The definitive list of the 25 best co-op games

By Kirk McKeand, Thursday, 29 March 2018 11:52 GMT

It’s time for the best co-op games.

Humanity is unlike any other species on Earth. Look around you – look at all we can do. I am typing my brain thoughts on some ethereal electronic space that only exists to us, transferring my ideas to your mind like some arcane telepath. It’s amazing when you really think about it.

Know what else are amazing? Video games. Since the first video game released, technology has improved, fidelity has increased, and the creative ingenuity of the field hasn’t slowed down an ounce. How is all of this possible? Cooperation. Working together is the reason we are the dominant species on our blue sphere, after all. So let’s hold hands and enjoy these collaborative works together.

Here are the 25 best co-op games to play right now.

25. The Division

What could be more relaxing than taking a trip to snowy New York with your friends in the lead up to Christmas? Well, lots of things if The Division is anything to go by. In Ubisoft’s shooter, money has gone bad. Terrorists have weaponised capitalism, covering banknotes in a deadly virus before waiting for Christmas shoppers to spread it all around.

Only you, a sleeper agent with a gun, can bring peace back to the Big Apple. So grab your friends, choose your best boomstick, hunker down near a yellow taxi, and get ready to shoot some poor people so you can steal their beanie hats.

Trivia: You can find a pair of Sam Fisher’s trifocal goggles from Splinter Cell in a post office in Manhattan.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Further reading: The Division 2 is currently in development.

24. Sonic Mania

Sonic Mania captures the speeding spirit of the blue streak’s 2D heydays. And best of all? You can play it with a pal. Give a friend the second controller and they can fly behind you as Tails, or sulk about as Knuckles.

It’s the perfect co-op game to play with your children, since the screen follows the main player, meaning you don’t have to wait around for them. They still collect rings for you, too. Bonus! After all, Sonic doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to hang about, does he?

Trivia: Sonic Mania is the highest critically rated Sonic game in the last 15 years and it wasn’t even made by Sega.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.

Further reading: Sonic Mania cheats and extras.

23. Cuphead

Is Sonic a bit too casual for you? Welcome to Cuphead, a relentlessly difficult shoot-’em-up with a visual style inspired by 1930s cartoons, channeling the spirit of Disney and Fleischer Studios in an eye-popping display.

It might look nice, but it is bloody painful to play alone. It is uber hard. Bring a friend, get them to press start on your second controller and they will pop into the world as Mughead, Cuphead’s brother. You get to play a game and you can call your mate a mug the entire time. Win-win.

Trivia: Did you know? Cuphead is actually loads better if you change the controls and put firing on the trigger.

Platforms: PC, Xbox One.

Further reading: Watch someone beat all Cuphead’s bosses without taking damage.

22. Destiny 2

If you have an internet connection, playing Destiny 2 with mates can be a great experience. For the most part, it’s mindless shooting – booming background noise as you chat shit with your friends. You can almost play it on autopilot if you’re just exploring its gorgeous world with pals.

For those looking for a challenge, friends are a must, however. Get a good squad of your online buddies together and tackle a raid. Winning these requires real teamwork, real coordination, and actual concentration. “Dave, shut up going on about how bad The Walking Dead is now, we’re trying to focus here. Why are you even still watching it?”

Trivia: Destiny 2’s live action trailer was shot by Kong: Skull Island’s director.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

Further reading: Destiny 2 guide– tips, exotics, subclasses and more.

21. Snipperclips

You might not have even heard of Snipperclips, but many class it among the best games on the Nintendo Switch. In it, you each take control of half a Joy-Con, both of you controlling a test tube-shaped cartoon avatar on-screen. You have to work together to solve puzzles, cutting each other into shapes to catch items, making bridges or ramps, pressing buttons, or squeezing through gaps.

Snipperclips is one of those co-op games that’s best when you are both in the same room, which is why it’s such a perfect fit for the Switch. Sat together, huddled around the TV or the Switch’s portable screen, you will both feel like geniuses when you find an unconventional solution to Snipperclips’ creative puzzles.

Trivia: If you have two Nintendo Switch consoles, there are also four-player co-op puzzles and competitive modes.

Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Further reading: Nintendo Switch’s online subscription service launches in September 2018.

20. A Way Out

Created by the team behind the brilliant indie hit Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, A Way Out is a game that is only playable in co-op. That’s right, you can’t play it on your own at all – unless you’re an octopus with thumbs.

Either in couch co-op or online, you and a friend must break out of prison together, each of you working together to achieve your ultimate goal. Activities vary from escaping police in a hospital to playing Connect Four. The critical reception for A Way Out was mixed, but there’s nothing else quite like it.

