Co-op games can reward you like no other genre. Games offer up magic in lots of different guises, but working with a friend to achieve a goal is, arguably, where they really shine. So what are the titles that will really pull friends together and offer the best group-based thrills?
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.
Single-player games can be a life-swallowing hoot, but those virtual victories taste all the sweeter when you share them with friends. Whether that’s sitting next to your mate with a gamepad in hand or working together in beautiful harmony via voice chat, co-op games produce some of the best gaming moments around. So embrace companionship and say so long to playing solo. These are some of the very best co-op games for you to share with your favourite people.
The best co-op games are:
After a hefty hiatus you may have expected more change in Gearbox Software’s looter shooter FPS. Borderlands 3 does boast plenty of new content, but the core gameplay loop of slaying, looting new guns, and slaying again is untouched, and that’s a good thing. Of course, this time around there are a ridiculous one billion guns to get hold of, and even more shiny gold Borderlands 3 legendary weapons to farm.
But the best changes to Borderlands 3 can be found in its refined co-op gameplay. The four new Borderlands 3 classes each play a much more distinct role on the battlefield, and the synergies between Borderlands 3 builds in co-op are a sight to behold, with Fl4k’s pets marauding around, Zane juking foes with clones, and Amara phaseshifting enemies into the air for Moze to pummel in her giant mech.
Welcome additions to the Borderlands 3 endgame, like the Proving Grounds game mode, Mayhem Mode, and Guardian ranks, provide you and your friends with plenty to do after the credits have rolled. And perhaps best of all, there’s now an option to instance loot so if you’re playing co-op with random players online then you won’t have to race to hoover up all of that loot. Even better, Borderlands 3 is now on Steam – and if you’re looking for more guns, love, and tentacles in your life (and who isn’t) the upcoming Borderlands 3 DLC will satisfy your every need.
There’s really not many co-op games out there that offer what Remnant From the Ashes does. A fully-fledged co-op Souls-like game with plenty of its own tweaks to the genre, not least of all a heavy emphasis on ranged combat and shooting skills. You pick one of three starter classes, and venture through a post-apocalyptic world battling an insidious enemy called the Root – no prizes for guessing they’re basically just angry trees. You and up to two other players can encounter new bosses and areas in a random order, ensuring every playthrough feels fresh. There’s also some pretty good loot to be found out there, so there’s always a flash new set of armour to aim for. There’s also plenty of scavenging and putting together your own weapons, in case crafting games are your thing.
Good co-op action has been woven into the fabric of The Division from the word go. It makes sense as any military influenced game worth its salt delivers on themes of friendship and teamwork, alongside some chuffin’ good loot. While some bounced off Ubisoft’s post-apocalyptic shooter due to a lack of endgame content, Ubisoft gradually expanded on the game, taking it from strength to strength with a slew of updates. All of that work is present in The Division 2’s Washington setting, which is why it’s one of the best co-op games on PC.
Much like the original, you can take to the battlefield with three pals to take down gangs of looters and pyromaniacs. Aside from the story, you can also take your squad into the Dark Zone, where you’ll go shoulder-to-shoulder with other players to duke it out for more loot. There’s a wonderful hint of roleplay to it, too. If you’d like to play the good guy and protect others from getting picked on, that’s fine. Want to be the big baddie dishing out the hurt? That’s doable, too. Just slightly mean, really.
Once you’re geared to your ears with The Division 2 Exotics, you and your buds will have plenty of upcoming content to jump into, as well. The Division 2 is packed with PvE activities like The Division 2 Raids, Strongholds, and more snippets of story. For the PvP fans among us, Skirmish and the Dark Zone provide a welcome spot to hone your aim. There’s also a huge expansion, Warlords of New York, which lets you boost to level 30 to enjoy blasting your way around the Big Apple.
If the PC launch of Destiny 2 has been your first introduction to Bungie’s colossal console game, then you may have initially been a bit confused. As you can read in our Destiny 2 PC review, its paper-thin plot fails to tell an interesting yarn, there aren’t a huge amount of activities to do, and you will have seen pretty much everything it has to offer in around 30 hours. Think of the game as a social space for your buddies, though – the online games equivalent of a bar where you can shoot aliens – and it all comes together as one of PC’s best co-op games.
Be it speeding across a planet surface on a Sparrow hoverbike, spelunking into a cave in search of powerful loot, or using our Destiny 2 Shadowkeep raid guide to tackle the complex endgame mission, all of Destiny 2’s activities are tuned to work at their best when played with friends. Combining class skills, mastering Destiny 2’s best PvP weapons, and achieving victory over a powerful Nightfall boss provides a genuine sense of achievement for your fireteam that few other games can match. With server resets every Tuesday offering new loot and challenges, Destiny 2 makes sense as your weekly virtual meet-up with the gang.
