Cobalt is More Fun Than it Has Any Right to Be

By Ian Dransfield on at

What surprised me most about Cobalt is that it began life as a single-player game. It seems hard to believe, what with it being so perfectly suited to four people sat around a console blasting each other and cursing their little hearts out, but what developer Oxeye Game Studio originally made.

But while there is a single-player campaign - something that's been worked on, not just thrown in - it doesn't feel to me like it'll be the biggest draw with Cobalt. There's a reason there's so much focus on the multiplayer: it's bloody great fun.

You'd hope so, as this is Mojang's first third-party published title (admittedly involving the head of Minecraft, Jens Bergensten); it really isn't the kind of thing that the one-game company would want to risk. Cobalt has spent six years in development, and it shows.

There's far more to the game than I ever expected. There's the aforementioned campaign, multiplayer encompassing challenge/missions, capture the plug, team strike (a Counter-Strike homage, no less), survival and more, plus plans to introduce a fully featured editor, customisable characters, modifiable loadouts for each level... it's a hell of a lot in a tiny, indie-shaped package.

What I played was straight-up deathmatch: four players all battling to a set score (10, in our case), dashing about a selection of different levels, picking up weapons and combat-rolling with gay abandon. Rolling is probably the core element of Cobalt - when you're rolling, you can deflect most attacks aimed your way back at the aggressor (who can then roll to re-deflect them, and so on and so forth).

In order to make this possible in the context of a quick platform-shooter, time slows down in your local area whenever you're in danger of dying. This gives you the chance to deflect things, even if you don't have the reactions of a 14-year-old hopped up on whatever energy drink is the cool one these days. (Mountain Doo?)

There's only a couple of months until Cobalt releases, and Microsoft featuring it prominently at its press conference on Tuesday just shows the confidence it has in the game. I only had a short time with it, but I would err on the side of agreement here: Cobalt is bloody good fun. Oh, and obviously I dominated a round. I lost all the other ones horribly, but still.

Cobalt is out October 2015 on PC, Linux, Mac, Xbox One and Xbox 360. It's currently in public alpha on PC and Mac - you can get in on that over here.