Good Coop, Bad Coop – H1Z1: King Of The Kill

Good Coop, Bad Coop is our new series in which Graham and Brendan will be bonding in co-operative games through teamwork, friendship and shared trauma. This week, the rapid, open-world deathmatch of H1Z1: King of the Kill [official site], which is currently in early access.

Brendan: When we first landed on the outskirts of… *squints at map* …Pleasant Valley, I believe it was only thirty seconds before you were shot and killed. I am sorry I wasn’t there for you. I landed on the other side of the suburb.

Graham: Actually it was… *squints at video timestamp* …57 seconds. I survived almost a whole minute. Most of that time was spent running through a forest, attempting to escape from two assailants, one of whom was shooting me in the back with a machinegun. King of the Kill was not what I was expecting.

Brendan: It’s definitely more hectic and scrappy than most other survivalist arenas that I’ve played in recent years. There was almost two hundred players parachuting in alongside us, and they all seemed to find a Kalashnikov within ten seconds of their feet hitting the ground. They were so fast in finding weaponry that I remember we spent a good portion of our time wondering if people were dropping in pre-armed, as if loading up on bullets and backpacks was something you were supposed to do in the pre-game lobby – but no. These were just furious people who knew better than us.

Graham: I feel like I’m skipping ahead, but this wasn’t much fun. I like DayZ for its scarcity, both in guns and in encounters with other players. It builds tensions and it makes the moments that breach the boredom all the more thrilling. I am however also keen on the idea of a game which shortens that experience, as these Battle Royale-inspired mods and games try to do.

We haven’t explained how it works yet, really. You’re dropped with all the other players into a vast stretch of terrain that includes villages, towns, farmland, fields, forests hills, and at timed intervals the play area shrinks due to approaching toxic gas. All players are therefore driven towards a central point and an inevitable, deadly confrontation. You can play it individually or in groups or, as we were, in teams of two.

While I like the idea, King of the Kill swings too far away from scarcity. I wish it was more boring.

Brendan: I think our inexperience didn’t help, but yeah, I agree that a little more ‘down-time’ would have helped. A lot of the joy of a Battle Royale comes in the build-up. Here, that build-up lasts ten or fifteen seconds while you’re in the air. You can see where other players are landing, how many are congregating around that cluster of apartment buildings or how many are going for the suburbs. At the same time, there are so many of them. You can barely land anywhere without at least someone dropping nearby. It forces conflict – a race for the plentiful guns – right from the start. I was laughing at the game’s ticker feed of incoming deaths, I think the population probably loses a quarter of its players, maybe more, within the opening two minutes.

Graham: I suppose that’s part of the appeal, and I accept that our inexperience certainly didn’t help, but I don’t feel any desire to keep playing. Even when we started surviving a little longer, by choosing our landing site more carefully (or luckily falling over a less populated area), there didn’t seem to be a lot of interesting choices to be made. Games like this are interesting because of the ambiguity over whether you can trust other people you meet, but there’s obviously none of that here; you can’t trust anyone. Or they’re about learning the map and correctly, quietly navigating through dangerous spaces in order to retrieve valuable items, except here guns are everywhere and you’re bound to run into another player whether you’re quiet or not.

Brendan: But didn’t we work well together? Remember that moment in the office building, when we both found shotguns? And we both loaded our shotguns? And we both got shot to death by two other players who came storming in with other, better guns? I think we worked well together.

Graham: I’ll always remember that time we spent in the public toilets together, picking up those pistols and the ammo and then realising the ammo wasn’t for the guns we’d picked up and then dropping things on the floor so that we could swap. And then remember after that when we killed that one guy?! That guy who drove towards us and leapt out of his jeep to shoot at us. That was great. Til his partner killed us both.

That’s the thing, though: it becomes a game about twitch shooter skills. Like Counter-Strike but every time you die in a round you need to disconnect from the server and queue to find another one.

