Borderlands 2

The 15 best co-op games of all time

Ian Birnbaum at

11. Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine (4 players online)

Release Date: 2013
Developer: Pocketwatch Games
If Payday 2 is Ocean’s Eleven by way of The Expendables, then Monacois the raw, distilled Ocean’s Eleven experience. Monaco emphasizes setting up and pulling off the perfect caper, so all that excitement and tension is the perfect mix for getting friends together for a good time. This game’s a deep, deep pool of details and blueprints, and there’s something so delightfully devious about cutting the power at the exact moment a friend puts a guard out of contention.

At this time, can we have a moment of silence for security guards everywhere? They get such a raw deal in these games.

OK, moving on.

10. Trine 2 (3 players local, online)

Release Date: 2012
Developer: Frozenbyte
The trinity-based puzzle game Trine came out of nowhere when it released in 2009, the heyday of unexpected indie games. Its sequel, Trine 2, takes everything from the original and smooths it, refines it, and makes it better. With the addition of online co-op, you can pass control of the other two characters over to friends. Instead of switching back and forth to play all three perspectives yourself, there’s something so much more gratifying about levitating a box to literally give a friend a hand-up. The colorful environments and soft, almost relaxing puzzles are just a bonus.

9. Far Cry 3 (4 players online)

Release Date: 2012
Developer: Ubisoft
I’ve got beef with Far Cry 3. There are moments, singular, shining moments, when the game sings like a choir of angels at dawn. Assaulting an encampment is everything open-world gaming should be: take a bow, kill some guards, booby trap one of their bodies. Wait for the explosion, shoot open a leopard cage, and open up with a heavy machine gun when the chaos breaks free. It’s just perfect.

But then there’s the stupid, stupid story. Magic tattoos? Your girlfriend calling to nag you during a scripted ambush? Rich, self-centered white dude angst on an island nation plunging into civil war? A pox on all of it.

The co-op campaign, blessedly, has nothing to do with the main story arc. Instead it’s just you and a friend causing all the chaos and mayhem you can in the lush, tropical sandbox. And that? That’s circling back around to perfect.

8. Magicka (4 players local, online)

Release Date: 2011
Developer: Paradox Interactive
First: a story. After surviving 19 levels of a brutal arena mode in Magicka, two of us were dead and one of us was running for his life. As my friend desperately tried to cast the revival spell, an ogre knocked him across the screen. Thinking fast, he cast a self-healing spell powerful enough to keep him alive on impact. Another ogre was waiting though, and it booted him straight into a black hole, ending our near-victorious round.

I laughed so hard I started choking.

Magicka caused some hurt feelings with its buggy release, but it has since mellowed and refined itself with age. As a wizard with full command of the elements, you mix and combine them to cast fireballs, rockslides, blizzards, and summon Death itself. The mixing of spell effects leads perfectly to bringing on backup: you cast the water, I’ll cast the lightning. You cast the ice, I’ll shatter him with a boulder. It’s a game that absolutely demands to be played with friends—and it’s better now than it’s ever been before.