Co-op Games Never Have The Right Party Size

Playing video games with friends is one of the best features of the medium. You can be competitive, cooperative, or even share differing experiences of non-linear games. While I tend to favour single-player experiences, it’s always fun to sink my teeth into a new multiplayer game with some friends.

This was a lot easier to do as kids, as we all had pretty much the same schedules, get home from school at 4ish, play games, have dinner, play more games, bed – easy. The problem now is that we’re all adults with different schedules and none of the games we play are ever the right party size.

Take Rogue Company for instance. The game is great, it’s got interesting characters and solid game modes. But, only three of us ever want to play it, meaning we always get paired with a random player who half the time is AFK. If the game allowed for matches of 3v3 this wouldn’t be an issue, but no, it’s 4v4 only and always.

Games like A Way Out and It Takes Two are very specifically two-player, but three of us always want to play those. We feel bad leaving someone out, so in the end, no one plays as we just find something else to play. Overwatch and other big team shooters are out as it’s just not possible for us to coordinate that many people with different work and personal schedules. Sure, we could team up with random players, but given the metas of games like Overwatch that always just ends in tears.

Outriders seemed like it was going to be the perfect size, four of us wanted to play and there are four classes in the game, perfect. But no. Outriders is, for some inexplicable reason, a three-player game at most. There are four classes, right there, taunting us. I get that it’s probably a three-player game for balance reasons, but I just want to have fun with all my friends, I don’t care if we’re overpowered. In fact, that’s exactly what I want, to tear shit up with all my friends, not constantly be hunting for that Goldilocks game. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway as the crossplay issues meant we all completed the game separately anyway.

I know there’s no easy solution to this really. Different party sizes in multiplayer games split the player base so it always takes longer to find matches, and some games are just designed to be two-player and anything else just wouldn’t work – Army of Two couldn’t be Army of Two-Maybe-Three Depends If Rick Can Get Off Work Early.

This frustration even extends to board games. Due to lockdown, my housemates and I have been trying to find fun things to do to stop ourselves from murdering each other. Board game cafes exist because board games are weirdly expensive and also a lot of them are best played with large groups. The stress of trying to coordinate a group of people to buy and play one game that’s the right size almost makes it not worth it. That’s why I’m so glad to hear that companies like Rockstar are planning to stay focused on single-player games.

Next: Red Dead Online Is Great, But It Often Feels Like A Chore

  • TheGamer Originals
  • Overwatch
  • Rockstar
  • A Way Out
  • Outriders
  • Rogue Company
  • It Takes Two

Issy is an avid film lover, writer, and game-player based in the UK. He combines his love of film and games in his writing, trying to find as many connections between the two mediums as possible. When he’s not writing, playing, or watching, Issy loves to DJ and look after his growing collection of houseplants, as they make him feel more adult.

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