Competitive multiplayer is the face of mainstream games now with PVP shooters, fighting games, and battle royales dominating the scene. It’s hard to find a multiplayer game these days that isn’t about climbing leader boards or being above someone else — and honestly, that’s fine! The rush of competing head to head can be fun every once in a while.
But, what if you want to stop fighting and instead work together with someone, perhaps even a close friend? Sadly, co-op had fallen out of fashion, couch co-op even more so. It still manages to live on through smaller titles and a few studios, however. If you want a good evening with a friend, here are a few games to try out!
10/10 Lego Star Wars
Lego Star Wars is a beloved series that has always made co-op a core feature, and that means they’ve always put a lot of care into it. No matter which game in the series you play, all of them feature the aspect of swapping between two or more characters in levels, and that’s just begging for someone else to take control of the second character to make things run smoothly!
Though it must be said that aside from one or two standout uses — such as with the Obi-Wan vs Anakin fight — the co-op mode is a good addition but nothing too groundbreaking. Having someone else won’t change the overall gameplay or experience much. But it’s worth it enough to bring someone along on this ride!
9/10 Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine
A lesser known title, Monaco is the calmer, more methodical sibling to the Payday games. In this game, you follow the story of convicts looking to find their way to safety with perhaps some good money in the end. This is a game you can technically play on your own, but the game is clearly meant for co-op.
The co-op shines in that you really need to coordinate with your friends to pull off a mission successfully. If you all go in your own directions, you’re bound to have a situation where everyone is dead, and you’re left helpless. All the character abilities compliment this by working together in unique ways when working in tandem. Monaco is a must-try gem.
8/10 The Forest
For those looking for a bit of a spookier time, The Forest offers an excellent multiplayer mode. The Forest sees you crash-landed onto a strange island inhabited by rabid cannibals and horrific mutants as you try to find your kidnapped son… or you could try to build a sweet gazebo with logs, whichever comes first.
The game works excellently in multiplayer by helping to make what can normally be tedious base building and resource gathering into a fun time planning your base with a friend. Combine that with the joy of getting freaked out by the mutants and just exploring the caves together, and you have a great co-op survival experience!
7/10 A Way Out
When A Way Out says it’s meant for co-op, it really means it because this is a game you cannot play alone. You need another person to play this, and the game being built around co-op allows for an experience unlike any other. The game sees both players take control of wildly different characters both stuck in prison as they have to devise a way to escape and get their revenge, resulting in many action packed sequences.
The true magic comes in that many of these sequences let each player take different roles, performing separate tasks and working in tandem to get the job done. The game uses the strengths of co-op to craft a story where these characters feel inseparable, and it makes for one hell of an ending with such a creative use of multiplayer. This is a must-play with a friend.
Another survival game, Raft takes a more relaxed approach than the forest, focusing less on exploration and more on just building with your friends. The game sees you stranded at sea with nothing more than a small raft and garbage floating by you. Eventually, you can build up a much bigger raft, have all sorts of fancy gadgets, and be living the good life.
Raft gets bonus points already for having much better co-op options and methods to join up with people, but the game also just works really well with asking for much more cooperation due to sharing all materials and needing to divide it well. Plus, planning out the layout of the raft is just so much fun.
While The Forest was a bit spooky at times, Phasmophobia goes all-in on the horror. This game sees you and a group of people form a ghost hunting team, venturing into homes and other locations with your tools to track down a ghost, identify it, and hopefully not die.
The multiplayer is especially great here since working together is absolutely needed to solve these levels before the ghost becomes too hostile — you can only hold so many tools, and you need someone on cameras for harder ghosts. But, the best aspect (aside from the proximity audio, which adds a whole new level to multiplayer communication) is just how it perfectly captures the energy of a horror movie with you begging your friends to go to the basement so you don’t have to, and everyone freezing up when someone turns up dead. It’s certainly a unique experience worth trying.
4/10 Human Fall Flat
Human Fall Flat is a game unlike any other — it’s not particularly groundbreaking, but it’s just a great new way of having fun. 3D platformers are no stranger to co-op modes, but Human Fall Flat goes for a different style with more clunky controls and a greater focus on physics and puzzle solving! This makes for a lot of interesting puzzles and unique gimmicks that become interesting to work with when you throw in more people.
While this can be played through alone, it’s way more fun to screw around and struggle to get everyone through with all of your friends! Half the time, you’ll be your own worst enemies, but it’s funny enough that it won’t even matter. This game is another that is a total riot to play.
One of the Switch’s launch titles, Snipperclips takes advantage of limited controls and pick-up-and-play nature to create quite the interesting experience. The game sees you as two pieces of paper with the ability to twist and rotate, and when you overlap with each other, you can snip sections out of the other to get unique shapes to complete tasks!
The game gets a lot of mileage out of this mechanic, asking you to cut and twist into the right shape, press buttons, carry eggs, or get balls through a course you control. It’s a load of fun trying to coordinate with your co-op partner and laughing at your screw-ups! The game can be played solo, but saps away 90% of the fun. This is a game that needs to be experienced in co-op.
2/10 Portal 2
Puzzle games don’t exactly seem like a genre that invites co-op as working through these brain-teasers is often an individual task, and it’s no fun having someone else figure out all the solutions. Despite that, Portal 2 manages to pull it off with clever level design.
No matter what the test is, even if one person sees the solution, each puzzle is built so both players need to do equal work to pull it off. Not to mention they’re all just segmented enough that you’re bound to have at least one section you pitch in on even if you’re playing with a super genius. Combine that with being able to mess around with portals and get each other killed, and you have an excellent co-op time.
1/10 It Takes Two
From the same team as A Way Out, It Takes Two takes the foundation the previous game built and cranks the creativity and fun factor to 11. Those sections where both players take different roles are taken to the extreme as there is not one level where both players have the same abilities, each getting different yet fun toolkits that play with each other.
But while A Way Out could get samey at times with similar quick time events, It Takes Two never stops innovating with its gameplay, always throwing in new types of gameplay to where it feels that they put 10 games in one. It makes for a wildly memorable experience, and excellent writing and characters are just the cherry on top.
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