Gameplay itself should be mostly familiar to action RPG veterans. The big difference here is you can switch on the fly between ranges and melee abilities. Doing so changes the skills available on your quickbar, giving you some nice tactical options during combat. I found the combat in the game quite chaotic, VH2 likes to overwhelm players with sheer numbers. The screen can become quite cluttered and make it hard to deal with the waves of enemies coming at you. In a way this makes the combat a bit dissatisfying, unable to see your character pulling off cool abilities. Co-op and assistance from your AI companion has little effect on this unless you put her (or your partner) as the tank with you firing from the rear. It's because of this that I found the game to be more of a chore and gravitated towards co-op.
Here's what those swarms of enemies look like.
Co-op can be played online with four players. Drop-in and drop out is supported at anytime, though you'll have to turn on "Online Mode." Co-op isn't held back by level limits, though you only earn progress towards your own game when those quests line up with your own current progress. Joining another player will earn you experience and items, and the satisfaction of helping your fellow vampire hunter.
While certain aspects of the game seem to be detuned for co-op; for instance elevators in the levels don't allow both players to ride on them at the same time - other times the missions at hand feel very cooperative. Early on in the game you'll be tasked with defending a city with multiple ways in. Players can easily split up and cover the oncoming horde of bad guys and quickly jump over to assist a friend if one gets overwhelmed.
Speaking of this mechanic there's a set of rather enjoyable missions that are perfect for co-op. These missions mix tower defense style gameplay with typical ARPG mechanics. Enemies will spawn in at one or more location and charge towards a portal that you need to defend. Along the way you can set up turrets, pads, and other towers to hold off the onslaught. These are built with parts that are earned by completing waves. We had quite a bit of fun in this mode and co-op play felt like a necessity to complete the more difficult waves. In a way, it almost felt like a game on its own. As an added bonus these missions yield some pretty awesome rewards.
Co-op players can also enjoy some synergistic skills like your typical heals and attack buffs that affect all players and AI players present. Characters like the Arcane Mechanic are also perfect to set up perimeter defenses utilizing his turret and trap making abilities. Like most action RPGs, Van Helsing II is best played with friends.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II is an incredible value for all the content it contains. On top of the story mode, the game features a co-op nightmare mode and PvP modes. There's a ton of other things I didn't cover like the crafting system, the stat tracking, and the artifacts. The depth of the character's skill trees yield a lot of replayability on higher difficulties as there's simply a ton of stuff to unlock. The price of entry into this? Just $15. It's an absolutely insane value for everything in this package. Like the game itself and it's deceptive layers of complexity, I almost feel like a low pricetag gives buyers the impression The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II isn't a fully featured game - when in reality it's bigger than a lot of the more expensive games out there.
The Co-Op Experience: Players team up as one of three classes to take on the game in two co-op modes. Level disparity and progress disparity do not limit who can play together.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.