Every game is better with friends, but some games are the most betterer of all. These are the best co-op games you can play on PC in 2020. Whether you want to survive against zombie hordes, fell giant monsters, or fling your physicsy forms across chasms, there’s a game for you below.
This is a revised version of the list for 2020, and in this most recent iteration we’ve removed and added six new games. Our criteria remains unchanged. We’re looking for local and online multiplayer games with a true co-operative focus. That means it’s not enough if it’s a team-based competitive game – Counter-Strike and Dota are excluded. We’ve also made the decision to exclude those games which flit between PvE and PvP, such as DayZ and Sea Of Thieves. They’re all great games, but they belong on a different list.
Beyond that, we’ve favoured games that are fun and easy to play right now over all-time classics. Don’t see your favourite game on the list? Make an impassioned case for it in the comments below, and maybe you’ll convince others – and us – to give it a go.
Or perhaps you’re not looking for a co-operative game at all. In that case, check out our regularly updated list of the best PC games right now, to find something new worth playing immediately.
Best co-op games
There are great co-op games of all kinds to be found on PC, and we’ve selected 25 of the best below. We’ve split this article over a handful of pages, and you’ll find page links at the bottom of each page. Onwards!
25. Human Fall Flat
Human Fall Flat began life as a pleasant if unremarkable puzzle-platformer starring a featureless, physicsy dough boy called Bob. Then its developers added co-op, and it came alive.
Played with 2 players in local co-op or up to 8 online, your goal is still to steer your dough boys towards the exit on a series of floating islands. You must do this by clumsily lifting yourself up ledges, clumsily swinging from ropes, and clumsily working out how to use the environment to continue your journey. This clumsiness is extra delightful when you’re not just doing it yourself, but watching friends do it as well. They hoist you up behind them, hold your hand as you dangle from those ropes, and you talk to come up with plans to clumsily enact.
Brilliantly, not much else has changed about the game. You’ll still mainly play on the levels originally designed for a single player. That boat you used to clamber on? If all 8 of you leap on, your combined weight will cause it to sink. This turns out to be fine – it just becomes another obstacle to work out how to overcome, and another moment of physics fun. If you miss older, 2D obstacle runners like Transformice, give Human Fall Flat a go.
What else should I be playing if I like this: The aforementioned Transformice was in this slot in previous iterations of this list. Or give Grow Home a go, if you want some clumsy single player platforming.
24. Gears 5
Gears 5’s meaty campaign is a fine old romp when played alone, but it really comes alive when you’re cleaving through it with a pal or two. Every mission is built around a core of three characters. For the most part, you’ll probably be rushing to play as either Kait or Del, the two beefcake heroes of Gears 5’s story campaign and the main ones doing all the shooting and the sawing and the yanking of robot plugs from the backs of unsuspecting enemies.
The third player takes control of Jack, Kait and Del’s friendly flying robo-drone whose main purpose in life is providing support for his human masters, laying down traps, dropping boosts, fetching weapons or providing a quick bit of first aid if you get downed. He’s not quite as much fun to play for experienced roadie runners, but if you approach him with the right mindset, there’s no denying that he adds a vital bit of spice to Gears 5’s action vocabulary. Whether it’s mind-controlling swarm troops, turning you invisible or netting you a rare sniper rifle from a far-off perch, Jack is often the one who can turn the tide of a difficult battle.
Special mention must also go to Gears 5’s local splitscreen support. Some may prefer to offer their co-operative chainsaw from afar online, but there’s something about being in the same room that makes Gears 5 all the more enjoyable, from simply pointing at a target instead of endlessly trying and failing to describe it over a headset to watching every last one of your mate’s finishing moves in all their gruesome, gory detail. It’s something we wish big blockbuster games did more often, and Gears 5 is a great example of how to do it well.
Where can I buy it: Steam
What else should I be playing if I like this: Gears Of War 4 is a similarly fun slice-and-shooter in co-op. Or try Borderlands 3, elsewhere on this list, for something as action-packed you can play forever.
23. Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Vermintide 2 is clearly indebted to Valve’s zombie shooter Left 4 Dead. Each level can be tackled by up to 4 players, and sees you slaughtering hordes of enemies to reach the end intact. Special enemies threaten to pick off anyone that strays from the group, and the appearance of an occasional boss can tear through an unprepared team.
