About ten years ago, co-op games were everywhere that you looked. Every major title that released seemed to have a co-op mode attached to it. While many of them made for fun experiences with friends, too many seemed just to be leeching ideas off of one another rather than creating a unique experience. In the years that have followed, co-op games are still around, but those unique ideas seem to have dwindled further and have left me wanting for something that feels fresh.
At E3 2018, I got to check out 10 Chambers Collective’s upcoming survival co-op title GTFO and left feeling like this is the exact game that I’ve been looking for. Led by the lead designer from Payday 1 & 2, 10 Chambers Collective have put their all into GTFO to make one of the most hardcore co-op games I’ve seen in quite some time.
My demo of GTFO was played alongside three other members of the development team from 10 Chambers Collective. Upon selecting our mission — one that the devs told me they had never tried for themselves before — I was then sent to the loadout screen where I needed to select my gear for the mission. I had my choice of two different firearms to carry, a melee weapon, and a unique item that ranged from a mapping device, an enemy locator, and a sentry turret just to name a few. It’s this one extra item that makes the most significant difference in your loadout. It’s probably wise for you and each of your teammates to carry a different item each to maximize your usefulness once in the game.
Upon getting into our mission, I quickly realized that despite being loaded up with a variety of weapons, GTFO is not a game where you’ll be sprinting around and blowing away monsters left and right. Instead, it is primarily a survival game where your goal should be to avoid engagements at all cost.
When I came upon our first group of enemies, one of the devs took the lead and snuck up behind them to stealth kill them with his melee weapon. Doing this both helps conserve ammo and keeps large groups of foes from swarming you.
Of course, not all engagements go this smoothly, and it was only a matter of time before we hit our first swarm of enemies while trying to make our way to our objective. Even when going in guns blazing, GTFO forces you to pick your targets carefully. With limited ammo in mind and friendly-fire active, you have to ensure that you aren’t wasting shots that you might need later while also ensuring you don’t do damage to your teammates.
It’s this fluctuation of pacing that I found to be the most engaging part of GTFO. You’re forced to continually be on your toes because you never know when sleuthing through a corridor silently might turn into a massive shootout. GTFO definitely has horror elements due to the creepy atmosphere that it takes place within, but more than anything the scariness comes from not knowing what to expect next. Utilizing items like the mapping tool and the enemy locator help you plan out your next moves in advance but you still regularly feel like you’re at a disadvantage. I can’t imagine that people will be able to passively play GTFO, which might be a turn off for some while being exciting to others.
When I wasn’t engaged in combat or trying to avoid enemies, the rest of my time in GTFO was spent looting objects for more ammo or health packs while continuing to work and push towards our waypoint. One of the more novel ideas that GTFO implements deals with locked devices such as doors or lockers that make you implement certain coding inputs to open them. To achieve this, one player will have to access a terminal while another player finds the appropriate coding string somewhere in the environment to relay it to the player on the computer. If you input the correct string, the door, locker, or other devices that you’re trying to open should activate.
This is one of the more unique mechanics I’ve seen in any game in quite some time and again, really reinforces the cooperative nature of GTFO. Communication is vital in GTFO and tasks like this prove how vital it is outside of just the shootouts that you’ll find yourselves in.
After making our way through the eerie corridors we found ourselves in, our team had to activate one final device before making it back to our starting location and exiting. Upon activating this device, we were swarmed by monsters and quickly found ourselves all out of ammo trying to fight back hordes with our melee weapons. It wasn’t before long that we all died and failed in our mission. While I was the newbie of the crew, the devs told me that they fail missions quite often themselves when testing the game out. Even if you know the flow of how GTFO plays, missions will always be challenging just because of the uncertain nature in which they unfold, which should allow for tons of replayability.
The one thing I also want to mention because of how much it stood out to me is just how fantastic the controls felt in GTFO. For such a small team, 10 Chamber Collective has created an incredibly polished experience that rivals even that of triple-A development studios.
If you’ve been looking for a new co-op game that is going to force you to rely on your friends, then I think GTFO is one of the most innovative and engaging that I’ve played in awhile. It might be easy to compare to something like Left 4 Dead from watching just gameplay footage, but playing it proved to me just how vastly different it is compared to many other co-op centric titles. The constant fluctuating of fast-paced action and slower-paced survival-horror forces you to stay on your toes at all times and sucks you into the experience. If you’ve been waiting for something new to play with your friends, this is one that I think you need to keep on your radar if you’re hungry for something that feels both hardcore and wholly unique.
GTFO is scheduled to launch at an undetermined date later this year on PC via Steam.