25 Best Co-Op Games Of All Time

Apes together strong.

It Takes Two
It Takes Two

Gaming is an inherently social activity, as even if you’re playing a single-player game, most people feel compelled to discuss their thoughts and feelings either online or with the rest of their friends, but playing games in co-op is when the real social sparks fly.

There’s few greater joys in gaming than fellow players joining together to complete a common goal, whether that’s mowing down hordes of enemies, building up your tools and weapons to survive in the wilderness, or solving puzzles within intricate platforming games. Whatever the case may be, co-op games are the perfect way to enjoy time with your friends. With that in mind, we’ve combed through the history of gaming to find the 25 best co-op games ever made. From Helldivers 2 to Borderlands 2, if you’re itching for some games to enjoy with friends, grab your Mad Catz controllers and multi-taps and start playing these absolute whippers.

 

25. Unravel 2

Unravel Two | Best PS4 Co-Op Games
Unravel Two

Developer: Coldwood Interactive
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Players: 2

While it might not be the one true key to a platform game’s success, a tried and tested method of achieving a decent amount of support is by having a cute mascot that the community at large can fawn over. People will always love cute things, especially in gaming, which is why Unravel is a top-tier platforming game. Who doesn’t love a cute little yarn about a cute little yarn guy made of yarn called Yarny? That’s why the sequel, Unravel 2, is even better, as there’s double the Yarnies running around. Co-op has never been this adorable before.

While Unravel 2 can be played in solo, with the player switching control between both the red and blue Yarny, the game comes into its element when played in couch co-op, allowing two players to control a Yarny each. As both characters are tied together by a thread, you’ll need to figure out some creative solutions to the game’s various puzzles and hazards, making for an entertaining and thrilling co-op experience. If you really love conjoined co-op games as well, consider giving PHOGS! a go too.

 

24. Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2

Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K
Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Players: Up to 4

Looter shooters are the perfect fodder for a co-op experience, pitting you and a group of friends against endless hordes of enemies on the quest for infinite loot. While there’ve been a few examples of this genre over the years, none have really captured the feeling of it like the Borderlands series, and across the four games (five if you include Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands), you’ve got plenty of missions, characters and weapons to sink your teeth into. However, if you’re just looking to skip to the best, Borderlands 2 is the shout.

The best mix of gameplay, story and humor, Borderlands 2 follows the same-ish plot of the first game, with a plucky group of Vault Hunters trying to find a mysterious alien Vault to gain its treasure. Unfortunately for this group of Hunters, they have to contend with the villainous Handsome Jack, who bombards the players with narcissistic rants and monologues while you’re playing. It’s funny, we swear. Mostly. Okay, sometimes it’s a bit annoying, but at least it’s not as bad as Borderlands 3 was.

 

23. Escape Academy

Escape Academy
Escape Academy

Developer: Coin Crew Games
Publisher: iam8bit, Skybound Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, Nintendo Switch
Players: 2

Depending on who you ask, organizing an escape room visit can either be one of the most fun social activities you can have, or an exercise in restraint as you stop yourself from launching your nearest friend into a wall. Getting a group of friends together in one place might be tricky though, especially as a fully-grown adult, so sometimes it’s better to opt for the digital version. If you want that iconic escape room experience without having to ask some unseen staff member if you can go to the toilet, Escape Academy is the game for you.

As students in the titular Escape Academy, you’ll enter various rooms filled with puzzles related to a different academic subject, and will have to solve clues and other minigames in order to escape as quickly as possible. Players are then graded based on how well they did, giving you an incentive to do your best. While the game’s fully playable in single-player, the collaborative nature of escape rooms in general means Escape Academy comes alive in online co-op, making for one of the best co-op games out there.

 

22. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley

Developer: ConcernedApe
Publisher: ConcernedApe
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mobile
Players: Up to 8

Look, we’ll concede that Stardew Valley is traditionally a single-player game, and sometimes those chill, cozy vibes are easier to obtain when you’re not trying to convince up to seven other players to come and toil away on your homestead. However, the cozy gaming king and arguably best farming simulator on the market does support full co-op play, both locally and online. If you’re feeling like the responsibility of managing a farm is getting a bit too much to handle on your own, Stardew Valley’s co-op mode is excellent.

