Co-op Case Research: Pandemic Legacy — Season One

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 was an incredible innovation when it was launched in 2015, and it continues to be one of many latest foundational video games within the co-op passion. What made it so nice? It’s not simply that it broke new floor with its Legacy-campaign play, but in addition that it built-in that totally into its present simulation.

This text initially appeared on Meeples Together.

Writer: Z-Man Video games (2015)
Cooperative Model: True Co-Op
Play Model: Motion Level, Card Administration, Legacy, Set Assortment


The gamers tackle the position of assorted specialists who’re making an attempt to remedy 4 pandemic ailments which are ravaging the world. As in Pandemic (2008) they need to stability eradicating illness cubes (to keep away from dropping the sport) and gathering units of playing cards (to win the sport). Nevertheless, there’s a twist: the sport repeats over 12-24 classes, with characters, the gameboard, and the foundations all evolving over time.

Problem System

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 is constructed on the problem system from Pandemic with one large change: the sport evolves and modifications from one session to a different. A lot of this comes about from cautious modifications to Pandemic’s simulation, linking its core mannequin of illness to Legacy modifications. For instance:

  • If a illness outbreak happens in a metropolis, then unrest begins to rise there, resulting in: instability, rioting, collapse, and ultimately the autumn of the town. This makes the town tougher and tougher to entry in future video games.
  • If a illness outbreaks happens in a metropolis with a personality, then the character is “scarred”, receiving some drawback in future video games.
  • If a illness is cured and eradicated in a sport, then the gamers could make the illness simpler to take care of in future video games by an “improve”.

These extensions successfully increase the gears of Season 1’s simulation from one thing that impacts a single sport to one thing that has repercussions in future video games — which is simply as revolutionary as Pandemic’s simulation system was when it first appeared.

There’s one different main change to the challenges in Season 1: the end-game targets are laid out by goal playing cards slightly than a easy rule, which permits them to alter over the course of the marketing campaign, creating extra variable gameplay. Although the primary goal is to remedy 4 ailments, identical to within the unique Pandemic, by the tip of the marketing campaign, the gameplay will likely be very totally different.

Whether or not the gamers accomplish their targets also can have an effect on the simulation: if the gamers win a sport, then they’ve fewer sources for the following sport, whereas in the event that they lose a sport, they’ll get extra sources subsequent time. Sustaining the issue of a sport over time has been an actual subject with marketing campaign video games, with one of many major complaints with the very revolutionary Descent: Highway to Legend (2008) marketing campaign being that it obtained too simple for one facet over time. Season 1 demonstrates use a easy however very impact technique to dynamically alter a sport’s long-term problem primarily based on the gamers’ success.

Although every sport of Season 1 will evolve very in a different way due to its simulation-linked Legacy modifications, the sport additionally pushes its plot (and the modifications to its problem system) in a set manner: between video games gamers draw playing cards describing modifications on the planet, a few of which is able to trigger set modifications to the problem system. A illness would possibly develop into incurable, epidemics would possibly happen quicker, or one thing completely wacky would possibly occur. This clearly creates variability from sport to sport, and in addition retains gamers on their toes.

Problem System Parts: Flip Activation; Arbitrary Set off; Simulation; Exponential Cascade; Decay; Marketing campaign; and Replicating Process Threats. 

Cooperative System

The cooperative components of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 are largely unchanged from Pandemic, however that cooperation is now expanded to span a complete marketing campaign, not simply a person session. To begin with, there’s cooperative metagaming in the beginning of every session, when gamers resolve which characters to make use of from a pool, specializing in how their particular skills will probably impression the approaching challenges. There’s equally metagaming inside every session, as a result of gamers should make selections (about sunsetting a illness or letting a metropolis outbreak) primarily based on repercussions in future video games. Lastly, the gamers make cooperative selections between video games, after they buy upgrades for playing cards, characters, ailments, or the board, utilizing a gaggle pool of factors.

Journey System

Season 1’s Legacy guidelines notably increase the journey system of Pandemic. A part of this comes by the aforementioned upgrades. On the finish of every sport, gamers can select to make playing cards higher, characters higher, cities higher, or ailments worse. The character upgrades specifically really feel like “expertise”, an necessary aspect of the roleplaying video games from which journey video games derive. There are “downgrades” too: gamers may be scarred … or die! This ups the ante of the adventure-style play.

Season 1 additionally comprises a whole lot of “story”. The set playing cards revealed after every session describe the plot of outbreaking and altering ailments. This express plot combines with the implicit story of simulation modifications and numerous upgrades so as to add coloration and alter to the sport; gamers come again as a result of they wish to see what occurs subsequent!

Lastly, Season 1 additionally revisits the idea of a marketing campaign co-op popularized by Highway to Legend and the Pathfinder Journey Card Recreation (2013) and central to true “roleplaying” play, nevertheless it makes use of a really totally different mannequin. The place Highway to Legend was only a large 40-hour sport damaged into chunk sized bits, and the place Pathfinder ACG centered its marketing campaign round selective character modifications within the face of set systemic modifications, Legacy as a substitute makes systemic modifications its complete sport over time.

Expansions & Variants

Pandemic Legacy Season 2 (2017) adopted just a few years later and Pandemic Legacy Season 3 seems to be prone to be a 2020 launch.

Ultimate Ideas

Pandemic was a foundational sport for the co-op trade because of its implementation of tight, fast, summary play. Season 1 innovates issues once more by introducing intelligent strategies to increase Pandemic’s simulations to a long-term marketing campaign.

Matt Leacock & Rob Daviau

Leacock is the creator of the unique Pandemic. Daviau’s declare to fame is “Legacy” fashion video games, the primary of which was Danger Legacy (2011). They’re constructed round the concept that the sport will change from one session to a different, with gamers completely marking and altering their sport parts (and presumably throwing out the sport when it’s all performed out). Pandemic Legacy was Daviau’s second Legacy sport, adopted later by the aggressive SeaFall (2016) and the cooperative Betrayal Legacy (2018).

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