The best co-op games

Nothing beats a good blaster at your side, kid—except a friend who also has a good blaster, so that you have two blasters and can blast twice as many things at once. That's the joy of our favorite co-op games, whether played locally on one PC or online with a pal or three. The ranks of our favorite co-op games have swelled in recent years with new RPGs, shooters, and insane cooking simulators, joining old standbys like Left 4 Dead 2 and Arma 3.

These are our favorite co-op games on PC right now. For more of our favorites played solo or with a pal, check out our top 100 best PC games.

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Total War: Warhammer

There's no better co-op strategy game around.

Release date: 2016
Developer: The Creative Assembly
Link: Humble Store | Steam

Total War: Warhammer is the first time the Total War team has really gotten to deviate from the historical script, and it shows. A decade of pent-up creativity oozes from Warhammer's animations and faction asymmetry, from the Dwarfs who have to avenge grudges through battle and assassinations, to the Vampire Counts who raise the dead to fight for them. The campaign also feels a bit fresh thanks to some new light RPG mechanics, like quests and loot for your heroes.

Since Rome 2, Creative Assembly has cleaned up the engine's performance and the AI's smarts enough to make Warhammer a great iteration on the series basics. And as usual, you can play the full campaign mode with a friend. Dare you pair natural enemies like the Greenskins and the Dwarfs together, or will you go for an easier alliance? You can also grab a mod and team up with the same race. There's no better co-op strategy game around.

Warframe

You can lose yourself in upgrade planning and crafting component wikis until the sun comes up.

Release Date: 2013
Developer: Digital Extremes
Link: Steam

It’s easy to fall into routine with Warframe, a game fundamentally about running through procedurally generated levels to upgrade your character over and over again. Playing alone just doesn’t make sense for some missions, and playing online with strangers can be intimidating at times, especially for newer players. But Warframe shines as a co-op game, creating the perfect digital space to hang out with your buddies while tearing through hordes of baddies. 

And if you want to really dive into it, Warframe’s systems go deep. You can lose yourself in upgrade planning and crafting component wikis until the sun comes up. But it’s still easy to play with friends of pretty much any skill level, meaning you don’t really need to start playing all at the same time, and don’t have to meticulously time out your play sessions. You can all play at your own pace, and then cross paths in a Grineer spaceship from time to time.

Don’t Starve Together

The mutual blame when a Deerclops stomps through your camp, ruining days worth of winter prep, is a strategy game in itself.

Release date: 2016
Developer: Klei
Link: Steam

Klei fought shy of adding co-op to its brilliant game of goth survival whimsy for a couple of years, reasoning (not unreasonably) that the addition of other people might break its esoteric spell, which relies on feelings of isolation and discovery. Turns out the developer needn’t have worried, because a disaster shared is even more fun. The mutual blame when a Deerclops stomps through your camp, ruining days worth of winter prep, is a strategy game in itself.

In keeping with Klei’s attention to detail and balance across its games, the core Don’t Starve experience is tweaked across Together’s three modes—Survival, Wilderness, and Endless—to ensure revival items and certain character abilities aren’t overpowered. It’s Endless you’ll likely find most enjoyable. Chilling out on Discord or a Skype call with a friend whilst pooling your resources to try to keep each other alive against the increasingly brutal effects of the seasons.

Remember: Happiness is a fridge full of frogs legs.  

Overcooked

It’s one of the freshest co-op games served up in a long time.

Release Date: 2016
Developer: Ghost Town Games
Link: Humble Store | Steam

Overcooked is chaos incarnate. It’s the type of co-op game where you’re supposed to be helping each other so that you’ll all succeed, but you may never want to speak to the people you play with ever again by the end of it. But being part of a well-coordinated team that stays cool under the pressure of ice rivers, kitchen earthquakes, and shifting pirate ships is one of the most satisfying feelings of any co-op game we’ve ever played. 