How Stardew Valley handles its co-operative elements is fantastic, as instead of just lumping the additional players as farm hands for the host player to boss about, each player is given their own property on the farm and is free to explore, help out and bond with the townspeople. Of course, that also means that the co-operative game of Stardew Valley can quickly turn competitive, as players essentially race to win the affections of one of the various NPCs in the town. All’s fair in love, war and farming, right?

 

21. Phasmophobia

Phasmophobia
Phasmophobia

Developer: Kinetic Games
Publisher: Kinetic Games
Platform(s): PC (console release in the works at the time of writing)
Players: Up to 4

Ever wanted to join a ghost hunt but you’re too scared to hang around in an abandoned building at 2am? Yeah, we get it, but that’s why games like Phasmophobia are pretty cool, as it turns the hunt for the paranormal into one of the most innovative games and interesting co-op games out there. If you’ve got a couple of friends who don’t mind the occasional scare (or 20), or you’re just looking for a horror themed multiplayer game that’ll be slightly less infuriating than Dead By Daylight, Phasmophobia is worth checking out.

You and a team of up to three others are paranormal investigators, hired by various contractors to explore buildings and find the ghostly presence within. Crucially, you’re looking for evidence of what ghost is haunting the area, as Phasmophobia includes over 20 ghost types, pulling inspiration from different cultures and mythology from around the world. What makes Phasmophobia utterly terrifying though is its usage of proximity chat, meaning oftentimes you’ll never see the terror, you’ll just hear it happen to your mates instead. Endless fun.

 

20. Halo: Reach

Halo Reach
Halo Reach

Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Platform(s): Xbox 360 (also on PC, Xbox One/Series X & S via Master Chief Collection)
Players: Up to 4

During the 360 days of the Xbox, before public opinion on the company/brand had soured based on some terrible decisions, the console was the uncrowned king of the co-op gamers, with plenty of co-operative experiences to enjoy across Xbox Live. You know, for about four months before your 360 went through its regularly scheduled Red Ring Of Death. While Gears Of War and its various sequels is also a co-op masterclass, we’re giving the nod to Halo: Reach here, as it’s one of the best co-op games on 360, or any platform for that matter.

While much has been said about Halo’s multiplayer offerings, and rightly so, Halo: Reach was arguably the pinnacle of the series’ co-op offerings. Not only is there the co-op campaign, which was tradition at this point in the series, Reach perfected the Firefight survival game mode, pitting teams of four Spartans against the full might of the Covenant. With a brilliant campaign and the endlessly replayable Firefight, Halo: Reach is a co-op must have.

 

19. Lethal Company

Lethal Company
Lethal Company

Developer: Zeekerss
Publisher: Zeekerss
Platform(s): PC
Players: Up to 4 (though there are mods that can increase the limit to 40)

If you’re looking at this list, chances are you already know and have maybe even played Lethal Company already. The breakout hit of 2023 as far as indie games were concerned, Lethal Company quickly became positioned as your favorite streamer’s favorite game. While still a popular and beloved title, the hype for Lethal Company content isn’t quite as fervent as it once was, but that doesn’t change the fact that the gameplay of Lethal Company remains some of the co-op gaming you can have.

The premise of Lethal Company is simple, as you fly to different planets trying to find treasure you can extract with to earn profit. So far, so standard, but what makes Lethal Company a real delight to play is the randomly generated levels and combinations of threats you can encounter. Beyond that, there’s also an infinite capacity for shenanigans, as the game utilizes proximity voice chat to add to the terror and humor of the whole experience. There’s nothing like leading an unassuming group of friends to their deaths just to hear them scream at you.

We’re not evil, promise.

 

18. Monster Hunter Rise

Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter Rise

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, Nintendo Switch
Players: Up to 4

Capcom has done an incredible job over the past half decade of turning the Monster Hunter franchise from a popular yet still niche franchise to a genuine pillar of the company’s plans. Monster Hunter World brought the series’ excellent gameplay and formula to its widest audience yet, making for an incredibly fun online co-op game, but the follow-up release, Monster Hunter Rise, just might be even better. Are we saying that because Rise has a cute dog companion called a Palamute? Maybe.

The gameplay loop for Monster Hunter Rise is the same as it ever was, with players hunting down monsters to earn loot and materials, which can then be used to craft stronger weapons and armor to hunt tougher monsters. Invite a couple of friends to join you in online co-op and run through that formula a couple of times, and before you know it, hundreds of hours will have passed and you’ll either be the strongest hunters in the game, or stuck on a tough boss for half of it. Still, it’s incredibly fun though.