Ditching the unbearably brown colour scheme Epic have loved so much in the past, Fortnite instead favours a lurid and vibrant style that’s brought to life by Unreal Engine 4. Though its battle royale mode may have taken over the world, Fortnite’s initial Save the World horde-style offering shouldn’t be forgotten, and remains a brilliant shooter/builder hybrid.
Banding together with up to three other people, you’ll combine your efforts to build an impenetrable fortress around a pal in desperate need of protection. Once you’ve checked out our Fortnite: Save the World guide, you’ll be ready to build defences and a variety of eccentric traps, before triggering the ‘go’ button to start a series of relentless waves of deadly-but-oddly-cute zombies. With an arsenal of weapons amassed from your never-ending drip-feed of loot boxes (which can be used to obtain Fortnite skins) you’ll hold the undead at bay and claim victory.
Its progression systems are over-engineered, but the core components of Fortnite are incredibly polished and, importantly, fun to play. If the building and tower defence-style gameplay don’t do it for you, the all-conquering last man standing mode can be played in duos or squads. Read our Fortnite tips for Battle Royale to get the jump on your fellow survivors now that Fortnite Chapter 2 has launched.
A fresh creative mode has also given players a new way to play with friends with endless terrain at their disposal. If you’re proud of your work, you can also share your Fortnite Creative codes online to let others have a peep.
Unlike many co-op games that sacrifice depth to speed up conversation and inventory management, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a full-fat RPG adventure. The game chucks both players into a well of mechanics, then waits 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, and ranks as one of the best RPGs on PC. Then, somehow, it was made even better with the Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition, with Larian expanding and enhancing its already-wonderful yarn.
The plot revolves around outlawed magic and the impending end of everything, which you’ll attempt to avert with the aid of a friend or three. You’ll each take control of either a pre-made character complete with their own goals and backstory, or a blank slate on which you can project all your fantasy… fantasies. As you explore doom fortresses, trap-filled mazes, and ethereal realms, you’ll soon discover that there’s a unique and fun logic at play in everything you do. Work within those laws, and as our Divinity: Original Sin 2 PC review points out, you’ll be treated to one of PC’s most satisfying co-op games.
Though combat is turn-based, it requires close communication if you’re to have any hope of besting enemies. The best strategies lie in experimenting with Divinity: Original Sin 2 builds; 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.
One month after the undead events of the original, Killing Floor 2 sees continental Europe struck down by Horzine Biotech’s failed experiment. And, since we know this is one of the best zombie games around, we know that this botched test doesn’t work out so well for the infected.
It gets worse for them when you add some pals to the murderous equation. Shortly after its release we were struck down with a compulsive addiction to keep playing this zed-flavoured FPS with friends. Killing Floor 2 takes one of the best co-op games around, but Tripwire Interactive certainly dials up the gore to 11. As you blast through undead-filled corridors, prepare to see blood, limbs, and entrails decorating the walls around you a horrific red.
There are more zombies than ever before, and you can try out some PvP that allows you to be the zed, if that’s your thing. And, even better, Killing Floor 2’s coolest mechanic only made it in at the last minute. The more you know.
Without a doubt, Overcooked is the most insane, stressful, and joyful game on this list. Tasking four players with making food may sound 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 dishwashing. Each subsequent level introduces a more varied menu and increasingly complex dishes.
A set of 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. Like the best strategy games on PC, this charming cook ’em up demands constant thought and communication. Shield your ear as screams cross the living room as you gleefully panic your way to victory.
There’s now an Overcooked 2, which doesn’t do a whole lot to differentiate itself from the first game, but does have some new mechanics and levels to check out, and if you and your friends finish this entry and are hungry for more, our guide to the best cooking games on PC will surely satisfy your appetite.
You’ll find Rainbow Six Siege over in our round-up of the best online multiplayer games, thanks to its award-worthy PvP mode. However, while it’s not talked about as much, this shooter’s 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 to hunt down every last hockey-masked villain or defend a McGuffin against waves of assaulters. Both are beautifully executed, requiring you to make good use of the best Rainbow Six Siege operators and their varied 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.
We’re currently waiting with bated breath for any news of Left 4 Dead 3, which Valve have teased before. But until that day comes, we’ve still got Left 4 Dead 2 to satiate our ravenous undead appetites.
One of Valve’s true classics, Left 4 Dead 2 puts the focus on tight teamwork against the backdrop of an exceptionally gruesome zombie outbreak. Thanks to the sheer number of undead, 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 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 tricks. Try to keep away from filling spaces up with bots though: they’re barely capable with a gun, and won’t help you respawn should you die.
