Self-proclaimed "massive fans" of the site, Peter and Ruth, wrote in with an interesting question for us. They have exhausted the Xbox 360's library of locally cooperative titles. They want to move into the Co-Op Couple Big Leagues, and pick up a second Xbox 360 for some online or LAN gaming. I have a dual 360 set up myself, so I'm going to write a little guide to help them and any other couple considering a second system.
They're curious about what games are out there that support online co-op, but lack local co-op. I'm asking you, our awesome readers, to add you two cents to the comments section below. You've done a fantastic job contributing to similar discussions in the past. This guide is for the Xbox 360, but feel free to add your favorite online-only co-op PS3 games to the discussion.
The first thing you should consider when getting a second console is whether you want to connect them using a System Link or through Xbox LIVE. That depends on what games you will be playing. Is your co-op relationship monogamous, or do you like to get other parties involved? When my wife and I were faced with a similar decision it all came down to one game and one game only:
Just tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it!
Now you may be saying to yourself, "What an idiot! Borderlands has split screen co-op!" Yes, this is true, but I don't think there's a need for name calling. We all know that Borderlands can be played cooperatively via split screen or system link. We also know that there is no split screen with online support. If you want to play with four players, you'll need to have two systems connected to Xbox LIVE. (Or you could get two more systems and play with four people locally, but now you're getting re-god-damn-diculous.)
My wife and I have an open co-op relationship. We like to add random people to the mix to make gaming more exciting. Co-oping a game as a couple is fun, but sometimes you need to get in on a little group action.
If you have two systems on LIVE you can play with other couples, friends; hell, you can even play with family, if you're into that sort of thing. If you want to be able to co-op with more than just each other, (and trust me, eventually, you will) you'll have to get an additional Xbox LIVE Gold account for your second 360. Here's where things start to get a little expensive.
The Set Up
I'm going to cover how we set up our Xbox 360's in this part (hence the subheading). If you're not into all that techie stuff you can skip to the list o' games, if you haven't already. You won't hurt my feelings, I promise. I was an English major in college, so if this all reads like a bunch of uninformed B.S., ya caught me. Call the geek police.
This is how I did it. You can see pictures of my consoles here. Please, feel free to (constructively) add to the conversation in the comments section! This set up is for consoles in two different rooms. You could put both the consoles and TV's next to each other, if your significant other doesn't mind the living room looking like a frat house. I'll toss some Amazon.com links in here and there. That way I'm helping the site. Yay, I'm helping!
Xbox 360 Wireless Adapter If you're thinking of picking up an older Xbox 360 and placing it in a separate room from your internet connection, you'll need one of these bad boys. If you decide to throw down on the Xbox 360 Slim, good news, WiFi is already built in. You could always run a cable through the middle of your house, if you're some sort of uncouth squatter. They're going for about $65 bucks. The adapter, not the squatter.
D-Link DIR-655 Extreme N Gigabit Wireless Router (Almost) any router will (probably) work. We picked up this one because it has "extreme" in the title. We drink a lot of Mountain Dew. It blasts internet juice all over the house, wirelessly connecting two laptops and the second Xbox 360 to the interwebs. (Our main console is directly wired to the router.) This will cost you $70 clams.
Xbox Live Gold Membership You'll need two of these if you both want to play online. The best way to handle this is to get the Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack through Xbox LIVE. For $100 bucks you get FOUR memberships. A solo membership is $60 dollars. I'll let you do the math.
Now that you're set up, you need some games. Here are a few that my wife and I have enjoyed together, as well as with friends. Each of these games require two systems to play co-op together. Some games can be played via system link, all are Xbox LIVE compatible. If you follow the linked Co-Optimus score you can see our entire review of the game, along with a convenient link to Amazon.com.
Brink Eight players can team up online to complete objective based missions in the campaign or free play. Four players can join up to complete Challenges. Every mode of the game can be played co-operatively. AI bots fill in when human players are not available. Co-Optimus Score: 4 out of 5.
Bulletstorm It lacks a co-op campaign, but the four man Anarchy Mode is a visceral extension of the bloody gameplay. Battle 20 waves of enemies using communication and Skill Shots in diverse, hazard-ridden environments. Co-Optimus Score: 4 out of 5.
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair Six players can team up with friends in online co-op as one of the famous vampire hunters from the Castlevania series. Players share item pickups and can revive each other as they take on giant bosses. Co-Optimus Score: 4 out of 5.
Crackdown Two players can run, jump, climb, and shoot your way through Pacific City. Each player levels up their super human character in this completely open sand box style game. Co-Optimus Score: 4 out of 5.
Crackdown 2 Team up with four Agents against the Cell and Freaks. Grab co-op orbs, revive fallen teammates, and work together to liberate Pacific City. Crackdown 2 is your explosive co-op sandbox. Co-Optimus Score: 4.5 out of 5.
Dead Rising 2 Two player zombie-slaying co-op. Explore Fortune City while creating insane combo weapons. Co-Optimus Score: 4.5 out of 5.
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames Play through an open world shooter with a buddy in drop-in/drop-out fashion. Blowing stuff up with a buddy was never more fun. Co-Optimus Score: 4 out of 5.
Red Dead Redemption In Free Roam mode, form a gang with up to 16 members and take out bandit hideouts, complete challenges and ride around the countryside together. There are separate co-op missions available through free DLC. Co-Optimus Score: 3 out of 5.
Saints Row 2 Join a friend's game in true drop-in/drop-out style for a crazy and fun open world experience. Players can complete missions and challenges together, as well as play through the entire single player story. Co-Optimus Score 4.5 out of 5.
Too Human Pair up with a friend and trek through dungeon after dungeon as you collect loot and power up your character. Drop in and Drop Out support as well as item trading are available. Co-Optimus Score: 3.5 out of 5.
Trenched Team up with four people online, players can revive each other, upgrade turrets, develop strategy for missions, and take down enemies together. Co-Optimus Score: 4.5 out of 5.
A few of the other Co-Optimus staff members weighed in:
Marc "DjinniMan" Allie:
We did system link for Transformers: War for Cybertron, and loved it.
Sam "Samoza" Tyler:
I've taken my 360 around to a pals and we have both plugged into his Internet and used 2 TVs. We played online, but locally! This was a Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 night, a sorely underrated
Well, that's a quick list of quality two system co-op games off the top of my head. Don't forget, you can come up with a quick list off the top of your head by using our fancy database. Feel free to add your favorite online co-op game to the comments section. Please remember, I intentionally left out games that support single system co-op. If you leave a comment asking me why I left out Gears of War or Halo, everyone will know you didn't really read the article. They'll probably point and laugh at your comment.
Don't let your local co-op library go to waste, either. You may have played all the Halo's, Left 4 Dead's, Gears of War's, and whatnot's via split screen. Pick up a second copy of just one of those and try it now, each of you with your own display. Makes a difference, doesn't it? My wife and I revisited several games once we each had our own console. Most of these games have been out for a while, so you can easily pick them up at a reasonable price. Thanks for reading, and have fun!