State of Decay 2 Co-Op issues

As previously mentioned, I caved and purchased State of Decay 2 through the Windows Store. Since the announcement of the game I was waiting for it to come to Steam, because buying a PC game via any method outside of Steam is usually painful in comparison, but decided to break that general rule here because the wife and I really needed a decent co-op game to play together, and SoD2 seemed to be the best fit currently.

The shop experience was maddening because you have to get the store to ‘recognize’ your PC, which you would think would be an easy task given it’s the Microsoft Windows store and your PC runs Microsoft Windows, but nope. The linking part took me far longer than it should have, especially because the process for the first PC was different than the second, despite both running Windows 10.

“Steam is better at all of this” issues aside, lets talk about SoD2 as a co-op game, shall we?

It’s important to keep in mind that a major marketing point of SoD2 was the co-op. So much so in fact that I was a bit worried the focus would change the game too much from what SoD1 was, and, as I explained in the previous post, I don’t want my sequels being totally different games. Luckily SoD2 at its core is very much like SoD1, so bullet dodged there.

The big surprise though? The co-op is stupidly limited. One person is always the host, and everyone else you play with is a visitor. This means that the host is the person who’s game is advancing, while everyone else is just there to help move the host’s progression forward. You can’t actually have a co-op game where both players are considered core players for progression. That, alone, is INSANELY stupid.

But it gets worse in small but critical details. For instance, your main character can push aside friendly NPC characters, so things like getting stuck in doorways doesn’t happen. That’s kinda important in a zombie survival game where being able to quickly react to surprise zombies is a core gameplay loop. It’s also important because all buildings have narrow doorways and limited exits, so you very, very frequently run around/into a friendly character. In co-op, you don’t push aside/move through each other. Instead you block each other. Guess how enjoyable clearing a small house with a half-dozen doorways is? And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the game’s collision detection is rather unforgiving, so everyone has a huge hitbox and you really, really can’t squeeze by each other, or jump over/around. You almost always have to have one person fully back out of the way, and then proceed in an orderly fashion. That’s super fun when a dozen zombies are descending on you and you need to quickly escape…

Now sure, that’s something you can eventually learn to play around, even if it is annoying. Want to know what you can’t play around? The fact that visitor players can’t fully interact with your base, most specifically they can’t build or drop off supply sacks. Base building/interaction is a major focus of the game, yet if you play co-op, the host gets to do all of it, while the visitor just gets to watch. I’d love to talk with the developer who thought this was a smart system, especially one you can’t turn off. I’d then love to punch them in the face at the end of said conversation.

Another core loop of the game is recruiting additional survivors, and then playing as those characters to take advantage of their unique skills. This is also needed because characters get tired, so you are forced to switch to allow others to rest and recover at base. Guess what visitor players can’t do? Yup, you can’t switch characters. The only way (that I’m aware of anyway) for a visitor to switch to a different character is to exit the game and rejoin as someone else (and then of course whatever character they are no longer playing is gone from the game, rather than recovering and still contributing via passive skills).

Nothing says “we are having fun together as equals in this co-op game” more than having one person play the ‘full’ game, and having the second person playing 60% of said game with zero real progression. AND THIS IS A GAME THAT TOUTED CO-OP AS A CORE FEATURE!

What really sucks about all this is that the actual gameplay, collision insanity aside, is really fun together. Bashing zombies, getting loot, driving around, all more fun shared with someone else. It would be really great if the game actually encouraged you to play like that, rather than treating whoever you play with as a gimped second-class citizen.


PS: I hope I’m missing some major switch/feature to enable full co-op play, but searching around via Google has not yielded anything helpful, so don’t believe it exists.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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10 Responses to State of Decay 2 Co-Op issues

  1. Azuriel says:

    Oh man, that’s terrible. I played 100% solo, so I hadn’t even realized it was that bad.

    I think the devs were designing around the idea of drop-in, drop-out “co-op” in the sense of getting help from random strangers when you send up a flare or whatever. It’d be pretty bad if someone could swoop into your game and get your people killed off on purpose, for example. However that could be fixed via menu options, and is no real excuse for not having true co-op.

    • SynCaine says:

      Yea the ‘protect your base from randoms joining and ruining it’ must have been a driver, but as you said, that’s pretty, pretty f’n simple to fix with a menu option to not enable character to have randoms join.

      I also didn’t mention the tethering issue; you can’t get too far from the host character, or the game will auto-teleport you to their location. In an open-world sandbox game about scavenging supplies…

  2. saltycleric says:

    That sounds frustrating. I’ve been playing Divinity:Original Sin 1 with a cousin and since he started the game the characters are in effect all his even though I imported my created character. Not sure if I can export him, but I know when my cousin plays offline he controls the entire party. Anyways ultimate point is if you and your wife haven’t played this together, it’s almost like playing D&D when played in a coop setting. Combat plays out turn by turn and allows for each of you to make decisions but with input from both of you. Really good stuff.

    • SynCaine says:

      I’ve played both games, D:OS1 the story is too wacky for my liking. The second is excellent all around, including the more serious story. She’s not much into RPGs though.

  3. Whorhay says:

    I haven’t played in a month or longer, so take all this with a grain of salt. Other players were able to switch characters at any outpost or at the base, the mechanism was identical to when playing solo. You couldn’t walk/run/jump through other players but you could dodge roll through them. A good bit of the base stuff is blocked for visitors but they can do crafting by actually running to the specific facility they want to use and interacting with it.

    • SynCaine says:

      Thanks for the suggestions. We tested some of this last night. You can definitely dodge roll through the other player, which is super helpful. The character switching was odd; she couldn’t interact with the Command Center at the base, but was able to hit ‘N’ to bring up the menu and switch characters, so that at least works. Crafting also works, but since the resources aren’t shared, it was a bit of a pain.

  4. saltycleric says:

    That’s too bad about her not being into rpgs. D:OS is a totally different game played in coop mode. You can tell it was clearly a huge part of the design decision, not just an afterthought.

  5. Kobeathris says:

    Not Co-op (so far as I know), but have you tried Pathfinder: Kingmaker yet? I’m curious how that is .

    • SynCaine says:

      I’ve read multiple accounts about the balance being completely broken. Beyond that it looks decent, so its a title I’ll likely pick up on sale once the launch issues have been resolved. Likely a Steam Xmas sale purchase.

      • Kobeathris says:

        Yeah, I followed my general new game policy of throw it on the wishlist, wait for the sale email.

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