There are other benefits, too; no matter who collects the items and personnel scattered around your missions, you both get to keep all of them, so there’s no bickering over who should grab what. Also, you can both play as Snake, even though your buddy will always appear as a generic, balaclava-wearing grunt.
There are a couple of caveats, however; having a partner along made the load times between areas noticeably longer. Also, without real voice chat, you’ll be limited to communicating with each other through in-game gestures; with that in mind, it’s far easier to play with someone who’s in the room with you. Also, while it’s possible to join up with a buddy and help them play through a stage they’ve unlocked but you haven’t, its story segments will be closed off to you until you’ve come by them honestly. So unless you’re playing with a more advanced player who loves skipping cutscenes, you’re in for some serious boredom.
Even with those small drawbacks, though, co-op play is hugely fun. It also makes the next thing we’re about to talk about a lot more bearable.
6. The boss battles are epic
Your first boss battle in Peace Walker happens a few missions in, and it’s not against some super-powered weirdo. It’s against four heavily armored soldiers and their good friend, the APC, which will patrol back and forth across an open field. Catch their attention, and you’ll have to wrap your head around how best to take down a hulking battlewagon and its giant machinegun while on foot.
When going it alone, we opted to sneak behind the squad, quietly subduing and capturing the soldiers one by one before throwing everything we had at the APC. Staying alive once the battle had started in earnest was easier than we thought it would be; so long as we kept moving and darted for cover whenever possible, it was only able to get in a few good hits.
Here’s the cool thing about these battles, though; damage the vehicles enough, and eventually their commander will pop out and start shooting at you. If you can kill him rather than actually destroying the vehicle, you can capture it. So far, we’ve only been able to use captured vehicles in Outer Ops missions (where they kick ass), but that doesn’t make them any less cool to have.
Above: Play your cards right, and this could be yours
With co-op players along, things get exponentially easier. Running in different directions can confuse the big vehicle bosses, and training two or more guns on them will always bring them down faster than one will. Despite what you may have heard, though, you don’t actually need buddies along to bring down these monsters; no matter how gargantuan they are, no matter how devastating their attacks, every boss has exploitable attack patterns and weaknesses. It’s much, much easier to destroy with friends along, but if you’re patient, you can always do it yourself.