Nothing beats a good blaster at your side, kid—except a friend who also has a good blaster, so you have two blasters and can blast twice as many things at once. That's just math, really. And it's also the joy of playing the best co-op games, whether that means jumping in with a single friend or putting together a squad of four.
This is our latest collection of the best co-op games to play together. There are massive shooters and RPGs that can suck up months of your time, like The Division 2 and Warframe. But there are also RPGs and couch co-op games, platformers and racers that you can hop into for an hour and have a great afternoon together.
Sea of Thieves
Release date: 2018 | Players: 1-4 | Link: Official site
Rare's swashbuckling sandbox makes for a decent co-op game but it really shines as a co-op hangout. Sea of Thieves is a stunningly beautiful open world and it can be completely undemanding—board a ship with your friends, pick a direction, and just sail around drinking grog until you barf, playing musical instruments, and firing each other out of cannons. Or just chat for an hour while you cruise around taking in the picturesque sunsets. The 2019 Anniversary update adds a series of quests that are sometimes frustrating but frequently serve up some thrilling Goonies-esque moments of adventure, and will make you feel like a brilliant crew of swashbucklers.
For excitement you can chase down other crews for some bracing ship-to-ship combat, hunt for buried treasure, or take down a skeleton fort, but it's just as enjoyable to treat it like a chat room with beautiful waves and the occasional Kraken.
Monster Hunter: World
Release date: 2018 | Players: 1-4 | Link: Steam
You can play through all of Monster Hunter solo, or with random strangers from the internet, but co-op is where this game truly shines. Combat channels the combos of Capcom action games like Devil May Cry but feels more risky and deliberate, forcing you to learn the attacks of these giant beasts. Tougher monsters force you to collaborate and stay constantly on your feet, and fights go much better when you and your hunting party specialize with different weapons. And grinding for the rare drops you need to make gear out of monster parts is just so much more fun with a few friends in Discord.
The Iceborne expansion, released in early 2020, adds tons of new monsters to fight and new abilities that encourage teamwork. It's a good time to go hunting!
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Release date: 2017 | Players: 1-4 | Link: Steam
According to our reviewer, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is "a sprawling, inventive adventure and one of the best RPGs ever made." And you can play one of the best RPGs ever made with up to three other friends in online co-op. Chaos and player agency reign supreme in such a reactive world, meaning one friend could piss of a guard or reveal their undead identity at an inopportune time—but that's exactly what makes OS2 so great with friends.
You're no longer dealing with a loyal party of characters you shape over time. You're dealing with three other stubborn people, all vying for different outcomes. It's a beautiful role-playing mess set in one of the most lush, engaging RPG worlds ever. And once you complete the campaign, the Game Master mode lets you create new campaigns from scratch with an extensive D&D-style dungeon master's toolkit.
The first Divinity: Original Sin is a great co-op experience, too, if you need another hundred hours of RPG adventuring.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Release date: 2020 | Players: Varies | Link: Steam
The Halo series may have the most replayable FPS campaigns ever. Each game has a handful of levels that put you in wide open spaces, free to tackle enemies when and how you choose. Steal a ghost or warthog and careen around the map running over Covenant enemies are they dive out of the way. Seek out a rocket launcher to blow them to smithereens. Hide behind cover and ping down their shields with headshots. Harder difficulties are made easier with a co-op partner, since as long as one of you is alive, there's a chance to respawn. In the Master Chief Collection, you can even toggle on a scoring mode and modifiers that tweak enemy behavior (or make them explode into confetti). It's a good time.
All the games in the Master Chief Collection are being released one-by-one throughout 2020. Right now you can play Halo: Reach, Halo CE, Halo 2, and Halo 3. Reach is a great starter if you're brand new to the series.
We Were Here
Release date: 2017 | Players: 2 | Link: Steam
We Were Here is a puzzle adventure series designed entirely around co-op. Seriously: You can't play it any other way. The puzzles are inspired by escape rooms and games like Myst, and you and your co-op partner have to talk each other through what you're seeing and doing to get through together. The first game, We Were Here, is free, while sequels We Were Here Too and We Were Here Togetherare each under $15. As we wrote about one of the sequels, you and your partner are the real puzzle—figuring out how to communicate is the challenge and satisfaction of this trilogy.
