Playing a couch co-op game offline via split screen or system-link or playing it online – is there anything more enjoyable in gaming? Here is a list of games you really should play with other humans before you one day kick the bucket. It’s a mix of old, new and perhaps one or two games you were not aware had co-op. Whatever you do, be sure not to miss these co-op classics:
Gears of War (Xbox 360, Xbox One – 2-players)
It’s the game that brought that co-op feeling back to modern times, which become less popular over the years. Since the release of this co-op third-person cover-based action game other titles made an attempt at matching the co-op, but nothing has come close to chainsawing and running for your life to save your downed comrade. Online, system link or split-screen – it was (and is on Xbox One) a blast!
Rayman Legends (Just about any format you can think of – 4-players)
Rayman Origins might be the game that brought the Rayman franchise back to life, but it’s Rayman Legends that perfected it. Think of this as platforming perfection. Add 3 other players into the mix and it’s made up of mayhem and laughter. Rhythm-based levels tied in with colourful platforming and a difficulty that will test any veteran platformer and you’re left with one of the best platformers ever made. Keep in mind, this is only a couch co-op game.
Halo 3 (Xbox 360, Xbox One – 4-players)
Halo 2 got the co-op plans going for this series, but it’s Halo 3 that included a 4-player online co-op campaign that’s since been part of the default setup for any Halo game. Taking on the Covenant never felt so good and being the first to claim the turret on a Warthog has become a mini-race of sorts since then. Like Gears of War you could play this as an online, system-link or split-screen co-op game.
Contra (Arcade, NES, PC, XBL, PSN – 2-players)
The game that brought co-op gaming to your lounge. Who could ever forget that first stage soundtrack? Having a buddy by your side made this side-scrolling action game all the better. There was always a fight for the Spreader ammo and, should you be a bit of a dick, you could steal the lives of your friend once your lives ran dry – unless you used the infamous Konami code. Obviously this was only an offline co-op game, but still deserves your attention.
Portal 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 – 2-players)
How to make a classic better? Make it a co-op experience. This puzzle-based first-person game was another classic from Valve that required your undivided attention and concentration to crack each puzzle. Having a friend around to help you resolve each brainteaser? Priceless. What made this co-op game special in particular is that there was cross-platform integration between the PC and PS3. More games could learn from this.
Gunstar Heroes (SEGA Mega Drive, Wii Virtual Console, PSN, XBLA, PC – 2-players)
Released towards the end of the SEGA MegaDrive’s reign, Gunstar Heroes was developed by Treasure – a term that describes this title quite well. This action side-scroller allowed you to combine weapons to create some really cool weapon types and had the most advanced gameplay mechanics and boss fights of its time. Play it today and it’s just as addictive as it was back then. It’s just that’s it’s best played with a friend. Without another player by your side this game is just about impossible to beat.
Dying Light (PC, PS4, Xbox One – 4-players)
Made by the folks who brought you the original Dead Island outing – Dying Light was another zombie game, but this time it allowed you to play it online with 3 other players. It made the world of difference as it made you feel like you’re all in this mess together. Taking on random zombies and discovering new items together made it a ‘co-op group game’ to remember. Also, it had grown men screaming like little girls. What’s better than witnessing that?
New Super Mario Bros.Wii (Wii – 4-players)
Before Rayman Origins there was Super Mario Bros. Wii. For the first time you could have 3 other players join you in your efforts to save that silly Princess Peach who got herself kidnapped again. The level design was absolutely amazing and accommodated the extra players on-screen. There was however that one bastard who’d steal all the items, leaving the others without any shrooms. Good thing this is only an offline couch co-op game. You get the punch people right next to you instead.
Castle Crashers (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One – 4-players)
Made up of humour, humour and more humour. Castle Crashers is easily one of the best co-op classics that’s been released over several platforms in the modern era. When you weren’t beating the snot out of foes you were riding a Deer with serious diarrhoea issues. Nothing was to be taken serious, expect perhaps the difficulty. It’s a tough adventure, but it’s well worth the effort in a 4-player online co-op game.
Left 4 Dead 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 – 4-players)
Mention the word ‘Witch’ and any Left 4 Dead player will be running for the hills. This is probably still the best zombie game that’s ever been released and requires teamwork like no other co-op game. The Boomer, Hunter, Smoker and Tank had you all change up your strategy midway in all the chaos and should you make it to a safe house you’d all discuss ‘just how amazing you were at something’ before moving on. The best kind of stressful online 4-player co-op gaming in existence.
