A new game-changing mechanic, more dynamic levels, and—finally—online play. SANTA MONICA, Calif.— Nintendo kept the hits and surprises (er, no-longer-surprises) coming during today's E3-affiliated, Switch-crazy Nintendo Direct video special. In addition to major first- and third-party announcements, it also included a long-awaited look at a sequel to one of 2016's biggest indie surprises: Overcooked 2. Weeks before Nintendo's unveil, the game's handlers at Team 17 invited select members of the press to sit with a largely complete version of the co-op cooking sequel. It didn't take long for my opinion of the gameplay to transform from "why isn't this an expansion pack?" to "awesome bona fide upgrade." Just like the original game, Overcooked 2 includes a semblance of a plot in which an anxious king asks you to feed a terrifying, hungry monster scourge (in this case, zombie bread known as the, ugh, "unbread") and save a kingdom. You do this by playing through a series of kitchen-related challenges, where you must fulfill diners' orders by preparing dishes that they order. The challenge, again, comes from bizarre kitchen layouts that force 2-4 chefs to divide tasks like fetching ingredients, chopping, heating, plating, and serving. (And the game's challenges are still designed so that solo players must swap between multiple chefs, though this kind of solo play is still easier to account for this awkward juggle.) The gameplay is instantly familiar in spite of the opening sequences changing up required recipes. Sushi is now a hot-ticket item, and Overcooked 2's variety of sushi dishes includes raw (fish, seaweed) and cooked (rice) elements. This is an early-game hint that later, more difficult levels will force players to be mindful of when to cook or not cook certain ingredients when taking orders. After a few familiar cooking-challenge levels, I began to wonder whether this was just a remix of the original Overcooked, only with new sushi and pasta dishes. Anyone who has worn out the first game knows that different dishes don't necessarily transform the gameplay (although later-game hints of elaborate pastries got my chef-gameplay mouth watering). That's when the game's developers at Ghost Town Games started tearing the sequel's mechanics apart—literally. Levels in Overcooked 2 are now far, far more dynamic. The most awesome one I saw in my testing started as a hot air balloon restaurant, which had various parts of the kitchen separating while in mid-air. Roughly halfway through the round's timer, everything around my quartet began to dive toward the ground. Our kitchen crash-landed! And yet we somehow not only survived unscathed but also had to navigate a remixed version of our kitchen, now full of conveyor belts, that was positioned conveniently next to a new hungry restaurant. (It's a living.) Team 17 hinted to more kinds of dynamic levels to come in the final version of the game, including kitchens that rush around on whitewater rapids and mine carts. While I didn't get to play in those other described levels, I was already excited about them because of a new maneuver: throwing. With a single button tap, chefs can now toss an ingredient in a straight line (aimed by a dotted-line indicator) across a kitchen. At the most basic level, this is a fun way to speed up the standard gameplay mechanic of passing ingredients and plates. At a higher level, this means levels can now dynamically fall apart without necessarily leaving chefs stranded. Of course, throwing objects isn't some failsafe solution to tough puzzles. Players will still have to contend with issues like environmental blocks or clueless friends walking in the way of a thrown object, for starters. Overcooked 2's reveal trailer hints at even more wacky gameplay possibilities in these newly dynamic levels, including magic mirrors that warp chefs across a kitchen and button-activated bridges. But its arguably most attractive upgrade receives a brief-but-tantalizing mention: Overcooked 2 finally brings the series online. We don't yet know whether online sessions will allow, for example, two players per team to hook up or if every online player will be isolated. But we're hopeful that the netcode is up to the series' twitchy, ingredient-slinging snuff. Best of all, we'll find out pretty soon, as Overcooked 2 is slated to launch on Switch, PS4, XB1, and Windows on August 7 for $29.99/£19.99/€24.99.
In the 2016 party game Overcooked, the culinary world triumphed over the Giant Spaghetti Monster. But in Overcooked 2, a new ghoulish threat has appeared — the unbread, rising out of the ground and marching to destroy the Onion Kingdom. Indie developer Ghost Town Games has once again partnered with publisher Team17 to dish up tongue-in-cheek co-op fun — this time with online multiplayer. Overcooked 2 will be out on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on August 7. Up to four players can join in on Overcooked 2s frenetic fricassee, chopping, steaming, and bussing to try to survive the increasing chaos of each level. Much of the gameplay is similar to the original. Players are trying to complete recipes and serve them up. Temperatures and tempers rise in the kitchen while chefs have to deal with familiar challenges, like terrain that slips and slides around. However, Overcooked 2 has new delights to offer. Sushi, one of Overcookeds most requested recipes, will be on the menu, along with dim sum. Its kitchens will have new features, like moving walkways or even levels that change completely partway through. Overcooked 2 also has online co-op, and accompanying emotes so that players can express their joy (or frustration) with their teammates. Overcooked has won a number of awards, such as the 2017 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Games Award for Best Family and Social Game and the Best Game Award at the 2017 Brazils Independent Games Festival. Since its launch, Ghost Town has done its best to keep up with demand for new content, releasing The Lost Morsel DLC, which unlocked a new map, levels, and avatars. With Overcooked 2, the studio wanted to add in features that it didnt have the time or resources to do with the previous title. Thats where Team17 came in, helping out with not only publishing but developing the game. Basically, we got together with [Team17] and said, look, heres what people are asking for, said Ghost Town cofounder Phil Duncan in a phone call with GamesBeat. Heres the content we werent able to produce. Heres what were looking to do. It was really exciting to sit down with some other devs and see their different take on some of our ideas, bringing their own thing to the table. Ghost Town cofounder Oli DeVine says that it was an iterative process — they would design a first draft of a level, then pass it back and forth with Team17 and playtesters. I think over the course of Overcooked one, we realized what it was that essentially made a level work, said DeVine. It was nice to start from a position of, OK, we understand what Overcooked is now. Now lets make a really polished version of that and focus each level on a particular story that we want to tell. Team17 was also instrumental in helping Ghost Town Games get online multiplayer off the ground. Its team looked at Overcookeds source code and determined whether it not feasible to work that feature into the sequel. As part of the early discussions, wed said online multiplayer was the big thing we wanted to introduce if we were to do a sequel, said Duncan. It was after that point, when we got that down and had a chat with the designers and artists at Team17, thats when we said, OK, lets move over now. Lets change tracks and focus on this. Online multiplayer is something that Overcookeds fans had been asking for. Adding in this feature makes Overcooked 2 even more accessible than the first title, because now folks can play with friends and family who are far away. And accessibility is one of Ghost Towns tenets. Duncan says that its audience is broad, comprised of not just hardcore gamers. There are people playing it with their partners and their families, people who dont traditionally play games, said Duncan. We were definitely very proud of that, and its something we wanted to build on with the sequel. We wanted to make sure that this was a game that was always going to be accessible to as many people as possible. The complexity never came from the controls or the interactions themselves, but always came from that interaction, that forced cooperation. DeVine agreed: Its this game where the difficulty is very unrelated, in some ways, to your abilities as a gamer in the typical sense. Thats my favorite thing about it – not just appealing to people who dont play games as much as people who play games a lot, but appealing to those two groups of people playing the game together. I think as an industry, its something that we need more of in some ways, games that bring people in.