Best Co-op Games for PC

Last Updated on by Nicholas Frost

Co-op games are played cooperatively with others. Either friends or strangers, but unlike multiplayer games where you compete with each other, in these games, you work together for shared success.

Why Play Co-op Games?

The main reason is that it is fun to play together with your friends and family. Or to make new friends while playing online. We, humans, are social animals, and we like to hang out with our tribe. It’s good for us and actively improves our health. That’s right – co-op gaming is good gaming, and there is science to back that up.

When we play co-op games, our brain chemistry alters because we are:

  • Working together,
  • Solving problems,
  • Feeling friendly and
  • Getting that glow of accomplishment.

Playing cooperatively in PC games increases the production of three hormones in the brain:

  1. Serotonin.
  2. Oxytocin.
  3. Vasopressin.

Non-co-op games only act to increase Serotonin.

Serotonin arises from our feelings of satisfaction when we are successful and complete something. When we are engaged in solving puzzles or working out a problem we produce Serotonin. Depression is linked with low Serotonin levels. Serotonin is vital to every part of our body.

Oxytocin is associated with our feelings of attachment, trust, compassion, and altruistic behavior. It is sometimes called the love hormone because of all the associated positive feelings.

Vasopressin is associated with family bonds and a feeling of kinship. This chemical reaction in the brain is not fully understood. It allied to our circadian rhythm (our daily cycle of sleep along with others). This hormone is known to influence family social behavior in mammals.

Studies show that co-op games reduce aggressive behavior towards others. Spending time working with others to a shared goal makes better social bonds.

To sum up – co-op games are fun, friendly, and good for your mental health.

What Types of Co-op Games are there?

More developers are releasing the Best Co op games for PC and console so that you will find all genres covered from shooters to complex role-playing and everything in between. The games divide into two types – local or network. Local co-op games are sometimes referred to as couch co-ops because all the players can sit on one couch, in the same room, facing the same screen. Network games played by connecting with a game running online.

What Features Define a Co-op Game?

Several subtle features go into building a truly great co-op game for PC. They are so subtle you probably won’t notice them, but they are there.

Different Team Roles

As in life, the characters have to have different skills and abilities. They need to complement each other. There is no point in everyone being a spellcaster if you are going to need a warrior or a healer. The characters assumed by the players need to be a rounded team, covering all the bases.

Combined Abilities Perform Better

Synergy is the ability of a combination to produce a better result than any of its parts. In a co-op game for PC, this means that two characters can use their abilities together to do more. For example – a priest can weaken the enemy through the power of their faith so that the warrior can kill them. When playing, the team needs to work out how to combine their talents to win.

Abilities for the Greater Good

Characters may have abilities that are of no benefit to them. They are there for other players – like healing. A healer is there to patch everyone else up. Everyone else has to defend the healer from attack.

Shared Goals

In a multiplayer game, players may have the same goal – to win by beating everyone else. In a co-op game, the players share the goal. In some games, each player may have a different objective, but these will overlap so that the players work together so everyone can win. Everyone in your team that is. Your team can be competing against other teams.

Special Rules

There can be some settings to ensure that the team works together. In most games, you can get shot by another player, sometimes by accident. There may be a setting in the game that prevents damage by friendly fire. After all, it isn’t going to be great for all that team bonding if someone accidentally shoots their teammates or lops off an arm. Or you may have to live with the consequences.

Camera Settings or Viewpoint

There are three ways of presenting the action on the screen:

  1. The screen splits either horizontally or vertically.
  2. One character is in focus.
  3. All characters are in focus.

Typically, there will be no screen movement unless all the characters are close together.

Shared Challenges

If the team finds an object, then all the players need to be able to interact with it. That could be picking it up or wielding it as a weapon. But everyone can “touch” it. The same is true of puzzles and traps that crop up along the way. Some objects/puzzles may require two or more people to move/solve them.

In some games, there is the ability to become a character with special powers. In a co-op game, that possibility will be available to all the players, but only one can be that character. This feature promotes joint decision making and negotiation.

Vocalization

This feature is not so important if all the players are in the same room talking to each other. The ability to shout “Help” or “Watch Out” or some other useful phrase is vital when playing online. It’s also handy for general chatting. Some co-op games for pc lend themselves to being used as a private chat room with great scenery while talking to friends.

