GTFO is a Hardcore Shooter That Nails Teamwork, But Needs More Fear
GTFO is a stylistic horror that absolutely nails working as a team, but it needs more fear factors to bump up the scares.
In all of my online multiplayer gaming experiences, my memory recalls Left 4 Dead, Portal 2, and PAYDAY 2 as some of the best I’ve had when it comes to working cooperatively with a team. So when I visited Unity in Copenhagen, Denmark to get hands-on with 10 Chambers Collective’s co-op horror game GTFO, developed by veteran PAYDAY devs, I was eager to jump in.
GTFO wants to be hardcore. There’s no shifting the developer’s desire to target more than a niche audience. It’s a game that requires teamwork from the off — sending four soldiers on numerous expeditions within a haunting underground complex overrun with weird monsters. The sense of teamwork needed is incredibly prominent and in conjunction with the difficulty curve, it makes GTFO one of the best co-op experiences I’ve had in recent years.
At the Rundown screen that appears when we boot the game, we’re presented with numerous expeditions, their difficulty growing harder the further down they go. A1 and A2 were the only ones we dared venture to, at least to start. Within the lobby, we prepared our soldiers in a similar way to how PAYDAY 2 works, choosing three weapons —two ranged and one melee— and a tool. Once ready we began a long descent down into the complex, strapped into our pods looking at one another awkwardly.
Co-Founder Svante Vinternatt and streamer Viktor Viklund joined myself and Derek, another journalist, on the expedition to help keep us alive. Almost instantly we found ourselves looking at a room filled with monsters with giant gaping slits with teeth for faces. If they’re disturbed by our foolishness, their chest pulsates with a glow. “Stop! One small misstep and we’re f*****,” someone on the headset muttered timidly.
They were right. If you move while these nightmarish looking creatures are aware they’ll become erratic, eventually alerting the others and in a moment it can become a devastating ambush. We had to move, stop, move, stop, and then once within range, we could silently eliminate the threat.
I was offered to kill one that was lurking near a bridge and as I grew closer to its bloody buttocks, I charged my weapon and smashed it to death with a single blow. We moved through the room eliminating enemies in synchronization and communication until a melee attack failed to land a headshot. This f*** up gave the enemy time to screech and alert the rest. We reluctantly opened fire, knowing ammo resources were low. I was downed, but after the swarm was eradicated I was helped back up in another way that reminded me of PAYDAY 2.
After gathering any provisions hiding away in locked, hackable lockers, we healed and stocked up on any ammo resources. We moved on towards a security door, but before opening it we made use of the map and the real-time drawing feature to plan our defenses. Once opened, the security door set off a haunting alarm, but our meticulous planning meant we were ready.
Sentry guns that Derek and I deployed helped to take the brunt of the enemies, while Svante’s foam slowed them down. Viktor tagged the moving enemies with the bio-tracker which helped locate them through the shadows and at that moment GTFO became a tower defense game.
Eventually, we failed the expedition after becoming overwhelmed and running out of ammo. But we jumped straight into expedition B1. B1 required us to locate the main reactor and start it up. This time the environment was incredibly dark but also lacking in monsters. Svante informed us that once the generator starts the enemies swarm in. Once again we planned our defenses and came up with numerous plans.
Any plans we made usually involved an escape route to fall back, but also a plan to push forward when a wave of enemies had ended. We did fail the B1 expedition as well, in fact, we struggled to complete any expedition, but that’s because GTFO is designed to be incredibly difficult. The sense of achievement from completing a wave of enemies felt tremendous, so I cannot comprehend the feeling that would come from completing a full expedition.
I found myself somewhat struggling to understand some of the features such as the bio trackers tagging mode, and how the Terminals puzzles actually worked. Thankfully, Svante and Viktor were able to take over in those departments, but there was a noticeable lack of in-game explanations. The controls were simple, however, and I found myself feeling familiar with the way the game played almost instantly.
The design of GTFO and the feel of its world is achieved brilliantly, almost harboring an 80s horror theme throughout. The bio-tracker was also a nod to Alien: Isolation’s tracking device. The fog and chromatic aberration that’s present makes the game even more stylistically wonderful to look at amongst the industrial and gritty surroundings. It’s thanks to the level design that I felt claustrophobic, isolated, and uneasy.
My main gripe was that GTFO didn’t feel scary enough. All efforts seem to have been put into making the atmosphere feel uninviting and creepy. It felt as if I and my team weren’t being given a real sense of fear or urgency. Traps, weapon malfunctions, or even objects that could be knocked over, causing a sound and alerting the monsters could have added more to GTFO’s fear factor.
There were too many indications warning me that a scare was due to happen. The music kicked in when the room was alerted. Monsters are all triggered in the same way, so they become predictable. Alarms sound, warning of an incoming swarm. More unexpected random encounters outside of the procedural enemy placements were surely needed to keep multiple reruns of the same expedition exciting.
While there is a text chat system, and pingable doors and lockers, GTFO is heavily reliant on voice chat due to how much communication is needed. The focus on teamwork is incredible, one example having players needing to be present within the interactive map to see the timed drawings that fade after a few seconds. The other example requiring teamwork to shut off the alarms by standing in scanning areas whilst fighting off a swarm of enemies at the same time.
GTFO really encourages you to think about your provisions. During my time with it, we struggled to locate ammo packs and medkits as frequently as you’d expect in other games, adding to GTFO’s difficulty curve. I was constantly aware of not only my own resources but my teams.
GTFO seems like one of the best cooperative games I’ve experienced in years and I’m incredibly excited to see what 10 Chambers Collective continues to add to the game. The sense of teamwork needed to complete expeditions is certainly where the game shines, but it feels like it needs more ways to ramp that fear factor up. It goes without saying, while 10 Chambers Collective is dedicated to targeting a niche hardcore audience, the game is certainly worth a try just for the experience alone.
The costs of the trip to Copenhagen to experience GTFO were covered by Unity and 10 Chambers Collective.