A Way Out, the narrative-driven adventure game from the team behind the acclaimed Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, is a co-op-only experience. That is, you can’t play it unless you have a partner for the entire journey. But in an unusual setup, the online and local co-op experiences will be identical in one huge way: Only one of you will have to buy the game.
Electronic Arts — which is publishing A Way Out under its EA Originals program — will offer a free “friends pass” trial for the game, the company announced tonight during The Game Awards 2017. As long as you know someone who has purchased A Way Out, you can download the trial and play “the entire co-op experience” with that person without paying for it, said EA. In essence, it’ll work just like inviting a friend to your house to play the game on your couch.
This is a remarkable move, especially since A Way Out is Hazelight’s first project and EA is a massive publisher. At the same time, A Way Out is a unique experience — you need a human partner for the whole game, and it plays out in split-screen co-op — so it calls for unique treatment.
It doesn’t sound like there are any special limitations or restrictions for A Way Out’s friends pass trial, except the usual requirements: To use the co-op trial, both partners must be playing on the same platform and have a persistent internet connection. And if they’re playing on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, they will both need to subscribe to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, respectively.
EA also announced today that A Way Out is scheduled to be released March 23, 2018, on PS4, Windows PC and Xbox One for $29.99; pre-orders are available now. The co-op trial will be available at launch.
For more on A Way Out, watch the new trailer above from The Game Awards, which introduces protagonists Vincent and Leo. You can also read our interview with Josef Fares, the game’s writer and director, from E3 2017 — and check out a clip of his scatterbrained “fuck the Oscars” rant from The Game Awards.
Update: You can now watch the new trailer for A Way Out from The Game Awards at the top of this article.
Update 2: Pre-orders are now available for A Way Out, which will cost $29.99. And in debuting the trailer, game director Josef Fares went on a wild, profane rant at The Game Awards. We’ve edited the article to reflect this.