It's been an exciting couple days at PAX, especially if you're a Portal 2 fan! We're following up the co-op campaign screenshots released yesterday - with actual footage from the co-op Portal 2 campaign.
For those who perhaps missed out on the original Portal, it may not be clear why adding a two-player mode is such a big deal. Just extra gameplay with a friend, right?
Erik Wolpaw, one of the writers over at Valve offers a bit of context to the co-op addition - making it clear that it's more than just extra content.
"One of the things we noticed after we shipped Portal 1 was that a lot of fans were writing us and telling us that they actually played Portal 1 which was completely a single-player game cooperatively. One person would take the controller and they'd play it with their wives, or boyfriends, or girlfriends, so one of our initial goals with Portal 2 was to formalize that co-op mode that people had kind of jerry-rigged themselves, and we wanted to put a controller in that second player's hands, which is exactly what we've done."
If that doesn't sell you on the co-op campaign, check the co-op footage from PAX:
It's blatantly clear from the video that the sense of humor that GLaDOS brought to the first game is still present, along with some brand new game elements. I never thought about how much trouble it would be to direct someone else in the palcement of portals, but it seems Valve has already solved the problem. The introduction of the "ping tool," an ability to place a bullseye where you would like your partner to place a portal is an elegant solution that will probably prevent a good amount of bickering, and save a lot of friendships.
It's also clear that both players will need to play responsibly, since a failure by either member will remove both portals, potentially forcing you to restart the challenge. Sidenote: did anyone else catch the T2-style thumbs-up as one of the robots disappeared into the sludge at 6:03? Awesome.
Gamers who played the first Portal will be familiar with prior game techniques i.e. the infinite drop: placing one portal on the roof and one on the floor, creating a neverending fall. Certainly entertaining, and definitely nausea-inducing if done for too long, the ability is given an actual purpose in the 2-player game. The technique was first teased in the announcement trailer, and I was happy to see it pop up as an actual game strategy - and not just a throwaway gimmick for the teaser. I don't know what it is about the ability to launch one of my friends across an entire map that makes me chuckle, but I know I like it.
They've also given you the ability to make gestures, like waving to your partner, along with shared gestures like hugging (Awww). I loved the idea in Army of Two, and more in-game hugging is always welcome.
So there we have it: our first look at actual co-op gameplay for Portal 2. Initial concerns over how well two players could work together in a game as cerebral and puzzling as Portal seem to have been addressed already. Also, fears that the game would exclude color-blind gamers with the addition of more portal colours have hopefully been eased, since the portals simply use a lighter and darker version of blue and orange.
After seeing the footage myself, I have to agree with our own Rory Young's evaluation from the floor of PAX: this game does look incredible.
Hopefully the verbal abuse from GLaDOS will be a bit easier to handle with a buddy when Portal 2 hits PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PS3 on Feb. 9th, 2011.