Online games involving anonymous cooperation with strangers?
March 7, 2024 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I used to love the Hearthstone Tavern Brawl that made you and your randomly matched opponent work together to beat a boss instead of fighting each other. Are there any online games built on that sort of mechanic?

Notable about that Tavern Brawl example is that there was no way to choose the other player and no way to communicate with them, and not much motivation for griefing. I really enjoyed that randomly matched cooperation instead of competition. Are there any other such gaming opportunities out there? Web searching doesn't yield much because all the hits are coop games which is not what I want.
posted by Rhedyn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is my favorite thing about the Dark Souls series. It's not constant, it's mostly a solitary game, but if you need help with a boss, you can visit a summon sign that people lay in front of the boss fight and wait for a helper. Or you can place your own and get summoned to help someone else! I beat Elden Ring this way, which felt like an incredible achievement. Sometimes there is some griefing, but it's quite rare.

To a lesser degree, people also leave messages with hints and warnings around the world. I think it's truly a beautiful thing.
posted by pazazygeek at 12:03 PM on March 7 [5 favorites]

It's a mobile game but Rush Royale is a tower defense game that has both competitive and co-op modes and I enjoy it quite a bit.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:08 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]

The raids in Pokemon Go are like that. You and whoever else is nearby try to take down powerful Pokemon. You can also invite your "friends" to join you in a raid but there's no in-game communication and your "friends" could be actual friends or just people you've fought in a raid with in the past or more commonly people you swapped friend codes with online.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:24 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It’s much less of a traditional game and more of an exploration experience but Sky: Children of the Light is all about this kind of interaction.
posted by Mizu at 1:23 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]

The MMO Guild Wars 2 can be just you vs the environment but is also full of opportunities for player characters to work together to defeat threats. You CAN join a guild and play socially, but lots of us are just solo strangers wandering the world, gathering medicinal herbs to defeat a plague, killing a psychotic dragon, or helping our burrowing Moletariat comrades throw off the chains of exploitation. You don't have to join a party or squad, just jump in and help with the mission. As you explore the world a map will show you events happening nearby. There are places you can go for Player vs Player action, but it's totally separate from the main world.
It requires a good broad-band connection and PC, though there is a way to play on Mac also. There's a free-to play version that gives a good amount of playable content.
posted by Atelerix at 1:36 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure whether this game is still playable and/or has enough of a playerbase left to make it playable cooperatively (it's originally from 2012), but Journey seems like a game you would like.

It's an adventure game in which you can find other random players to cooperate with as you play the game. You can make sounds but you cannot talk to them in words, and you can only cooperate -- you can help but not hurt them.
posted by sineala at 2:50 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]

Journey was made by the same team who makes Sky: CotL, and the latter incorporates a great deal of Journey’s concepts, styles, and gameplay ideas.
posted by Mizu at 4:28 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]

To add to any portmanteau in a storm's comment, the newest Nintendo Switch Pokémon games (Scarlet and Violet editions) also have the raid mechanic.
posted by capricorn at 7:48 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I heard that KarmaZoo is like that if you like platformers [Steam link], haven't played it myself though - so I cannot speak to how it plays.
posted by bigendian at 11:39 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]

Returnal has a fantastic coop mode. You choose to host or to join a coop session and you're randomly paired with someone to go around fighting the aliens with. It might support microphones but I've never talked to anyone or heard from anyone on it. The coop session lasts until someone leaves or you die (if they die you can continue on without them). Returnal is very hard so that usually means 30 minutes is the upper limit.
posted by dis_integration at 7:43 AM on March 9 [1 favorite]

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