Trivia: You only need one copy of A Way Out to play it with a friend online.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

Further reading: A Way Out reviews.

19. Viscera Cleanup Detail

Lots of games take us to space. There’s something isolating about being cramped inside a steel box. Go outside of these aluminium confines and your insides will also nip outside of their fleshy cage. You are trapped. To make matters worse, game developers love to throw an alien or two into the mix as well. Viscera Cleanup Detail takes a different approach to the dilapidated space station.

You arrive at the scene here in the aftermath of some messy battle. Your objective? To clean it up. Viscera Cleanup Detail is a fun co-op experience where the physical comedy of handling alien intestines, leaving bloody footprints, and spilling buckets is all the entertainment you need.

Trivia: South African-based developer Runestorm started out on the modding scenes of Doom and Quake.

Platforms: PC.

18. Overcooked

If you’ve ever worked in a kitchen, you will know it is probably the closest you can get to hell on Earth. Cooking the same things every day, people ordering food en-masse, time restrictions, complaints, burns, mess, and stress. Overcooked captures all of that – minus the actual burn scars – and turns it into a hilarious co-op game.

You serve food to insatiable monsters, preparing ingredients, washing dishes, cooking, and sending the food out to order, all while bumbling into one another instead of actually getting it done.

Trivia: Don’t work for pub chain kitchens.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.

17. Payday 2

If cooking doesn’t sound like your thing, perhaps you would like to partake in some man shooting. After all, real video games are all about the act of pushing a metal object through a person’s face at a high velocity.

Payday 2 is all about that long-range violence. In it, you and your team coordinate together to rob banks and jewelry stores as waves of police attempt to stop you. You have to set up defenses at chokepoints and use all of your skills together if you want to walk away rich, or even walk away at all.

Trivia: In 2014, John Wick was added to the game in a promotion. No, he didn’t have a dog with him.

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch.

Further reading: How does Payday 2 run on Nintendo Switch?

16. Far Cry 5

The latest and best Far Cry in a long time allows you to play the entire thing with a friend. You create your own character and head out into Hope County, Montana, to put an end to an army of religious extremists. One minute you are clearing an outpost of enemies like ninja, and the next you are in a field stealing bull bollocks. Yes.

Far Cry 5 is a great multiplayer sandbox because of the tools it gives you. One of you can strafe a compound from the air as the other heads in on foot. You can supply overwatch for each other with snipers. You can give your partner a lift on the roof of a combine harvester. Best of all, you can even work through story missions as a duo.

Trivia: You can complete Far Cry 5 in ten minutes.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

Further reading: The VG247 Far Cry 5 review.

15. Killing Floor 2

Tell you what – you wouldn’t want to be playing Viscera Cleanup Detail in the aftermath of a Killing Floor 2 match. Blood and guts fly all over the place with every shot, physically interacting with the scenery and getting stuck in awkward places. You know how, when you drop a glass, everything seems to move in slow motion? Killing Floor 2 is like that, only it’s someone’s liver instead of a glass.

Killing Floor 2 is like what would happen if the people behind the Call of Duty zombies mode had only ever watched The Matrix and nothing else. You work together as a team to take down increasingly difficult waves of zombies and other undead nasties. You do this as stylishly as possible, taking advantage of localised bullet time to line up those perfect headshots. Very few first-person shooters make you feel like such a badass.

Trivia: Killing Floor’s slow-motion mechanic only made it into the game near the end of development.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

14. Fortnite

Whether you are squadding up or heading into duos, Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode is an excellent experience to share with friends. Cooperation is a must as you fight against up to 49 other teams to be the last people standing. A bit of savvy building and a revive at the right time can change the course of a match, and you really need to communicate to find the best loot and keep ahead of the deadly storm that’s constantly chasing you.

If you find the Battle Royale portion of the game frustrating, there’s also Save the World. This mode has deeper progression and other players are only there to help you fight off increasingly difficult waves of zombies. You have to build traps and fortifications to keep the enemy at bay, adding a layer of strategy over the top of every precision headshot.

Trivia: Fortnite Battle Royale was developed in just two months.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, mobile.

Further reading: Looking to play Fortnite Mobile? Click that link for compatible devices.

13. Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves is one of those rare co-op games – and yes, it actually is developed by Rare, but I wasn’t going for a pun – that shines when players actually communicate. I don’t mean chatting about their day, I mean actually talking about the game itself. Battling through stormy seas on a galleon, you need someone at the helm steering the ship, someone below deck navigating the voyage by shouting out bearings, someone working the sails, and someone patching up the hull.