Vermintide 2 is a sequel that addresses pretty much every qualm you had with the original splat the rat-simulator. Not enough enemy variation? Here are several new boss types and heaps of Chaos grunts to hack, slash, shoot, and burn your way through. Wanted more class-based progression? Now every Hero has three specialisations for you to level through, effectively tripling the number of classes for the sequel. Vermintide 1 too dank and dreary? Vermintide 2 maps are plentiful, varied, and absolutely gorgeous.
All of this builds on the already perfect chassis of one of the best co-op games of all time, Left 4 Dead 2. Swapping zombies out for rat men and rotting Chaos troops is the easy part, though: what Vermintide 2 really nails is making you feel every decapitation, bludgeoning, and incineration. Combat might be a simple case of clicking until all the vermin have been turned to gore, but you won’t notice that as every weapon feels as good as Unreal Tournament Flak Cannon. Pop three of your best mates alongside you and there are few better ways to whittle away the hours.
Serving up virtual murder at its most gleeful, Orcs Must Die! 2 is one of the best co-op games on PC. 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 load-outs.
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.
Playing this utterly absorbing RPG as a team makes tremendous sense. With two players working through Diablo 3, you can complement each other’s classes, such as combining the long-range Wizard with a melee Barbarian. Teaming up and playing around with Diablo 3 builds 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 have improved Diablo a lot since its iffy launch, and ‘Loot 2.0’ ensures that you’re constantly filling your pockets with treasure. But it’s 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 3 should be a mainstay of your co-op shelf. Now, when we can we expect a Diablo 4 release date, eh?
Valve’s hugely clever, genuinely funny puzzler is frequently cited as the king of co-op. And with good reason. Success in Portal 2 requires genuine teamwork to solve conundrums, preventing that frequent co-op problem of one player running off and impatiently doing everything before the other has a chance to even move the mouse. A microphone and a good friend are recommended, but Portal 2 has a neat voiceless chat system that uses emotes and pointing to make co-op with strangers easier.
While the original Portal is rightly heralded as one of the best PC games of all time, there’s no denying this sequel’s dedicated co-op campaign is also a work of genius. And Portal 2 is rarely more clever than when it throws up puzzles that require both players to work together simultaneously. More than the amazing noodle-scratchers though, it’s the addition of Steam Workshop features that makes Portal 2’s co-op a must-play. 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.
Easily the strongest entry in this charming platformer/puzzle series, Trine 2 remains a delightful co-op game. This gorgeous side-scroller cast you as one of three fantasy archetypes: a warrior, a wizard, or a rogue. Naturally, each one offers different abilities, all offering solutions to puzzles. The entire game is designed to be tackled solo, but it’s when two players with two different abilities come together, essentially subverting the game, that Trine 2 really sings. 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. Like Valve’s masterpiece, 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.
A game that lets you share moments you’ll never want to speak of again. Example? In Don’t Starve Together, you can kill and eat your pigmen slaves while your chums watch.
Klei’s Burton-esque open-world game 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. Weird and unique, Don’t Starve Together isn’t just a great co-op game, it’s also one of the best survival games on PC. While the isolation of the brilliant original was one of its strengths, fending off starvation together is simply a better way to live.
What better way to kill monstrous creatures than with your BFFs backing you up. The open-world beastie brawler series has only just made its way onto PC so it’s possible that you, or said BFFs, haven’t played a Monster Hunter game before.
Monster Hunter: World has you explore a previously unseen region of the Monster Hunter Universe, a huge new world known as a popular migration point for many mythical monsters and creatures. As part of your research for the Fifth Fleet you must explore these foreign lands hunting and killing monsters. There are a variety of combat styles and distinct weapons to choose from, which means that you and your team can spread out and specialise in different weapon types. For example, one of you can be an expert with the Hunting Horn and use it to buff your teammates while another can get to work with an ultra-precise Bow covering the squad from long-range.
Another aspect that makes Monster Hunter: World one of the best co-op games on PC is that it automatically reads your Steam groups and creates in-game squads for you to play in. It’s a bit finicky to check who’s online from your squad, but the overall integration of Steam groups makes organising hunting events between your friends way easier. Monster Hunter: World thrives on the thrill of the hunt and the drama of boss fights, so instead of going at it alone, take down these titans together with the ultimate team – peak squad goals. The recently released expansion, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, adds a flurry of new content including over thirty new monsters to slay with your squad.
It finally happened; you and three of your gaming pals have been imprisoned. Now your gaming squad is tasked with exploring a terrifying underground complex to obtain loot on behalf of your captors, in one of the most challenging horror games we’ve played. To escape safely – aka GTFO – you must carefully sneak or shoot your way past horrifying monsters, gather resources, and communicate effectively with your team.