 

17. Powerwash Simulator

Powerwash Simulator
Powerwash Simulator

Developer: FuturLab
Publisher: Square Enix Collective
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, Nintendo Switch, Meta Quest
Players: Up to 6 players, depending on the mode

Not every co-op game needs to see its players fighting against the forces of evil or collecting powerful equipment. Sometimes you just need to chill out and accomplish a simple, satisfying goal: cleaning dirt off someone’s property. Enter Powerwash Simulator, which lets players loose with a huge spray gun and orders you to clean houses, fire stations, vehicles, ancient monuments and everything in between, though the mystery of how these places get covered in all this dirt in the first place never gets solved.

As a co-op game, Powerwash Simulator is about as uncomplicated as it gets, but there’s something mesmerizing about the low-stakes slower gameplay on offer here compared to a more fast paced shooter. Stick some music on Spotify and invite a few friends to play, and you’ve got a perfect hangout session, as Powerwash Simulator occupies everyone in the background.

 

16. Streets Of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4
Streets of Rage 4

Developer: Dotemu, Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games
Publisher: Dotemu
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Mobile
Players: Up to 4 players locally, 2 players online

Beat ‘em ups have been the backbone of co-op gaming ever since the early days of the hobby. Back when it was more common to find video games in your local arcade than under your TV, a lot of the games you’d find in those establishments were beat ‘em ups, allowing two or more players to unite against hordes of goons. There’s plenty of beat ‘em ups around these days keeping that spirit alive, and a lot of them are worthy of your time, including River City Girls, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and Double Dragon Neon, but for our money, there’s no topping Streets Of Rage 4.

A revitalization of this long-running scrapper from SEGA, Streets Of Rage 4 deftly combines old mechanics and characters with a new art style, new moves and abilities and a new generation of characters who are just as memorable and fun as the old guard. Throw in the Mr X Nightmare DLC, which adds a roguelike survival mode along with new moves and 3 additional playable characters, and Streets Of Rage 4 is an easy co-op game to recommend. Even its predecessors have held up pretty well over the years, if you’re looking to play some throwbacks.

 

15. Human Fall Flat

Human: Fall Flat
Human: Fall Flat

Developer: No Brake Games
Publisher: Curve Digital, 505 Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, Nintendo Switch
Players: Up to 8

Ages ago, indie games hit upon a winning formula for success, which “physics bollocks + multiplayer = fun for all the family”, which is why games like Goat Simulator and others have become smash hit successes. One physics-based game of that type has proven beyond all others to not be a flash in the pan though, and that’s Human Fall Flat, as the physics-based platformer has gone from leaps and bounds since its launch in 2016, though most of that success can be attributed to the online multiplayer that dropped in 2017.

Like any regular platformer, you’ll be making your way through levels, jumping over obstacles and solving puzzles as you go, but the catch is that everything is governed by physics, and you’re playing a blob person who can grab and move things, and is about as easy to control as a pouty teenager. Cue lots of shenanigans, especially when up to eight players can get involved at the same time, as the gameplay rapidly devolves into an impromptu Royal Rumble.

 

14. Risk Of Rain 2

Risk of Rain 2
Risk of Rain 2

Developer: Hoppo Games, Gearbox Software
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Players: Up to 4

Balancing a roguelike game must be difficult at the best of times, given how ridiculous builds can become by the time players reach the end game, so imagine throwing four player co-op into the mix on top of that. That’s precisely what the madlads over at Hoppo Games did with Risk of Rain 2 though, and somehow, it’s still a brutally hard experience for those who are completely unprepared. Fortunately, it’s also one of the best co-op games you can play, and chances are that you’ll be running this one again and again to get it right.

Like most roguelikes, Risk of Rain 2 follows a run-based gameplay loop, where players try to find the teleporter to move on to the next level, fighting enemies and boss while gaining loot and leveling up all the while. Once a run is over, you’ll reset from the beginning and do the whole thing over again, but Risk Of Rain 2 makes sure to keep you coming back for more with plenty of permanent rewards to unlock. Managing to get a full squad powered up in this game is a truly great feeling.

 

13. Cuphead

Cuphead
Cuphead

Developer: Studio MDHR
Publisher: Studio MDHR
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Players: 2

What we said about beat ‘em ups earlier in this list is also true of shoot ‘em ups, and while they’re certainly not as common as they used to be back in the early days, they’re still incredible co-op games. Games like Contra and Metal Slug, or even more modern titles like Blazing Chrome and Huntdown, stick a gun in the player’s hands and tell them to fight against an entire armada, but the best of them all might just be Cuphead. Just be warned, as this’ll definitely test your friendships.

