If any game type out there requires co-operative play as a built in mechanic, it’s going to be “Horde Mode”. You know the type. You and your friends hunker down and eliminate an increasingly large amount of bad guys. Out of all the Horde Modes I’ve come across, Killing Floor is the stand-out there. Teamwork is key, as focusing on priority targets can change an inevitable death sentence to a full on zombie barbeque. The number of zombies (or specimens as the game calls them) scales with the amount of players, but the game remains challenging regardless of the number of your allies.
Killing Floor is tough, even for someone who's played it for years like myself. The grunt specimens don’t do much damage, but they hold you in place for their bigger, meaner, uglier cousins to turn your British Special Forces chap into BSF tartar. Counting on your buddies to free you, or freeing them from the (undoubtedly cold) hands of a specimen is all part of the plan. Because when the big guys come out, you need all the available fire power you can muster before they rip through your soft, human bodies like a garbage truck eating gingerbread men. And if you think for one moment you can take the Patriarch in a solo cage match, just be prepared to have little bits of you cleaned up afterwards by the janitorial staff.
It’s a game that rewards cooperative play without being restrictive about it. Sure, you can lay waste to hundreds of the little specimens by yourself without ever getting a scratch, and even some of the bigger guys. But when the time comes, you need to be ready to stand with your team.
That’s not a foreign concept. After all, if every little monster required the full force of your team, then you’re going to get frustrated when someone doesn’t put every single bullet between the eyes of some creep who deserved it. This is one of the tight ropes designers must walk when balancing difficulty for co-op experiences. Push too hard and it becomes a nightmare of coordination which can straight drink the fun out of any experience. Of course, being too lax has the same result: a mindless exercise in pushing buttons and wishing you were someplace else.