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.

Everything’s better with a pal or two in tow, from collaborative puzzle solving to sublime double stealth takedowns. Equally sublime are when those takedowns go awry, your partner shrieks in panic and all hands are needed on deck to clear up the mess. Whether local or online, co-op games offer some of the best fun you can have in 2018.

Our criteria is our own. We’ve excluded competitive multiplayer games that require cooperation, so you won’t find PUBG or Dota 2 in the list. However, anything with 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.

And while you’re here, why not watch the RPS Video Division’s take on the subject? In order to bond our new videographers we encouraged them to play every game on the list and document their findings. Their top ten leans towards bigger communities still playing today, and they want to publicly apologise to Graham for not including Spelunky.

75 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Dios says:

    It blows my mind that the communication system from Portal 2 hasn’t been copied by every coop-game after it.

    • lordbain says:

      How many times do I have to say it Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition is not a co- flarking OP game. You have to jump through hoops to try and connect with the other player are your flarking crazy. I call a co-op game where we both set up characters and play in the same world from beginning to end.. Think Titian Quest morons..This is stupid. Your throwing monkey darts at the this one to make this game one of your top 25? I guess pot is legal in the UK as well..

  2. mwoody says:

    I can’t vouch for how it’s held up to the test of time, but Mercenaries 2 still holds a special place in my heart. I recall the day we discovered you could pick up a tank using the winch on a helicopter, flew in to a complex “kill the VIP” mission like that, and finished off the boss in 30 seconds by carefully lining up a tank shell right in the guys’ face from the air. Good times.

    A close second is Saints Row 2, back when the world was the straight man and YOU were the insanity (we tried SR3 and later and bounced right off). The high point: we discovered we could anger the military until they sent jets after us, then carefully balance one of us on the wing of a cheaper plane, get in close, jump from our wing to theirs, and jack the military jet midair. First time we did it we laughed so hard we almost both crashed.

    More recently, The Forest is proving to be a delightful two player horror / building game. The simple touch wherein you can only see your friends’ nameplate if they’re not sneaking is a master stroke: nothing like fleeing from some monsters in the dark and totally losing each other because you’re both too terrified to come out of sneak mode, and have to wait white-knuckle until morning jumping at every cricket just to figure out where the hell you both ended up.

  3. cultiv8ed says:

    No battle royale type game on the list seems like a bit of an omission considering the current craze

  4. Nauallis says:

    Thanks, fun list. I’m at a place in my life where the most challenging part of co-op games is coordinating friends to play those games. I do have the friends, but different schedules, time zones, and habits… yeah.

    • LexW1 says:

      I actually thought it was a pretty weak, uninspired and really terribly out-of-date list myself.

      What’s really sad is, if you’re going to include stuff like SWAT4, which is only an okay co-op game to start with, AND ancient like the hills, not including stuff like ME3’s MP is pretty criminal. ME3’s MP is pretty close to peak co-op and it’s interesting that there isn’t a single Horde Mode-type game in there, but there a bunch of weak co-op games – and I say that having played them, like Payday 2 (I wish it was good!), Rainbow 6 2 (I mean seriously there’s no excuse for having that in there), Dawn of War 2 (not a good co-op game), Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (come on…) and so on.

      It’s basically a pretty narrow-minded list from a very specific time in history. And Vermintide 2 is a hell of a lot better than a lot of titles on the list, too.

      • Nauallis says:

        ME3 MP has terrible co-op. I hope that by calling it “the peak co-op” experience you are only badly failing at being ironic rather than trying to express something you seriously think.

        • LexW1 says:

          Literally no-one agrees with that. The co-op was universally praised, unlike the rest of the game. What’s next for you, “Nobody plays Battle Royale games”?

          • brucethemoose says:

            It’s pretty obscure compared to the SP part of the game. Hence alot of people call it terrible, because they see it as some tacked-on mode that stole dev time from potential SP development.

            The loot box system was pretty awful.

            Also, the skill cap is VERY high. I don’t remember the early days well, but know I wasn’t super into it until I unlocked a few classes/guns, some DLC came out and I could comfortably do silver.

            But once you grind out the beginning loot (which is a big if), it is bloody fantastic. Easily my favorite co-op game.

          • April March says:

            The co-op was universally praised, unlike the rest of the game.

            That’s not what I remember from reviews at the time. What I remember is “considering that you’re forced to play multiplayer if you want to best ending, at least it’s not that bad”.

          • Nauallis says:

            What’s next for me is probably blocking your pretentious dumb ass.

      • Cederic says:

        Dawn of War 2 (in all its variants) was good fun in co-op. It wasn’t hard, but it was entertaining.