As Cuphead and Mugman, you’ll set off on a journey to defeat a bunch of bosses in order to pay off your debt to the literal Devil. Through three islands of levels, you’ll face off against dozens of bosses, with the game making great use of that iconic rubberhose-inspired animation style to create some memorable characters and moments. Again, it’s a tough nut to crack, but if you find a dedicated and loyal friend or partner willing to play with you, this is a great co-op game to play. We apologize for any smashed controllers during the run and gun levels though.

 

12. The Forest

The Forest PS4

Developer: Endnight Games
Publisher: Endnight Games
Platform(s): PC, PS4
Players: Up to 8

Survival games and co-op go together like peanut butter and jelly. Crafting shelter, tools and weaponry to survive in a hostile environment is a daunting task on your own, so recruiting some friends to suffer alongside you definitely makes the whole endeavor a lot more fun. While there are games like ARK, Rust and others which also nail the survival genre, nothing has ever come close to matching the tension and pure terror that comes from playing The Forest. Stick this on for about an hour and you’ll turn into that guy from Predator, guaranteed.

After a plane crashes into a remote forest (the same forest from the game’s name, if you can believe it), you control a father looking for their missing son, as you attempt to fashion essentials in this hostile environment. While the various woodland creatures might not give you trouble, the horde of mutated cannibals will probably have you for breakfast if you’re not careful. The Forest might sound like a single-player game, but there’s co-op available, and yes, all the players in the lobby are playing as the father, in what can be described as Three Men And A Baby with Cronenberg-esque body horror.

 

11. Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate 3

Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Larian Studios
Platform(s): PC, PS5, Xbox Series X & S
Players: Up to 4

Experienced adventurers might be a little bit shocked to see Baldur’s Gate 3 a little bit lower down on the list, but that’s not really an indictment on how fun the game is to play in co-op. Working together with other players to formulate strategies on how to deal with the game’s various threats and puzzles makes for an RPG experience unlike any other, but Baldur’s Gate 3 encourages each player to create their own character, and there’s something to be said about adventuring with the regular party members instead. Having to leave Astarion and Karlach at camp is heartbreaking, honestly. Stupid sexy vampire elf.

That doesn’t mean that the co-op isn’t worth playing though, as if you can find three friends to form an adventuring party with, the opportunity for mischief and mayhem goes through the roof. Baldur’s Gate 3 does an excellent job of making each player feel like they’re an important part of the adventure too, instead of one player just hogging all of the events and cutscenes. Players can pursue relationships with party characters independently of the host, or even trigger battles while other players are off exploring. Yes, everyone will just stand there for 20 minutes waiting for a turn, while the out of action players can position themselves for stealth kills, and it’s silly.

 

10. Deep Rock Galactic

Deep Rock Galactic
Deep Rock Galactic

Developer: Ghost Ship Games
Publisher: Coffee Stain Publishing
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S
Players: Up to 4

“Rock and Stone” has been a chant that’s united friend groups together for years now, and Deep Rock Galactic certainly shows no signs of slowing down. In its simplest form, Deep Rock follows the same horde shooter formula of games that have come before it, but its combination of weapons, mission structure and level design coalesce to create one of the best co-op games ever made. Unless you don’t like being attacked by hordes of bugs, of course. There’s plenty of those out there.

As a group of dwarves, you’ve travelled across the galaxy to mine planets for all their minerals, which obviously isn’t being taken well by the native creatures. Between collecting resources, you’ll also have to fend off thousands of creatures as you complete your objectives, with players picking one of several classes to help the team succeed. If mining a planet for all its natural resources while shouting the same catchphrase past the point of irony sounds like a good time to you, Deep Rock Galactic is worth checking out.

 

9. Overcooked: All You Can Eat Edition

Overcooked
Overcooked

Developer: Ghost Town Games, Team17
Publisher: Team17
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, Nintendo Switch
Players: Up to 4

We might have earmarked Cuphead as a game that’ll test the limits of a relationship, but if you really want to put the kind of strain on things that only months of therapy can heal, Overcooked is the game for you. The first game introduced players to a chaotic brand of couch co-op that required near perfect communication to succeed, and the sequel, Overcooked 2, only amplified those elements with tougher levels, more elaborate gimmicks and plenty of kitchen fires. Many meals got burned during our attempts at culinary perfection.