Brendan: This was my problem too. In The Culling, which is of a similar breed, you have the usual Battle Royale patter. But you’re thrown in at a decent distance from each other, you have skills and perks that make you think about how you’ll play, you can craft traps, and the gas problem is much more pressing and noticeable. It has its own problems and it definitely doesn’t have the enjoyable long-windedness of DayZ but as we were getting shot and bleeding to death, I couldn’t help thinking I had played a better version of all this before. The problem, like you say, is all these guns. If all you want is a deathmatch in an open world, why not just fire up GTA Online?

Graham: Kill of the King does have a crafting system, so it’s possible we could have torn up the spare backpacks we found and fashioned it into bear traps and hand grenades. But even this feels incongruous with the rest of the game. For example, there are bandages you can craft, but because bullets are so plentiful there doesn’t seem many likely situations where you’ll be injured and able to escape. The people who killed me always just sprayed bullets without any need to conserve them, hitting me three, four, five times and missing twenty more.

I also suspect, even if we were better at the game, that it would not be a good coop game. I’m not sure what room there was for working together given its pace.

Brendan: Which is a pity. Even DayZ has a sense of working together – communicating over a long distance, trying to meet up by shouting inaccurate descriptions of the landscape at each other, dividing resources like food and water when you finally do meet up. And you have choices too – do you both go to the airfield to find a precious rifle? Do you attack that player running up the road or hide and let him pass? Here, the choices are gone – just get away from the gas – and the teamwork is limited to shooting the same hostile person your pal is shooting.

I feel sad that the first game we’ve chosen for this new series has been a disappointing one, with no great stories to tell of united heroism or fickle disagreements. It was just kind of a rubbish shooter. But we’ll do better next time.

Graham: It was my idea to play this, so in this instance I am the BAD COOP. It’s your turn to pick next week.

Brendan: I’ll have to think of something I’m already brilliant at, so I can blame you for all our failings.

Graham: I am always bad coop :(

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26 Comments

Top comments

  1. Cerzi says:

    The game is heavily flawed, but my experience playing it with 5 friends at a lan a while back was very fun. The secret to not dying instantly, and getting more of a slow-burning survival experience, is to parachute into the more remote parts of the map. The little camping sites, remote farms, that kind of thing. Also helps to hold back and see where the swarm of parachutes around you are heading, and choose some place nowhere else is.

    We spent huge amounts of time just hiking through the map to get to safezones, barely encountering anyone but hearing distant gunfire, moving cautiously, scavenging what we could from points of interest on the way, or from bloodbaths we stayed well away from until after the victor had moved on. Crazy good fun.

    Unfortunately as you grow to want to master the game, you learn it's more about mastering the weird-feeling gunplay, so that when you're moving to the final safezone for the final showdown, you actually have a chance of beating the other guys.

    For example, after we made it to the final endzone in one game, as one of the last teams alive, we noticed the area was pretty much just woodland with the exception of a small hunting cabin. We snuck up towards it (still all 5 of us alive), almost certain that another group had got there first. Creeping up to the side, I saw a window, and had a frag grenade on me. "I'm guessing if I throw this at the window it'll break the glass and go through?" - turns out it bounced right off, killing a couple of us and alerting the guys inside to pop out and finish us off with rapid headshots and little resistance.

    Hilariously anticlimatic. But in the context of the previous 40 minutes of adventure, became one of those unique stories not many games get to tell.

    I feel like the game would be enhanced hugely if your character's aim became laughably inaccurate, and other measures were taken to essentially limit individual skill to a ridiculously low bar. Then it'd just become this strategic group survival game, which was far more compelling than the 360noscope fragfest that it ends up bizarrely encouraging.
  1. Metalfish says:

    If you’re physically in the same room, you must play Pitfall Planet. Or Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. And Helldivers. You must.

    • Static says:

      +1 For HELLDIVERS

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      Broforce too.

    • JB says:

      +1 to all of Metaldog’s suggestions. And Broforce.

    • MrPete says:

      +1 for Helldivers, definitely!
      It’s like Magicka in Spaaaaaice with more guns (less AoE damage) and more orbital support (more AoE, especially the later things like Napalm and Nukes)

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Sadly we are half the earth away from one another, so local coop is out right now unless we can find a technical fudge that’ll make it work.

      • CheeseFarts says:

        Yeah definatly try BroDivers , its the shiiiiiiit.Even in un-local Broop.

