‘Portal 2’ (PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One via backward compatibility)
Portal 2‘s dedicated cooperative mode is the perfect choice for couples in the mood to use their noodles. You’ll find that completing stages with the help of your loved one is far trickier than expected, and though you might want to throw your controller in frustration, eventually the two of you will get in sync and take down Aperture’s obstacles with ease.
Playing the campaign mode with a second player helping out is also a lot of fun. Solving — and failing — puzzles with a friend makes for even more fun than you can get in most games’ dedicated multiplayer modes, and user-made levels will keep you hooked longer after you’ve finished the content included with the game at launch. If one player is struggling, their partner can always grab the controller and show them how it’s done.
‘Rayman Legends’ (PC, Switch, PS3, PS4, Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Rayman Legends is a tremendous test of platforming prowess, but its cooperative mode makes it the perfect choice for players of different skill levels. Losing all of your health isn’t the end of the road, as your partner can “pop” you like a balloon to get you back in the action. It’s a feature exclusive to cooperative play, and it makes approaching each level strategic but low-stress.
The puzzle-like Murfy sections are also playable cooperatively, but only if you have one of the older versions of the game, such as the original Wii U release. Here, one player can control the Murfy character as he solves puzzles, while the other player can stick to traditional platforming. But it’s the musical stages that will have you and your partner glued to your console, as they perfectly capture the series’ whimsy and optimism. With the two of you jumping and running along to a kazoo version of Eye of the Tiger, you’ll feel like you’re ready to conquer the world.
‘Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’ (Switch)
The Mario Kart series has always been a great choice for couples, as its somewhat random item system means that even if one player has a significant skill advantage over the other, they’re still going to lose at least a few races. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is no different, and it mixes in gravity-defying racing with classic courses dating back to the SNES era.
On the Nintendo Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is perfect for two players, as they can play it docked in the television or in “tabletop” mode with two Joy-Con controllers turned sideways. No matter where you go — dinner, the park, the back of a car, even the airport — you two will eating each other’s dust.
‘Life is Strange’ (iOS, PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Dontnod Entertainment’s Life is Strange doesn’t feature a cooperative or competitive mode, but, like many dialogue-heavy adventure games, it’s a great choice for playing as a pair. You and your partner can make dialogue decisions together and experience Max and Chloe’s journey as it happens, and it when it comes time to make a choice that will drastically affect the story, you’ll have to give it some extra thought. You can also pass the controller back and forth, allowing whoever currently holds it complete control over the story until they give it back.
As it’s split into several short episodes, Life is Strange (and its prequel, Before the Storm) are perfect for quick play sessions with your significant other, so you can play it for a few hours before going to bed and let your minds wander with theories about its story. It isn’t the only adventure game best played with two people, but it is one of the most emotional.
‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ (PC, Xbox One)
Sure, you might think of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds as an “every man for himself” game, but it literally has a game mode made for two. Instead of going solo or as part of a squad, maybe try some “duos” matches with your partner.
In PUBG, You and one other player are team up against 50 other two-person teams, scavenging and shooting to become the last pair standing on a constantly shrinking map. Playing with a partner opens up the door for new strategies. You can “bait” other players, pretending to frantically search in an open field, to lure them into your partner’s waiting crosshairs. A chicken dinner for one is great, but chicken dinner for two is as romantic as it gets.
‘Splinter Cell Blacklist’ (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Wii U)
Sam Fisher is usually a lone wolf, but he’s still able to work with a partner when the need arises. The latest Ubisoft’s quasi-dormant stealth-action Splinter Cell franchise, 2013’s Splinter Cell Blacklist features a series of short cooperative missions that require two partners to work in perfect harmony, and certain areas are only accessible using cooperative boost abilities.
Unlike other stealth games, getting spotted or even captured isn’t an automatic “game over” in Splinter Cell Blacklist. If one player is grabbed and taken hostage by an enemy, they can be rescued by their partner and a carefully-placed headshot. It makes for extremely tense encounters, and when the two of you make full use of your special “mark and execute” ability, you can easily take down a room of combatants in a matter of seconds. Though the game is available on the Wii U, that version does not support split-screen cooperative play, so it’s best enjoyed on other platforms.
‘Ghost Recon Wildlands’ (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)
If Splinter Cell Blacklist is about precision and efficiency, then squad-based sandbox shooter Ghost Recon Wildlands is about all-out chaos and experimentation. Set in an absolutely enormous rednition of Bolivia, the game is fully playable in cooperative mode, with AI soldiers filling out your four-person squad if you play alone with your partner. Though you can order your computer-controlled teammates to perform special “sync shots” and a few other abilities, having a real player by your side makes the experience of taking down troop as a team feel much more special.
You and your squadmate can complete each mission stealthily with precise plans and a few bullets, but you can also just jump into the fray and cause chaos with mortar strikes, missiles, and helicopter gunships.
‘Cuphead’ (Xbox One, PC)
Cuphead is one of the hardest games of the generation so far, and when played as a single-player run-and-gun, it can be almost impossible. The bosses are brutal, you can only take a few hits before being defeated, and the amount of projectiles on the screen at any one time is comical. But if you add another player into the mix, you can have a constant stream of fire aimed at enemies while the other player works on keeping the two of you safe from attacks. Plus, in co-op, you and your partner can save each other from the brink of death by rushing to their side when they’ve run out of health.
Updated Life is Strange section, which previously listed the Android version. It is scheduled to arrive in 2018.