A million billion years ago (OK, more like 2008), I wrote an article about open world co-op games and their overall awesomeness. The examples I used were Crackdown and GTA IV, but the list wasn’t a long one to choose from at the time, though Mercenaries 2 and Saints Row 2 came out around the time of the article and didn’t get a fair mention. Well, it’s been four years. Have the co-op gods been good to open world fans?
For something that is undoubtedly a difficult endeavor to create, there have been many open world co-op games since that article came out. To name a few, there’s been Crackdown 2, Saints Row: The Third, and Dead Island. Borderlands can also be thrown in as well, since it's equal parts open world and hub-world.
All are fun in their own right, and each game showcases smart ideas in co-op design. Borderlands is a nice mix of FPS and RPG, encouraging gamers to craft teams to tackle the game’s exotic and varied locales. Crackdown 2 builds on the already stellar idea of supercop teams in a large city, and it's mountains of fun to mow down dozens of Freaks with a buddy or two. Saints Row: The Third follows tried-and-true Saints Row formula of “big city plus crazy experiences equals fun,” and since it’s wackier than ever, the shared fun is even greater.
Though the past four years have given us plenty of great open world co-op games, Dead Island is the shining gem of recent games. It serves as a model for what makes a great open world co-op game.