The best co-op games on PC

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Games offer up magic in lots of different guises, but working with a friend to achieve a goal is, arguably, where they really shine. But what are the best PC co-op games? What are the titles that will really pull friends together and offer the best group-based thrills? 

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The best co-op games are the ones that let you explore new worlds with a buddy by your side, triumph over evil as a team, introduce a novice to the wonder of the medium, or simply beat each other over the head with questionable weaponry for kicks. These are some of the very best co-op games for you to share with your favourite people. 

The Division

best co-op games The Division

Ubisoft’s near-future open-world game may have everything you’d expect – hundreds of collectables, repetitive side quests, absurdly detailed buildings – but it’s got one important addition that changes the dynamic entirely: co-op. In fact, The Division doesn’t just have co-op bolted on, it’s designed for it. You and up to three pals can join forces to take down the gangs of looters, pyromaniacs, and PMC soldiers who are out to claim a disease-ridden NYC for themselves, and along the way you’ll find a gazillion different guns and armour loot drops. 

The missions are exciting and clearly designed for multiple players to make the most of them: labyrinth-like office blocks and department stores offer plenty of flanking opportunities for well-coordinated teams, and the classless RPG character system lets you respec at any time so your group can equip a balanced selection of skills. Taking down the game’s most challenging bosses together – such as those in the Incursion update – is a genuinely rewarding experience, and the world is perfect for a sightseeing trip with friends. 

Want more? Here's our The Division review.

Overcooked

Best Co-Op Games Overcooked

Without a doubt the most insane, stressful, and joyful game on this list, Overcooked tasks four players with making food. Sounds simple, but as anyone who’s ever worked in catering will tell you, a kitchen is the devil’s own workhouse. As timers tick down you’ll need to coordinate on veg chopping, burger frying, soup stirring, and dish washing. Each subsequent level introduces a more varied menu and increasingly complex dishes.

The incredibly designed levels only add to the challenge; sometimes your restaurant will be broken in two by an earthquake, meaning you’ll have to not only cooperate in separate halves, but time things so you can pass them to the right side of the kitchen when the opportunity arises. It’s this chaos that creates Overcooked’s best moments. Expect shouts and screams across the living room as you gleefully panic your way to victory.  

Played it? Why not tell us why you loved it in our Overcooked review?

Divinity: Original Sin

best co-op games Divinity: Original Sin

Where most co-op games sacrifice a certain amount of depth to speed up conversation and inventory management, Divinity: Original Sin is a full-fat RPG adventure, chucking both players into a well of mechanics and waiting patiently for them to get their bearings. This Ultima-indebted adventure is more tactical, wordy, and comprehensively interactive than any other modern RPG you’d care to name, cooperative or single-player.

The plot revolves around a custom-built duo, which you and a friend will take control of as you explore embattled beaches, locked basements, kool-aid camps and doomed dimensions. NPC companions quickly flesh out your party to four diverse members.

Though combat is turn-based, it’ll require close communication if you’re to have any hope of besting enemies. The best strategies lie in combining the elements to explosive or paralysing effect; having your mage open the clouds so that your comrade can zap the resulting puddle with lightning, or breaking open a barrel of oil for a friend to light on fire. It’ll leave you glowing.

Been there and done that? Fear not, Divinity: Original Sin II is now in early access

Rainbow Six Siege

Best Co-Op Games Rainbow Six Siege

You’ll find Rainbow Six Siege over in our best multiplayer games roundup thanks to its award-worthy PvP competitive mode. However, while lesser spoken about, its co-op terrorist hunts are also superb. Incredibly tense, tactical affairs, they insert a squad of buddies into a map with the intention of wiping out a few dozen bad guys. 

Akin to the competitive modes, terrorist hunt has a couple of guises. You can go in as attackers, which requires you to methodically prowl the corridors of the map in hunt of every last hockey-masked villain, or defend a McGuffin against waves of assaulters. Both are beautifully executed, requiring you to make good use of Siege’s varied operator skills. They’re also generally much longer sessions than the speedy multiplayer rounds, meaning Siege really does have an equivalent to the intense, careful room clearing seen in classic Rainbow Six games.  

Red Rope: Don't Fall Behind

Also known as "the Dark Souls of skipping-rope games," Red Rope is a unique and perculiar spin on co-op. Banished to a mysterious and unforgiving underworld, you and your friend must battle through hordes of ghouls, zombies, skeletons, and various other flavours of the undead in a bid for freedom. The twist? You're connected by a rope.

