If there’s one thing missing in gaming these days, it’s Indiana Jones-style adventure. PlayStation owners are lucky enough to have Uncharted, but that series appears to be winding down now - and PC and Xbox owners are out of luck. The new Tomb Raider games are great, but they’re very serious. Where are the fun adventurers raiding tombs in pre-war settings?
Enter the Strange Brigade. The latest co-op shooter from Rebellion, the creators of Zombie Army and Sniper Elite, is out on August 28th and it’s essentially Indiana Jones meets Left 4 Dead, or a serial adventure version of Vermintide. We got to play the new Cut-Throat Caverns level in both single-player and co-op, and take on the dread skeleton pirate captain Tiberian - who has a lovely range of drunken sea shanties.
Let’s start off with the single-player, because that’s the most unnatural and unlikely way to play multiplayer-focused game like this and so was the one I was most interested in trying. We already know Strange Brigade is loads of fun in co-op, but that fun doesn’t always translate to single-player.
I was actually surprised just how much fun I was having, playing on my own. I started off on the game’s first level, which was the basis for the previous demo I’d played but has been totally revamped since then. There’s more story for a start, with the Strange Brigade - a bunch of misfit adventurers from around the world - looking to pick up the trail of an old colleague, but after finding them very much worse for wear (dead in fact) they accidentally set loose a vengeful Egyptian queen. I especially like the radio updates at checkpoint camps around the map.
Much like Left 4 Dead or Vermintide 2, characters do not regenerate health and require a medkit/health potion to get it back. In co-op if you die you can be resurrected by a teammate if they release you from sarcophagi around the level. In single-player you simply return to the last checkpoint. Enemies are a bit less tough in single-player, or at least have less health, so things stay exciting and don’t get boring - there’s nothing more dull than a bunch of bullet-sponge enemies.
The Cut-Throat Caverns level itself is superb. I must admit I was a little worried that Strange Brigade would be entirely focused on Egyptian levels, which while cool would probably get repetitive after a little while without some level variation. The Caverns are exactly that. They’re underground, they’re bathed in a lovely green and blue shade, and you’re fighting skeleton pirates with nary a mummy in sight. It really is a lot of fun.
There’s a lot to find in the level too. Part of the fun of Strange Brigade is the mix of action and exploration - yeah, you can plough through gunning down zombies and get to the end, but you can also go off various different paths and uncover (highly profitable) secrets. Some are behind devious puzzles, others have traps, and one particularly impressive - and completely optional - part of the level was a giant maze!
The undead Captain Tiberian hassled us three times throughout the level and was a tough fight each time, especially as he’s not the only enemy of the screen. In some ways it was actually easier in single-player since I could lay traps and lure him in, especially if I knew he was always after me. In co-op not only was he tougher, but traps were basically impossible since he could change his mind about who he was going after at a moment’s notice!
Strange Brigade is available on PC, Xbox One and PS4 on August 28, so not long now.
So single-player was a shocking amount of fun, but co-op is clearly where Strange Brigade will thrive since encounters become truly epic. If I had one concern for co-op though, it’s in the exploration and puzzle solving. In single-player you’re free to explore the entire level, but in co-op you’ll always be with people who just want to move on.
The maze, for example, was fantastic in single-player, and probably would’ve been even more awesome in co-op - if we’d got anywhere near it. My partners didn’t follow me down the path towards it, so we just moved on. That happened with a lot of puzzles. Communication is going to be key to having real amounts of fun with Strange Brigade, I guess.
Nevertheless, the game is already incredibly enjoyable in both single-player and co-op, whether you’re taking the time or blasting through it. The Cut-Throat Caverns were a neat change of scenery, and we’re hoping the rest of the game follows suit. Can’t be all mummies, after all. You can check out our interview with Ben Fisher from Rebellion about the game, and we've got an exclusive gameplay video of the new level just below. Enjoy!
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We still don’t know anything about the really giant bosses!
About Chris J Capel
Chris joined us in 2011 and loves Star Wars, comics and bad videogame movies.