Double Dragon (Arcade, PC, XBLA, PSN – 2-players)
This is where it all started for most – in the arcades. Billy Lee and Jimmy must save their (yes, their, at this stage) girlfriend from the baddies. Yup, very much an 80’s theme. Together you’d punch, kick, throw knifes, whip, baseball bat and knee smash foes to their death. (Spoiler: At the end you’d turn on each other for the girl). It’s not a very lengthy game, by today’s standards, but if you want that arcade nostalgia in your life you should not miss out on this 2-player offline (or online these days) co-op game.
Resident Evil 5 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 – 2-players)
Play this Resident Evil game by yourself, with the AI by your side, and you’re about to hate everything about it. Play it alongside a human player online and the zombie slaying could not get much better. Hunting for gems, sharing ammo and defeating bosses required lots of teamwork. You also get to finally beat the living daylights out of Wesker (and his stupid sunglasses), so it’s well worth playing if you’re a Resi fan and have somehow never got around to this. There is a split-screen mode, but best you avoid that if you can.
Bloodborne (PS4 – 3-players)
One of the best uses of co-op is getting a friend to help you through a section of a game that’s giving you a hard time and when it comes to Bloodborne, that’s basically the whole damn thing. Whether you are looking to beat a particularly challenging boss or just want to run through a few Chalice Dungeons, getting a friend to join you can be the difference between success and a gruesome, bloody death. If you’re having a tough time you can invite up to two friends.
Borderlands (PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 – 4-players)
The magic of Borderlands is hidden in the co-op experience. Tougher monsters in exchange for better loot make it worth grouping up. Also. being able to help your friends out of ‘fight for your life’ when they are down but not out means fights carry on for longer without those annoying trips back from a revive point. Just make sure everyone knows to share the loot that drops, or you might find your sniper leaving to play alone, all the while cursing you.
Battletoads (Arcade, NES, SEGA MegaDrive, Xbox One – 2-players)
The toughest of tough games known to mankind. There are not a huge number of people who ever finished the game, but the co-op still stands as some of the best experiences to date. You’re not just smashing foes (or friends) using your super sized fist or foot, but you’re rappelling down a tunnel full of Ravens and you get to ride the hoverbikes… where most ultimately end up dying and have to restart. If you want a challenging game look no further, but you’ve been warned. Even with that second player it’s not an easy battle.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (PC, PS4, Xbox One – 4-players)
For the first time ever Call of Duty has included the ability to play the main campaign co-op with up to 4 people. If you enjoy shooting lots of enemies in the face, including robotic enemies then you can double the fun if you do it with a co-op partner. The main campaign in co-op is excellent, but BLOPS 3 also includes a Zombies mode which can be played in co-op, where you take on hordes of Zombies and other undead enemies in a Noir setting. It’s true gaming bliss and some of the most fun you can have with three friends.
Project Eden (PC, PS2 – 4-players)
Never heard of it? Think of it is a hidden little gem from the folks who original created and developed Tomb Raider – Core Design. This 4-player split-screen co-op game did squeeze your TV into 4 small little blocks, but there was much fun to be had. Instead of combat the focus was based on puzzles and each member of the team (Leader, Engineer, Computer Technician and Heavy Support) had a specific job to do. It’s all based on great teamwork and puzzle solving and still stands as one of the best PS2 co-op games no one ever played.
Journey (PS4, PS3 – 2-players)
Never before has co-op gaming been implemented so effortlessly. In Journey you’ll never invite a friend for an online co-op session. Someone will randomly appear and if you’re new to the game that person will guide you to your next objective without saying a single word. The co-op is as abstract as the game and when your co-op companion ultimately moves on, or gives up in assisting you, you’ll sit like a sad kid in a corner wondering why your friend left you. Amazing, amazing co-op that you’ll experience if you’re online without even trying.
LittleBigPlanet (PS3 – 4-players)
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny the charms of Sackboy. In a world made up of cardboard, paper and all forms of simple objects, this platformer shines when there are 4 players giving it a go. There are specific challenges that requires up to 4 players, so it’s a good thing you can play both offline and online co-op. Just expect to laugh at the most random things… oh, be sure to slap your buddies in-game when missing another jump.
Diablo 3 (PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 – 4-players)
Diablo’s biggest baddies are best faced with friends. Your chances for getting better loot increase as people join, but the minions of Hell grow stronger. Suddenly skills that buff the whole party have much more importance and if you each have the legendary ring Unity, you share the damage between each other. In fact Diablo works so well in co-op the next patch 2.4.0 will help address the disparity between playing alone or playing in a group.