        Games I’m surprised not to see in the list are Sanctum 2 (first person tower defence excellence), Satellite Reign (flawed but many nights of fun) and in particular, Men of War Assault Squad (or MoWAS2). That one proved excellent fun.

      • Crusoe says:

        Um. Killing Floor 2 is a horde mode game. End of.

      • DragonOfDarknessFlame says:

        Personally I like that hey incorporate older games in the list. Sounds like you should read PCGamer instead. Their “of all time” lists are always the newest possible choices with an obvious omission to the older greats that lend to the actual description of the title “of all time”. That’s all I got to say about that to quote Forrest Gump.

  5. Xipheas says:

    FWIW, Artemis was made playable online by the creator of the game some years ago.
    There’s still a number of regular groups playing!

    • Mr. Unpleasant says:

      Guise, also check out Empty Epsilon! It’s like Artemis but open source, playable on android devices (yes, that means your tablet) and has a couple nice features that Artemis doesn’t.

  6. teedle says:

    Coop-wise, I like Bonanza Bros. You can decide which way in a level you each split up, which is fun. You can meet up with your partner in the second half of a level, just in time to help each other. You can even grab the dropped treasure of your dead partner, and finish the level for the both of you. It’s short, but in terms of coop it’s ace :D

  7. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    As it’s compulsory for someone to say “what about…” in the comments to any list article like this, I’ll jump in to say: what about Monaco?

    • Mr. Unpleasant says:

      What about Battleblock Theater?
      What about Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime?

      • LexW1 says:

        The whole list is really, really outdated and has a heavy lean towards a certain sort of game. I mean there are a ton of entries on there which should probably never have been on there, and some are completely bananas, like failing to remove FC4 and replace it with FC5, which has flatly superior co-op.

      • ChampionHyena says:

        Obviously there’s a bit of a skew in this list towards online co-op (for pretty understandable reasons), but holy hell. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a deliriously entertaining couch co-op game. Gets even more frenetic the fewer friends you have, and trying to operate every station on the ship with just two players is an exercise in entertaining panic.

      • Scytale says:

        How on earth did Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime not make this list?!

        Also, check out Quest Hunter for great couch coop RPG action.

  8. FrenchTart says:

    Another “what about” post but the lack of Pixel Junk Monsters is an atracamacy.

  9. Marclev says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but it would have been nice to have more than one title (the cooking game), that looks like it would be fun to play with a younger family member. Most of these seem to be geared towards older people.

    Surprised none of the Lego games made an appearance actually.

  10. Thathmew says:

    How is Terraria not on this list??!!!

    • fish99 says:

      Agree, it’s a better game and a better co-op game than most of this list.

    • MajorLag says:

      This is so far the only suggestion I think I actually agree with. The grind was annoying, and I can only imagine it is significantly worse now with the enchantments and, what, like double the content again? But the boss fights were really fun in coop.

    • Rince says:

      Indeed! Terraria is a fantastic game to play Co-op! Nothing like face the Frost Moon invasion along with you pal.

    • Crusoe says:

      Yeah, it really is a major oversight. It still gets tens of thousands of players, for good reason.

  11. Suopis says:

    Recently discovered Death Squared. My fiance and I love it, it is a great coop experience. Think portal, but camera is placed above. Also much more accidental deaths.

  12. bee says:

    Your list and my list look very different. I’ve only played one of those games. Here’s my list in no particular order (note that I don’t mention which sequel it is)

    Most MMOs
    Borderlands
    Wildlands
    Dying Light / Dead Island
    Left for Dead
    Diablo
    Starcraft
    Command and Conquer
    League of Legends & other dota style games
    Warframe

    Consoles have some great ones too like Battletoads and Contra.

  13. HiroTheProtagonist says:

    Obligatory “why didn’t MY favorite co-op game make the list” post:

    Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks

    I get that this site is mostly for PC games, but Shaolin Monks was easily one of the best MK games and the co-op mode was intuitive as well as kontent-packed (then you play through a second time as Sub Zero/Scorpion).

    • mmandthetat says:

      Just for the record, it’s only PC games, not “mostly.”

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        Just for the record, console games are occasionally mentioned or even discussed or *gasp* written about at length here, but they (Link, as an example) are typically superlative examples of Good Videogames and are related to PC games in some manner.

        Would be weird to put one on a list like this, sure, but I’m compelled to make the record slightly less wobbly.

        • April March says:

          RPS is a site about PC games and games culture. Games culture isn’t really PC or console specific, so they may make a post about, say, Mario 64 TAS runners because it’s interesting, even though it has nothing to do with PC. But with lists like this, like with reviews and whatnot, they’re only goint to talk about games that exist(ed) on PC.