Head to an island to look for treasure, and you have to communicate to work out riddles and uncover the lost hoard. On top of all that, the game is full of things you can use to interact with each other, from firing your crewmates out of cannons to joining together in impromptu musical number. Sea of Thieves is one of those games you play with a permanent smile stretched across your face.

Trivia: The skeleton captains you fight in Sea of Thieves are named after members of Rare’s development team.

Platforms: PC, Xbox One.

Further reading: The VG247 Sea of Thieves review.

12. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist

It was a close call between this and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory for this list. While I believe Chaos Theory to be the better game, Blacklist is still fantastic and severely underrated. It is also much easier to play in 2018, so there.

One of the great things about the co-op modes in any Splinter Cell game is how they are not tacked on. In Blacklist, there are missions that are designed specifically for two players. Like any solo mission, you select it from the war map, wait for a buddy to appear, then off you go to stab people in the dark. Little in video games is more satisfying than whistling a guard over before watching your friend strangle them while dangling from some piping.

Trivia: Ubisoft replaced Sam Fisher voice actor Michael Ironside for this game. It was the wrong call.

Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U.

11. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes hands one player a pair of pliers and the other an instruction manual. The goal? To work together to diffuse a bomb. One player carefully clicks away at the contraption while the other screams instructions over their headset or from across the room. It’s one of the best examples of asymmetrical co-op in modern video games.

As the clock ticks down, the threat ramps up in tandem with the panic you and your co-op buddy feel. Their instructions get more rushed, and so do your clicks. Mistakes are made, you die, then you go straight back in to do it all over again.

Trivia: You can play as the bomb handler in VR if you want.

Platforms: PC, PS4, mobile.

10. Vermintide 2

It was a close call between this and Left 4 Dead 2, but Vermintide 2 slightly edges it. Taking the co-op formula developed by Valve for its zombie-slaying co-op game, Vermintide 2 puts each player in the shoes of a distinct character and pushes them through a variety of scenarios as they face off against rat men and burly, otherworldly Vikings.

Because everyone plays as a distinct character with different skills, Vermintide 2 offers more tactical options than it’s undead-murdering inspiration. Keep a swarm of Skaven locked in a corridor with your dwarf and his shield as another player fires spells into the chokepoint. Kite away a massive beast with your assassin as the rest of your team thins the herd. Provide overwatch as an archer and keep your allies’ backs clear of danger. It’s full of variables – team composition and the all-seeing AI director ensures no two battles feel the same.

Trivia: The soundtrack is scored by famous video game music composer Jesper Kyd.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

Further reading: Vermintide 2 character guide.

9. LittleBigPlanet 3

There’s nothing quite like the LittleBigPlanet series. On the surface, it’s a platform game that you and your friends can bound through together, jumping, tugging, pulling, and emoting as you go. But beneath all that, LittleBigPlanet 3 represents endless possibilities.

LittleBigPlanet 3 has millions of player created levels. Lots of them aren’t great, but there are some genius creations hidden away. People have created fully functioning calculators, giant mechs with their own control schemes, remakes of famous PlayStation exclusives, reimaginings of Pac-Man, and loads more. Once you’re done exploring, grab a friend and build a creation of your own.

Trivia: By January 2012, there were already over 6 million community created levels.

Platforms: PS4, PS3.

8. Spelunky

Spelunky is a game you can play over and over without ever having the exact same experience. Its systems are designed to interlink, its AI programmed to interact, its rules are predictable, but it’s a wild predictability that can constantly surprise.

Let’s say, for example you visit the game’s shopkeeper, an enemy follows you through and picks up one of his wares. The shopkeeper will go wild and start firing at everything around him because he’s designed to react when players steal from him. It doesn’t matter if it’s an NPC – he just doesn’t like his stuff being touched. Add another player into the mix in couch co-op and things get even more messy.

Trivia: If you find a shotgun near a grave marked “Ash”, this is a reference to horror movie series The Evil Dead.

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360.

7. Divinity: Original Sin 2

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the best RPGs of the past decade and you can play the entire thing with other players. Playing solo, the AI has its own ambitions. A party member may request to speak to an NPC before you do, only to decide to cut their throat mid conversation. It’s shocking when this is a computer controlled character, but imagine if that character was being driven by your friend.

Not only does Divinity 2 not always align your characters’ goals, it also has a deep and strategic turn-based battle system. Each of you taking control of a different character, you really need to work together to get through each brutal encounter, combining spells and abilities to get the most out of each turn. And once you’re done with the 100 hour campaign, head into Game Master mode and play it together like it’s a proper pen and paper RPG.