      • JB says:

        The good news is that most (if not all) of the above suggestions can be played online co-op as well as local.

      • CheeseFarts says:

        gooooooooooooo

  2. TaylanK says:

    I was hoping this article would be about a couple lower-middle income chickens trying to find good rental coops and coop-mates.

  3. Naithin says:

    New favourite series, right here! I’m always looking for new 2-4 player co-op experiences.

    And H1Z1 (both the king of the hill covered here and the other one, the more survivaly one) are ones I’ve been interested in, but never quite taken the plunge.

    With even more reluctance to do so since Daybreak Games. :(

  4. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Great idea for a series. I’m all for it.

    I’ll always remember that time we spent in the public toilets together

    I didn’t realize that this was a Robert Yang game.

  5. Cerzi says:

    The game is heavily flawed, but my experience playing it with 5 friends at a lan a while back was very fun. The secret to not dying instantly, and getting more of a slow-burning survival experience, is to parachute into the more remote parts of the map. The little camping sites, remote farms, that kind of thing. Also helps to hold back and see where the swarm of parachutes around you are heading, and choose some place nowhere else is.

    We spent huge amounts of time just hiking through the map to get to safezones, barely encountering anyone but hearing distant gunfire, moving cautiously, scavenging what we could from points of interest on the way, or from bloodbaths we stayed well away from until after the victor had moved on. Crazy good fun.

    Unfortunately as you grow to want to master the game, you learn it’s more about mastering the weird-feeling gunplay, so that when you’re moving to the final safezone for the final showdown, you actually have a chance of beating the other guys.

    For example, after we made it to the final endzone in one game, as one of the last teams alive, we noticed the area was pretty much just woodland with the exception of a small hunting cabin. We snuck up towards it (still all 5 of us alive), almost certain that another group had got there first. Creeping up to the side, I saw a window, and had a frag grenade on me. “I’m guessing if I throw this at the window it’ll break the glass and go through?” – turns out it bounced right off, killing a couple of us and alerting the guys inside to pop out and finish us off with rapid headshots and little resistance.

    Hilariously anticlimatic. But in the context of the previous 40 minutes of adventure, became one of those unique stories not many games get to tell.

    I feel like the game would be enhanced hugely if your character’s aim became laughably inaccurate, and other measures were taken to essentially limit individual skill to a ridiculously low bar. Then it’d just become this strategic group survival game, which was far more compelling than the 360noscope fragfest that it ends up bizarrely encouraging.

    • Premium User Badge

      cultiv8ed says:

      A friend and I have the same experience as you. If you can avoid the bloodbath in the first 5 mins then you are set to be in the top 30 at least.

      I like KOTK for the same reason Graham doesn’t. Its DayZ with a purpose. You’re not aimlessly wandering around picking up rotten fruit and hats then have the old friendly-or-not shenanigans when you see anyone. You see someone you shoot.

      The hit reg seems a bit odd at times, particularly with the shotgun and I don’t like the ability to bail from a car at full speed and start shooting immediately thing.

      Apart from that its good fun and incredibly tense when you get into the top 10 and the map is getting ever smaller.

  6. malkav11 says:

    I’m a big fan of the idea behind the series and it makes good reading, but man, you really should have started this series of coop adventures by playing a coop game. Playing as a team in a competitive game is not the same thing at all.

  7. benkc says:

    Looking forward to more in this series! :)

  8. fish99 says:

    If you want something ‘survivally’ shouldn’t you be playing H1Z1:Just Survive (or DayZ) rather than H1Z1:KotK? KotK is a (fast-paced and arcadey) BR, not survival.

  9. Premium User Badge

    cpt_freakout says:

    I also like this idea a lot! You guys should make a run with Clandestine, the spy co-op game from Logic Artists (the studio behind the Expeditions series). I played it with a friend a couple months ago and it’s wonky as hell but also pretty great fun if you’re willing to overlook its awkwardness.

  10. BooleanBob says:

    I feel like you’re maybe looking at this game from the wrong perspective to really get the most out of it.

