Before the age of Warzone and Elden Ring, friends used to sit on their couches, grab a few controllers, and enjoy their favorite co-op games. With far too many to mention and a muddy definition of “co-op” to navigate, we’ve done our best to compile the ten best co-op games of all time.
From side-scrolling adventures to military-grade tactics, these games all require high cooperation skills to come out on top. With some modern favorites and a few classic throwbacks, here are the 10 best co-op games of all time.
Think of every video game you’ve ever played. Go ahead; we’ll give you a second. It Takes Two, 2021’s stand-out co-op adventure from Hazelight Studios, includes at least one mechanic from every game on that list. From Tekken-style bouts with squirrels to grinding rails like Sonic the Hedgehog, It Takes Two gives gaming partners everything they could ever want.
You play as May and Cody, who, unfortunately, are two parents in the middle of a divorce. Their daughter, Rose, takes to the shed to play with her dolls that eerily resemble her parents. After dropping a few magic tears on the dolls, May and Cody become trapped in their tiny bodies. On a quest to make it back to their human forms, the couple learns to mend their relationship thanks to the help of Dr. Hakin, an anthropomorphic relationship book with plenty to say.Each level in It Takes Two provides May and Cody with unique new powers that complement each other. Sometimes, you’ll play more traditional split-screen missions. Other times, you’ll share the screen on a side-scrolling adventure. May and Cody must work together to solve all sorts of puzzles, from simple connect-the-dot challenges to drawing on an Etch-A-Sketch (which is a lot harder than it sounds).
In Unravel Two, co-op players control a pair of unnamed yarn creatures called Yarnies. For the sake of this article, we’ll call them Red and Blue. However, you’re free to change their color and appearance at any time, but more on that later.
Red washes up on the shore after a storm ravages their home. Red meets Blue, and the two tie their loose ends together to form an unbreakable bond. In this side-scrolling co-op adventure, Red and Blue use each other to swing between obstacles, hoist themselves up, and solve complex puzzles.
In the blurred background, Unravel Two follows the story of two children running from an abusive family. As Red and Blue interact with the environment, they help the children escape. However, Red and Blue have their own problems, such as a rabid turkey chasing them through the forest or crawling ash enemies that’ll incinerate them with one touch.
Suppose you’re looking for an extra challenge. Unravel Two also features several challenge levels that reward you with new cosmetics for your Yarnies. Each challenge features a new Yarny friend stuck in a precarious situation, one that’s far more difficult than anything you encountered in the campaign. These challenges are complicated, so don’t get all knotted up if you can’t beat them.
Back 4 Blood charged the gaming scene but never eclipsed its predecessor. Left 4 Dead 2 is, and probably always will be, the most highly regarded co-op zombie game of all time. By building on (without overdoing) the original Left 4 Dead, the sequel gave players what they were looking for in chaotic, zombie-killing fashion.
The “Green Flu” transformed most of the world into zombies and zombie-like monsters. Now, Coach, Ellis, Nick, and Rochelle are staring down the barrel of a vast zombie horde with only their natural immunity to keep them safe. They’ll play through five primary campaigns, each featuring several chapters similar to the first game. Left 4 Dead 2 also received several DLC packages, including The Passing and The Sacrifice, for adding co-op fun.
When you get sick of playing with your friends, Left 4 Dead 2 features a more competitive Versus mode, pitting four humans against four special infected. While both sides maintain Left 4 Dead 2’s cooperative nature, the competitive sprinkle is an excellent change of pace. If you’re looking for more difficulty in your life, try Realism mode, a test that strips all the video game mechanics, pitting you against the zombie horde in a do-or-die situation.
If you’ve ever worked in the restaurant industry, either in the front or back-of-house, do yourself a favor and don’t play Overcooked: All You Can Eat. All those stressful kitchen memories will come roaring back, and you’ll find yourself reliving your busiest, most chaotic Saturday night. However, if stressful absurdity is your thing, then Overcooked: All You Can Eat is the game for you!
All You Can Eat is a bundle including a remastered version of Overcooked and the sequel, Overcooked 2. In both games, two players control a pair of chefs with one basic task: make food. However, you’ll never work in anything that resembles an ergonomic kitchen. Orders never stop coming, and something is usually burning. You’ll chop, mix, cook, deliver, and clean dishes to hungry guests who don’t care if you have to cross Midtown traffic to grab an onion.
Overcooked: All You Can Eat makes Hell’s Kitchen look like Betty Crocker. Each level puts you in a new kitchen with all sorts of obstacles to overcome. You’ll need to coordinate with your other chef to get orders out in the most efficient way possible. It’s easy enough when you’re just making soup, but cooking cheeseburgers on the back of two semi-trucks barreling down the highway takes things to the next level. Still, Chef Ramsay would find a reason to call you a donut.
After an evil wizard kidnaps four princesses and steals your magic crystal, it’s up to you and your companions to travel across vast lands full of barbarians and thieves to rescue your loves and defeat the wizard. You’ll also encounter plenty of toilet-humor enemies and beings of nightmare fuel along the way.
Castle Crashers is a side-scrolling beat-em-up adventure including several RPG mechanics. You’ll earn XP and level up your characters, allocating skill points to one of four attributes. You come across various shops as you progress through the campaign where you can buy potions, weapons, bombs, and pets to aid you on your quest. At the end of each chapter, players square off against one another in an arena-style deathmatch to see who will win the princess’s heart.
