Looking for games that you can play with a good group of friends or a loved one, and really get stuck into and enjoy? Here’s my list of the best cooperative games out there! I’ve specifically kept team-based multiplayers out of this list, as I just wanted to focus on games you play against the machine and not against other humans.
Before you get started please keep in mind the following games that while I own or have been recommended to play, I’ve not yet gotten around to them! They’re on my list to get to ‘one day’, and may or may not be amazing.
- Earth Defense Force 4.1
- Castle Crashers
11. Serious Sam (First / Second Encounter)
Best Played: On PC, on LAN
Platform: Pretty much everything
Genre: Fist Person Shooter
Players: Not sure… at least 4!
- Crazy unlimited ammo
- Unmitigated cluster-fuck of all the things
- Headless guys holding bombs
- Skeleton horse… things…
At the time of writing this article, old Serious Sam is damn near old enough to legally drink here in Australia, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still the most ridiculous fun and fast paced slog-fest of a shooter around (plus they remastered it… and made a billion spin-offs and sequels).
Serious Sam is one of those games that you play late at night when you’re having a LAN and you’ve over-played the super amazing games but you don’t want to go to sleep. Enter Sam’s (yes.. You’re all Sam!) gun blazing quest to defeat Mental and it’ll be sun-rise before you know it. The Sam series is pretty much one monstrous firefight from start to finish, with the later levels becoming a complete flood of bad guys to the tune of expansive plains with… I dunno… let’s guess around 200+ enemies on screen at once, and all running straight for you.
It’s simple, it’s colourful, and it’s a whole lot of fun!
10. Killing Floor
Best Played: On LAN
Genre: First Person Shooter
- Teamwork Mechanics
- Satisfaction of Surviving
- Madly fleeing from large terrifying ZEDs
Killing Floor makes this list off as I honestly haven’t played Killing Floor 2, which is sure to have improved on something.. But the original game is just a ton of fun. More or less a ‘wave shooter’ in FPS form, you get an extreme satisfaction from working together to survive the onslaught and then racing each other to get to Trader and buy ammo, armour and upgrades. The enemies are horrifying, some are deadset (ha!) over powered, and they come from absolutely everywhere. It’s fast and frantic FPS at it’s finest and it’s even more fun if you ditch online comms and just play on LAN where you can scream at each other!
9. Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine
Best Played: On the couch with friends over
Platform: PC, Linux, Mac, X360
Genre: Top-down Action / Stealth
- Top-down perspective
- Minimalist design
- Die/Revive mechanic
- Colour scheme makes it hard to see sometimes
I absolutely love a good heist. Heist movies or heist games, I just love seeing things stolen successfully.. I dunno why, It’s a guy thing I think. Monaco has a beautifully crafted mix of strategic play and casual tom-foolery about it with some great character archetypes to choose from. While it’s a little odd (for me) having more characters available than playable, the way the game plays out in ‘acts’ is very enjoyable. The game scored rather high in review scores when released, despite a few less than favourable comments by notable reviewers. It’s a good bit of fun, but likely only going to last a solid night or two with the gang.
8. Zombie Army Trilogy
Best Played: Online
Platform: PC, PS4, XB1
Genre: First Person Shooter
- X-Ray Kill Cam
- Survival horror aspects
- Feels like a solo game, with friends!
- Some game mechanics
Two remastered games and a brand new one, all in the same bundle, what more could you want?! Well… probably a lot more but that’s not the point. You and your squad find yourself in the thick of a version (read: alternate reality) of WWII against Hitler’s zombie army, and you’ll have to bolt-action your way from checkpoint to checkpoint in order to face off against GIANT ZOMBIE HITLER… really.
Born out of Sniper Elite V2 DLC and featuring the same FPS mechanics, ZAT’s appeal comes from methodically popping heads with your fellow jugheads level by level for that sweet sweet feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing a video game. With so many ‘quick-hit’ games around (like those later on this list!), this one is refreshing because you’re goal is to finish it so it’s done, finito. It also has an awesome slow-mo x-ray cam whenever you headshot enemies, however if you’re a good shot it get’s repetitive in the first level or 2 and the need to skip it just ends up disjointing gameplay. All the same, it’s made the list and definitely increases the bond with your mates when the four of you successfully defeat the game to move on to another.
7. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Best Played: On VR with manual reader on a comfy lounge
Platform: PC, Mac, Android, PS4
- VR immersion
- Promotes descriptive communications
- Actually builds teamwork
- VR controls can be a little janky
Keep Talking is an absolute gem of a game if you’re looking to introduce legitimate fun into a working environment. The level of communication required for this game guarantee’s increased levels of communication for all players as they get better and better, along with quick and methodical thinking. As the timer counts down and the ambience quickens, it’s hard not to panic on some of the harder bombs where you know you’re going to fail if you don’t set every foot right.
This game is also a rare case of being cooperative but best played with player 2 on a different device to read the bomb manual, I’d suggest a tablet, or worst case a printed out copy of it. It’s a whole lot of fun and gratification in a very unique way, and certainly one of the best uses of VR in the gaming space that I’ve seen so far.
6. Super One More Jump
Best Played: Couch with mates
- Simplistic Design
Super One More Jump is a very new game that’s landed on the Nintendo Switch just in the last month or so. It’s a very simple LOOKING game that brings a hilarious difficulty factor that will make you laugh until you get serious, then until you cry. The entire game (bar menu navigation..) is played with a single button, it’s got retro-styled graphics, and you can literally do nothing except jump… and it’s absolutely great!
