I don’t want to get into politics right now. I don’t care which way you lean with your beliefs. I do understand that after such a brutal election we need to remember that we are all in this together, and now, more than ever, we need to stay united. There’s no need to get nasty about it. So, in the spirit of togetherness, let’s talk about the games that brought out the best in us as a unified team.
Halo: Combat Evolved
Remember when Halo first came out? If you were at all like me, you obsessed over it. I couldn’t tell you how many times I played this game – I seriously have no clue, but I do remember my favorite moments weren’t just the story, or the gameplay. My favorite memories of Halo were the co-op campaign and playing as a team with my younger brother and friends. With a friend, you could have a competent gunner on your warthog, or you could BE the gunner! Together you could distract a Hunter while the other shot him in his weak spot on the back. We could do so much more in the game than before if you worked WITH a friend. Together. And the competitive multiplayer was amazing! 16 players?! How was that even possible!? It brought all my friends together even if we were all trying to kill each other.
Journey contains one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had in a video game. You play a lone wanderer in a desert riddled with the ruins of an ancient civilization. Your goal is to reach the peak of the mountain that shines in the distance, but to get there you must travel through this beautiful wasteland alone - well, alone at first. The game does a great job of creating a character in the environments you traverse while also making it feel very lonely. Further along in the game you’ll run into another player, and the feeling you get that first time meeting them is incredible. Having the other wanderer with you isn’t necessary. It’s not required for cooperative puzzles, the story goes on even without them, and there isn’t even a way to communicate with them directly (save for some chirping and dancing), but finding them FEELS necessary. Sharing the experience, the discoveries, and the progression of the story with this complete stranger is essential to the games experience as a whole. It creates a bond that transcends language, cultural differences, and self. It is about sharing an experience with someone amidst a lonely world, and that is a beautiful thing.
Left 4 Dead 2
The Left 4 Dead series jumped on the zombie train long before zombies hit peak market saturation. Left 4 Dead 2 holds up to this day as one of the greatest multiplayer zombie survival games of all time. This game had certain requisites that it demanded from you as a player. You had to communicate well with your teammates, you needed to plan your moves, and you had to be capable of adapting to change on the fly. If you could accomplish all of this, you could maybe survive. Yeah, sure, a lot of this involved frantically yelling at each other (most times), but that was all a part of the fun. It was the panic that drove us to think on our toes and adapt quickly to make the best decisions possible with the pieces that were at play. And to top it off: THE LEVELS CHANGED ALL THE TIME. Depending on how well you were playing, the level would intuitively redesign itself to make things more or less challenging. Fuck I miss this game.
I have no moral to this story. There is no outro to make us all magically feel better about things that are out of our control, but we are all people. We’ll keep trying our best to do good. We need to look out for each other or, at the very least, not be awful. That’s an idea: Let’s try to not be awful. Let’s work together – we’re all on the same team.