          Of course, I think no one in RPS would mention “games culture” without scowling, but I think you catch my drift.

  14. skyturnedred says:

    Can you please make the header image size consistent for easier navigation?

  15. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    All the Serious Sam games (bar 2 and VR, which I’ve respectively not yet played at all or not yet played in coop thus far) are some of my favorite games in co-op mode.

    My reasoning is that their coop has essentially all the greatness of Serious Sam, but you never really die unless your friend does, too; you can split up to flip switches at opposite sides of an area to save some time at the risk of being ambushed (if I recall correctly); you can toggle loads of tasty options to your liking (e.g. infinite ammo sounds great but is terrible; there are other options I like but forget); and, perhaps most importantly, you can make jokes about taking things seriously and go AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH at each other without coming off as a complete knob.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gabriele Svelto says:

      Yeah, the original Serious Sam(s) in CO-OP mode with friendly fire enabled were ridiculously fun. Spent countless hours on those with some of my friends.

  16. Eleriel says:

    Playing through the original Halo with my little brother is still a really awesome memory for me.
    though I guess that’s not available on PC.. so ‘oh well’.

  17. Premium User Badge

    wsjudd says:

    Notes: Far Cry 5’s entire campaign will be playable alongside your mates.

    As Far Cry 5 is out, is this actually the case, or..?

    • Gertjan says:

      Yes, but progress isn’t saved. For instance, if the host unlocks a car or a weapon slot, the guest player does not get that. He has to play all the missions again to get them. Really annoying, but the game is not that long and pretty easy. It’s only two player coop, by the way. Another annoying thing is that you cannot get too far from each other, like 200 meters or so. But other than that it works great.

  18. Kyle700 says:

    Terraria? Factorio?

  19. gory says:

    Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.

    Had THE best time playing local with my little cousin. I cherrish every moment!

  20. bkad says:

    People looking for a fun, tactically-deep, couch co-op brawler should look into Full Metal Furies! My roommates and I loved it so much we ran through the whole thing twice to 100% completion.

  21. D3 says:

    After reading the comments I’m going to rattle off 28 that haven’t been listed yet;
    Online, Pc:
    Path of Exile (free)
    Alien Swarm (free)
    Spelunky SD (free online coop mod of classic spelunky)
    Orcs must die 2!!!
    Minecraft (duh)
    Full Mojo Rampage
    Insurgency
    Sanctum (the first game)
    Beat Hazard (best if you a similar taste in music)
    Golf with your friends
    Borderlands 1 (still the best in the series)
    Frozen Synapse (red mode coop expansion)
    Killing Floor 1 and/or 2
    Risk of Rain
    Nation Red
    Final Exam (basically turtles in time for pc)
    Mercenary kings
    Sniper Elite V2
    Dead Island
    Bloodsports.tv
    Abyss Odyssey
    Pressure (Original release… new steam release is local coop only???)
    Rocket League (technically multiplayer only, but you can choose your teammates and can play vs bots if you wish, and the cooperative aspect is very high once you can control where the ball is going)

    Local coop:
    Jamestown
    Assault Android Cactus
    Tobe’s Vertical Adventure
    Ultratron
    Droid Assault

    If anyone is interested I have some suggestions for older console games (some of which can be easily emulated).

    • D3 says:

      Also minecraft is in the article… so uuuuh… Try the Pixelmon mod (development has sadly been C&D’d but it’s very much a complete mod) Pixelmon adds pokemon to the world of minecraft along with all the pokemon related gubbins you need including ways to craft pokeballs, evolution stones to harvest, fossils to dig up, randomly generated pokemon buildings and npcs and gyms to battle… it’s fantastic, and can be played online. The best bit is riding on a flying pokemon… It’s loads better than minecraft’s elantra.

      • brucethemoose says:

        Minecraft modpacks are amazing co-op games. I feel like that’s a whole genre that somehow flew under RPS’s radar.

    • hijuisuis says:

      I’m interested in old console games!

    • Gregbo says:

      Ok, now to add my two cents. Ive played most of the games in this list. Theyre all “meh” compared to Gears of War on PC. One of the most fun gaming experiences ive had in my life was playing that game all night with a friend of mine online. You can play the entire campaign cooperatively with a friend. Sadly, they decided not to release 2 and 3 for PC. But I think 4 is available.

      Ever since that experience, Ive held GoW as the benchmark for how good a coop game is.

      Honorable mention goes to:
      Hunted: The Demon’s Forge (akin to GoW in that its two players, going through a campaign. Though this game is set in a fantasy world where one player specializes in melee and the other in archery. Its worth looking into if you can manage to get it to run online without the defunct Games for Windows Live bullshit. Maybe theres a patch at this point.)