Limited Resources

You would think that having restricted resources would result in arguments and competition. The opposite is true – you have a shared objective. Everyone wins, or no one wins. It makes sense to share resources for the greater good. The name of the game is – co-operation.

How to Pick the Best Co-op Game for PC

Remember, you are not just picking for yourself, but for your team. The factors to consider are:

Genre

Do you and your friends like to slay together, sail together, or explore together?

Age

If you are playing with a family with younger children, then you will want an age-appropriate game. It’s not just the youngest members you need to think about but older members too. Your grandmother might enjoy slaying zombies with a machete. But she might not. Information on age appropriateness is difficult to access in some cases. It is also difficult to determine common criteria for how appropriate a game is for a specific child and age range.

Where are you playing?

All crammed into one room with one screen and pizza on demand? Or online? Some co-op games for PC work better as a local game and some as a more distant network.

How many players?

The game may only cope with a few players because you are playing as a team. The game may also offer a single-player option.

How long will it take?

Some games take a few hours, and others can take days. The right game will depend on how committed your team is.

Do you spend real-world money?

Some games allow a player to purchase better weapons and armor by upgrading for a real money price. It is not restricted to co-op games but appears across all genres. But you may not find this desirable in a game.

Best Co-op Games for Slaying Together

Monster Hunter: World

  • Released 2018
  • Developer Capcom
  • Modes Online multiplayer
  • Players Solo, Up to 4 in a team.
  • Age 15+

Basic plot: Hunt down and kill monsters. To succeed, your party will need diverse weapons. You can harvest monster parts to create better weapons. The complete story is estimated to take around 50 hours. The co-operative gameplay takes place online. There are no in-game purchases (using real-world money) to give you an advantage. You can buy cosmetic items such as character customization options. The expansion pack – Iceborne was released in September 2019.

Deep Rock Galactic

  • Released 2018
  • Developer Ghost Ship Games
  • Mode Online
  • Players Up to four
  • Age 14+

Basic Plot: A mixture of exploration and lots of shooting. Different missions and lots of enemies to slaughter. Do not expect a heavy narrative element. Fun if you like shooting things. You are a dwarf miner, and so are your teammates. The action takes place in caverns fighting off hostile spiderlike creatures that live and swarm there.

The Division 2 (Tom Clancy)

  • Released 2019
  • Developer Ubisoft
  • Mode Online
  • Players Can team up with three other players for co-op.
  • Age 17+

Basic Plot: Washington DC is the setting for the action.. There has been a smallpox pandemic. In this street fighting game, it is essential to work together to take down the enemy. You will need a full team with a blend of skills if playing co-operatively. This game was not designed specifically as a co-op game, but you can play that way.

Vermintide 2

  • Released 2018
  • Developer Fatshark
  • Mode Online
  • Players Up to Five
  • Age 16+

Basic Plot: Do not expect a deep narrative story. Fight to survive. Kill a lot of rat-men. The visuals are excellent and a good choice of weapons.

Killing Floor 2

  • Released 2015
  • Developer Tripwire Interactive
  • Mode Online
  • Players Up to six players
  • Age 18+

Basic Plot: Shoot to kill and try to stay alive. Learn your way around and choose your weapons. This zombie killing game does not have a deep plot. It does encourage co-operation in that you need to fight off attacks from all directions, so you do need a teammate to watch your back.

Left 4 Dead 2

  • Released 2009
  • Developer Valve
  • Mode Online
  • Players 4
  • Age 18+

Basic Plot: The team has got to survive a relentless onslaught of zombies. It is an intense and violent game with buckets of gore and realistic sound effects to the slaying. Not for the squeamish or the sensitive. A very strong teamworking element – healing and defending each other.

Best Co-op Games for Role Playing

Divinity: Original Sin 2

  • Released 2017
  • Developer Larian Studios
  • Mode Online
  • Players One to four
  • Age 15+

Basic Plot: Although you are playing co-operatively, each player is aiming for a different outcome. If you are successful in completing the campaign, then you get access to Game Master Mode. This game can flip from co-operative to competitive in the blink of an eye. The game has been built to respond to the players’ whims. If you think you can do it, you probably can. As a player, your actions can be good or evil, but the game will respond with rewards or punishment as appropriate.

