The 25 best co-op games ever made

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Sometimes you need a hand to hold, so we’ve updated our list of the 25 best co-op games to play on PC with a headset-wearing friend or a muted stranger.

Whether solving puzzles, sneaking, shooting zombies or stabbing mythical creatures in the face, the existence of another player adds an element of unpredictability. You might synchronise your stealth takedowns and execute the perfect plan, but it’s just as likely that your co-op partner will constantly alert the guards and throw your situation into chaos. Luckily both success and failure are more compelling when you can take credit for the former and blame someone else for the latter.

Our criteria is our own. We’ve excluded competitive multiplayer games that require cooperation, for example, so you won’t find Dota 2 in the list. However, anything that has a co-op mode counts, even if it’s a game chiefly thought of as being about its singleplayer or competitive modes.

Now let’s hold hands and together we’ll go on a magical journey through the land of correct opinions. You can navigate this feature using the arrows that appear above or below the header image on each page, or by using the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Note: This feature lives on the internet, which means there’s a hole underneath for you to vent your frustrations into. Remember, your comment will live on forever, so make it a good one. “No Game X?” isn’t useful. A brief explanation of why Game X is wonderful absolutely is.

65 Comments

  1. turnshchumctitte says:

    I recommend anyone who’s into Shoot ’em up’s to have a look at Jamestown. Fantastic game. Great (couch) co-op. (Partly because your friends can revive you.)

  2. Premium User Badge

    Godwhacker says:

    Comprehensive! The one thing I would say is that Left 4 Dead 2, containing as it now does the entire campaign from Left 4 Dead 1, is the one that should be listed.

    Portal 2’s co-op is wonderful and one of the best things I’ve played. Now if only Valve would start making games again…

  3. Hatman says:

    SWAT 4 is on GOG now!!! You cads!!!! You amateur fools!!!!!!!

  4. mukuste says:

    I’ve played Overcooked with another human being and… sadly, the magic didn’t happen for us. The gameplay just felt very basic and mechanical, and we never had all that much fun, it felt more like a chore. I wanted to like it, but was disappointed.

  5. gou says:

    the standout coop of the last few years for me and my group was dying light, itching for our collective availability to permit a replay

  6. Someoldguy says:

    I’m not much of a coop gamer these days, having a young family means game time is very intermittent which is not multiplayer friendly. That said, if I have the time to commit I’d generally much rather team up in an MMO and have a fun adventure than almost all of these. D&D Online, LotRO, Guild Wars 2…

    • Scytale says:

      For family co-op, how could they miss the classics of any of the LEGO series (Harry Potter being a great one for the kids)

      … oh and …

      !! Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime !!

      • ChampionHyena says:

        LOVERS IN A DANGEROUS SPACETIME!

      • Someoldguy says:

        I have been doing LEGO games 2 player with the kiddo, but not having a modern megawide monitor we don’t find it that easy to play with two of us on the one screen. Some fun times have been had, but it’s easier on things like Roblox where we can have a screen each. Much of the time though he’d rather send his gaming time watching youtube videos of other people playing games. Go figure.

  7. playzintraffic says:

    You forgot Perfect Dark (64). That game had THE most customizable multiplayer mode I’ve ever seen, even more than its spiritual successor Timesplitters.

    • welverin says:

      Do you mean Perfect Dark the N64 game? Which is very clearly not a PC game, which is what this site and article are all about.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Perfect Dark does indeed deserve a mention anywhere, PC or not, for still being unsurpassed for the degree of control it gave you over the multiplayer (WITH BOTS TOO, goddamn it, why are there still either/or games) arenas.

      • Premium User Badge

        The Almighty Moo says:

        I like the difficulty options in Perfect Dark
        “Play through this mission”
        “Play through this mission but with extra tasks and restrictions”
        “Play through this mission but with extra tasks and restrictions on a smaller screen and with some other idiot ‘helping'”

  8. Thathmew says:

    How is Terraria not on this list?

  9. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    lol, you have Far Cry 4, but not Dying Light.

    I argue this because Far Cry 4’s main missions cannot be completed in co-op. While your buddy can join you for nearly every antic possible on the main map, the story mission lock-out makes some of the tougher, longer missions more of a slog. Don’t even get me started on the boss fights when you visit Shangri-La.

