This shooter's CoD Zombies revival is a blast in co-op, but its funky Frankenmodes are what I'm really craving to play

Normal Human holding gun on front row standing in front of zombie dudes rising behind her on bright blue sunburst
(Image credit: Iceberg Interactive)

Hellbreach: Vegas has a relatively simple premise: strip back zombie wave survival to the pure couch co-op joy of the OG Call of Duty Zombies modes of yesteryear. In my first hands-on with its four player online co-op, it definitely delivered on that front, but I think the real juice will be in its alternate modes like gun game and battle royale.

I previously sampled Hellbreach in single player, and since that time the game's arsenal, enemy lineup, and map selection have been expanded. The standout map for my money is an Area 51 sendup, which brings a ton of verticality as you descend from a desert surface level down into secret control rooms.

All of Hellbreach's maps nail that claustrophobic feeling of old CoD Zombies levels, and you use the same in-game currency to open up new areas of the map, buy new guns and perks, and refill ammunition. Ammo is tight in Hellbreach, and I find myself constantly making trips to refill my supply, squeezing past throngs of enemies as I trump along with that deliciously chunky, thunk-thunk Xbox 360-era FPS movement.

Like any horde survival shooter, Hellbreach definitely comes alive in co-op, and I think it has a ton of potential as a "catch up with your friends" game, something like Trackmania or Golf With Your Friends that isn't laden with overly-complex progression, but offers a fun and engaging challenge that might just lure your friends into spending time with each other (at least over Discord.)

The real secret sauce of Hellbreach, though, won't be ready for prime time in its upcoming co-op playtest. At full release, Hellbreach will have a co-op gun game mode, and this riff on the Classic Counter-Strike gametype, later cribbed by Call of Duty (but who's keeping track) is the thing I'm most excited for in Hellbreach.

OG gun game is a deathmatch mode where all players race to the end of an arsenal of weapons, with each kill netting you the next gun in the list. Hellbreach: Vegas' take is a PvPvE co-op version, with new guns earned after a set number of kills at each level. This transformation of the game into a frantic, competitive race really got its hooks into me.

Developer Infinity Ape is also working on a mini Battle Royale mode I'm excited to see shake out as well, and if you'd like to try Hellbreach's base co-op for yourself, you can sign up for its upcoming playtest, which runs from September 29 through October 1. Hellbreach is set to release before the end of the year, and you can wishlist the game on Steam.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.