Portal 2 Co-Op Impressions

A pair of cute robots star in Valve's team-focused twist on the Portal formula.

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According to GLaDOS, Portal 2's dry-witted antagonist, scientific achievement is all about cooperation. That's why one of history's greatest scientific teams is the duo of "Albert Einstein and his cousin Terry." Of course, it's pretty obvious she's lying through her robot teeth on that one. But what would Portal be without a villain spouting out hilarious bits of grossly inaccurate misinformation at every turn? That's just Portal. But all this cooperation business? Well, that's certainly new.

Fortunately Valve is here at PAX 2010 to explain what co-op is all about, as this new feature was the focus of the developer's latest Portal 2 demo. To put it in context, this mode is one of the many new ways Portal 2 is expanding on its predecessor. In addition to a single-player story that Valve claims will last about twice as long as the first Portal, the co-op mode will clock in at roughly the same length--making for an overall package that's supposedly four times as large as the original Portal.

Co-op tells a parallel story to the single-player mode, with a pair of new robotic protagonists simply named Blue and Orange. They're an oddly cute pair, one squat and one oblong, looking almost like a robotic Bert and Ernie. The two players can interact with each other in a variety of ways that range from critical to solving puzzles all the way to almost entirely nonsensical. The latter includes the ability to wave at one another, or just simply start dancing in celebratory glee.

But as hard as it may be to hear, dancing alone won't solve puzzles. To solve puzzles, you'll need to master the new co-op mechanics. We were shown a few examples of ways the two players will have to interact with each other to progress through GLaDOS' increasingly devious death traps. One very basic option is a paint tool that lets one player tag a surface in order to indicate to his or her teammate that this is the place where you need to drop a portal. According to Valve, this is to alleviate the vague gesturing and eventual frustrated shouting that tends to creep up whenever two players are trying to tell each other where to go in an online game.

Beyond simply tagging walls and surfaces, you can now work together by combining your portals to send one player to areas he wouldn't normally be able to reach on his own. As one example, Valve showed us how infinite falling can work in a co-op scenario: Player B sets up two portals above each other and lets Player A fall infinitely between the two. Then, Player B carefully aims and shoots a portal onto a distant wall to launch Player A--with all that built-up momentum--across a pit of deadly goo and onto a safe ledge. There were times in the first game when you could do something like this, but infinite falling was almost always too disorienting to use strategically. But with a friend at your side, it's suddenly a mechanic that can be used quite a bit more often.

Adding more complexity are some of the new objects you can interact with in the world. One we were shown was a reflector cube designed to reflect the path of deadly lasers. These come in handy whenever the door leading to your goal is powered down, making it necessary to guide laser beams to laser receptacles to power the door back up. One player drops the cube in a certain location, while another drops portals around to carefully guide the laser beam along. The trick, of course, is making sure you don't accidentally zap your buddy with a deadly laser beam along the way.

Everything we were shown suggested a very promising follow-up to the original Portal. This new co-op mode is looking a bit more complex and heavy on mechanics, so it could very well provide a much steeper learning curve. But between GLaDOS' reliably laugh-worthy dialogue--and there was plenty of it--and the sense of accomplishment that goes along with solving those puzzles, we'll go ahead and assume that the steeper climb will be worth it. You can expect to see Portal 2 arrive on February 9.

Discussion

163 comments
Kristophski
Kristophski

Simply put, the best innovation that the Portal devteam could've come up with.

ParaBellum71
ParaBellum71

The only thing I can say for Lvalve, or Blizzard, is that Valve is original in its game concepts, and that both companies have avoided the use of anti pirating software, which only ends up effecting the legitimate user.

ParaBellum71
ParaBellum71

@onlineterrorism Blizzard is one of the companies that are keeping PC gaming alive? Please explain this to me. I'd love to hear this lulz fest ensue. Blizzard is a crappy developer company who can advertise generic MMO's better then they can make good Diablo games. Just look at Blizzards two latest expansions, which were complete crap, and sold for sixty dollars. The only thing Blizzard is doing is for PC's is getting new users onto the PC's, wether or not they go play other games is anyones guess. And quite honestly, Valve isn't that good either. Half Life was okay, 10 years ago, for a single player adventure game.... Get over yourselves....

HQ-almighty
HQ-almighty

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

SlowMotionKarma
SlowMotionKarma

Funny how I read about co-op in games, and a lot of people complain about how their partner(s) don't actually play cooperatively. I guess if you just get online and accept some kind of random pairing... but I never thought that was what co-op is for. I have a few choice buds that I like co-op-ing with. We always play "together" and fairly, and honestly, if it wasn't for the co-op I would never play many games. Halo, Gears of War, Borderlands, Army of Two, Left 4 Dead/2, GRAW; all of these games would just be "so-so" if it wasn't for co-op. With a friend playing, they are crazy fun; we can play all night having a blast. So having an amazing, and different game like Portal implementing co-op can only mean awesome. I for one am eager to fire this baby up with a friend. Heck, we might play the co-op campaign before the single-player.