    Dying Light, on the other hand, features similar open world, parkour, and a similar map (though smaller, but more detailed). Except for the first and the very last mission, every story mission and every quest/subplot/fetch mission is available to play with up to 3 friends. Not only does this entirely change the way you play, it makes harder difficulties substantially more fun: running around in the dark and in the rain becomes an adventure instead of merely a terrifying sojourn into your nightmares.

    • Halk says:

      This comment is correct. Far Cry shouldn’t even count without coop story missions, and Dying Light is coop at its best.

      • TheSplund says:

        never could get Dying Light to work stably on a LAN with a mate though – numerous crash-outs with the other player’s body running on the spot were just one of the issues. Every game made by that company seems to have suffered the same flaw – glad we have Steam refunds

  10. skyturnedred says:

    Resident Evil 6 is the most fun I’ve ever had in a co-op game. In fact, playing it solo just underlines how stupid the whole game is, but when you’re playing it with another rational human being it’s just damn fun to laugh at the ridiculously over the top cut-scenes together.

  11. nimamiara says:

    This is a little jarring because, in search of good co-op games, I recently referred to this very same Best Of. This certainly wasn’t published today, as claimed. I guess it’s been updated? The only update I notice is that it’s one entry per page, now, to allow for more ad impressions.

    And the old comments are gone, so many good recommendations have been lost there.

    • Dugular says:

      The very first sentence says it’s an update, not a new article. And the very last page shows what the changes are. So not sure what you mean by it claiming it’s a new article?

      Also, personally I prefer the refreshed comments; it means all comments are relevant to the revised addition and don’t have out of date information.

  12. Phinor says:

    None of our favourites on the list so might as well list them here: Counter-Strike: Source, Company of Heroes, Sins of a Solar Empire and perhaps Spintires.

    A lot of comp stomping for us. Spintires is an odd one but it does count as co-op, doesn’t it?

  13. Leafy Twigs says:

    Best co-op game ever was World of Warcraft. My partner and I decided to play again after some years away from it. I rolled a paladin and she rolled a priest. And we went all the way to level cap duo-ing dungeons originally meant for five players.

    Some of them were challenging, especially since we decided to skip heirlooms. But it was some of the best gaming experiences I’ve had. Yelling across the room at each other with ideas after our 6th wipe. Barely pulling off a victory when most of the dungeon bosses were 3 levels above us.

    And then mixing and matching other classes. Could a hunter and warlock make an effective dungeon team, even when the only heal spells are “mend pet” + “healthstone”? Warrior and druid? Double rogues? The combos felt endless. What was easy with one combo, was tricky or near-impossible with another. Never ran out of ways to challenge ourselves.

    Best of all, leveling was fun again. No mindless grinding. No dealing with obnoxious randoms. Just the two of us against the world (of warcraft).

  14. Moraven says:

    I met my SO and many friendships through World of Warcraft. We raid together as the 2 tanks for the guild. Being able to communicate tank swaps to someone a few feet away plays differently.

    For starting out long distance, we sought out other games to play beyond WoW. Titan Quest, PixelJunk Monster and Heroes III co-op maps.

    PixelJunk has been our favorite TD and it has seamless co-op. You can even both dance on the same Tower to help boost it quicker. Someone will stay to boost a tower while the other would go pick up coins and gems. Defense Grid does not have that same co-op experience.

    SnipperClips and Affordable Space Adventures on Nintendo hardwave have provided unique co-op puzzle solving experiences. Most of Nintendo’s platformers (Donkey, Mario, Kirby, Yoshi) have provided co-op the past few releases.

  15. Hunchback says:

    I was getting scared while clicking through the list all the way to number 1, each click rising my shock and hopes higher and higher…

    I was then relieved to see the top coop game of all times.
    *phew*

  16. trash_hermit says:

    Making my voice heard: I hate click-lists. This could all easily be on 1, 2, or 3 scroll-friendly pages. Formats like this disincentivize me from frequenting the site. I doubt I’m alone.

