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In terms of plot, player training and (most importantly!) any potential spoilers between the two "branches", does it matter in which order the single player and co-op campaigns in Portal 2 are played through?

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Everyone's saying that single-player takes place before co-op, but since P-body can be seen on numerous occasions throughout the SP campaign, they are probably simultaneous. – user56 Apr 24 '11 at 23:04
@Arda - a good point, but I think that's unlikely, since GladOS is the "overseer" of the co-op testing and would not be in a valid position to do so during most of the single player campaign. Also, if you're claiming P-body appears numerous times in SP, could you stick up an answer with the info on my other question, as that could be pretty helpful. – DMA57361 Apr 25 '11 at 8:37
I thought I remembered at least one other appearance, but I can't remember it now, so I might have been wrong. Also, you're probably right, unless co-op takes place around chapters 2 and 3. – user56 Apr 25 '11 at 10:22
up vote 13 down vote accepted


The two campaigns are independent of each other, with different characters, different 'storylines' (although the storyline in co-op doesn't show through so much) and different endings.

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Good good, because it looks like I'll probably be playing co-op first with a friend who's already played the SP campaign. Didn't want co-op to spoil too much for me when I got round to playing SP myself. :) – DMA57361 Apr 19 '11 at 12:49
Yep, I played through the entire co-op campaign first, and the only real reference to the single-player mode was GLaDOS's love of testing... and test subjects. – Vemacitrin Apr 20 '11 at 0:19
Just played thru co-op (well, last night) and tbh I'm glad I'd managed to squeeze in some SP first and reach ~Ch7, because the final test area of co-op features the testing environment that is new to Portal 2 and doesn't feature until further along in the SP game. If you've not played SP then starting the final test run on co-op is going to cause some confusion and/or minor spoilage... – DMA57361 Apr 22 '11 at 8:12

The only reason why the order of playing could matter is the timeline, as SP takes place before the MP.

But in terms of plot and potential spoilers it isn't a problem at all as Thomas mentioned. In player training however, you aren't shown how the new game elements work but only instructed. But this should still be fairly easy to experiment with the game elements and thus a new player should be able to still complete the MP with ease.

All MP characters are seen in SP; so, play SP later if you want to know where the robots come from...

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There are a few references that suggest single player should be played before co-op.

  1. Glados talks about "another couple" in the co-op game, and what happened to them.
  2. In the single player, near the end, you actually get introduced to the co-op team as being a replacement for human testing.

So - chronologically and storyline wise, co-op should follow single player. In practice, it doesn't really matter as 99.999% of the story is not affected.

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>! Not quite a replacement, per se... – Shadur Sep 8 '11 at 19:42
  • Single-player is set before Multi-player but there aren't any spoilers.
  • Single-player introduces you to all the techniques better so you may not know how to use some of the testing elements if you go straight into Multi-player.
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The events of the single player campain do take place before the co-op but there is very little instances where the storylines intersect (besides the two times that the bots are seen in single player). There is not really to much of a need to play one before the other but in my opinion knowing the ending of single player does strengthen the effect of the co-op ending on the player.

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