Top 10 Best PC Co-op Games Of All Time
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Top 10 Best PC Co-op Games Of All Time

August 23, 2019


Hello, and welcome to Rock Paper Shotgun.
This is the voice of RPS video person Matthew and today we’re celebrating the best co-op
games on PC. For me, the art of a great co-op game boils
down to unpredictability – those moments of spontaneous madness that can only happen when
another clumsy human is in the mix. You’ll sometimes get your act together and pull off
feats that would make a cold AI sick with jealousy, but for the most part you’re mopping
up each other’s disasters and that’s fine by me. Speaking of cleaning up someone’s mess,
if you feel I’ve missed your top co-op game, please do include it in the comments – and
make a proper case for it, so everyone can benefit from your wisdom. But for now, let’s
activate player two and dig in… Towerfall Ascension’s bitter multiplayer
matches made it a graveyard for ruined friendships. Four chums enter, three bruised egos leave.
So what is it doing on our co-op list? The answer lies in the two player quest. In this
mode all that pent up versus anger can be aimed at a common foe, with two warriors shooting
down waves of vindictive crows and skeletons. It’s hugely satisfying to have each other’s
backs, as you snipe enemies just before they attack, or clean out huge areas of the screen
with coordinated bomb arrows. But at the same time, co-op does nothing to sand down the
sharp edges of multiplayer. Your arrows are still capable of killing friends, so you have
to shout out warnings and dodge past each others shots. I particularly enjoy passing arrows between
two heroes with the dodge grab – it’s a move you’d curse when it’s done to you
in versus, but its repurposed here as a trade system. Unless they fudge the interception
and your donation thuds into their guts. That happens a lot. Either way Towerfall it’s a great example
of twisting skills designed for multiplayer upset into a whole new kind of co-op game.
Maybe try a round or two to clear up the bad blood from versus mode. When it all goes to plan, Payday 2 perfectly
taps into the fantasy of the well oiled bank-robbing team. You strut into the joint in your best
robbing suit, casing it out in the moment of calm before quietly shepherding staff into
the stationary cupboard and seizing the goods. Pull it off and you’re Ocean’s Eleven,
minus the smugness. Also, I’m not sure George Clooney ever put a man inside a bag and threw
him around an alley. But when do things ever go to plan? In the
movies there’s always the hothead crook who blows the operation. Well, In Payday 2,
you’re often playing with a whole team of that guy. Often you *are* that guy. Fudge
the stealthy approach and it becomes a wave defence game, with police flooding the building
as you protect the world’s most belligerent drill. This thing takes eons to chew through
a safe. One can only assume the door is made from the hardest substance known to man – the
artisan baguettes at Pret a Manger. But as fun as it is to leg it around the streets
with a bag of cash on your back, it’s the promise of that perfect stealthy run that
has you diving back in with a well-trained squad. You’ll need four trusted friends,
mics all round and character perks levelled up to give you the tools for the job, but
finally pulling it off will have you wondering if you might be able to do it in real life
too. Top tip: I wouldn’t risk it. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is all about
defusing bombs, and it makes me feel nervous before the game has even begun. Look at the
team’s headquarters – that knocked over bin does not suggest a careful workforce.
They haven’t even unpacked or decorated – this is very much the office of a team that
does not expect to make it to their next payday. And having played a few rounds I can understand
why. The game is played with a group of people
in the same room, with one at the PC. They prod at a bomb with mouse clicks, while the
rest of the team is huddled over a bomb-defusing manual they’ve printed off the internet.
This does mean you have to type bomb manual into your web browser, which always bodes
well. The important bit is that neither party can look at what the other is doing. Or at
least, they shouldn’t, or the whole thing is about as exciting as reprogramming a microwave. Played properly and it’s a desperate game
of communication. The group hurriedly flips the pages to find bomb components, while the
defuser investigates the bomb for batteries and labels that hint at the correct model
number. The rules governing defusal are just tangled enough to ensure lots of arguments
about whether everyone is on the same page. So expect lots of of those ‘cut the red
wire, wait, no! It’s the blue wire!’ moments. Cue lots of close ups of sweaty upper lips
and wincing moments of truth. The way Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes drags
co-op tension out of the screen and into the room around you gives it a flavour like none
other on this list. So give it a go – but carefully, okay? You can’t move for zombie wave defence games.
