Eleven hours in to my live-stream of Bayonetta 2, I had beaten the game and was looking to enjoy my first meal of the day. Yet, even then, I just had to try out the game's co-op mode -- and I am so glad that I did. Even as tired as I was, it quickly became my favourite part of the game.
Co-op in Bayonetta 2 works like this: You outfit your character (Bayonetta or another character you have unlocked) with the weapons, costumes, and items you've obtained in the single player story mode. Then, after searching for and acquiring a partner, one of you selects a short battle stage where you face off against a group of enemies or a boss. Whoever scores the most points in the battle chooses the next battle. You repeat this six times -- assuming you aren't both killed along the way. Then you reap the rewards.
In battle, it plays exactly like the single player game -- only with a second person in the fray. However, in some ways it is easier. With two players you are able to flank blocking enemies. Also, when one of you enters witch time or umbra climax, both of you do. You can even save a dead partner by pulling her out of the grasping hands trying to drag her to hell.
Of course, to get the most out of co-op, you must first beat the single player game -- as everything from weapons to stages are unlocked in single player. However, the co-op mode can also greatly benefit those having difficulties in single player as the co-op mode is easily the most efficient way to earn money in the game. While simply beating the stage nets you a monetary reward, you are also able to bet large sums on yourself before a battle, massively increasing how much you make.
The flip side to this is that the more money you bet, the harder the battles become -- you go from being able to take seven or eight hits to one or two. The other downside of this is that it is the person who picks the stage who chooses the bet. As you can imagine, there is nothing quite as aggravating as watching your partner pick, out of pure ignorance, the hardest challenge of the game with the highest bet -- though it does serve as major motivation for you to strive for the highest score each battle.
If there is one issue I have with the co-op, though, it is the matchmaking system. To host a game, you simply start up co-op with a computer-controlled partner -- which is, honestly, a nice way to spend your time waiting. Then you get a popup message telling you that someone would like to join you for co-op. However, if you want the rewards for your current battle, you need to finish that off -- leaving your prospective partner waiting. Moreover, if you just want to play a CPU player and someone tries to join you, there is no way to simply tell them you aren't interested. Rather, the prospective partner is left to wait 160 seconds until the system times out. And there is nothing worse than being on the receiving end of a series of long waits when all you want to do is quickmatch and play.
However, setting aside the matchmaking issues, Bayonetta 2 provides what is, in my opinion, a nearly perfect short co-op experience. In roughly fifteen-minute chunks, you go into battle and co-operatively compete with another player to determine who is the bigger badass. Moreover, you make a ton of cash to spend on unlocking the myriad of costumes, attacks, items, and artifacts that you can then use in either single or co-op play. Even as a person who rarely returns to games after beating them, I suspect I'll be playing Bayonetta 2's co-op whenever I have a spare 15 minutes for months to come.
Bayonetta 2 was released for the Nintendo Wii U in Japan on September 20, 2014. It will be released in the West in October 2014.