play with someone else. I’m not a big coop/multiplayer guy because most of the time I game on my own terms. I might need to leave, do something real quick, etc — that can be difficult to do if people are waiting on me. Dying Light is a game that in the beginning you are completely helpless. Several shamblers can beat up on you and your skills suck… plus your weapons are as strong as a pencil. In the beginning of playing Dying Light I was so happy to have Ricky play with me because it provided an extra body to watch my back allowing me to open hard locks on objects or finish an objective in the dark. With his help i’ve become a lot stronger and now it’s a lot easier for me to complete quests. I’ve since played a bit more than Ricky (actually a lot more) and now i’m power leveling Ricky to the point where he can enjoy the game quicker. Of course some people love the grind or like dying, but I find that it’s more fun when you last more than 2 seconds with a horde of zombies.

I’m looking forward to buying GTA 5 on the PC and hopefully I can convince someone to play heists with me. I had finished GTA 5 on the PS3 and once I did I never wanted to play it again…. I’m not sure if that’s a good sign or not. We’ll see in the coming months whether I cave and buy it to play with one of my steam friends.

Also — I assume this is Gavin’s “rule”:

Monday, 11:37 am – Ricky

Hey! It’s a weekly post!