SOMJ has made my list purely because of it’s party mode where each player has an assigned colour and those colours are used per platform. The result is something akin to absolute madness where your character has to jump from platform to platform relying on all four players to be watching the screen, paying attention, and pressing their button at the right time.
Sounds simple, but really isnt! Lot’s of laughs if you try and do it with 4 people.
5. Alien Swarm
Best Played: Online or LAN
Genre: Top-down Shooter
- Top-down perspective
- Requires teamwork to survive
- OP melee attack
- Custom mp3’s in action sequences
- Mouse control / sensitivity / turning
Did you know Alien Swarm is a re-make (or re-imagining as the original was FPS) of an Unreal Tournament 2004 mod? Well now you do. In fact the team that created that mod also worked on Left4Dead, so it’s no surprise that putting a team together is so easy as the two games use the same party system, utilising your Steam friends list. The game is set in the same environmental archetype as Ridley Scott’s Alien and Games Workshops Space Hulk, where you’re Valves particular brand of space marine fighting your way from base to base through the oncoming horde of Valves particular brand of aliens; and shit gets intense real quick.
You’re party has 8 characters (4 types) to choose from (max of 2 of any particular character type), and the only real catch is that you pretty much need a Tech most of the time. Other than that you can be whatever you like and give every level a red hot crack. With lots of run and gun action while absolutely needing to keep an eye on your teammates, this game can go from a walk in the park to utter bedlam in seconds. Good for at least 3 or 4 nights with a skilled team of 4. Just master the melee attack and you’ll find it a whoooooole lot easier.
Best Played: Online
Platform: PC and morder consoles
Genre: First Person Shooter
- Heisting with a crew
- Skill tree’s / level system
- Movement / FPS mechanics
- Imbalance in playing with higher levels
For all its flaws (and there are many), PAYDAY2 is incredibly fun if you go start to finish with a solid crew. Leveling up together and making group decisions on who takes what path up the skill tree leads to an incredibly rewarding experience as you make your way through countless levels and scenarios as a team. In many ways this game is the epitome of a co-op game and after a few years on the market has just become so expansive that it’s almost impossible to see everything.
At basics, you’re 4 criminals that rob banks, but you can also be a high stealth unit, explosives experts, ‘influencers’ that can turn police loyalty just by yelling at them, and much much more. The game itself and the developers have be marred by the microtransaction economy and safes (loot boxes) leading to a decline in fan base and social controversy.
Across all missions and character skill types there is a staggering amount to learn, test, and play with, but it all boils down to a very fun experience that requires solid teamwork to be a successful criminal.
3. Diablo (Series)
Best Played: On LAN / Couch if D3
Platform: PC, Mac, X360, XB1, PS1, PS3, PS4
- RPG archetypes
- Ultra-pro players
The Diablo series has been around for a long time now (20+ years) and each of the three games has been a refreshed yet similar adventure, AND each has been a smash hit both in fun and commercial success. While any of these games are great to pickup and play, for the purposes of this list I will say my preference is that if you’re going for a long and extended LAN session with mates then I would recommend playing Diablo II. If you’re looking for a couple of weeks of casual gaming of an evening with a loved one or child etc, then I would recommend Diablo III on one of the modern consoles.
They’re all classic adventures using well crafted character archetypes, and the only RPG’s that have made my list! Whether you enjoy playing the Barbarian with brute strength, a Mage with spells, or a long range class to keep a safe distance, the Diablo series has something for everyone… as long as you like clicking the mouse.
2. GTA V
Best Played: Online (PC)
Platform: PC, X360, XB1, PS1, PS3, PS4
Genre: Action / Adventure
- Crazy GTA action
- Expansive world
- Not much..
GTA is one of the most well-crafted and expansive online universes ever created, and offers players the freedom to do almost anything. Sports, mini games, racing, gang takedowns, and more – you can really pick your path around GTA V, or follow the standard storyline.
It’s great for relaxed gaming nights online with your mates on voice chat together as you rip through San Andreas like the hardcore pimp gangster thugs you’ll never actually be. GTA V really caters for anything you feel like doing whether it’s challenging your mate to some tennis or a car races, or a sophisticated prison break with party members splitting up to perform different objectives. The freedom and smooth gameplay adds to the experience as you’ll spend hours, days, weeks.. Completing more and more of the missions scattered all over the gigantic city.
Best Played: XB1 on the couch
Platform: PC, Switch, XB1, PS4
Players: 1-4 (2 player is co-op)
- Hilarious Gameplay
- Simple but challenging game mechanics
- Can’t play 4P co-op
- Could use more modes/levels
As young boy growing up with Atari there was a particular (well… many, but one for dramatic effect) game that I always loved with a passion. Pressure Cooker, the closest thing to a cooking simulator you’ll find on the Atari – and it was FUN. Simple gameplay but challenging, and so much fun. Enter Overcooked, a game that screams Pressure Cooker but has the luxury of all the modern day game mechanics, controls, and of course the amazing Ghost Town Games with Team17‘s publishing prowess.
Overcooked is one of those games that will give you lasting memories of amazing teamwork, or bitter saltiness of your co-chef not being good enough. For me, it was the former and my wife and I proudly defeated the beast (end boss) and hi-5’d each other for every completed level along the way. You just can’t explain how a cooking simulator can be so adrenaline pumping and gratifying when you accomplish the goal, but it can so trust me. Definitely a shining star in co-operative games, anyone that likes teamwork should get themselves a copy of Overcooked and see how far you can get before you’re ready to tip boiling oil over your teammate IRL.