    A lot of what you write is definitely true; there’s a preponderance of weapons, you’re packed in tight with your fellow survivors, and you’re not going to last very long without taking a twitch shooter approach. It’s really not a game that’s seeking to improve the survivor genre by making it more like a deathmatch – it’s a deathmatch shooter that puts a spin on the formula by adapting its arena to be more like a survival shooter.

    It’s quite true that this makes for a shooter experience that is often abrupt – having to re-queue every time you die instead of just respawning is obviously cumbersome. But in an abstract way, this is just a more extreme version of what games like Counter Strike do.

    Only having one life makes the game more tense, and that tension only cranks up as the ranks of the survivors thin. The drawbacks of permadeath in games are always the first things you notice – your first experience in such games will always be nasty, brutish and short – but the dynamic offers some upsides as well.

    The ultimate goal of beating out hundreds of other players to win a round is all the more tantalising for its unlikeliness, and hangs in front of the player as a holy grail, much like the roguelike player’s dream of a winning run.

  11. Catchcart says:

    Feed me, you said, and I was feeding you, Jack!

  12. voidmind says:

    As someone who’s always on the lookout for co-op games to play with friend, I’ll keep an eye out for those articles from now on.

  13. frightlever says:

    Feels like this could have been a video on that Youtube channel you keep forgetting you have.

  14. slayergonewild says:

    You guys are just trash. LUL get gud

  15. Bantarific says:

    I literally just made this account 5 minutes ago to post on this because I was astonished at how inaccurate this article was. Absolutely dumbfounded. You get basic, played the game for more than 30 minutes tier, facts wrong. You blame the game for your own misunderstand of what it was. You compare it to games that it’s not trying to be and then criticize it as a worse version of them. You claim that teamwork is limited in 2v2 which is perhaps true of the opening blood bath, but after which teamwork is essential, and in 5v5 teamwork is required from start to finish. You want some hard examples? Here you go.

    “Games like this are interesting because of the ambiguity over whether you can trust other people you meet, but there’s obviously none of that here; you can’t trust anyone. Or they’re about learning the map and correctly, quietly navigating through dangerous spaces in order to retrieve valuable items, except here guns are everywhere and you’re bound to run into another player whether you’re quiet or not.”
    1. Games like this? Name a few, if you don’t mind. You keep comparing it to Day-Z which it’s NOT. What other battle royale games are there that you’re comparing this to? The Culling? The yet unreleased Isles of Nyne? The original mod for Arma? None of these games have the features you’re describing, so I’m tempted to believe you’re comparing to Rust or Day-Z, neither of which is a battle royale game at all. You’re slamming the game for not being like other games that it’s not trying to being like in the first place.

    “But didn’t we work well together? Remember that moment in the office building, when we both found shotguns? And we both loaded our shotguns? And we both got shot to death by two other players who came storming in with other, better guns? I think we worked well together.”

    2. The shotgun is extremely powerful and if you’re inside a building you should easily win that fight. I get it. You were new to the game. You’d never played it before. You would’ve had a case to make if you had been holding pistols and they walked in with ak’s and gunned you down. But complaining about players using “better guns” when you yourself had the best gun for the situation just makes you look uninformed.

    “That’s the thing, though: it becomes a game about twitch shooter skills. Like Counter-Strike but every time you die in a round you need to disconnect from the server and queue to find another one.”
    3. Twitch shooter skills? Most engagements come down to far, far more than just who has better aim. Sure, you end up in some clean 1v1 gunfights with somebody at medium range and it’s about who has better aim. But there are TONS of situations where it’s not even remotely about twitch shooter skills. I.E. Sneaking up on people who are engaged in a gunfight, shooting their cars with revolvers to bait them into an engagement that’s favorable to you, blowing up a wall behind someone and gunning them down, advantageous use of cover to force the enemy into a bad engagement, using a car to bait someone out into the street so you get an easy kill. ETC… Will you get kills if you have great twitch shooter skills? Sure. Is that what the game is 100% about as you claim? No. And is it like CS:GO at all? No, besides the fact that both have guns.

