10 Co Op Games to Enjoy with Friends
The world of video games is bigger than ever before, with thousands of games released every year making us spoiled for choice. This leaves players with a conundrum, however, of how to separate the best games from the pack.
It's certainly a great problem to have, but it's a problem, nonetheless. This guide aims to address the issue of modern abundance, to sort out the best co op games that players can enjoy today, alongside a promising title arriving soon.
What is "co-op" in gaming?
So, what are co op games? In simple terms, these are titles that pit the player and a human companion against the world. Sometimes this can mean fighting off hordes of enemies in strategy games or gathering resources in a desperate attempt to survive.
Other times, co op games can be much more relaxed, with friends working towards a single creative project or goal.
For Relaxing – Stardew Valley
Developed almost entirely by one man, Eric "ConcernedApe" Barone, Stardew Valley is one of those games with a simple concept pushed to fantastic heights.
Designed around farming and inspired heavily by the Harvest Moon series, Stardew Valley is about planting and caring for crops, raising animals, mining, fighting monsters, and much more.
The basis for Stardew Valley might sound silly, but in reality, it's one of the most relaxing co op games out there today. Expand your house, automate your crops, and enter village competitions to raise your profile.
With your eventual goal of getting married to one of the town's eligible bachelors or bachelorettes, there's no hurry in Stardew Valley, and that makes it a perfect relaxing game.
In co op mode, players can join in each other's farming efforts to help them along and to tackle the game's more demanding challenges. Together, you can cover twice the ground, and more quickly turn a farm from small to significant.
Of course, effort here isn't just for playing nice, as players can also share in the farming profit, so everyone ends up better off. In addition to all these cool features, players can also mod Stardew Valley to make the co op experience go even further.
For Creativity – Minecraft
Officially released back in 2011, Minecraft quickly skyrocketed in popularity. Now the best-selling video game of all time, Minecraft transcends barriers in many ways, including being one of the best co op games ever released.
Looking at Minecraft, many players are quick to dismiss the title as simple due to its blocky appearance. Though this is only natural, such an opinion does a disservice to just how deep the systems in Minecraft run.
Minecraft isn't only about mining and crafting, it also includes adventure, action, cooperation, competition, and setting foot in fantastical new landscapes and worlds.
When playing in co op mode, what there is to do depends on how you and your friends want to play. You might want to build an enormous castle together, or simply clear out a communal space for creative building projects.
You could also see how quickly you can get to and defeat the Ender Dragon, or level an entire forest. Fun in Minecraft is an expression of your creativity, where players get out what they put in.
For the Story – Final Fantasy 14
As the 14th mainline installment in the long-running RPG franchise, Final Fantasy 14 had a rocky launch. Originally seen as one of the worst co op games or MMORPGs in general, the game underwent a complete redesign and relaunch as FF14: A Realm Reborn.
Rather than the abomination that was the first attempt at the game, FF14: ARR was quickly regarded as not just a great MMORPG, but also a fantastic story-telling experience.
Now even more popular than World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy 14 is considered a masterpiece in MMO storytelling, and as one of the best co op games, players can easily share this story.
Each player in FF14 can play as any class, with the trademark heavy level of customization that every MMO player loves.
In co op mode, players can work together through the story, to see the twists and turns and occasionally shocking betrayals. From here, they can also team up for dungeons, world quests, and specific achievement rewards like mounts and costumes.
Just remember to consider having one person play a tank, to avoid that long dungeon queue time!
- How much does FF14 Cost?
The complete game up until the end of the first expansion now costs nothing for new players, so the MMO's place in great free co op games is all but undeniable.
- What are some free co-op games?
For players looking for more free experiences, big names like the PlayStation, Xbox, and Steam storefronts can illustrate similarly great places to start. We recommend Warframe, CS: GO, Apex Legends, and Dota 2 as a start.
For Adventure – Deep Rock Galactic
With both mining and crafting, players might be forgiven for thinking Deep Rock Galactic is a Minecraft rip-off. A few rounds exploring the depths of the mining planet as one of the four customizable classes will soon tell you that this game is anything but.
Deep Rock Galactic has the co op games philosophy born at the very core of its character, with each player taking a role that best suits them and their abilities. Whether gunning, engineering, scouting, or mining, everyone has a role, and if players want to compete on the harder difficulties, they're going to have to play this role well.
A highly customizable experience, Deep Rock Galactic can be as hardcore or as gentle as you and your co op games PC buddies like.
Boasting a fun art style, occasional moments of panic, and a button dedicated to cheering, this is one of those co op games that can't help but bring players closer together.
For Classic Action – Doom 2
Few games stood the test of time like the classic ID Software title Doom, and this is as true for co op play as it is the single-player experience.
As one of the original biggest co op games ever released, Doom was built around moving at break-neck speeds while dodging enemy fire and laying waste to the demon hordes.
Though all of the different classic Doom entries are great co op games, Doom 2 illustrates a perfect cross-section of challenge and approachability. Just be sure to use a modern source-port like GZDoom if you want to bring the game up to modern standards of resolution and frame rate.
