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"Redfall." Image via Bethesda/Microsoft

Many of the most exciting games announced at this year’s E3 have something in common: You can play them with other people.

Why it matters: A lot of the chatter about where video gaming is going involves either the scarcity of single-player games or the success of competitive multiplayer phenomena such as “Fortnite” and “Call of Duty: Warzone.”

  • But co-op games — in which you team up with other players to compete against the computer — are on the rise.

A co-op cornucopia:

  • Ubisoft’s Saturday E3 presentation opened with a co-op game: “Rainbow Six Extraction” (team with other players to infiltrate alien-infested bases).
  • Xbox’s Sunday E3 event closed with one: “Redfall” (team up with other players to fight vampires).
  • Plus: Microsoft announced “Contraband” (“a co-op smuggler’s paradise”), Warner Bros. showcased “Back 4 Blood” (a spiritual successor to 2008’s pioneering people vs. zombies game “Left 4 Dead”), and Team 17 announced new content for its popular co-op cooking game “Overcooked: All You Can Eat.”
"The Anacrusis." Image: Stray Bombay

What they’re saying: “After we shipped ‘Left 4 Dead,’ the first thing I said to a bunch of people was, ‘More people should make co-op games, because it just makes more sense,’” former “Left 4 Dead” project lead Chet Faliszek told Axios.

  • It’s happened in fits and starts with well-received releases such as “Deep Rock Galactic” and “Payday 2.”
  • But many games merely feature co-op as an additional mode, not really incorporating team play as a fundamental part of the game.

In 2019, Faliszek and Kimberly Voll announced they were starting Stray Bombay, a studio to specialize in co-op games.

  • At this E3, Stray Bombay announced its debut game “The Anacrusis,” a co-op adventure in which people play as humans fending off an alien attack on a spaceship. The game’s AI director interprets players’ approaches and preferences then tailors the game’s enemies, items and overall flow accordingly.

Between the lines: One of the year’s surprise hits is “It Takes Two,” a fantastical co-op game about a couple with problems.

  • It debuted in March as the 22nd best-selling game in the U.S., according to tracking firm NPD, then rose to ninth in April and charted well again in May — a sign it has legs.
  • It comes from Hazelight, a studio whose previous game, the two-player prison break “A Way Out,” was its co-op debut.

The bottom line: This is a format no doubt fit for the current moment, when people crave the kind of companionship that’s been hard to come by in the past year.

Go deeper

The Tampa Bay Rays' Wander Franco is making baseball history already

Wander Franco hits a two-run single in the eighth against the Red Sox at the Trop on Monday. Photo: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

In his debut season, Wander Franco is on pace to break records set by baseball greats like Ted Williams and Ken Griffey Jr., DRays Bay reports.

  • Franco has reached base in 48 of his first 53 games as a big leaguer. He’s one of just two players under 21 to reach base in that many games over his first 53 games — Willie Mays was the other.
Updated 36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

FBI says human remains found in Wyoming likely Gabby Petito

Gabby Petito. Photo: FBI

Human remains found in Teton County, Wyoming, are "consistent with the description of" missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito, FBI Denver official Charles Jones said at a news conference Sunday.

Details: The cause of death had yet to be determined, but Jones said: "Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of this discovery." Authorities said they're continuing the search for her fiancé, Brian Laundrie.

Dems' immigration plan hits major roadblock

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Sunday that Democrats cannot include pathways to citizenship in the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, per a copy of the ruling obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: It's a blow to Democrats who hoped to provide pathways for millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Using reconciliations would have allowed them to pass politically contentious immigration changes with only 50 votes, as opposed to the usual 60 required.