Ohhhh, so that's what the title is all about, right? Right. Killing said ghouls requires the two of you to wrap your rope around them and squeeze them to death. Completing puzzles asks for a heck of a lot of communication and concentration, because you can drag each other off course very easily. How easily? See the video above. Joel and Phil tried their hands in a Red Rope Let's Play series in which they (fail to) get to grips with the ruthless difficulty and enigmatic storytelling of one of co-op gaming's most original recent treats.

Left 4 Dead 2

best co-op games Left 4 Dead 2

We're currently waiting with bated breath for any news of Left 4 Dead 3, which Valve have teased before. We've even got our own Left 4 Dead 3 wishlist. But until that day comes we've still got Left 4 Dead 2, which certainly is no bad thing. 

One of Valve’s true classics, Left 4 Dead 2 really emphasises teamwork to endure through an exceptionally gruesome zombie outbreak. Thanks to the sheer number of zombies it’s vital to stick together and assess threats at each turn of the campaign’s sprawling maps. You'll need to make sure there’s always someone ready to save you from a surprise special infected attack, or just to help thin the horde so you can make your escape. 

It’s best played with friends equipped with headsets as the frantic pace means you need to be able to re-plan and alert your friends within seconds of things happening. But playing with strangers isn’t impossible, especially if they’re willing to teach you a few things. Try to keep away from filling spaces up with bots though: they’re barely capable with a gun, and won’t help respawn you if you die.

Want more? Here's our Left 4 Dead 2 review.

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide

Best Co-Op Games Vermintide

We’ve already sung the praises of Left 4 Dead earlier in this feature, so it’s no surprise that developers Fatshark looked at Valve’s zombie classic and thought ‘Hey, let’s do that’. Rather than cast the undead as antagonists though, Fatshark turned to the Warhammer fantasy universe and opted for a plague of rat men. Turns out the Skaven are the perfect analogue for a tide of zombies, scuttling across the roofs and cobbles of olde worlde Europe. 

Your team of Warhammer heroes battle in a very different way to their L4D counterparts. It’s all flaming swords and blasting powder muskets, leading to a more frantically melee focus with the odd bit of desperate shooting. Combined with cinematic end goals for each map, it’s one of the best Warhammer games ever made, and perfect for a team of four friends with a keen eye for pest control. 

Want more? Here's our Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide review.

Orcs Must Die! 2

best co-op games Orcs Must Die 2

Orcs Must Die! 2 is murder at its most gleeful. Limbs fly high as blades swing out from wall traps triggered by the hordes that storm your castle’s corridors, and flesh melts as acid rains down. The cartoon chaos almost disguises the vast number of tactics that Orcs Must Die! 2 demands. 

There’s a lot to think about. Before each wave of orcs stampedes through your halls you have time to set up your traps and purchase new machines of death. With a second player involved you essentially have two inventories, as each player can purchase different traps to create two complementary loadouts. 

Orcs Must Die! 2 doesn’t ease up with two players though, as it forces you to split up as enemies swarm from two entry points; a great move to ensure that both players are integral to achieving victory. 

Diablo III

best co-op games Diablo 3

Playing Diablo III as a team makes tremendous sense. With two players you can compliment each other's classes, such as combining the long-range Wizard with a melee Barbarian. Teaming up also allows you to be a bit braver with your skills; playing solo as a Wizard would require you to think about shields and defence, but with a close-quarters friend acting as a tank you can focus on all-out firepower; the “glass cannon” approach. 

The Reaper of Souls expansion and constant patch work has done a lot for improving Diablo since its iffy launch, and 'Loot 2.0' ensures that you’re constantly filling your pockets with treasures. But it is Adventure Mode that does the most for co-op play, allowing you to undertake missions anywhere in the world of Sanctuary without being tied to a plot. It means you can continue to play even without a pal around, and you won’t have to wait for them to catch up or replay areas when they’re next online. Combined with the continual seasons system, Diablo III should be a mainstay of your co-op shelf. 

Portal 2

best co-op games Portal 2

Portal 2 is frequently cited as the king of co-op for numerous good reasons. It requires genuine teamwork to solve its conundrums, preventing that frequent co-op problem of one player running off and impatiently doing everything before the other has chance to even move the mouse. A microphone and a good friend is recommended, but Portal 2 has a neat voiceless chat system that uses emotes and pointing to make co-op with strangers easier. 

There’s no denying that Valve’s dedicated co-op campaign is a work of genius, especially in puzzles where both players are required to be working simultaneously, but it’s the Steam Workshop that makes Portal 2 co-op a must. The range of user-created puzzle chambers is vast, with phenomenally well-designed challenges that can make Valve’s work seem like preschool logic toys. 