  22. D3 says:

    Regarding the article, Borderlands 2 is arguably not as much fun coop as 1, the first game has characters that really rely on each other to make a functioning team, in the sequel it doesn’t really matter what character class you play, generally everyone is just playing in the same space, not actually cooperating.

    Also, and this is probably against popular opinion, I’ve found the Dark souls series to be pretty terrible coop. It sounds good on paper, but most of the games make getting into a coop match frustrating and limit the amount of time and places you can play together, and then when you do play together it breaks the difficulty making the game go from overly challenging to overly easy.

  23. Stinkfinger75 says:

    I’d also like to point to Chaos Theory’s utterly outstanding and unique Spies vs. Mercs adversarial co-op. Round up three friends and have a go, it’s tense in a way that few games are.

  24. malkav11 says:

    Obligatory note that actually Dawn of War 1 and 3 don’t do coop so unless you want to do boring skirmishes against the AI (and I guess some people do, for some reason) you shouldn’t look at them.

    You could maybe try Starcraft II’s commander mode, though. I’ve not tried it and I doubt it’s anywhere near as satisfying since I don’t believe it’s campaign based. Also they charge you for a lot of the commanders, individually. But it’s something.

  25. Premium User Badge

    dnelson says:

    My vote for best Co-op game goes to Captain Fizz Meets the Blaster-Trons. Released in 1998 according to the internet… Hope you’ve got two joysticks and a C64 :)

    • Lord_Santa says:

      “Hope you’ve got two joysticks and a C64 :)”

      yes, I do.

      and somehow this game completely flew over my radar back in the days, which is very odd considering it’s also available for Amiga and ZX!

      thanks – this is gonna be a treat =)

  26. jozinho says:

    It’s a shame not to include Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. The game is a master class in executing a new concept and pushing in all kinds of wonderful directions. Butter smooth controls, sharp, bright and funny art and sound, pumping music, a clever upgrade system with surprises, all kinds of mix-and-matches of the core gameplay… it’s a gem for coop, and unique. (Especially when some of the games listed are even here described as carbon copies of each other)

  27. airmikee99 says:

    Your title is wrong.

    “The 25 best co-op games made in the last ten years”

    Fixed that for you.

    The greatest co-op game franchise ever made is Gauntlet, from the classic arcade game to the N64 3D remake to the 2014 remake. Most of the games in your list don’t even require co-op, they’re all single player games with multiplayer added on. Gauntlet can barely be played solo.

    And not a single MMO game? Proving again that the original title couldn’t be further from reality.

    • Stromko says:

      I think there just aren’t enough MMORPGs that are legitimately enjoyable enough to be in a Top 25 list of co-op games. The top MMOs certainly have compelling elements but it’s often buried under a lot of busywork and mindless grinding that a drop-in coop game doesn’t make you fuss around with.

  28. Raoul Duke says:

    IMHO most of these are not actually very good games full stop, which perhaps says a bit about the paucity of decent modern co-op games.

    Of course a non-PC list would be almost exclusively awesome console games from the 1990s.

  29. DodoSandvich says:

    I feel like this is some automatic repost or something.
    But yeah, it feels like the list is really lacking some gems like Lovers in a dangerous space time, Battle block theather and Terraria. And probably also Cuphead.

  30. Halk says:

    IMHO the Infinity Engine games are the best games for co-op.

    These are games that are not really good enough and much too laborious to play on your own, but when you play them with other people (which works perfectly thanks to the multi-person party) it is much more relaxing and the conversations you can have while playing add a lot to the game (e.g., suddenly the cheesy writing becomes a plus because you can make fun of it with your friends).

    Of course, it will be a buggy experience, so sometimes you will have to resort to cheats to work around problems, but as long as there are cheatcodes, why not.

  31. icemann says:

    No mention of Doom 1 or 2? Bah.

    Awesome co-op. Rainbow Six – Ravenshield was awesome fun also.

  32. hijuisuis says:

    I’ll add Diablo I + II as they are mindbendingly fun in LAN coop and are designed to be played this way. I’ve played them both to completion recently in coop and they are not the best games, just the most fun gaming I’ve had for a long time.

  33. gandalfthesmall says:

    Earth Defense Force 4.1 The Shadow of New Despair

    EASILY outclasses half of these.

    Fuck you fight me!

  34. DrPeeper says:

    Minecraft may have sold WAY more copies, but ARK provides a MUCH better Co-op experience out of the box.

  35. Krayken says:

    Sven Co-op still absolutely fun if you get a nice server going.

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