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PlatinumGames' Scalebound supports co-op multiplayer from start to finish

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Hideki Kamiya talks about the lure of loot and the cooperative metagame

At E3 2016, PlatinumGames showed off the cooperative multiplayer features for Scalebound that it teased nearly a year ago and explained why, for the first time, Hideki Kamiya is bringing co-op to one of his games.

Scalebound, which is coming to Xbox One and Windows PC in 2017, will let four players, each partnered with their own unique dragon, team up to do battle against their shared foes. In an interview with Polygon, game designer Hideki Kamiya and creative producer JP Kellams talked about how Scalebound's multiplayer component will work.

"Co-op works throughout the campaign," Kamiya said. "You can play by yourself if you'd like to. You can play with your friends whenever you like. It's not a mode — a lot of people have asked us if it's just for bosses, but it's for the entire game's campaign."

While Platinum said it's not talking about how its matchmaking system works just yet, Kellams ruled out one thing entirely when it comes to matching players.

"I hate lobbies and there's no Japanese multiplayer game that has a good lobby," Kellams said. "So you can fully expect that Scalebound will not use lobbies."

Platinum will offer incentives to play Scalebound with friends. Not only will it make some more complicated boss fights a little easier, playing in co-op can earn you extra rewards as you learn to play together, Kamiya said.

"We don't want to make a game where you have to play the multiplayer to beat it, but we don't want single-player to be a totally different beast," he explained. "What's more important is designing the combat encounters to encourage you to play multiplayer and reward you for playing multiplayer. For instance, in the boss we showed on Monday, if you played that in single-player you'd be really busy because of all the different attacks happening. But when you play it in co-op, everybody can split up and do different things."

While Kamiya contributed to Bayonetta 2 — the Wii U game featured a co-op mode — as a supervisor and writer, he acknowledged he doesn't have much multiplayer experience.

"It's my first real multiplayer game, so there's been a lot of design trial and error in figuring it out," Kamiya said. "But the core user experience I really want people to get when they play Scalebound is exploring this large world with your dragon and being on this adventure together, and then having that adventure together with other people."

"One of the big elements of that ‘togetherness' is being able to show off your dragon in co-op," Kellams added. "As you spend so much time riding through the world, fighting these bosses, customizing your dragon and then getting into co-op and showing off your dragon, having conversations like, ‘What armor is that? Where'd you get that skin?' — and when you're evolving your dragon, players will ask 'How'd you get that horn? What breath is that?' — all those experiences, will be part of the meta-game of communication on how to build the best dragon for your play style."

Scalebound

That kind of loot-driven nature, and outfitting your character and growing your dragon, is core to Scalebound's appeal, Kamiya explained.

"It's been a lot of fun to make," Kamiya said. "I love those kind of [loot-driven] games. Especially the classic ones. When I was growing up, I played Sorcerian and Hydlide 3, and those are those kind of games. You're just slowly building up your character and you have this sense of progression as you build up what you're doing.

"Scalebound, it's not purely an action game, it's not just about your own technique. If you hit a difficulty wall, instead of the game saying 'Hey, get good,' the game tells you, 'If you go and grind, get some loot, build up your character and come back to this, maybe you can overcome it.'

"That sense of gameplay progression and tying into loot in that way has been a lot of fun to make."