Trivia: If you play as a skeleton, you have to wear a bucket over your head for hours at the start of the game so you don’t scare people.

Platforms: PC.

Further reading: Divinity 2 managed 500,000 sales within days of launching.

6. Rocket League

Mastering the boost in Rocket League is one of gaming’s greatest joys. Sure, you can use it to chase down the ball or to blow up an opponent, but the boost comes into its own when you learn to couple it with the jump. Fire yourself into the air and boost – use it like a rocket’s thruster and angle yourself for the perfect volley. It’s bliss.

When you’re playing Rocket League as a team with friends who have also mastered the intricacies of this motor-powered football game, that pure joy is elevated to the next level. After all, what’s the point in being amazing at something if there’s nobody around to share it with?

Trivia: Football is played with your feet and American football is played with your hands.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch.

Further reading: By last count, Rocket League had over 38 million players.

5. Portal 2

Portal 2 has one of the best co-op campaigns ever designed in video games. It is funny, it is clever, it makes you feel clever, it requires teamwork, and it lets you dick about. Firing a portal directly above your friend before firing one below their feet, sending them into an infinite loop as you wave them off never gets old.

The way the co-op campaign – which is completely separate from the brilliant single-player – evolves is perfect as well. Things start off simply, but you are soon lining up four portals, covering surfaces in different types of liquid, and firing off portals as you send your co-op partner soaring through the sky towards it. It’s not the newest game on this list, but nothing has come close to delivering a pure co-op campaign as inventive as this.

Trivia: Prominent video game actor Nolan North voices some of the game’s turrets and defective personality cores.

Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360.

4. Bloodborne

Here it is – the one you are all going to shout at me about. Bloodborne isn’t a co-op game in the traditional sense. You have to summon in other players via arcane methods to even buddy up, in fact, but it is possible to play through the entire thing with a friend with some careful planning, and it is an incredible experience when you do. Sure, it feels more of an achievement to take out the game’s brutal bosses on your own, but it’s much more fun to share these moments of triumph.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: why is Bloodborne on this list instead of Dark Souls? I’ll let you in on a little secret, dear reader – Bloodborne is better than Dark Souls. Thanks for reading.

Trivia: Bloodborne is better than Dark Souls.

Platforms: PS4.

Further reading: Looking to get started? Here’s the best Bloodborne starting class.

3. GTA Online

GTA Online is many things: a varied sandbox to mess about in, a competitive shooter, a racing game, and even a blank canvas for players to roleplay within. The reason it is so high on this list, however, is the heists.

The heists in GTA Online are multi-layered co-op events that require teamwork and planning to pull off. One weak leak in your chain of physics-enabled avatars and the whole thing will go to shit. Everything needs to align perfectly. Nothing else on this list requires such mass precision. Hit up our GTA Online heists guide for some tips.

Trivia: GTA 5 made its budget back before it was even released because of pre-orders.

Platforms: PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360.

Further reading: How do you hit rank 100 in GTA Online? Be an asshole.

2. Minecraft

There’s a reason Notch lives in a massive house with infinite candy, all alone. He’s goddamn rich. He’s rich because he made a game that appeals to pretty much everyone – a game that can be different things to different people. Whether you play Minecraft as a survival sim or attempt to recreate the Taj Mahal, there’s probably something you will enjoy here.

It’s also the perfect game to play with your kids. Not only can you help them along, but it’s actually a decent way to unlock a child’s creativity. I still remember building a castle with my youngest, creating a little farm near it, and digging a moat to keep the monsters away. It’s a game where you don’t just build structures – you create lasting memories.

Trivia: Notch has nothing to do with Minecraft now, which is great.

Platforms: Everything.

Further reading: Looking for similar experiences? Here are some games like Minecraft.

1. Monster Hunter: World

Monster Hunter: World nails the feeling of smacking a dinosaur in the face with a sword the size of a flagpole. As soon as you make contact, you can almost feel the force – the slight freeze, the grimace in its face, and the dust billowing off at the point of impact. Grabbing three friends who are all equipped with different tools multiplies this satisfaction threefold.

The endgame of Capcom’s beast-slaying epic almost requires you to team up with pals. Sure, the monsters scale in difficulty to how many hunters are slicing at it, but you can bring a range of different weapons and distract it with multiple targets to chew on. When your team composition is perfect, it’s like a beautiful and violent dance.

Trivia: An early prototype of Monster Hunter: World had no monster hunting.

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One.

Further reading: How Dark Souls trained me for Monster Hunter: World.

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