Myx0matosis
Myx0matosis

@Gimbabel you make a good point co-op in games ussually dissolves to nothing more that who can piss the other person the most before someone gets punched, or if online, someone rage quits. but Portal is made for a different kind of gamer, a more sophisticated person who plays the game for the artistic and philosophical side not just the wizz bang explosion dependant gamers that CoD has turned so many into. either that or a bunch of idiots who think that just because they have finished portal they are somehow smarter, that's when you're gonna alot retards shooting portals over death pits and the sort thinking that they are incredibly clever for think of it. but hey it could be fun either way.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

It made me smile big when they first announced Portal 2. They said that Portal was a tech demo and a test to see how people took it, but Portal 2 is a game. Which is why they packaged it with the Orange Box since then they knew it was with two good games so even if it does bad they aren't at a loss, but luckily it was Game of the Year.

Gimbabel
Gimbabel

The CO-OP sounds good but who is seriously going to work together EVER in a game?

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

Holy crap they actually do look like Bert and Ernie! I can see the resemblance!

onlineterrorism
onlineterrorism

[quote] Can't wait to get this game for FREE on the PC. But since I got a Terms of Violation warning for the above statement (which is totally absurd), I'll finish the statement. Can't wait to get this game for FREE on the PC during the holidays when my brother buys it for me. >_> geez...seriously have to state 'exact' details to not get warnings now.[/quote] Well...come on. Piracy is rapant on the the PC platform. I could see how the violation came about. This is Valve, however. They try to make great games and they've been generous with PC prices on their Steam platform. Anyone who has the nerve to say they are going to get this game for free or pirate it, should be met with suspicion/violation. I'll never pirate a Valve/Blizzard game. They are the only companies that are keeping PC gaming alive.

Soulus5191
Soulus5191

Robot hell is a real place and you will be sent there if any signs of defiance is given

AngryFingers
AngryFingers

Can't wait to get this game for FREE on the PC. But since I got a Terms of Violation warning for the above statement (which is totally absurd), I'll finish the statement. Can't wait to get this game for FREE on the PC during the holidays when my brother buys it for me. >_> geez...seriously have to state 'exact' details to not get warnings now.

100starz
100starz

@siruncealot That's exactly why it got old. It lost all comedic value from overuse.

nickery123
nickery123

will this be true co-op aswell i wonder or merely online?

frickinkid
frickinkid

ok.. yeah portal is kewl.. but umm.. i freakin want HLF2 EP3.. plz.. i understand the portal stuff is kewl.. and it ties into the HLF2 story.. but i personally am more interested in the continuation of that story..

Get_Shorty
Get_Shorty

Basically it looks like they gave each gun legs to move around in. Still waiting to see why the co-op is co-op.

UxoriousLimited
UxoriousLimited

Paint tools? I thought it was ping tools. Im pretty sure.

siruncealot
siruncealot

@100starz The fad got old? Do you not see people still saying that damn phrase a thousands times to this day?

bottomdollar
bottomdollar

LOL, robotic M&Ms FTW! I'm looking forward to Portal II.

Alex_09
Alex_09

Why the hell is Valve focussing on giving this game length and replayability when the Left 4 Dead games are only 3 hours long? The first game is amazingly small, only 2.5 GB when installed on my 360. It would be nice if there were consistent developers in the game industry.

Flame102
Flame102

the valve is truly a continuation of the second sequel to portal II :)

glssr60
glssr60

These two robots are more reminiscent of the two nanobots in "Jimmy Neutron" than they are of "Bert and Ernie" IMHO...:)

Taffelost
Taffelost

In portal 2 there will be cake for everyone!

100starz
100starz

IMPORTANT MESSAGE EVERYBODY! The guy who invented "the cake is a lie" says it's a fad that got old fast and he wishes he had never started it.

bazkingpro
bazkingpro

so does that mean double the cake?

Unheard-Volume
Unheard-Volume

Can't wait! Portal was an ingenious game and while it was much too short it was one of the years best! This time around I hope that Valve lives up to their name and creates something to top its predecessor! (But they have never let us down before!...except maybe TF2 for the 360...never really brought us the promised DLC/updates)

SlowMotionKarma
SlowMotionKarma

I remember reading during the LOOOONNNNGGG wait for HL2, VALVe consisted of about 100 employees. Now (according to Wikipedia) they have 225. Half-Life is VALVe's baby. I'm sure there's ~100 people working on Half-Life 3... err.. I mean Episode 3, or do I? Ahem, really though, their 'lil company has grown quite a bit since then, and considering the story and some of the "Episode 3" was already under development before Episode 2 was released, I'm not worried about Half-Life. Besides how many people does it take to tweak TF2? Or make 4 new maps for Left4Dead (referring to part 2)? Also don't forget Left4Dead was already quite far along before VALVe acquired them. The 6 years for HL2 was also because of the ground-up creation of Source. They purposefully made it modular so they didn't have to spend another 6 years on an engine. As things become obsolete, they remove those chunks and add new hotness (check the Portal 2 footage) instead of making an entirely new engine. Anyway, this co-op looks like awesome fun. Can't wait to make science with my buds. Also, does this count as one of the "big 3" announcements? Hope not...