GTFO isn’t a mindless run-and-gun; bulldozing your way through the eerie, atmospheric levels won’t work. Instead, your team will need to work together to complete objectives and navigate the level without falling victim to the dangers within. The game is intensely difficult – you and your friends may find yourself attempting the same level over and over again for hours before the relief of finally completing it. A squad of four is required; the game doesn’t adjust its difficulty if you’re missing players, and you will absolutely need to be in voice comms together, if only to enjoy your teammates’ screams, because that’s what friendship is all about.
Local co-op games on PC
The Steam update on October 30, 2019 rolled out a new look library, but that’s not all – it also added something called Steam Remote Play Together. This allows you to stream a local multiplayer game to your friend anywhere in the world, and their controller or keyboard inputs will be beamed back to you, meaning they can join you in couch co-op only titles. As a result, a treasure trove of co-op experiences has opened up to you and your long distance pals. These are the games we reckon you should fire up and invite them to – and only one of you needs to own the game in question.
This devilishly difficult co-op game becomes a little easier when you add a Mugman to the mix. Well, that’s not entirely true, but at least it gives you someone to blame when you die repeatedly to a 1930s style wibbly carnation, as beautifully animated as it is unsettling.
Playing as the eponymous Cuphead and his crockery-in-crime Mugman, you make your way through a top-down overworld, unlocking new areas by beating levels that usually consist of boss fights with multiple evolving stages. Learning the enemy’s various attack patterns and coordinating parries and attacks is key to victory, but if – no, let’s face it, when – one of you messes up and takes a projectile too many, you’re able to parry their immortal soul back to the land of the living – if you can reach them in time before they slip off screen into the afterlife.
While Cuphead is famed for its difficulty, don’t let that put you off – failing over and over again is all part of the appeal, and it means you forge real animosity towards the grinning cartoon villains you’re up against.
Any Lego game is a great choice for Steam Remote Play Together, but we recommend the Lego Stars Wars games as the marriage of studs and (light) sabers works so perfectly together. In The Complete Saga we play through the plot of the first six Star Wars films, with an extra helping of humour and charm thanks to the endearingly slapstick yet reverent approach of the Lego games.
The gameplay and puzzles are pretty straightforward, meaning you and your padawan won’t encounter a significant challenge – it’s more of a fun filled romp through the set of Star Wars, blasting away and swinging your glow sticks at enemies that crumble satisfyingly into bricks.
This also makes it a fantastic game to play with your family or friends, but be warned – friendly fire is enabled, so expect them to laugh uproariously as they thwack you to death… repeatedly.
If you ever played the Sonic games on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Sonic Mania will be very, very familiar to you – in a good way. Sonic Mania is a modern revisiting of the beloved side-scrolling platform game, featuring many of the same levels and bosses as the original Sonic and Sonic 2 games from the early nineties.
In the two-player Sonic and Tails mode, Player 1 takes control of the speedy blue hedgehog, and Player 2 his sidekick Tails, a bright eyed and bushy twin-tailed fox who, let’s face it, spends a lot of time trying to keep up. While Player 1 as Sonic hogs the limelight a little – the camera always follows him, and he’s often racing off and leaving Tails offscreen – the role of Player 2 is ideal for the more laid back partner, along for the ride and ready to lend a helping hand. Tails can fly, and is able to carry Sonic for a short time, which is a great boon to the hydrophobic hedgehog.
The soundtrack and level design is hyper-faithful to the original games – one for nostalgic Sonic fans, certainly, but the exhilaration of zooming through a level at breakneck speed is something no other game has quite captured in the same way.
If you can’t easily summon three mates to your sofa for an evening of archery based combat, the joy of playing Towerfall Ascension may have escaped you. This tragedy need not continue thanks to Steam Remote Play Together, which allows you to fill your virtual couch with friends from afar.
Each level is exquisitely crafted down to the last pixel, and sets the stage for a riotous battle between four archers who each begin with only three arrows in their quiver. You and your opponents dash around the stage trying to snipe each other, dodging projectiles and attempting to nab treasures; the wraparound stages mean you appear on the left after sprinting off the right side and so on, making for constant chaos.
While turning your friends into pincushions doesn’t seem very co-operative, there is also quest mode for one or two archers, where you and a friend are tasked with clearing waves of enemies together.
Those are our picks of the best co-op games. 2020 is going to be graced by some of the best upcoming PC games in recent memory, so to make the wait a little easier, embrace camaraderie, and pair together with a pal for the co-op treats above. Remember this, though: when it comes to solving complex robotic puzzles or shooting swarms of rat men, there truly is no ‘I’ in team. Let the kickass co-op sessions commence!