Borderlands 2

best co-op games Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 is a seriously great shooter. Its Diablo-influenced approach to loot means there’s literally uncountable weapons to find, and the discovery and sharing of these guns is half the charm of the game's co-op play. 

The harsh truth about Borderlands 2, though, is it’s actually a little bit boring. It’s a long game, the quests are mostly of the ‘go fetch’ variety, and there’s a lot of fairly mindless grinding involved. Bring a second player to the party, though (or a third and fourth), and Borderlands suddenly becomes the best game on the planet. Taking down swarms of mobs feels heroic rather than tedious, you can assign MMO-style roles to each player for tactical advantage, and the game’s comedy is simply funnier when enjoyed with others. Exploring Pandora becomes an epic adventure rather than a time-consuming slog, and half your skill tree suddenly becomes useful.

Want more? Here's our Borderlands 2 review.

Trine 2

best co-op games Trine 2

There are three game in the Trine series, but the second remains the strongest example of a superb puzzle platformer. Trine 2 casts you as one of three fantasy archetypes: a warrior, a wizard, or a rogue. Naturally each one offers different abilities which are solutions in themselves to puzzles. The entire game is designed to be tackled solo, but it’s when two players with two different abilities come together and essentially subvert the game that Trine becomes really fun. Playing alone there are plenty of areas that feel inaccessible, but in co-op one player can cast a levitation spell as a wizard and lift a second player to where they need to be. Take that, game rules! 

Trine 2’s puzzles are never quite as demanding as Portal’s, but having extra help from friends is always useful, especially when things get fiddly and timings become crucial. But like Portal, discussing the problem and solving it with friends feels much more of a co-op victory than taking down a boss in a shooter ever will. 

Don't Starve Together

best co-op games Don't Starve Together

Looking to share the sort of moments you’ll never want to speak of again? Why not kill and eat your pigmen slaves in Don’t Starve Together?

Klei’s Burton-esque open world remains open, and your pockets just as empty – but this time you’re joined by another player or three in an identical predicament. The standalone game currently features two modes. You can either spawn next to your fellow survivors and enjoy infinite lives, or be scattered randomly across the map and be subject to permadeath.

In the first, dead players can float about as ghosts and drive the rest of the gang mad. That’s not a figure of speech – a good haunting will lower their sanity and put their lives in even greater danger. Resurrection is easy, for a price: a piece of your max health.

It's a weird, unique take on the survivial genre, and while the isolation of the brilliant original was one of its strengths, fending off starvation together is simply a better way to live. If you've had your eye on it but been put off by the incomplete status, worry not: Don't Starve Together is now out of Early Access.  

Those are our picks, but what games do you love to play with your friends? Why not offer up some recommendations in the comments? 

War Thunder
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icheyne avatarjamesbinns avatarJezcentral avatarBelimawr avatarMatt Purslow avatarDog Pants avatar+12
Dog Pants Avatar
1388
3 Years ago

I have a problem with co-op games which have a requirement for players to be at a similar stage, be it because the game is linear or because you can level up to be more powerful. Unless I always play with the same people to the exclusion of all others, or exclusively play with random players at the same point as yourself, I just can't make it work.

Even games which will boost you or lower the other guy to allow you to play together will suffer from the most experienced player (or worse, everyone but a few new guys) blasting through the content before anyone who hasn't seen it before gets to appreciate it.

For that reason I would strike off Diablo III, Borderlands 2, and Path of Exile from my version of the list. However I would add Payday 2.

4
Belimawr Avatar
1197
3 Years ago

thats why I always liked L4D it made no difference how much people had played as everything was available from the start or unlocked over the course of a level instead of having to play a stupid amount to be on a similar footing to other players, so it all just came down to skill level.

6
James Binns Avatar
38
3 Years ago

I agree completely. L4D's winning point is that diversity of skill and temperament actually makes it more fun. A crew can include a gung-ho cavalier, a noob, a coward and a square-jawed hero. And it's all the better for it. Truly a rag tag group of survivors flung together after the zombie apocalypse.

2
AnAuldWolf Avatar
863
1 Year ago

That's narrow-minded of you! You can have different kinds of co-op experiences, you know! You can have the sort which are meant to be drop-in, drop-out with strangers if you have no friends, and then you have more personal co-op experiences which can be played with one's partner. I played Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel with my partner and we loved every moment of it.