yummyjibblybits
yummyjibblybits

I hope they bring back the cake...I never got mine in the first one! :-(

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

@TheVGamer im my memory served me correctly during those many painful years valve was working almost exclusively on HL2 and CS:S .... is that the case this time? Between Ep2 and now weve seen what? L4D, L4D2, Portal 2(to come), tons of TF2 updates. Seems like theres a lot more on their plate along with Hl2:ep3/HL3. Therefore the 6 years that went into almost direct work towards HL2 does not equal the same quality as a company whos putting the same ammount of time in to 5 additional games....even with more employees.

mbchfdh2
mbchfdh2

Yeah, I agree that Half-Life 2 was wonderful. Still is, I think. Very few games (almost none) can torture the gaming public for that long, and still be received with open arms.

TheVGamer
TheVGamer

Finally a coop game that DOESN'T rely on mic chat. I figured they would do something different, because like they said it's hard to describe where "that" is. But hugs?? Hilarious and genius! That's Valve. Btw, pls stop spamming: Wheres ep3? what about hl3?? Let me ask you something: Do you remember the wait on HL2? How painful that was? And it payed off. When it's ready, HL3 or episode 3 will come out.

brandontwb
brandontwb

@ d0zin0X, they have different teams working on separate projects. Valve said they have three major surprises coming in less than a year or something, so it should get very interesting and hopefully we can see what they've done with Half Life (probably something big).

brandontwb
brandontwb

The coop looks as amazing as I imagined it. I can't wait for the SDK (source development kit) so I can try to make a few cool coop maps. I'm concerned that there wont be enough difficult challenges for coop and single player, but they will probably put in challenge modes.

superivanho
superivanho

I like portal, but how about hl2 ep3? the story is incompleted....and it's been like over 3 years already?

RobboElRobbo
RobboElRobbo

Sounds cool, but damn, now I'm tempted to buy this for xbox instead of PC thanks to the coop :(

d0zin0X
d0zin0X

Can't believe Valve is spending so much time with Portal, when they could've finished Episode 3.

jumpy46
jumpy46

This has been the only Valve game I have ever considered getting on a different system than a PC. Co-op puzzle solving is always more fun when you are playing with someone sitting right beside you.

Merex760
Merex760

I love Portal. This looks like a lot of fun, and a great addition.

tehepicpwnzor
tehepicpwnzor

Day one purchase for my mac, if it can handle it. If not, PS3 day one purchase. :D

cboyuno
cboyuno

@sircyrus I finally got my dad to try a multiplayer game. Of course I was stupid enough to pick Left 4 Dead. Our two teammates left us hanging out of a windowsill. They thought they were going to make it to the safehouse alone. Actually we watched as a swarm of zombies killed them. But this game is different. Since this is a 2 player game, you won't see as many people who are willing to act stupid. If you play this with a good friend however, you will probably have even more to worry about. For some reason when I play co-op with my buddies, especially split screen, its more like free for all instead of co-op. I tried playing lara croft and the guardian of light with my buddy....we spent half the game detonating grenades on each other. Years before that, on the zelda four swords adventures, we spent half the game torching each other. Random strangers are fine, its your friends that you have to look out for =)

TheBatKid
TheBatKid

Those bots look pretty cool.

dahui58
dahui58

@sircyrus - That's a bit of a generalisation, theres obviously going to be some people playing who want to play the game properly so you will find loads of good people to do it with. Also it's Portal, not Modern Warfare 2, you're not going to get loads of little retarded kids, most people will have bought the game and it's a puzzle game so you won't get "common" gamers.

mosamania
mosamania

@sircyrus but i dont have any friends :( and i really liked the first portal...... i guess im doomed :'((

mbchfdh2
mbchfdh2

Yeah, exactly. TSNAKE617; Yes, I know there's a co-op mode. And I enjoy playing games in co-op, so I'm not saying this is immaterial. But it's not core content. It's icing on the cake and, right now, the cake looks to be a little short on calories. Don't let's be children and start down-thumbing people who express concerns as to the value of this package. If you're happy bunting $60 into a game that you can finish in a couple of days, you're in the minority. And consider that puzzle games immediately lose their primary appeal as soon as you finish them - this isn't like Halo or Call of Duty or Half-Life, with complex AI that will give you a different gaming experience when you play it again. Portal 2's campaign will stay, largely, the same. I have yet to be convinced by this. I loved Portal - so much so that I bought the XBLA download for the extra levels even though I already had The Orange Box - but that doesn't mean I'm a patsy. Valve need to do more than this.

sircyrus
sircyrus

Sounds cool, but unless you have someone you play games with quite regularly I think it would be frustrating. Anyone who has played L4D or L4D2 knows how difficult it can be to get random people to work as a team. Now imagine trying to wrangle some random retard in a mode that requires precise aim and timing. Definitely only play this with a friend.