Risk of Rain 2
Release date: 2019 (Early Access) | Players: 1-4 | Link: Steam
Somehow Risk of Rain 2 managed to transform a loot-heavy 2D roguelike into 3D nearly flawlessly, retaining the fun of its character classes despite the totally new perspective. It's a simple game about blasting enemies over and over again until you inevitably die. The joy of it, what keeps you coming back, is the potential for insane builds. You'll collect dozens of items through a run, things that make you move faster or heal when you get kills or shoot electricity out of your body or hit enemies with a flame tornado or jump so high you're airborne for 10 seconds... and they all stack like crazy, making you absurdly powerful in ways you can't quite predict at the start of each game. The loop can hook you solo, but play with three friends for maximum mayhem.
Deep Rock Galactic
Release date: 2018 | Players: 1-4 | Link: Steam
Deep Rock Galactic is like procedurally generated Left 4 Dead with bits of resource management and open-ended exploration. It had its issues when it launched in Early Access in 2018, but developer Ghost Ship Games has spent the last year and a half bulking it up with new weapons, biomes, enemies, mission types, and more challenges. Where before missions felt pointless, you now always have weapon unlocks on the horizon that change up the playstyles of its four dwarf classes. It's a casual game to go spelunking in together. The shooting feels great and its voxel-based destruction never gets old. Deep Rock has found its groove, and hopefully keeps on growing.
Release date: 2019 | Players: 1-2 | Link: Humble
An RPG experience like few others on PC. You're a truly fragile nobody. There are no map waypoints to guide you where to go, and no level-ups to raise your stats and make you stronger. You can't fast-travel across the world. You have to navigate by landmarks and play as cautiously you would in a real adventure across the world, and that's a really fun experience with a friend by your side. As Chris wrote in his review: "It makes minor setbacks feel like major obstacles to overcome and it makes small victories feel like utter triumphs. Outward is harsh and occasionally frustrating, but it does what so few games do. It requires you to put real thought into the choices you make, and it makes those choices feel like they really matter."
Total War: Three Kingdoms
Release date: 2019 | Players: 1-2 | Link: Steam
The latest Total War is a lush representation of Chinese history, and blurs the line between traditional total War and the fantasy Warhammer games by letting you play a mode focusing on the larger-than-life heroes of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Thankfully, it also overhauls Total War's stagnant diplomacy systems, making it our go-to Total War recommendation today. As in past games, you can play a two-player campaign, but this time around you don't have to hard commit to competing or co-operating at the start. Instead, for co-op play, you can choose to share the "mandate of heaven" during the campaign to bind your fates (and win conditions) together. Until you do that, it's open-ended how you play with or against one another.
If you're hankering for fantasy, though, Total War: Warhammer 2 is still the way to go. With Warhammer 2, Creative Assembly also tried to solve a longstanding series problem: Campaigns growing stale in the endgame, as they drag on towards total map dominance. It's not as robust as the new Three Kingdoms, but sometimes you just want to make giant armies of lizardmen and ratmen fight each other to the death.
Release date: 2016 | Players: 1-4 | Link: Steam
Stardew Valley multiplayer arrived in 2018, adding co-op for up to four players (or more with mods) sharing the same farm. It's a pleasant place to spend time together, dividing up the endless farm chores and watching your overgrown homestead slowly morph into a thriving veggie plantation. Multiplayer works pretty seamlessly: You share money but otherwise have your own houses, inventories, and relationships with the townsfolk, so your whole crew can mostly do their own thing, then come together for special season events. While you become the master of planting, I'll be over here catching enough fish to keep us in money during the winter.
Ghost Recon Wildlands
Release date: 2017 | Players: 1-4 | Link: Steam
You are not an indestructible super-soldier in Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and if you act like one you'll end up dead, quickly and often. Because of that, planning, stealth, and smooth execution are vital to success. But the real challenge is ensuring that the distracted, trigger-happy idiots in your squad are on the same page. Pro tip: They aren't. Oddly, that's what makes Wildlands so good: The absolute chaos that can erupt when someone misses a shot and blows up a car, or maybe just wanders aimlessly into a parking lot, oblivious to the half-dozen Santa Blanca goons loitering on the corner.