I'm guessing you don't have anyone YET. No matter what your gender identity or orientation, or your partner(s)'s, I'm sure you'll eventually have someone. And when you do you'll be able to introduce them to the things you play, at which point you'll be able to appreciate these co-op experiences more.

Honestly, since having found my partner (we've been together for over five years, now, even if sometimes together and sometimes on different continents), we've pretty much almost exclusively played this kind of content. We enjoy having games we can play together.

1
Empire Avatar
4
2 Years ago

This list needs Payday 2. That game is better than a lot of these. There is nothing that can beat walking into a bank, dropping a bullet in the tellers head, and tying up your hostages while your buddy drills into the vault.

4
icheyne Avatar
206
3 Years ago

Great stuff. I have been looking to play a game with my brother and I'd forgotten I have Portal 2 and Orcs Must Die 2 in my Steam account.

3
AnAuldWolf Avatar
863
1 Year ago

Do try Portal 2. It's incredible. And it's pretty much an uplifting, affirming wave that continues through the Steam Workshop chambers. It's one of my best and most memorable co-op experiences.

2
TouristTam Avatar
18
3 Years ago

No L4D or L4D2 missing ? No Dungeon Defenders ? No Payday ?

I guess it is a matter of preferences

3
AnAuldWolf Avatar
863
1 Year ago

Yup, preferences. I'd put Battleborn in there but I know Battleborn isn't popular amongst the collective gaming yobs of the Internets. It's something I've had to accept even though I love it.

No other game has actually offered me the chance to play a flat-chested punk girl, an old man in a wheelchair, a disabled birdman, or such a kickass chubby and body positive lady before. So I've been having a blast with it. I appreciate its diversity and sense of fun.

I don't think they should have put The Algorithm as the first mission coming out of the tutorial, though. I can see how a piss-take of the Simulated Reality theory would go FWEEEEEeee~ over the heads of most people. Which is disappointing, but most certainly expected.

I'm genuinely of the opinion that Battleborn is just a bit too clever in certain ways for most people to appreciate, and that's despite it being an action game. Quite how they pulled that off...

So, yeah. Most people would rather blasting each other's brains out with contemporary weapons in military settings, or drooling over one-dimensional 'waifus.'

Everything is a matter of taste. Suffice it to say, I don't value the taste of many people very much, but they're entitled to it.

And that's why I didn't mention Battleborn in my post below. Like I said, I know it's not for most people. The majority wouldn't be interested in playing an old man in a wheelchair, or most of the rest of the cast. Evidenced by how Oscar Mike is the most played character, despite his status as a parody (very much revealed in his lore) and a big softie.

1
Shoom Avatar
65
2 Years ago

Insurgency is a criminally underrated game. The community is great and loud, foul-mouthed trolls are really frowned upon. I was in a match a couple of weeks ago and one guy mentioned it was his birthday - both teams just stopped the play to sing Happy Birthday to him. It was awesome, a really lovely moment. You don't get that in COD.

2
JMiles2 Avatar
81
1 Month ago

The coop aspect of this game is rather limited, all you do is team up to kill the same predictable enemies on the same small maps without any story. I doesn't belong on this list.

1
NihlusGreen Avatar
611
2 Years ago

Far Cry 4, my experiences over Easter included crashing 8 out of 10 times while trying to join someone else's coop, getting into coop and someone team killing me, getting into another with someone who couldn't pull off a stealth assassination mission, and generally been expensive so most of my gaming pals don't have it yet. And most peeps don't play it coop. I cannot recommend it for coop at all, but it should be fun if / when it works, which is not often. I have raised a support ticket also.

2
NihlusGreen Avatar
611
2 Years ago

Still have Far Cry 4? Sirs I must protest, you get a better coop experience from GTA V and that is far from perfect

2
Empyre Avatar
264
7 Months ago

Vermintide.

2
ChefTicles Avatar
34
ChefTicles(4 days 11 hours played)
6 Months ago

Too right, where the fuck is Vermintide?

1
James Binns Avatar
38
3 Years ago

Obviously some misunderstanding here Matt, with the absence of the mighty Left 4 Dead?

1
Matt Purslow Avatar
85
3 Years ago

Left 4 Dead is indeed awesome, but I assumed everyone with even a vague interest in co-op would already have tasted its sweet terror.

If indeed anyone hasn't played L4D, please consider that your 'recommended reading' for this week.

