What are the best co-op games on PC? Be it shooting aliens in Destiny 2 or looting in The Division, here are the biggest Steam games and best free games around, plus a few surprise entries.
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. But what are the titles that will really pull friends together and offer the best group-based thrills?
Not feeling terribly sociable? Then check out the best PC games, which includes some of the finest solo experiences you’ll ever find.
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. 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.
Here are the best co-op games:
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 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 raid guide to tackle the complexLeviathan 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, Fornite 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, Fornite’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 McGuffin 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 (containing 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 Fornite tips for Battle Royale to get the jump on your fellow survivors.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
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.
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: Orginal 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.
Ubisoft’s apocalyptic smash may have everything you’d expect – hundreds of collectables, repetitive side quests, absurdly detailed buildings – but The Divison has one important addition that changes the dynamic entirely: co-op. In fact, this snow-caked hit doesn’t just have co-op bolted on, it’s designed for it. You and up to three pals can join forces to take down gangs of looters, pyromaniacs, and PMC soldiers who are out to claim a disease-ridden NYC for themselves. Along the way, you’ll experiment with The Division’s best character builds, as you stumble upon a gazillion different guns and armour loot drops.
The missions are exciting and clearly designed for multiple players to make the most of them: labyrinth-like office blocks and department stores offer plenty of flanking opportunities for well-coordinated teams, and the classless RPG character system lets you respec at any time so your group can equip a balanced selection of skills. Taking down the game’s most challenging bosses together is a super rewarding experience – don’t forget to read our Division Dark Zone survival guide – and the world is perfect for a sightseeing trip with friends. Check out our The Division PC review for more details on why this doomsday shooter is one of the most must-own co-op games around.
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.
Rainbow Six Siege
You’ll find Rainbow Six Siege over in our round-up of the best 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.
Left 4 Dead 2
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.
Orcs Must Die! 2
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 compliment 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.
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.
Gearbox’s anarchic, loot-obsessed adventure is a seriously good shooter. In fact, we love Borderlands 2 so much, we’re absolutely salivating over the prospect of Borderlands 3’s release. Its Diablo-influenced approach to loot means there are literally uncountable numbers of weapons to find, and the discovery and sharing of these guns is half the charm of the game’s co-op play.
The harsh truth about Borderlands 2, though, is it can actually be a little bit boring, meaning it can’t quite be considered one of the best FPS games on PC. It’s a long game, the quests are mostly of the ‘go fetch’ variety, and there’s a lot of fairly mindless grinding involved. Bring a second player to the party, though (or a third and fourth), and Borderlands suddenly becomes the best game on the planet. Taking down swarms of mobs feels heroic rather than tedious, you can assign MMO-style roles to each player for tactical advantage, and the game’s comedy is simply funnier when enjoyed with others. Exploring Pandora becomes an epic adventure rather than a time-consuming slog, and half your skill tree suddenly becomes useful.
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.
Don’t Starve Together
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 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.
Those are our picks of the best co-op games. 2018 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!
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