Get together with your friends and rip and tear, until it is done.
Even better, while the Doom set of co op horror games were originally only on desktops, this limitation no longer applies. Today, the entire range of some of the best co-op games around can be played on PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, and even mobile.
- Do I have to play with only a keyboard?
No, you do not. As much as many of us played this way when the game was first released, the game was always designed for computer mice, so don't feel like you're cheating!
For Puzzles – Portal 2
If you're a fan of puzzle titles or just robot games in general, then Portal 2 is a must-play. Built on the foundation set by the original Portal, the co op mode in Portal 2 exists separately from the single-player campaign.
Here it includes multiplayer specific challenges that will push you to think in ways that no other co op games do.
Portal 2 is about finding ways to get both players to the exit through momentum, tricks, accuracy, and, of course, more than a few portals.
This is one of those titles where each puzzle requires a careful approach, where the eureka moment is always satisfying, even if the implementation can be challenging.
Though this is the type of co op games PC does best, thanks to a reliance on dexterous movement, players with strong controller expertise can also get in on consoles.
For the Hardcore – Cuphead
Cuphead has some of the most stylized and perfectly designed graphics in any video game ever released. It's also a game that thrives on difficulty, with its punishing levels and bosses at seeming odds with the game's cutesy retro-cartoonish style.
As a 2D shooter, Cuphead demands its players work on their reflexes, learn patterns, and implement precise jumps and movement techniques. Set against this fast-paced action are the hilariously jaunty animations which scream character and a project born of passion.
If you and your buddy don't mind co-op games that throw you against an ever-growing set of walls throughout this game, then Cuphead offers some of the best co op games challenges to come from the arena in years.
Make no mistake, you won't complete this game on your first attempt, or your tenth, so players need to temper themselves before they adopt the mantle of the Cuphead.
For the Loot – Borderlands 3
Sometimes you want to loot, sometimes you want to shoot, and sometimes you want to do both. This is exactly what players can expect with Borderlands 3, a co op looter-shooter from Gearbox.
As with the previous Borderlands games, players of BL3 can expect a strong comic book art style, larger-than-life characters, and, naturally, explosions.
Borderlands 3 has players choose one of four classes on their quest to open the fabled vaults and collect as much loot as they can carry.
In their way is the most eclectic group of baddies this side of Star Wars, and they want nothing more than to claim the Vault Hunter's hides for themselves.
While BL3 has many strengths, key among them is the ability to customize your character and abilities to your specific form of play. Aided by semi-randomized guns, shields, grenades, and even quests in some instances, co op players of Borderlands 3 will never really know what to expect.
For Platforming – Unravel 2
If you grew up on platforming titles, then you might lament how uncommon 2D platforming games have become. Enter Unravel 2, which combines old-school 2D platforming challenges with a level of charm and cooperative spirit that few titles can boast.
There's nothing in the way of direct combat in Unravel 2, rather the challenge comes from the maps and environmental threats that you have to avoid at all costs.
Tied together by a thread, co op players in Unravel jump, climb, swing, and run for their lives away from the hostile world.
Involving solid difficulty, puzzle elements, and the ability to occasionally hinder your partner (not that we ever would), Unravel 2 is a rarity in co-op games that we hope that gaming will eventually deliver more of.
The only real downside for this title is that multiplayer is local co op only.
- What are local co-op games?
These are titles where the game can be played on a single screen, with the players right next to each other. While this can introduce an extra level of fun, it can also be prohibitive for some players when it's the only multiplayer option.
With systems like Parsec or Shareplay, this limitation can sometimes be overcome.
For the Future – Elden Ring
The next big title from developer FromSoftware, Elden Ring is essentially a spiritual sequel to the Dark Souls series. As always, the main challenge in these games comes from playing them solo, but in Elden Ring, the game is based more on co op play than anything that came before.
Taking place in a much more open world than FromSoftware's earlier releases, Elden Ring could be a great way to explore a mysterious landscape and confront unknowable threats together.
At its core, it's one of the rare co op horror games, which could be a draw for enthusiasts of the genre. From what we've seen so far, players should expect to engage in a high level of character customization, with gear and stats reflecting your preferred playstyle.
In co op, the level of flexibility that Elden Ring offers is likely to place significant importance on the synergy between you and your play partner.
This could mean tank and ranged fighters working together, or it might manifest as two melee fighters doing their best to prove they're superior, it's up to you.
- Do I need to play the other FromSoftware titles first?
Elden Ring is set in its own world, so in that way, the answer is definitely no. That said, the other games are fantastic and might give you some insight into the new title's combat system, so they still might be worth a look.
Though these titles hardly illustrate a complete list of the best co-op games out there, they still easily make up some of the best the industry has to offer.
Whether playing at the edge of your seat or sitting back and joking around with friends and family, the above games should have something for everyone, even if your partner isn't the gamer you are.