Local co-op might’ve taken a nosedive in recent years, but multiplayer is still an intrinsic quality of some of the game community’s most popular genres, namely shooters and action/adventure. We want to take the time to highlight some of the best cooperative titles out right now, from wacky platformers to CRPGs. Here are ten games that you and your core group of friends shouldn’t ignore.
It Takes Two
It Takes Two is an imaginative case study on heavy topics like divorce and emotional trauma. As wooden/clay miniatures of parents Cody and May, you and a friend (locally or online) must survive angry bee armies, a threatening space monkey, and more to help rekindle the couple’s love and mend a troubled relationship with their distraught daughter, Rose. The journey to rebecoming life-sized versions of yourselves includes a delightful array of team-based mechanics. Cody and May often have individualistic abilities and can’t find success without assisting one another. Perhaps, you’ll be piloting a fighter plane, swerving out the way of tree branches, while your co-op partner engages in hand-to-hand combat with a militaristic squirrel atop the aircraft’s rickety wings. It Takes Two is a quirky love story that’ll bring you and your friend or significant other that much closer. | Our Review
Back 4 Blood
Back 4 Blood, like its zombie-slaying sister franchise, Left 4 Dead, pits four survivors against a horde of grotesque “Ridden” across an infested, decimated American landscape. The AI-operated Game Director creates variations in campaign playthroughs so that each level constantly feels unique. For instance, sometimes, the Ridden mobs will be relatively absent. Other times, you’ll fight to the death in daring boss battles. A card system adds more nuance to the gameplay as your crew enters matches with stat increases or entirely new abilities. What you spend your accumulated skill points on – extra lives for the squad or personal buffs – gives Back 4 Blood a satisfying class-building metagame. And if you’re in the mood to truly tighten your bonds (or tear them apart), queue into Swarm Mode to take on waves of player-controlled monstrosities. | Our Review
Studio MDHR’s homage to retro cartoons and run and guns is about reaction speed, perseverance, and communication. Cuphead is far more than its vintage, hand-drawn aesthetic. Behind a welcoming theme park backdrop and jazz-inspired score lie sneering medusas and three-headed dragons. You and a friend hop into the brown loafers of Cuphead and Mugman to defeat the wily debtors of Lucifer himself throughout an arduous odyssey where minor mistakes meet swift punishment. However, the game also rewards chemistry. Weapon types – like homing bullets – ultimates, and special abilities (called charms) add cool variances to the freneticism. Whether you’re slaying an animated birdhouse in aviary combat or stomping out a mustachioed cigar, Cuphead is a fantastic cooperative title that perfectly balances both pain and pleasure. | Our Review
It is important to keep in mind what is going on within Activision Blizzard at this time regarding ongoing allegations about the work culture. The ongoing lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) against the company is over-reported toxic workplace culture. The bulk of the suit focuses on "violations of the state's civil rights and equal pay laws," specifically regarding the treatment of women and other marginalized groups. To learn more about the proceedings thus far, including details listed in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, please check out our previous coverage here.