For this list though, Overcooked: All You Can Eat Edition gets the nod, as it bundles together levels, characters and DLC from both games to create the ultimate Overcooked experience. Along with improved graphics and resolution for both, the All You Can Eat Edition adds full crossplay to the levels from the first game too, along with a first time ever Assist Mode to allow players of all kinds to enjoy Overcooked. It’s silly, tough, but ever so satisfying when you finally manage to get three stars on a level. Just don’t think your skills in Overcooked will translate to an actual restaurant kitchen. That’s how we got thrown out of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant.

 

8. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes

Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo Switch
Players: 2

Putting the LEGO games on a list of the best co-op games feels like a no-brainer, but the real struggle comes with nailing down which LEGO game to spotlight. There isn’t really a bad one in the bunch, it’s just a case of what you’re looking for or which licenses you get the most enjoyment out of. LEGO City Undercover is an underrated, original pick, while LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is arguably the best of LEGO’s many Star Wars games, but we reckon LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is the superlative LEGO experience.

As a LEGO game, Marvel Super Heroes boasts everything you’d want, including drop-in, drop-out couch co-op, bags of replayability thanks to the series’ trademark Free Play mode, and plenty of Marvel jokes and Easter Eggs that’ll give true fans a real kick. Sure, the flying controls for characters like Iron Man can be a bit finicky, but this is still a real banger of a LEGO game. If you enjoy it too, there’s also a sequel and Avengers specific LEGO game, while DC fans can sink their teeth into both LEGO Batman and LEGO DC Super Villains.

 

7. A Way Out

A Way Out PS4 review

Developer: Hazelight Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Players: 2

2018 feels like such a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? Back then, we’d had plenty of co-op games to enjoy, but then Hazelight’s A Way Out dropped and it felt like a true revelation. The story of two criminals, Leo and Vincent, who meet in prison and attempt a jailbreak in order to enact a shared revenge on a criminal overlord, A Way Out felt like the first co-op game to actually marry story and gameplay together, creating a cinematic co-op experience unlike any other before or since. The only other game that’s remotely similar to A Way Out was also made by Hazelight, funnily enough.

While A Way Out is broadly an action adventure game, the game does an excellent job of throwing new sequences and mechanics at the player, ensuring the story never gets old. However, despite the action and excitement, it’s the quieter moments of A Way Out where the magic begins to shine, as the game explores this burgeoning relationship between Vincent and Leo. Will they be able to keep trust in one another to accomplish their goal, or will they end up killing each other because Leo lost a game of Connect 4 to Vincent?

 

6. Sea Of Thieves

Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves

Developer: Rare
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Platform(s): PC, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S
Players: Up to 4

Is Rare’s pirate simulator technically a co-op game? It definitely wasn’t at launch, but with the release of private servers in December 2023, now you don’t have any pesky rival pirate crews sinking your ships and stealing your loot. As a PvPvE game, there was always an element of danger when playing Sea of Thieves with friends, as you could easily be attacked by other crews within a moment’s notice, making it hard to recommend as a strictly co-op game. Now though, you can plunder, pillage and stick your face in some pirate booty to your heart’s content.

Sea of Thieves might have been sailing some rough waters during its initial launch, but Rare have spent six years post-launch righting the ship and introducing a host of worthwhile updates to the game. New modes, new quests, new challenges and even a few choice collaborations are just some of the excellent features that have been added to Sea of Thieves since launch, and with the game now available on even more platforms, Rare have definitely found their sea legs with this one.

Sorry, these nautical puns really tie us up in knots.

 

5. Minecraft

Minecraft
Minecraft

Developer: Mojang Studios
Publisher: Mojang Studios, Xbox Game Studios
Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Mobile
Players: Depends on the server

It’s the king, queen, lord, ruler and pinnacle of the survival game genre for a reason, as Minecraft is the juggernaut that simply refuses to stop, no matter how much Mojang might try to curtail its momentum with Mob Votes leaving a sour taste in the community’s mouth. Still, even if Minecraft isn’t quite the same game that people fell in love with back in the early to mid-2010s, it remains one of the most popular cooperative games of all-time for a reason: it’s just damn fun to play.