  17. Lim-Dul says:

    Battleblock Theater?
    Castle Crashers?
    Monaco?
    Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime?
    Helldivers?
    Torchlight II? (OK, it’s similar to Diablo III)
    Warhammer End Times: Vermintide? (OK, it’s similar to L4D)
    Orcs Must Die 2?
    Risk of Rain?
    Alien Swarm?
    Magicka (1 or 2)?
    Sanctum (1 or 2)?
    Alien Swarm?
    Terrarria (or Starbound?)
    The High-Moon Studios Transformers games (yes, really)?

    I really think this list should be expanded to 50 titles…

  18. trankdog says:

    DOOM2!!!

  19. Nixitur says:

    Some of my favorites are as follows:

    Monaco
    Basically, you and up to three friends do a heist on a place. There’s vastly different characters to choose from, so ideally, it becomes like Ocean’s Eleven, with the Redhead leading away a guard while the Cleaner knocks out the other one and the Locksmith quickly opening up the door to escape.
    In reality, it’s rarely like this. You’re a bunch of bumbling fools constantly trying to get out of whatever scrape you’ve just gotten yourself and your friends into. And it’s great!

    Magicka
    Imagine giving yourself and up to three of your friends thousands of possible, absurdly powerful spells. Now explain the basics of how they work. Now turn on friendly fire. With a ridiculous and pretty funny story and complete chaos that comes from having four glass cannons running around, Magicka is probably my favorite co-op game ever.
    But don’t worry! Revive is just W, A, Space. Unless Brian, the absolute dolt, managed to splash water on himself. Just use Fire on yourself, Brian! No, Brian, you just made yourself immune to Fire! Why did you summon rain, Brian?

  20. Killy_V says:

    Shank – Excellent co op, also the co op campaign is different from the sp one, with bosses requiring a true co op strategy
    Renegade Ops – Such a cool game

  21. milonz says:

    As some people have said, World of Warcraft was probably the best co-op PC game ever, especially if you were in a organized guild.
    The way boss raids were done forced you to develop REAL teamplay qualities.
    The same can be said about Counter-Strike 1.6 and Source : if you were a proefficient player (a rated one, with some tournaments behind you), then you knew how to teamplay.
    Teamplay was the harderst skill to learn for newcomers.
    Ok, i know that indie games deserve some love, but not putting WoW on the “25 best co-op games on PC” list is simply a sin =D

  22. Kinsky says:

    Divinity: Original Sin 2 being so far down the list is absolutely criminal, especially given how it’s apparently beaten by a game that is essentially the worst of WoW’s bland sidequesting married with reddit humor and a serious case of late-generation Diablo clone procedural generation cancer.

    • milonz says:

      I don’t think that bland sidequesting is bad, from a co-op point of view.
      I’ve been playing pen & paper RPGs for 25 years now (had a Shadowrun v4 game last sunday), and despite this fact, i strongly believe that a great multiplayer experience is totally incompatible with any storytelling and narrative quests, because the way we appropriate a story is essentially a personnal and internal (solo) experience. For instance : the utter failure that SWTOR is.

      I do agree with you, Borderlands 2 wasn’t the greatest co-op game i’ve ever seen, even if i was playing with friends.
      But not for the reasons you’ve mentioned ;-)

      PS : DOS 2 is a good game, which i’ve played solo for the moment, so i don’t have an opinion for the multi.

      • Someoldguy says:

        Are you saying that in your PnP games, your best times have been had when there is no storytelling or narrative? Or that somehow this key part of what makes PnP RPGs so good for small groups cannot be translated into an electronic format?

        • milonz says:

          Someoldguy, everybody loves good storytelling, sunny mondays and cute cats.
          But that doesn’t answer to the question “is heavy storytelling a good mix with a multiplayer experience ?”

          Well, we’re talking about RPG video games which AREN’T PnP RPGs, in any way.
          PnP games are very interactive, essentially a dialogue between friends, more interactive than any video game will ever be, that what makes them so very unique.
          The Dungeon Master will throw in some dialogue, make some statements, but the most of the game will consist in players discussing between them, to unravel the plot, negotiating for the best outcome for their interests.