Those similarities might make it tempting to dismiss as a Left 4 Dead knock off, but you shouldn’t because Vermintide 2 has the best rats in video games. They’re man sized opponents with weapons and minds of their own, making them individual combatants that are more satisfying to fight than ravenous zombies. The five classes, each with separate skills and access to different weapons, help to give each player their own role. Those vermin are more varied, too, with a random selection of mini-bosses and horde types to make each run feel a little different.
Fatshark nailed the melee combat at its core and sprinkled in some breathtaking level design, and the end result might be the best horde survival game, even if you don’t like Warhammer.
Where can I buy it: Steam
What else should I be playing if I like this: Left 4 Dead 1 or 2, obviously. Deep Rock Galactic would be another good choice, if a Dwarven blend of bug blasting and mining sounds like your cup of tea.
22. Viscera Cleanup Detail
It’s not exactly the most original setting: a dilapidated space station filled with aliens and crimson, world-building wall graffiti. Viscera Cleanup Detail turns this tried and tested scenario on its head, tasking you not with repelling the aliens, but cleaning up the bloody aftermath with a mop that looks like Zoidberg’s mouth.
With up to 32 players, you mop up blood, collect spent shells, deposit bits of human in contaminant containers, refill med stations and incinerate body parts. You might think that more players means faster cleaning, but with you all tracking bloodied footprints across the floor and knocking over buckets filled with gory slop, it won’t be long before things devolve into a food fight. But with human limbs instead of food.
There’s something about removing decals from textures that’s oddly satisfying, and once you’re bored of that you can always try smudge a crude, bloody dick on every surface your friend cleans up.
What else should I be playing if I like this: There are plenty of games on PC that make visual comedy the whole experience. Surgeon Simulator offers laughs, but lacks the hook of making something shiny.
21. Overcooked 2
“I NEED MORE MUSHROOMS!” This is the cry of every angry chef in the co-op of Overcooked. It’s a silly game of simmering and sizzling, the physical manifestation of the phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth”. You’re in a kitchen with up to three other players, and you have to make food to order by preparing and combining certain ingredients. A stacked burger requires chopped tomatoes, a beef patty, lettuce and a bun. To get this done in time will require everyone to carry out their appointed tasks pronto. If we all work together, and stick to our jobs (you: washing up, me: chopping onions) then we’ll be fine.
The kitchens of Overcooked are constantly changing. Narrow spaces mean players get in each other’s way. Sometimes the whole level shifts, like a piece of frustrating clockwork. The benches on a ship will slide down the deck with each large wave, altering the layout entirely. Cooking in two trucks, driving side by side, means that one part of the kitchen will accelerate, suddenly becoming off-limits. How will you get the chow off the hob before it boils into an inedible paste? By shouting at your fellow chefs, of course.
Overcooked 1 and 2 are much the same, but it’s 2 we’d recommend. For one, it’s now got online multiplayer as well as local, letting you play with those geographically distant friends. For two, you can now throw ingredients back and forth between chefs. Your co-chef needs more mushrooms? Maybe he’ll catch the one you just threw to him; maybe it’ll bonk him right in the face.
Where can I buy it: It’s Steam
What else should I be playing if I like this: Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime has 2-4 players operating a single ball-like spaceship, and Regular Human Basketball pits two teams against each other inside giant robots
20. Stardew Valley
There is a lot of shooting and adventuring on this list, but very few opportunities to hang out in a turnip field. Stardew Valley lets you live out an alternate life as a farmer, away from the hustle and bustle of cities and videogames with guns. It’s about escape. Ever since the multiplayer update, you can escape with friends.
It provides a place to be rather than a challenge to overcome. Each of you gets to dodder around town, either working together and divvying up tasks or ploughing away at individual farms. I wouldn’t say the Valley feels sterile without other humans, but there are only so many blackberries you can hand over to your NPC neighbours before your relationships start feeling one dimensional.
With real people in the mix, you get an actual community. Maybe your pal has a spare melon you can give to Penny for her birthday. Maybe they’ll bake you a cake. Or steal your chickens.
People breathe warmth and life into a fantasy that’s already about those things. You’ve got the freedom to pursue whatever charming humdrum activity takes your fancy. Go fishing. Comb the beach.
Or, if you want, mercilessly compete to see who can optimise profits. It’s your farm.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Graveyard Keeper, which is straight up “Stardew Valley but in a graveyard.”