Each starting character also has a unique elemental damage buff like poison, ice, and fire. Between progressing the game and DLC, there are 31 available characters to choose from.
Castle Crashers: Remastered took the 2008 base game and brought it up to 2015 standards. As of 2022, Castle Crashers Remastered is available across all consoles. Unfortunately, Castle Crashers is not cross-platform, so only knights on the same console can quest together. Still, Castle Crashers is one of the best co-op games of all time for its humor, gameplay, and accessibility.
We’re going back in time for this one, to a time when you could only play co-op games at the local arcade, and they cost you a stack of quarters. In the original 1986 version of Rampage, up to three players could take control of their favorite monsters. Their goal was to cause as much destruction as possible before the military ended their antics.
However, these “monsters” weren’t monsters at all. They’re actually humans who’ve transformed into giant beasts after several scientific accidents. George morphs into a Kong-like gorilla monster after taking an experimental vitamin. Lizzie falls into a radioactive lake and turns into a giant reptilian beast. And Ralph, after consuming an experimental food additive, turns into a giant werewolf.
Since its early arcade days, Rampage went on to have four follow-up titles and a spin-off puzzle game called Rampage Puzzle Attack for GameBoy Advance. In 2009, Warner Bros bought Rampage developer Midway games, assuming the rights to the Rampage franchise. The 2018 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Film may not have lived up to the glory of its inspiration, but Rampage will always hold a special place in the hearts of vintage co-op gaming fans.
Split screen in a first-person shooter? What is this, 2005? No, this is Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, a spin-off title from the Borderlands universe accommodating to couch co-op fans. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands was inspired by Assault on Dragon Keep, a short DLC campaign that took players deep into the imaginative mind of their favorite NPC, Tiny Tina. Reception for the add-on was so overwhelmingly positive that developers at Gearbox knew they had to run with the idea.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands takes place inside Tiny Tina’s imagination. You play through her Bunkers & Badasses (Dungeons & Dragons) campaign, battling high-fantasy enemies with the Borderlands-style weapons you know and love. Your grenades are replaced with spells, and each character comes with unique abilities and skill trees to level up.
While Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands (and Borderlands in general) is primarily a single-player game, it still supports local and online co-op. The game makes it easy for anybody to jump into a campaign at any time, as it scales enemies to meet player levels instead of the inverse. For example, if a level 1 player joins a level 20 player, the former will encounter level 1 enemies while the latter will encounter level 20 enemies while playing in the same world at the same time. In short, you never have to worry about being over-leveled or under-leveled.
As the best-selling PC game of 2012 (with 12 million copies sold), Diablo III holds the crown as king of the top-down RPG co-op games. With several expansion packs like Reaper of Souls and Rise of Necromancer, Diablo III maintains a dedicated fan base, patiently awaiting the next installment.
In Diablo III, players choose from one of seven RPG-style characters, embarking on a top-down quest to defeat Lord of Terror, Diablo, the franchise’s familiar antagonist. You’ll find randomly generated gear to power yourself up with perks and enchantments. Each class must learn to work together in Diablo III, cementing its place among the best co-op games of all time.
Classes in Diablo III include characters like The Witch Doctor (our personal favorite), who can spawn companions to aid their team in battle. You could also opt for the elemental Wizard class or try your hand at the assassin-style Demon Hunter. If you’re up for a real challenge, you can dive into Diablo III’s hardcore mode that runs on a perma-death system. Once you reach level 10, you can turn that character into a hardcore character. However, if that character dies, that’s it. They stay dead.
A Tom Clancy game? On a list about co-op games? Well, what is a co-op game, if not one that requires teamwork, coordination, communication, and strategy? All of those get wrapped up in Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege.
This first-person tactical shooter pits two teams against each other, attackers and defenders. Defenders have one minute to set up their defenses while the attackers use drones to scout the map, searching for enemy operators, booby traps, and defensive measures.
Once the round beings, the attackers have one of several goals to complete, including hostage extraction and defusing bombs. Players can’t respawn, so the round also ends when all operators on either team die. As for those operators, you can choose from 67 different characters, each with unique abilities and weapons.
Many Siege operators appear in 2022’s Rainbow Six: Extraction, a more PvE-based co-op game pitting players against a horde of extraterrestrial invaders. Rainbow Six: Extraction was inspired by a Siege LTM called Operation Chimera in 2018, similar to how Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands came out of the Borderlands DLC.
Would the best co-op games of all time list be complete without something from Capcom’s resume? While Resident Evil sports several co-op mechanics, nothing is as team-focused as Monster Hunter World. Though you don’t have to play with a partner, Monster Hunter World becomes exponentially better when up to four hunters square off against giant elemental beasts.
As a lowly hunter in the “New World,” it’s your job to venture out into the wilderness and take down dangerous monsters for study and protection. While Monster Hunter World doesn’t feature traditional RPG stats, you can fully customize your gear and weapons to build the perfect character.
To play together, friends send out invites while hosting a private session. They can also create and join squads to streamline the process. However, low-level characters cannot join high-level worlds. Thankfully, high-level characters can scale down to their low-level friends.
While adventuring on your own, your Palico (your sentient cat-like warrior friend) aids you in battle. In groups of two, both players’ Palicos come along with them. However, four-player squads must fight monsters on their own without the help of their furry friends.
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