The Army of Two sequel The 40th Day will ship next January with three multiplayer modes in the box. If you preorder it before its release, you'll also get access to an entire fourth online mode. That's right: no golden guns or goofy multiplayer skins here. The game's preorder bonus is an entire game type.
The mode is called Extraction, and it's a mobile four-player survival mode, sort of Gear of War's Horde mode on the run. You and your fist-bumping buddies stake out a preordained spot in the level, face down waves of AI enemies, and then move on to the next spot to fight even more. Here's a trailer showing off some Extraction, uh, action.
OK, let's ratchet down the sensationalism a couple of notches. For one, no specific retailer has dominion over the Extraction mode; if you preorder 40th Day from anywhere, you'll get it on release day. Also, it's only preorder-exclusive for the first 30 days, after which it goes out free to all players. So this deal isn't as gross as it first sounds.
I also got to try out the game's co-op deathmatch mode, which sounds like an oxymoron. To steal a line from creative director Alex Hutchinson, this mode is two vs. two vs. two vs. two vs. two (vs. two)--six pairs of players all fighting it out with each other, in other words. It's an interesting spin on team deathmatch, because you have one friendly player you can count on to get your back and revive you before you bleed out, but everyone else you see is an enemy.
There will be a few scoring bonuses factored into the gameplay based on this army-of-two setup. A couple of times during the deathmatch I managed to take out both players in a pair and got a bonus for eliminating a whole team by myself. Often you'll spawn right next to your teammate, but other times you'll find yourselves across the map from each other. At least there's a floating icon indicating where your partner is, so you can meet back up quickly. Unless, of course, your teammate is Aaron Thomas. Who would want to rely on that guy for covering fire?
There are a couple of other modes that split the players into two teams (but still have the sub-pairs within those teams). One is a capture-and-hold mode I tried called Control, and the other is Warzone, which I didn't get to see but will reportedly include "Destruction, Assassination, VIP, and Infiltration missions" all in one.
Control-wise, this ought to be totally familiar to anyone who plays third-person games like Gears; the one interesting trick I saw here was the "visual playbook" heads-up overlay, taken from the campaign, that lets you see enemies through walls and paints them with big fat targets when they round a corner. The 40th Day's core shooting feels good--the aiming seems tight and precise, and the enemies give a ragdoll-based sense of weight when they go down--but the early build we were playing had some frame rate and visual quality issues that I hope get smoothed out before the January 13 release. We're on deck to get a preview version of the full single-player game in the office later this year, so we'll give you more detail on how it's turned out in a little bit here.