What makes Minecraft so truly special is that it’s really what you and your friends choose to make of it. If you want to play the game as a traditional survival title, digging through the earth and various realms to find the best materials and loot, you can do that, but if you and your friends want to create some kind of gaudy monument, a massive castle or anything else you can imagine, there’s room to do that too. If video games are art, for many people Minecraft is the easel.

 

4. Helldivers 2

Helldivers 2
Helldivers 2

Developer: Arrowhead Games Studios
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): PC, PS5
Players: Up to 4 players per squad

Despite Sony’s best efforts in trying to torpedo any goodwill and trust Arrowhead might have built, Helldivers 2 still remains the breakout hit of 2024. Spreading managed democracy across the galaxy as one of the bravest warriors humanity has ever known has become a core part of most gaming group’s schedules, and it’s not hard to see why, as Arrowhead has crafted a co-op experience that feels unlike anything else on the market.

Dropping in as part of a team of up to four players, you’ll travel to different planets fighting either bugs or robots (along with a secret third enemy faction probably), completing objectives in hopes of earning better weapons and gear. While it sounds like a fairly standard game from that description, the magic of Helldivers 2 is that the entire player base is co-operating, as the liberation of planets and the completion of “Major Orders” depends on the success and failure of the community. No video game has united its player base quite like Helldivers 2, which is what makes it so fun to play and be a part of. Until your mate drops a 500kg bomb on your head.

 

3. Portal 2

Portal 2
Portal 2

Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch
Players: 2

Valve’s allergy to the number 3 is going to come up again on this list, and while many cite Half-Life 3 as the main instance of Valve not giving players what they want, we can also look to the non-existent Portal 3 as proof that there is no God. If there was, we’d have had a full co-op Portal game just like the multiplayer portion of Portal 2, which offers some of the most tightly designed, head scratching yet rewarding puzzles in any co-operative game. Portal 2’s co-op levels were Valve flexing their big old brains, and we wish there was more of it.

Unlike the main story of Portal 2, which saw Chell once again deal with Glados while the newcomer Wheatley is thrown into the mix, the co-op portion of the game saw Glados testing two robots in a variety of new chambers. Functionally, the co-op was exactly the same as the main game, but the addition of another player armed with their own portal gun added an extra dimension to the puzzles, making for an experience that’ll probably leave you scratching your head for a few hours before you figure things out. These puzzles are no joke, but when that solution finally becomes known, it’s basically euphoria.

 

2. It Takes Two

It Takes Two
It Takes Two

Developer: Hazelight Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, Nintendo Switch
Players: 2

Josef Fares’ studio Hazelight has been the byword in co-op experiences for a few years now, thanks to their work on A Way Out, which we obviously mentioned earlier on. Hazelight struck gold with their co-op centered gameplay and willingness to experiment with silly minigames, so they upped the ante in a huge way with their follow-up release, It Takes Two, the story of a married couple on the outs, transformed into small dolls and forced by a sentient book turned love guru to find what brought them together in the first place.

While the story and characters aren’t to everyone’s taste, It Takes Two is the perfect co-op game for couples, testing their teamwork, coordination and communication skills with a series of platforming challenges and puzzles. Each world the players visit throws a new mechanic into the mix that gives each player their own powers and abilities, ensuring a different playthrough for both participants. Throw in the fact that only one player needs to own a copy for both to play the game online, and this is perhaps the best modern co-op game on the market.

 

1. Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead 2
Source: Dad’s Gaming Addiction

Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve
Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360
Players: Up to 4

Very few games get to say that they birthed an entire genre of multiplayer game, but it’s probably fair to say that the original Left 4 Dead gets that distinction. Before then, online co-op shooters where you faced off against hordes of enemies were perhaps too ambitious for the time, with the closest examples being The Flood in Halo. Then Valve came along with Left 4 Dead, and suddenly everyone was making co-op zombie games with special infected pouring out of the woodwork. Still, while the original L4D introduced the concept, Left 4 Dead 2 perfected the formula entirely.

Functionally, Left 4 Dead 2 was the same game as the original, as evidenced by the fact that Valve made all the older campaigns playable in the sequel as free DLC, but the updates like melee weapons, new guns and upgrades like incendiary ammo added extra dimensions to the core game. New objectives like scavenges also helped to keep the finales fresh, while that ever present Director ensured that no two campaign runs were ever quite the same. If someone was going to ask for a quintessential example of co-op gaming, the answer could only be Left 4 Dead 2.

Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site. We cover gaming news, movie reviews, wrestling and much more.