There are some sexual elements built into the role play, which may make it unsuitable for younger players. There are no graphic sexual scenes – all dialogue and suggestion. The violence is fantasy violence as opposed to serial killer levels.

Outward

  • Released 2019
  • Developer Nine Dots Studio
  • Mode Local or online
  • Players Best with 2
  • Age 16+

Basic Plot: This game tries to be realistic in terms of abilities and the passage of time. You will never have superpowers. You can’t be improving your position in the world through an upgrade – you have to earn and learn to survive. You have to navigate your way in this world and proceed slowly. You live and die by the choices you and your companion make – a thoughtful and thought-provoking game.

It takes many hours of play, and you need to be in it for the long haul. It’s an open world, and the game is designed to provide lots of realistic experience of being bored while traveling from one location to another. If you like your action fast-paced and exciting, then this is probably not for you. If you feel you are the sort of character, who can stubbornly persist and win, then you and a good friend may enjoy this game.

Don’t Starve Together

  • Released 2016
  • Developer Klei
  • Mode Local or Online
  • Players 4 but can accommodate more with tweaks
  • Age 12+

Basic Plot: Don’t starve. The clue is in the title. You and your friends have to pool resources to defeat the elements and not starve. All of you. In this game, you can’t eat the weaker team member. Maybe in the next version.

The graphics are cartoonlike and distinctly gothic. Despite the grim premise that death is on the horizon, it is a fun game for a family to play together.

Dungeon of the Endless

  • Released 2014
  • Developer Amplitude
  • Mode Local
  • Players 4
  • Age 10+

Basic Plot: You have to defend your crystal against enemies. To get to the next level, you have to take the crystal with you while being overwhelmed by impossible odds. It is roguelike in that when a character dies, they don’t come back, so if you lose a team member, they are out of the game. The graphics could be described as retro and not to modern tastes, but this is a well-written strategy game. Challenging and interesting.

Grand Theft Auto Online

  • Released 2015
  • Developer Rockstar North
  • Mode Online
  • Players Team of four
  • Age 18+

Basic Plot: Work together on a series of small missions (stealing cars, assassinations) until finally, you are ready for the big one. There is a great deal of adult content that makes this game unsuitable for younger players.

Best Co-op Game to Hang Out with Friends

Sea of Thieves

  • Released 2018
  • Developer Rare
  • Mode Online
  • Players Teams of 2-4
  • Age 12+

Basic Plot: An open world. You can go off and have adventures – attack other ships and go in search of treasure. Or you can chat with your friends with some great scenery – interrupted by the occasional monster from the deep.

Warframe

  • Released 2013
  • Developer Digital Extremes
  • Mode Online
  • Players Teams of 4
  • Age 13+

Basic Plot: Run around, complete missions, and upgrade your character. Can play alone, but you will need to co-operate with others to achieve success in some missions. This fantasy world has hidden depths. The game features lots of fighting and gore. It does contain the element of in-game purchases.

You can play with friends or strangers. You don’t need to co-ordinate gameplay as you can meet up occasionally. You don’t have to all start at the same time. Makes this a great game to hang about in when the mood takes you.

Viscera Cleanup Detail

  • Released 2015
  • Developer RuneStorm
  • Mode Online or solo
  • Players Not known
  • Age Not known

Basic Plot: You and your friends are the clean-up crew sent in after the epic battle. Yep, you are there to clean up the blood and guts. Not an entertaining way to spend an afternoon? Surprisingly, it is. You see, things that can go wrong, malfunctioning equipment, and accidental death. Lots to laugh about in a gallows humor kind of way.

There isn’t so far a large following for this game, and it is difficult to judge the age rating. Online chat indicates that 16+ would be the right level, but there is no real blood and gore – other than that, you are cleaning up. Or if you have an accident.

Best Co-op Games for War – Fantasy and Realistic

Total War: Three Kingdoms

  • Released 2019
  • Developer The Creative Assembly
  • Mode Online
  • Players Many
  • Age 15+

Basic Plot: This game showcases a representation of Chinese history. This latest version has some improvements over earlier versions. Previously you had to opt at the start of the game if you were playing in the competition of co-op mode. Until you decide if you are going to co-operate, then the game is open-ended, and each player can choose how to play.

This game can switch from a player being on your side to stabbing you in the back. Realistic from a historical perspective but makes the co-operative element sporadic.