          A video game RPG can’t be flexible and don’t offer the same experience, by far.
          Whereas PnP are highly interactive and co-operative by design, RPGs are essentially movies or books, aka “non-interactive medias” with some piss-poor MCQs to give you the illusion of interactivity.

          It’s easy to keep an enjoyable RYTHM with a PnP RPG, because you can discuss with your mates, the DM can take part, it’s essentially a real discussion, with a natural flow.
          With a multiplayer RPG, it’s hell on earth. Because everybody has its own RYTHM for appropriation and reflection.
          Some will appropriate the story in a short time and will be waiting for the others, while some will ask a very long time and will be hard-pressed by their mates.
          Think about reading a book simultaneously with your friends.
          You can have an enjoyable talk about a book, about a chapter, but if you try to keep in sync for each sentence, your friends (if you have any left at this point) will ask you to sod off =D
          That’s the point about heavy narrative in a multiplayer game, everyone will have his own RYTHM, and the more players there will be in the party, the more the game will become frustrating.
          This kind of problem doesn’t happen in solo, because when you’re playing alone, it’s ok to be egoistic assh*le, after all.

          As i’ve said at the beginning, the idea that PnP RPGs and computer RPGs are similar and that you can “transpose” one experience to another is … well, stupid.
          You’re confusing form and function.
          cRPGs should be rebranded as “mildly interactive movies” (or books) nowadays, and don’t have the core quality that makes an RPG.

          There’s some exceptions, if you’re in cRPGs : Neverwinter Nights 1 (2002), Vampire Redemption (2000), and probably Divinity Original Sin 2 (haven’t tried this one yet) offer a “game master mode”, which lets a DM run his own personnalised games.
          But these modes have a different functionnality, the DM runs his game over skype with his players, it’s a classic PnP flow, while the cRPG becomes essentially a miniatures board for visualization and tactics.
          In other words, the DM mode transforms a cRPG into a PnP RPG assisting tool.
          And probably not well, because there’s already a lot of much better, much more flexible DM tools on the market =D

          • milonz says:

            As i’ve said earlier, i’ve been playing Star Wars The Old Republic with seasoned PnP friends, and i was wondering all along why this game, despite having a good narrative and having correct MMO mechanics, was such a miserable experience.
            It’s because Bioware didn’t figure that they are incompatible, they have a very solid solo RPGs experience, but no clue about whatsover makes a good MMO.
            That’s why SWTOR, despite being a MMORPG, mostly attracts solo players.

            Some of my friends keep playing the game, but as a solo cRPG with a subscription fee. They ddon’t even bother to group anymore, despite being close friends IRL.

            Because the mix is just terrible =D

  23. Xyvik says:

    I must strongly protest the inclusion of Diablo III instead of a much better action-RPG: both Torchlight II and especially Grim Dawn are leagues better than D3. The sheer variety of skillsets in Grim Dawn may be a bit intimidating, but it makes for a vastly superior game. The lore is better, the spells are better, literally everything except possibly the art is better in Grim Dawn than in D3.

    As for other worthy inclusions, I think Sanctum deserves a spot. Co-op FPS tower defense is absolute tons of fun, and since the resources are split between players it actually requires coordination and strategizing together. Granted, this is not a good idea with random strangers on the internet, but with a SO or best friend, it’s a grand ol’ time. Just don’t suggest the second game, which butchered everything nice about the first.

    • milonz says:

      I’m a big fan of aRPGs (playing to PoE and Diablo 3 right now).
      Sorry to say, but Grim Dawn is messy and unelegant.
      And PoE too, even if i’m playing it with a group of friends.
      I’ve never understood the big thingy about the Diablo 2 legacy, but that’s my personnal opinion.
      Even if i’m old enough to have played Diablo 1 when it came out ;-)
      From a gameplay point of view, Diablo 3 is far superior to any of its concurrents (since RoS and Jay *old legacy fart* Wilson being fired, at least)

      One thing to keep in mind is that even if a game’s solo campaign is good, the game multiplayer can be totally botched.
      It’s the case 95% of the times, because game developers don’t think about the co-op aspect of the game, and think that you only have to slap multiplayer communications (the tcp/ip stack) for the game to work, which is idiocy.
      A good multiplayer game has its gameplay fine-tuned for multiplayer.
      I didn’t play Grim Dawn or Torchlight 2 in multiplayer mode (because i didn’t enjoy enough these games), so maybe you’re right, and they are better.
      But for what i’ve seen with Diablo 3 (2000+ hours played), Blizzard has made a lot of work for class synergy and cohesive groups.
      The game really shines in multiplayer (especially at the end-game stage), is far more enjoyable and more co-op oriented than PoE for instance. Playing in groups is a BIG plus.
      That’s my own opinon, i can be wrong, but i’m not very surprised to find Diablo 3 on the list.