4
Jezcentral Avatar
509
3 Years ago

Indeed. And don't forget the Valve games (and BL2, I think) are also LAN-able, not just online, if you still drive your PC round to a friend's house (or better yet, go to a LAN party, although that might be a bit of a baptism of fire, if we are talking about ways to introduce friends to videogames).

1
Belimawr Avatar
1197
3 Years ago

Left 4 Dead was epic for co-op more so on hard mode when you had that final push waiting for extraction.

1
ScytheMonkey Avatar
67
2 Years ago

Out of all of those my friends and I have enjoyed Orcs Must Die 2 co-op the most. It's just very well made and loads of fun.

1
MLG Blank Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Why is keep talking and nobody explodes not on here

1
DustyGerkin Avatar
169
1 Year ago

Really need more couch co-op gaming. Ideas?

1
KTMDirtFace Avatar
4
KTMDirtFace(1 day 17 hours played)
1 Year ago

How is Saints row 3 and 4 not on here? they are probably my favorite, friends can join on you at any time at any point in the game. Its great co-op.

1
AnAuldWolf Avatar
863
1 Year ago

Yay, Portal 2 is there!

Though, honestly, I'd put the Pre-Sequel above Borderlands 2. I never got the appeal of 2, it was trying so hard to be clever that it often came over as try-hard and pseudo-intellectual, which really isn't great for that series. I dunno, I'd rather see a talking gun named the boganella than have a psychopant stomping around quoting Shakespeare that someone looked up on the Internet.

The Pre-Sequel just felt more honest. It wanted to be fun. It wanted me to have fun. It gave me Claptrap, and jump pads, and quantities of Australian silliness I haven't seen since Crocodile Dundee. It was also far, far more supportive of the LGBTQQ audience, and women in general. It evolved Athena from a one-note character in the first Borderlands to being one of the vault hunters I connected with most in the Pre-Sequel.

Plus, the Pre-Sequel had a fantastic angle with its grey morality. You were working for Jack, and you were working to... save people? An amount of people? But at the same time, you were also working to put weapons of mass destruction in his hands, that would essentially allow him to wipe out all life in the Universe??? Ah. Um. Hm. It especially struck home when the Dahl soldiers would say "But I thought we were the good guys???"

Whereas Borderlands 2 felt like it was going through the motions just to go through the motions, the Pre-Sequel had heart, soul, and charisma in spades. And it wanted me to have fun. It wasn't going to push me into it by ramming things in my face, but it wanted to make me laugh and to get as much out of its company as I could. It was a much more selfless game than Borderlands 2, which was always so in my face and demanding of my appreciation it was exhausting.

I'd even go as far as to say that the jump pads allowed me to appreciate the level design more in the Pre-Sequel even though it might not necessarily have been as good. For me, though, when it comes to action games it's often the characters, the writing, and the overall story that wins out over gameplay. As in, I can enjoy the gameplay more or less based on those factors. And I enjoyed the Pre-Sequel so, so, so much more. It could actually be clever, rather than just 'IN YO FACE!!'

Hm. Not hating Claptraps may also have something to do with it. They seem like poor, innocent babies that most of the time just want to be helpful and look awesome while doing it. Except for barbot, most of them have a genuine desire to just be helpful to someone.

/shrug

Personal taste, I suppose!

But I am glad that Portal 2 is there. Portal 2 is just so lovely and clever, too. The first time we even began to understand what makes GLaDOS tick, and one of the most bittersweet endings in video game history. I mean, sure, Chell gets out okay but GLaDOS is hooked back up to the mainframe that was corrupting her personality and driving her insane. Which did exactly the same to Wheatley when he was hooked up to it. We now know that GLaDOS isn't exactly the problem, that mainframe is.

It sets up perfectly for a Portal 3. I'd actually love to rescue GLaDOS. I always felt so bad for her. Throughout much of the latter half of Portal 2 she sounds so sad, and that sadness continues into the co-op campaign. She knows what's up, she's intelligent enough to figure it out, she just can't exactly stop it.

And the gameplay of Portal 2 was appreciably cerebral. This was doubly true when some of the more difficult player made chambers came along.

A pretty good line-up, all in all.

Footnote: I'd honestly add ESO to that, though. It's an MMO, I know, but the way it actually plays feels more like a well made, co-op Elder Scrolls game than anything else. And it's the Elder Scrolls game I've enjoyed the most since Morrowind.

1
JMiles2 Avatar
81
1 Year ago

"The best co-op games on PC"

No, they're not, that's just just *your* opinion, just like I have the opinion 7 out of 10 should be replaced with games that are way more fun in coop, based on many hours of playing coop games with my son.

0