Ghost Recon Wildlands (Tom Clancy)

  • Released 2017
  • Developer Ubisoft
  • Mode Online
  • Players Team member or single player
  • Age 18+

Basic Plot: This is a co-operative game in that you are all trying to achieve a shared objective. The game is responsive to human behavior, and the challenge is to try to work together. You can accidentally shoot things and generally create havoc. To win you will have to learn discipline and teamwork. Or you can wander around with friends creating mayhem.

There are in-game purchases available and adult content. The game involves an appreciation of tactics and good communication to succeed in the missions.

Arma 3

  • Released 2013
  • Developer Bohemia Interactive
  • Mode Online
  • Players Many
  • Age 17+

Basic Plot: Doesn’t have to be played as a co-op, but it comes into its own when played that way. A large team of 30 can combine for the assault. The nature of the game is that it contains a lot of graphic adult violence.

Best Co-op Games for Families

Stardew Valley

  • Released 2016
  • Developer ConcernedApe
  • Mode Local
  • Players Up to four, more if modified.
  • Age 10+

Basic Plot: A sweet game where you all live on a farm doing your own thing. The graphics are pretty basic, but everyone gets to do their own thing. You share money but otherwise act pretty independently. Consider it a virtual family holiday on a farm. If you have ever fancied moving to the country, here is a way to fulfill that fantasy without having to get up at 5.00 am to milk the cows.

Overcooked! 2

  • Released 2018
  • Developer Ghost Town Games
  • Mode Local or online
  • Players Up to 4
  • Age 7+

Basic Plot: You are supposed to be all helping each other in the kitchen. Oh, and you can teleport.

Forza Horizon 4

  • Released 2018
  • Developer Playground Games
  • Mode Local or online
  • Players Many or two locally
  • Age 10+

Basic Plot: A racing game set in the UK. You compete together with a variety of cars to complete events. Not particularly strong on co-operation.

Warframe

  • Released 2013
  • Developer Digital Extremes
  • Mode Online
  • Players Many
  • Age 13+

Basic Plot: Run around, complete missions, and upgrade your character. Can play alone, but you will need to co-operate with others to achieve success in some missions. This fantasy world has hidden depths. You can play with friends or strangers. You don’t need to co-ordinate gameplay as you can meet up occasionally. You don’t have to all start at the same time. There are strong gory elements, but these can be switched off.

Best Co-op Games for Two Players

Cuphead

  • Released 2017
  • Developer Studio MDHR Entertainment Inc
  • Mode Local
  • Players 1-2
  • Age 10+

Basic Plot: This game is an arcade shooter. Two players have to learn to co-ordinate their actions and recognize the patterns. It could make or break a friendship.

Portal 2

  • Released 2011
  • Developer Valve
  • Mode Local
  • Players 2
  • Age 10+

Basic Plot: The two of you are robots testing some dangerous new equipment. There are many places to explore and puzzles to solve. You will have to think in three dimensions to beat the challenges.

Best Couch Co-op Games

Sven Co-op

  • Released 1999
  • Developer Sven Co-op Team
  • Mode Local
  • Players Up to 6
  • Age 16+

Basic Plot: Download a map or two and play some weird mixture of all sorts of different games in strange and bizarre worlds. Enjoy the game with friends and bemusement and laughter. Just add pizza, and you have an entertaining evening at your place.

Keep Talking, and Nobody Explodes

  • Released 2015
  • Developer Steel Crate Games
  • Mode Local
  • Players Any number
  • Age 10+

Basic Plot: One player is trying to defuse the bomb. The other players are trying to talk him through the process. They can’t see what the defusing player sees, and only they have access to the manual. A great game for a party as it will get everyone talking to each other.

Gaucamelee 2

  • Released 2018
  • Developer DrinkBox Studios
  • Mode Local
  • Players Up to 4
  • Age 10+

Basic Plot: Adventure together and beat up the opposition in style. It’s silly and fun for all.

Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator

  • Released 2013
  • Developer Thomas Robertson
  • Mode Local
  • Players Up to 6
  • Age Not Known

Basic Plot: Each player is going to need their screen. Each player can only see their screen and the main viewscreen. If you are the captain, then you have to instruct the others what to do, you can’t do it yourself. This game is about talking to each other. Clear commands and responses are a must, Aye, Captain.

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