So, you and your pals downloaded Destiny 2 and don’t know where to start. That’s fair. Bungie’s latest space opera series has an overwhelming amount of content. Expansions like Shadowkeep and Beyond Light (to name a few) come with enticing lore, locations, gear, and missions – the features that make the game so timeless and iterative. Destiny 2 might not be the most accessible entry on this list, but it gracefully leaps over this hurdle with fun endgame challenges prioritizing gunplay, strategy, and synchronization. Your squad might choose to play Crucible and prove their skills to the world. Or, they might opt to try out Destiny 2’s popular PvE playlists. Raids are the ultimate test, forcing six players to survive high-stakes scenarios for hours on end. Yet, emerging victorious from these legendary bouts with a dedicated fireteam is always worth the immense effort and time sink. | Our Review
Diablo II: Resurrected
Diablo II: Resurrected is wonderful ARPG nostalgia repackaged with a 4K sheen. Grim isometric environments come to life like never before in Blizzard’s classic 2000 dungeon-crawler. Matchmake (on console) or create lobbies (on PC) to vanquish legions of grotesque ghouls and defeat the deific Lord of Terror himself. With such a high player count, you’re better off prioritizing team-friendly builds to breeze through skirmishes and boss encounters. Watching casters like the Sorceress or Necromancer fill the battlefield with elemental attacks and summons, respectively, while melee fighters like the Barbarian and Paladin cover the flanks never gets old. | Our Review
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the most acclaimed western RPGs in recent memory and the highest-rated game on this list. Brimming with an ensemble cast of oddball characters as well as an open-ended, choice-driven approach to almost every situation, you’ll occasionally find yourself overwhelmed with Original Sin 2’s sheer depth. Spice things up by adding three other players (or one more for split-screen) to the mix. In Original Sin 2, the actions of your player-controlled party members can lead to unexpected emergent/divergent narratives. Deviants might get you in trouble with the law or other NPCs, while altruistic supporters do the opposite. Throw in turn-based combat, and that same chaotic quality bleeds into every aspect of the game. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is sort of like playing through a J.R.R. Tolkien novel with a party of your favorite genre fiction pals. | Our Review
Monster Hunter Rise
Monster Hunter Rise didn’t immediately impress us as much as World did, but venturing beyond the gates of Kamura Village with others guarantees exciting engagements. For example, mounting (wyvern riding) the Magnamalo while three other hunters buffet the malicious beast with charge-blade artillery, coated arrows, and hunting horn strikes is when Rise truly shines. But let’s not just forget about experiencing the game’s quieter, more immersive moments with friends: sprinting through lush forests teeming with unique fauna, galloping down ruined villages with a pack of multi-colored palamutes, or grappling/climbing ancient temples to the tune of an epic orchestral soundtrack. Even playing the lackluster tower defense “rampage quests” with companions is a treat. Rise is a solid Monster Hunter entry made way better with a dedicated friend group. | Our Review
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves didn’t set sail as smoothly as Rare wanted it to. Initially plagued by a lack of noteworthy content and task diversity, these issues have since been remedied with “seasons” of deliverables, including new cosmetics, missions, and PvP/PvE support. And now that the legendary swashbuckler himself, Jack Sparrow, is a full-fledged member of your seafaring posse, there’s never been a better time to be a pirate. Grab a troupe of gold-loving deviants and take to the endless blue waters while staying a few nautical miles ahead of tentacled krakens, leviathan sharks, and Davy Jones. When all is said and done, drag your collected treasure chests onto the ship’s bow, then break out the mugs and accordions. Leading up to its release, Rare emphasized that Sea of Thieves is a “pirate simulator.” This statement still rings true today. Now, go grab four people with sturdy sea legs and dive in. | Our Review
Ever found yourself surfing the horror section of YouTube, watching clips or low-quality reruns of Ghost Hunters with a bunch of friends? Phasmophobia lets you live out those paranormal fantasies. A first-person perspective throws you and your buds right into the action, exploring abandoned cabins in the woods, maze-like high schools, and sterile prison complexes with faulty flashlights, wooden crosses, camcorders, etc. There’s nothing quite like entering a seemingly vacant (and frostbite-cold) garage and watching your avatar’s shaky breaths become visible wintry whisps. When that ax-wielding animated corpse or nightgowned wraith comes rushing around a blind corner, the hairs on the back of everyone’s neck are bound to stand up, followed by a flurry of laughs and screams. Simply put, Phasmophobia is wicked fun.
Didn’t see this entry coming, did you? Tabletop Simulator beat out other heavyweight co-op titles because of its unparalleled uniqueness. There might’ve been a time when analog games only appealed to a niche audience, but nowadays (especially during a pandemic), gathering around a virtual table to roll dice, read cards, or place tokens is a solid game night option. Hell, you can even flip the table if you get frustrated! There’s an unfathomable number of multiplayer titles to check out – we recommend Hanabi and Betrayal at House on the Hill. Moreover, creation tools offer a rare chance to make your own tabletop projects. And let’s be honest, designing games with friends is a cooperative/collaborative experience like no other.
Are we missing any of your co-op favorites? Let us know in the comments section! If you enjoyed reading this, check out some other genre top 10s by clicking on our “List of Lists” hub below.