Co-Optimus: Are you tethered to your partner in co-op? Or can each player explore the city separately?
James Tsai: There’s no co-op tether in Saints Row 2 – I can be on one side of the city, hanging out in a strip club while my friend is on the other side buzzing skyscrapers in a helicopter. When specific missions or activities start, we’ll ask the players to confirm their readiness with one another and then they can warp over to the start point so they don’t have to go searching for one another.
Co-Optimus: Is the entire game playable beginning to end in co-op?
James: Yes, Saints Row 2 is playable beginning to end in co-operative mode. You can begin the first mission with a friend and play all the way through to the final moments, or you can drop-in and drop-out of each other’s games freely at any time as we discussed earlier.
Co-Optimus: Does co-op make the game easier? Does difficulty scale at all?
James: We definitely took whether or not there was a second player into consideration when balancing the action in Saints Row 2. If you’re playing with a friend in co-op the difficulty of the enemies will scale up accordingly to account for the extra firepower and vehicles at your disposal. Co-op truly makes things a lot more fun, but we were careful to maintain the same degree of challenge so that the game didn’t become a cakewalk with two players.
Co-Optimus: What's the most outrageous thing you've seen in a co-op session?
JT: I’ve seen lots of crazy stuff, but one my favorite moment was more about the game’s freedom than anything insanely outrageous. I was playing with one of the other designers, and we were halfway through a mission that required us to stop a van that was fleeing us. I was trying the traditional route of chasing it down with a car, shooting at the tires and the driver, hoping for a lucky shot with my pistol. I had no idea where my partner was and was cursing him out a bit, calling for help and all of a sudden this plane comes diving out of the sky and slams into the van and takes it off the road. And these bodies of some bystanders go flying up and bounce off the hood and windshield of my car.
That’s what’s great about co-op – a human player is always going to be infinitely more creative and flexible than the AI. We had always envisioned this sequence being a pursuit through the city, swerving around traffic, guns blazing, typical action movie stuff. But co-op play and the freedom of an open world gives players so many more options to do some really crazy shit. It’s incredibly fun, and gamers are going to love doing this kind of stuff with their friends.
Co-Optimus: Thanks James and Volition for taking the time to answer our questions.