You’ll start falling into familiar kitchen roles—Jack will be the onion chopper, Jane will take care of the burners, while that lazy good-for-nothing Ted is supposed to be washing plates but just fell off the map for the third time. The only shame with Overcooked is that it really only shines as a co-op game—solo just isn’t as fun—and it only has local co-op. But if you can get a few friends to jump into the kitchen with you, it’s one of the freshest co-op games served up in a long time.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Release date: 2015
Developer: Asteroid Base
Link: Humble Store | Steam | GOG

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (LIADS) is a real achievement of great local multiplayer design. We’ve seen a bit of a resurgence of local multiplayer games for PC, but few have the style, color, and whimsy of LIADS.

LIADS also forces inter-team conflict in ways that other co-op games don’t. There are just too many stations and only two crewmembers, so failure comes from lapses in communication instead of bleak incompetence. This game is so good, it’s a bit of a bummer that there’s no online play. Still, it feels like side-by-side on a couch is how this game was meant to be played, and it's great fun if you have the setup for it.

The Division

The Dark Zone is a good place to find out what kind of people your friends really are.

Release date: 2016
Developer: Ubisoft Massive
Link: Ubisoft

In the year since its release, The Division has gone from grindy cooperative cover shooter with no endgame to less grindy cooperative shooter with an endgame. The neverending quest for better loot and bigger challenges won’t do it for everyone, but anyone who drools at the thought of higher numbers and gear sets will have a good time with The Division, especially with friends. 

Wandering a post-outbreak Manhattan is great for casual shootouts with enemy mobs and the main missions set up inventive scenarios that test team specializations in surprising ways. The shooting and movement feel great too, which makes coordinating a barrage of grenades and a flanking maneuver supported by a cover buff fun no matter how many times a team can pull it off. 

If your crew wants to take it to the next level, five world tiers offer a challenge for any skill level. Hit Tier 2 for access to the Incursions, focused scenarios that truly challenge coordination and reward victors in equal measure. Or if you’re looking for some bizarre, psychological warfare, the Dark Zone is a good place to find out what kind of people your friends really are. If you all have the season pass, Underground, Survival, and the incoming Last Stand are three unique game modes and three unique ways to play with or against one another, earning loot all the while.

Viscera Cleanup Detail

You're doing chores in space, with friends, and it's strangely, evening-absorbingly compelling.

Release date: 2015
Developer: RuneStorm
Link: Humble Store | Steam

A strange, slapstick co-op game with a brilliant conceit: you and your friends play disposable space janitors sent to clean up the mess after a squad of square-jawed videogame space marines have done their bloody business. Grab a mop and bucket and get ready to clean blood off walls, incinerate body parts, collect shell casings, and buff away damage with a welding tool. Sure, you're doing chores: but you're doing chores in space, with friends, and it's strangely, evening-absorbingly compelling.

The soul of Viscera Cleanup Detail is found in its physics system, which has a mind of its own. Get bumped by another player while carrying a bucket of bloody water and you'll spill it everywhere, necessitating even more work. You'll get yelled at for accidentally putting explosive debris in the incinerator and laugh yourself inside out when a friend gets crushed by a malfunctioning elevator, even if that means another round of cleaning up giblets.

There's loads more to it: ID tags to find with information about the corpses you're cleaning up, a game-spanning mystery, and easter eggs in each level. You'll discover what happens if you press all of the buttons on that dynamite looking-thing (it's dynamite) and ruin your cleanliness rating when you try to feed an alien pit monster a chair only for it to vomit green goo all over your friends. This is an absolute gem, and if this is the first you've heard of it—and you've got a squad of amenable friends—then it's time to give it a go.  

Lego Marvel Superheroes

Release date: 2013
Developer: TT Games
Link: Steam

There's a bunch of good Lego games that we'd recommend to serious players: Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Lego Batman 2 and Harry Potter are favorites, but Marvel is still the king of them. It's not tied to any particular film adaptation, so it features a pleasant mix of Spider-Man, Captain America et al alongside the rosters of the Fantastic Four and X-Men (something you can't really see in the comics these days). 

The levels are nice and imaginative, taking you to locations like Doctor Doom's castle or Stark Tower or Asgard—basically a complete representation of the Marvel Universe, with an obvious love for the characters in how they're animated and voiced. Plus, you can explore Manhattan, and jump off the SHIELD Helicarrier. It's way better than the reskinned-feeling Avengers-focused sequel.

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