In fact, it feels like there are so many zombie wave defence games that I want to hammer planks
over my monitor to stop *them* from getting in to my eyes. But if you have to kill waves
of the undead, few games do it better than Killing Floor 2. There are different classes that complement
each other with bespoke equipment, but for me the appeal lies in the escalation. This
is a game that locks six people in an enclosed space and slowly hands them spending money
for a magical gun machine. What starts with pistols and shotguns grows into a din of buzzsaw
blades and microwave guns. Although the monster types evolve as time goes on, I love the team’s
lethality come the final round. I especially love that given this the final boss still
thinks its a good idea to wade in. Yeah, I fancy my odds against EVERY GUN IN THE WORLD
thinks he. Another great gimmick is Zed time, which is
a short three second pocket of slow motion that can randomly trigger when someone pulls
of a snazzy headshot or long distance kill. For a brief glimpse you can see everything
that is happening with perfect clarity, like being able to stare into the brawling dust
cloud in a cartoon fight. For those three seconds, everyone is a ludicrous poser, sniping
off heads as if it was nothing. If that doesn’t bond your co-op team, nothing will. Where most of the games on this list channel
friends towards very specific fun, Divinity Original Sin 2 has the scope – and the guts
– to let a party run riot through its story. This classic RPG is famed for its adaptable
narrative, but it’s not until you plug in two to four people, all pulling in different
directions – or deliberately opting for a collision course – that you see how elastic
that story is. So while you could partner up to tag team
quests in a more traditional manner, pottering off on your own sees the tale unfold in unusual
ways. You might end up killing a character who was intended for a partner’s quest line,
or swiping items that are key to their investigations. Some stories are deliberately written to cause
co-op upsets – if you play as lizard-hating Sebille and someone else is actual lizard,
the Red Prince, those two paths are going to collide. None of this is breaking the game,
but creating new organic hurdles for the party to leap. Just on a technical level, this is a really
versatile experience – four players can join online or two can share the world in split
screen or two can play in split screen while joining another two online. Original Sin 2
bends over backwards to accommodate you, the least you can do is test those boundaries
for yourself. Borderlands 2 ticks a similar box to Killing
Floor 2 as it’s all about the beauty of escalation. It’s a shooter made by maths
nerds, where a burst of fire sees numbers pop out of enemies. Pick up their dropped
guns and even larger numbers bleed out of the next goons you meet. As a cycle, it’s
as moreish as whatever it is they put in Pringles to make them moreish. Potatoes?
Plugging three friends into the mix amplifies the effect. Everyone brings their procedurally
generated weapons to the fight, so no two skirmishes play out the same way. Someone’s
spraying corrosive rounds out of a shotgun while another lays down covering fire with
a rocket-launching sniper rifle. All the while that XP bar along the button is lighting up
like a Christmas tree, albeit one powered by an endless stream of death. Start factoring in different character builds
to serve different roles on the team and the rather simplistic missions – most are a variant
on go to X and kill Y – begin to blossom into more bespoke stories. Okay, most of these
stories are ‘remember that time we shot a million bullets at a thing’, but at least
they’re memorable. And what is a good co-op game if not a farm for anecdotes? Vegas is home to the world’s greatest co-op
teams. Think of Siegfried and Roy or Elvis and burgers. So it makes sense that Rainbow
Six Vegas 2 lets you tackle its campaign with a friend. But it’s the classic Terrorist
Hunt mode that you’ll really bond over. The idea is simple: one team, one large location
and a whole lotta terrorists to clear out. It’s a mode that’ll be instantly familiar
to anyone who’s played the more recent Rainbow Six Siege, but this feels like a fuller version
of the idea. For starters, the option to customise characters
gives it more of a bespoke edge – your approach is governed by a loadout you’ve earned,
rather than picked from a limited menu. And while the freedom of approach you get in Siege’s
sandbox levels plays brilliantly in competitive modes, I find Vegas’ boxed in levels create
higher tension. As you’re dropped into the corner of enemy
infested train yards and wedding chapels, there’s a tangible sense of being on the
back foot, forcing you to carefully creep up on corners and earn a more defendable foothold. One thing that hasn’t changed between Vegas
and Siege is the dreadful feeling in the pit of your stomach when everyone else on the
team is dead and is watching you bumble through as a lone survivor. I can sense my team cringing
at clumsy play, which is truly worse than any bullet. Here’s hoping they forgive me
for the next round. With its random murders and muggings, GTA
Online often resembles that theme park all the naughty boys visit at the end of Pinocchio.