  24. Darloth says:

    AI War deserves at LEAST an honourable mention here – it’s one of the few co-op real time strategy games that works even better in co-op than it does on its own, it supports fast or slow games, different play styles, specialization amongst teams, and engenders a pretty good feeling of us brave few against the world and all that.

  25. icarussc says:

    Hey, RPS chaps! What about the possibility of a couch co-op special list sometime! I play co-op quite often, but always with just the one PC.

  26. frogulox says:

    Question not specific to this list: i played borderlands ages ago and didnt like it. I love arpgs, i like shooters, i didnt like borderlands. It was just kinda meh. Boring, somehow. Unfortunately I didnt think enough at the time about its lack of click to articulate it now.

    Is borderlands2 any different in tone or execution?

  27. fish99 says:

    Some fairly major omissions in the form of EDF and Terraria. I guess EDF is mainly seen as a console game though.

    Also Portal 2 is fun but so short and has no replayability, and lacks challenging puzzles.

    I’d put Borderlands 1/2, Diablo 2 and the EDF games at the top of this list.

  28. Stinkfinger75 says:

    Hell yes to Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. A game way ahead of its time with the co-op. The adversarial co-op is my favorite game mode of any game ever, someone really needs to rip it off.

  29. MikeHoncho says:

    Toejam & Earl.

  30. Spacewalk says:

    Sex is the best co-op experience.

  31. Grobmotoriker says:

    -Renegade Ops
    -Broforce
    -Gauntlet
    -Lara Croft and the temple of osiris
    -Guacamelee
    -Geometry Wars 3
    -With kids around every LEGO game, depends on which movie they like …
    and the classic —> Metal Slug

  32. TheSplund says:

    Far Cry 3 and R6 Siege have good 2-4 player co-op options (though I only have ever played them as 2 player co-op).

  33. lepercake says:

    I think the most fun I’ve had with co-op is either Raven Shield’s terrorist hunt or AvP’s (2000) horde mode.

  34. icemann says:

    No mention of Ravenshield. Bah.

  35. Slaadfax says:

    Here are a few excellent cooperative platformers with varying degrees of combat to add to the list for people checking this out sometime down the line. Biggest note on these is that they are pretty friendly to coop players with disparate skill levels (spouses, kids, etc), mostly because of how they handle death and respawn:

    Battleblock Theater: Excellent (and very amusing) narrative. Mechanics are accessible and cooperation is vital to the success of each individual level. There is a nice level of challenge in executing some of the stages, but dying causes minimal (if any) inconvenience (the dead player respawns next to the live one or at a little checkpoint.

    Rayman Legends: A lot of variety, with a decent amount of exploration of each stage. Mostly skill-driven platforming with a little bit of combat. If a player dies, they turn into a balloon that can be guided over to be popped by a surviving player, which immediately puts them back in the action. If possible, I kind of recommend playing it on the Switch as opposed to on PC (because Uplay).

    Shovel Knight: Incredibly charming retro platformer that rises above the majority of its influences. Only the “Shovel of Hope” campaign can be played cooperatively, but doing so is a lovely time. The game is more difficult (in my opinion) than the other two with a bit more inconvenience when both players die. If only one player dies, they can rejoin (which donates half of the remaining health of the surviving player to them). Superb score.

  36. ThomW says:

    You guys missed some great couch co-op games:

    * PixelJunk Shooter is excellent with a friend
    * Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is an underrated co-op game
    * Helldivers is a great take on twin-stick shooters that’s better with friends

  37. Paranoid says:

    D3 but no WoW? Thats odd given neither of them are ‘cool’ any more, but one is so much vastly better than the other.

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