    “It has its own problems and it definitely doesn’t have the enjoyable long-windedness of DayZ but as we were getting shot and bleeding to death, I couldn’t help thinking I had played a better version of all this before. The problem, like you say, is all these guns. If all you want is a deathmatch in an open world, why not just fire up GTA Online?”
    4. It’s not trying to be Day-Z, stop comparing it to Day-Z, it’s an irrelevant comparison. It’s not an open-ended survival game in an huge world with a focus on long-term survival, scarce loot, player interaction and zombies, it’s a battle royale game.
    5. Again, what better version are you talking about? Day-Z? Rust? Seriously, what other battle royale game is there that’s released that does the same things as H1? There’s only like two or three battle royale games out there, period, so what game did you play that did the same stuff, but better? I’d love to play it.
    6. It’s not about just playing death match in a big world. What about battle royale game do you not seem to understand? You are one of over a hundred players in the game, it’s your job to loot, kill, hide or by any means survive to the end. What about that sounds like “GTA Deathmatch”?

    “Kill of the King does have a crafting system, so it’s possible we could have torn up the spare backpacks we found and fashioned it into bear traps and hand grenades. But even this feels incongruous with the rest of the game. For example, there are bandages you can craft, but because bullets are so plentiful there doesn’t seem many likely situations where you’ll be injured and able to escape. The people who killed me always just sprayed bullets without any need to conserve them, hitting me three, four, five times and missing twenty more.”
    7. If you don’t know the first thing about the crafting system why not just say “we didn’t get the chance to use it during our play time.”? You can neither craft bear traps nor grenades and the point of it is to craft Armor,
    a special healing item, and bandages for the most part.
    8. Bandages are useless? What the…? You know that’s how you heal yourself after you’ve taken damage right? Like… you get in a fight… you win but you got hurt…so you bandage to heal yourself. Or, you get shot at and you run behind a wall, tree, into a building, behind a rock, etc… and heal to stop the bleeding? What about this is confusing?
    9. Again, scarcity of weapons/items is not the point of this game. There are a few scarce items that are nice rare finds. Bullets are not one of them. Again, this is not Day-Z. Dinging the game for not having Rust/Day-Z scarcity mechanics makes no sense since it’s a completely different genre.

    “I also suspect, even if we were better at the game, that it would not be a good coop game. I’m not sure what room there was for working together given its pace.”
    Wha…? No teamwork because it’s faster paced? …?

    “Which is a pity. Even DayZ has a sense of working together – communicating over a long distance, trying to meet up by shouting inaccurate descriptions of the landscape at each other, dividing resources like food and water when you finally do meet up. And you have choices too – do you both go to the airfield to find a precious rifle? Do you attack that player running up the road or hide and let him pass? Here, the choices are gone – just get away from the gas – and the teamwork is limited to shooting the same hostile person your pal is shooting.

    I feel sad that the first game we’ve chosen for this new series has been a disappointing one, with no great stories to tell of united heroism or fickle disagreements. It was just kind of a rubbish shooter. But we’ll do better next time.”
    10. It’s not day-z, comparing it in any way to day-z is a poor analogy since it’s a completely different genre of game with completely different goals.
    11. You having wildly inaccurate expectations and being bad at it doesn’t make it rubbish.
    12. You not understanding how teamwork functions does not mean teamwork does is limited to “aim at the guy on the left and spray.”

    In summary, the article was a mass of inaccurate information, nonsense analogies, and complete non-sequiturs (the pace of the game is fast so there’s no role for teamwork [???]) .
    I pity anyone who didn’t know what H1 was before this article because they would come out of reading it knowing less than if they had simply read the description for the game.

  16. kentoloupe says:

    A funny story from the tales of H1Z1; a conversation with my friend on steam chat:

    Taz: “one of them was sick this guy shot me in the back and i ran around a tree and started to heal and he rushed me and i had 10hp and i pulled out a shotgun and the second he came up i jumped and blasted him in the face then the gas pushed behind me i took his keys got in his truck and booked it.”
    Me: “Ohhhh sh!ttt”
    Taz: “it kinda looked like when football players jump over other players except i had a shotgun and shot his face off as i jumped him.”
    Me:”AHAHAHAAAAHAHAA”
    Me:”THATS CRAZZHHHYYYYYYYYY”

    Good times on a $#!% game.