Dead Space 3 Co-op Gameplay

Last night GT.TV aired almost 30 minutes of gameplay for the upcoming AAA title from EA, Dead Space 3. Dead Space has been a series that has received large amounts of feedback from every corner in the arena of video games. Many believe the titles are sadistic and possess a certain satanic quality. Still others praise them for reviving the survival horror genre. There are countless others who lie somewhere in the middle ground, neither praising nor criticizing, just in the middle. I personally love them both. Their perfect assimilation of gunplay and terror is admirable.

Next February Visceral’s Dead Space 3 is going to scare its way back into our homes and this time, it will be a little different. When we all found out that this third installment of this horror series was to be co-op, again we heard mixed responses. Many scolded the developers for threatening to ruin the mood of their scare-full game. I on the other hand, along with a relatively large number of fans, decided that I would give Visceral and EA a chance. After all, why would they willingly wound one of their thoroughbreds right before it took on the last leg of the triple-crown?

Regardless of the acidity these opinions, they were speculation. Nobody had seen how this game change would change the game and so, until we got to see it in action, we could say all that we wanted, but it didn’t matter. So last night, when GT.TV showed off extended gameplay for the first time, it was to be expected that the new co-op would be exhibited.

The footage started out with Isaac Clarke startling awake. He is inverted, hanging from some unknown apparatus, and manages to release himself then stumble out onto a snowy, barren landscape. After killing a few necromorphs, and escaping a falling vehicle in Nathan Drake fashion, he comes into contact with John Carver, the DS3’s new aid to protagonist Clarke. After a brief exchange of words, Carver moves inside, leaving Isaac in the courtyard below, tasking him with finding a way up to Carver. Then, after entering a small room and restoring power to the lift just outside, Clarke starts the short ride to the top.

Of course, as any Dead Space fan will know, “short” and “easy” tasks never end up that way. Almost as soon as Clarke was on the lift a giant necromorph monster attacks the lift and sends it plummeting to the ground, initiating a boss fight. As soon as this battle started you can see the player invite a friend to join him, the indication appearing on-screen mid-battle. For the sake of demonstration the player allowed himself to be slain, watching Clarke get swiftly and gruesomely consumed by the filthy monster.

Upon restarting at the last checkpoint, John Carver has joined Clarke this time, and the new team member is controlled by another player. Entering the same courtyard I began to wonder, well how is this going to work? Carver is no longer able to tell you what to do up on the railing above Isaac. He is right next to him. What happened next was extremely gratifying. Walking into the same generator room to restore power, this time a cutscene was triggered. In this scene the duo exchange some uncomfortable words that clearly set the tone for the relationship between them. Then venturing back outside and onto the lift the two are again attacked by the monster, only this time the two humans interact with each other, trying to keep the other falling but in the end failing.

It is this change in story telling that I think is going to put Dead Space 3 above a number of other co-op titles. Co-op is no longer just throwing another player into the story who, narratively, has no reason to be there. Instead it seems that Visceral has almost made two separate games; one to be experienced traditionally, playing alone, and another to be played with a friend. I don’t think that there is any question at all; the developers put a lot of effort into making co-op work in their other words solo campaign. Executive producer Steve Papoutsis said he wanted to make co-op more rewarding to play. I think he hit the nail on the head with Dead Space 3. Now we only have to wait until February, a “short” (Geoff Keighley you bastard) 8 months away.

To see the video in full click the link below.