19. Towerfall Ascension
To most people, Towerfall likely conjures images of frenetically firing arrows at and stomping on the heads of your friends. No, not in real life – although you might feel like it by the end of a few matches. But outside of killing your mates, there’s also the two-player co-op Quest mode. It might be cooperative, but Quest remains thrilling for the same reason as the versus mode: the danger posed by every arrow set loose by your partner. You’ll need to keep moving, too, picking up fired arrows to replenish your supply and bouncing down onto enemies’ heads – stray arrows are inevitable.
The co-op aspect comes in the form of a shot from the other side of the single-screen arena that barely misses your ally, instead striking a skeleton or burying itself into the wall next to them so said ally can restock. Once you’re both feeling zen, you can even use your dash ability to grab stray arrows from the air and fire them as you land in one awesome motion. If two players trying not to kill each other isn’t enough, you can always grab the Dark World expansion and try not be killed by the arrows of three of your friends.
What else should I be playing if I like this: It doesn’t take place on a single screen, but Rayman Legends is just as frantic and lets you team up with friends.
18. Payday 2
If you’ve never played Payday 2 or its predecessor, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was about perfect planning, stealth and crowd control. The reality is a bit different, and it usually goes like this: the four of you excitedly chat about how you’re going to approach a heist, you split up, someone fudges it almost instantly and every police officer in the world turns up to shoot you all in the head.
It’s more wave defense than precision stealth, with each player setting up traps, sharing ammo and trying to keep the police at bay as a timer ticks down. That’s not to say it’s not good. It’s chaotic and messy, but the shooting is weighty enough and the skill trees are satisfying to advance through.
You can get through each of the heists without raising an alarm, it’s just bloody hard and you stand very little chance until you’ve unlocked some of the more advanced skills. Still, the possibility hangs there like a 24 carat carrot, nudging you all to have another go until you’ve perfected every scenario.
Where can I buy it: Steam
What else should I be playing if I like this: If you’re looking for more authentic heists, GTA Online is a much more varied co-op heisting experience.
17. Streets Of Rogue
Streets of Rogue is a chaotic playground at the best of times. Adding more players makes it more so, but not just by mindlessly multiplying the destruction. While players are on the same ‘side’, the NPC treat you all as separate entities. The citizens see you as another person like them, not a faction they can magically recognise.
Combined with its systems-driven design already present in single player, it means that instead of blocking each other out, your options overlap to create more opportunities.
Sometimes this makes for a comedy of errors, like the gangster I recruited who shot at Brendy on sight because he was wearing another gang’s colours. Sometimes it’s funnier to just step aside, like when Matt was hunted by a squad of police bots, and I just watched them go.
The usual friction between players who want to do things in conflicting ways is reduced, as you can opt out of getting involved, or even exploit the other players’ behaviour to give yourself more options. You died, but someone playing as a shapeshifter possessed a hacker, then reprogrammed a slot machine to improve its odds while a third player tried to win enough money to pay for the resurrection. And even if you’re all going full chaos, the rippling reactions to your rampage produce as many laughs out of sitting back and watching the aftermath. None of us know how we ended up with a loyal gorilla minion who joined a gang.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Spelunky, elsewhere on this list, is a very different game but produces similar emergent chaos.
16. Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes
The best example of asymmetry in co-op. It involves at least two players – one of you is defusing a bomb with judicious mouse clicks and cautious wire snips, the other is giving instructions from a bomb-defusing manual. Neither player can look at what the other is doing. It’s one of the most perfect set-ups for the destruction of a healthy relationship and a fantastic example of leaving the screen itself behind.
You don’t have to print out the manual to read from it (you could just read the PDF file from a laptop) but, like the instruction booklet of SHENZHEN I/O, it’s the best way to play. You flip hurriedly through pages, trying to decipher the theory of these explosive devices. Then comes the challenge of communicating the quirks and symbols of the page in a way that won’t be misunderstood. As a pair, you end up inventing your own verbal shorthand, trying to save valuable seconds by talking with both clarity and speed, carefully enunciating the difference between the phrase “Uh uh” and “Uh huh”.
As the bomb handler, you’re consistently double-checking and second-guessing your team mate as they stammer out their directions. “Cut the red wire,” they’ll say. “No wait, the green wire. No, sorry, sorry. The red one. Yes, I’m sure.” In the end, you’ve got to trust them. Cut the red wire.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Bomb Squad Academy is a single player game of explosion-avoidance.