The underlying action is excellent and there's tons to do, but it's the unpredictability of the human element, coupled with Ubisoft's wide-open willingness to let players be as stupid and crazy as they want, that really makes it shine.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Release date: 2018 | Players: 1-4 | Link: Steam
This sequel to Vermintide confidently expands on the Left 4 Dead-alike formula, adding a whole new faction of enemies to fight in addition to the Skaven, and more robust class leveling and loot systems. It still feels nice and meaty when you smash in a rat man's face with a giant club, and there's a welcome build variety now with the game's five characters. Switching characters or even classes makes levels easily replayable a dozen times over.
If you loved Left 4 Dead but have simply played enough of it for the past decade, this is where you should redirect your attention. It's good for a few dozen hours of bloody melee carnage. It's also gotten a lot of free (and paid) post-release support, adding quite a few levels to an already substantial campaign.
Release date: 2017 | Players: 1-3 | Link: Humble
Destiny 2 contains a good Halo-esque campaign, a ton of playful side missions, a growing number of strikes (aka dungeons), and some trying six-person raid activities. Now that it's also free-to-play, it's even easier to tempt your friends into playing with you.
That's all nested in one of the best feeling shooters on PC. Destiny 2 has dozens of hours of co-op shooting within, from brainless fun to challenging endgame encounters. That's more than enough fun to squeeze out before the Eververse even becomes a concern.
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. Overcooked 2 shares the same penchant for destroying relationships, but before you hate each other, you'll love playing this game together. The sequel adds new maps and new complexity. You can play multiplayer locally or online. Now you can make sushi, and there's teleportation involved. Just like your standard kitchen, really.
Release Date: 2013 | Players: 1-4 | 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 action 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.
Release date: 2017 | Developer: 1-2 | Link: Humble
Cuphead doesn't become a breeze just because a friend can have your back in co-op. Crowding the luscious animations with another body and even more bullets complicates this side-scrolling arcade shooter, you see, making the two-player option a challenge for only the absolute ironclad best of friends.
But in the same way your brain and hands meld into a higher power after enough failure, and gradual pattern recognition hardens into pure instinct, bridging that rapt attention between two brains is a mild telepathy. Friend telepathy for the purposes of finishing a cartoon game.
Don’t Starve Together
Release date: 2016 | Players: 1-4 | 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.
Viscera Cleanup Detail
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.
Release date: 1999 | Players: Up to 32 | Link: Steam
It's pitched as cooperative Half-Life, but this must be the closest thing to Interdimensional Cable from Rick & Morty. Hop into a random server and suddenly you’re inside a technicolor playground populated by Teletubbies. Join another, and you’re in a Mega Man homage, a secret military base, or Egyptian pyramids where you throw grenades at Anubis himself.
Download an assortment of weird maps, hop in Discord with five or six of your buddies, and lose yourself in hours of retro-weirdness, laughter, and awkward platforming. With the right group of friends, it’s a calamitous and hilarious mashup of Half-Life’s blocky cast of monsters, scientists, and security inside ever-stranger worlds.
Forza Horizon 4
Release date: 2018 | Players: 1-6 | Link: Microsoft Store
Forza Horizon 4 takes the good times of co-op racing in Horizon 3 and rolls with them, switching locations to the UK and making seasonal weather and track changes a big part of the experience. As we wrote in our review, "the racing remains peerless. It's a perfect blend of forgiving arcade handling with an obsessive attention to detail that ensures each car feels just different enough. It's not aiming to be a perfect simulation, but the weight, speed and torque of each vehicle give it a personality beyond class and category." Simply add a friend to your convoy and you'll be off and racing together, completing events in co-op.
Dungeon of the Endless
Release date: 2014 | Players: 1-4 | Link: Steam
Amplitude made its name with 4X strategy games Endless Space and Endless Legend, but their most creative and original game is the beautiful (and a bit bizarre) Dungeon of the Endless. The hybrid tower defense/roguelike gives you fragile heroes to control and resources to manage as waves of enemies attack your crystal. Every concept is familiar on its own, but twisted just slightly. Time only progresses when you open doors in the dungeon. Finishing a level requires picking up the crystal and making a mad dash for the exit as enemies swarm in from all sides. You’re driven to explore, but exploring too far or too fast can awaken an overwhelming horde of enemies.
Roguelikes, tower defense, and co-op RPGs seem like impossible bedfellows, and yet here we are.
Killing Floor 2
Killing Floor 2 is the shooter you play when you just want to shoot the baddies, lots of baddies, and you want it to look and feel absolutely sick. It’s a wave assault FPS in which you and five other players shoot and bash some very unsatisfied test subjects while scrambling around open maps trying to stay alive—simple enough, but teamwork is vital. It works because the weapon animations and gun feel are second to none, and Tripwire has spent years refining each class's abilities and weapons, so ascending through the ranks to unlock new perks on the skill tree is as satisfying as learning the maps and deciding which weapons to spend your cash on each round. Tripwire also does great seasonal events, and there are tons of weird, cool custom maps out there, too, like 3D recreations of Pokemon towns.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Our favorite thing about Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is all the paperwork. Wait, wait! Come back! KTNB is a game about that scene in every action movie where the hero has to defuse a bomb, and the nerd on the phone asks him: What do you see?
KTNB made waves as a great Oculus Rift game, but you don’t need VR hardware to have a good time (although it's really fun that way). The defusing player can take a laptop to one side of the couch, and the advisers open up their bomb hardware manuals on the other. Communication is critical and any number of players can advise the bomb technician, making this a fantastic party game.
Grand Theft Auto Online
GTA Online has a whole of stuff going on, but the heists bring out the best in Rockstar’s open-world playground. Four players team up to conquer a series of story-like missions that involve each team member performing a different role building up to a bigger heist. This includes everything from stealing vehicles as part of the setup to assassinations and other interconnected tasks—the missions very cleverly allow everyone to feel like they’re playing a key part in the journey towards that endgame of earning mega money.
When all four players come together in the finale of each heist, making a dramatic escape from the cops as a collective is incredibly exciting and rewarding—more so than anything found in the main story. If only Rockstar would make more of them. They’d be worth paying for.
Release Date: 2011 | Players: 2 | Link: Steam
Portal 2, one of the most critically acclaimed games of the last six years, is on a best-of list? What a shock! There's no denying the raw quality of Portal 2's distinct co-op campaign, though. As the two testing robots Atlas and P-Body, you and a friend get to explore the darker, more dangerous side of GlaDOS's testing routines—the stuff that's too dangerous for (non-protagonist) human testers. The three-dimensional spatial thinking that makes the Portal series so addictive is only magnified when there's another friend getting stumped at the puzzles with you.
Portal 2's co-op is strongest when neither of you know the answer: if your partner waits patiently for you, you feel like a moron; if they don't, they'll be rushing you through all the discovery that makes the game great. Several years after release, though, finding two fresh players would be a rare trick indeed. Luckily, Valve's excellent map editor community has created a full array of excellent new maps to explore, and get stumped in, together.
Left 4 Dead 2
Release Date: 2009 | Players: 1-4 | Link: Steam
It's really saying something about the strength of Valve's terrific zombie shooter that it's still clawing its way onto lists like this one after so many years. A fanatically balanced, cleverly written shooter, Left 4 Dead 2 is built on the strength of four survivors working as a team. As it throws zombies at the team, the group must coordinate their movement and help each other out of danger or death with last second heroics that give each campaign a story worth retelling.
Valve must also get some credit for how long it has supported L4D2, adding level editors, Steam workshop support, porting in the maps and characters from Left 4 Dead 1, and continuing to offer “mutations,” always-changing game modes that offer something new for experienced players.
Left 4 Dead 2's active modding community is also a huge part of why this game comes so highly recommended, as it has produced new campaigns, like Lord of the Rings' Helms Deep castle, which have kept L4D2 fun even after the base campaigns grew old. Plus, you can play as a velociraptor, which clearly warrants our highest praise.