It’s a place you can be as horrible as you want and still get rewarded for it. And that’s
fine. The pleasure of its coop missions is being able to explore Rockstar’s playground
with other people, but having them all pull in the same direction for once. Well, until
the lobby spits you back out into the city and you rob each other blind. The heists are the highlight of the co-op
missions. Chopped into a series of smaller setup tasks you gradually prepare the ingredients
for a delicious robbery salad, which is the big exciting mission at the end. The best
of these deal out specific jobs to each player – you might be laying down covering fire as
a sniper while friends cower behind some bins, or you could be putting *out* fires with a
hose so friends can collect loot from smouldering remains. Of course, many missions boil down to one
massive shootout, but even these are spiced up with medals handed out at the end for performance.
The only downside is that you really need three friends with a fair amount of time of
their hands to get through the lengthy setup stage. Strangers are much more likely to lose
it like Trevor Phillips and cause progress to halt. But once all the pieces fall into
place, these missions are some of the best co-op adventures around. Left 4 Dead is a collection of definitive
co-operative moments. The moment you hear a witch’s sobbing and skid to halt before
provoking her. The chaos of a tank charging out of nowhere and eating up round after round.
The breathless dash to safety after holding off wave after wave of attackers in the level’s
final stand off. And no two memories are ever the same, thanks to the malicious AI director
watching the action and adjusting difficulty and pacing on the fly. In many ways Left 4 Dead is the mirror image
of Original Sin’s go anywhere, do anything approach. This game corrals four survivors
every step of the way, punishing teams that leave a man behind and pouncing on any lone
wolves – quite literally in the case of a hunter attack. The actual interactions between
party members are remarkably simple – there are no bespoke classes and only a handful
of equipment to differentiate people. With everyone capable of the same heroics, it creates
a space where you can be heroic together. The RPS hive mind has selected the original
for this list – the sequel builds on these rock solid foundations, but none of the core
ideas were bettered. That said, Left 4 Dead’s campaign can also be played as part of Left
4 Dead 2, with a few updates to incorporate the sequel’s ideas – yes, it’s the game
so good, they made it twice. Portal 2 manages the impressive double act
of being the smartest co-op experience around but also the most accessible. Its brains come
as no surprise. When you take an outstanding single-player game about traversing puzzle
chambers with portals and double everything it makes sense that it becomes twice as complicated
and twice as fun to solve. Just having four portals to play with turns
every room into a juggling act, as your partner fires themselves out of one hole and you catch
them in another. And when you do get half the team to the exit you often realise getting
both there is going to require two different approaches. And that’s before you start
factoring in gadgets and gizmos – when you’ve got a lightbridge passing through four different
portals good luck remembering which bits you can and can’t turn off. And really good
luck if your colleague decides to deliberately dunk you in the water anyway. Because as smart as Portal 2 requires you
to be, it is always lighthearted with it. The two robot heroes have more personality
than some games have in their entirety, largely thanks to dancing emotes. That’s all part
of its accessible charm – Valve also kindly include a pointer system which means you don’t
need a mic or a shared language to talk a stranger through a solution. Why is this not
a thing in all co-op games? Never again would we have to try telling someone to go over
to the round thing by that blue thing. No, the other blue thing. Ah, forget about it. It feels like Valve solved so many co-op problems,
all in the name of giving you co-op problems. But the good kind. The kind where two robots
high five at the end. Honestly, cooperative experiences don’t come much better than
this. So, those are our picks of the best co-op
games on PC. Now is a good chance for you to cooperate with us and offer your thoughts
below. Maybe we should include the YouTube video comments as the eleventh greatest cooperative
experience on PC. Share your most thoughtful thoughts and we’ll see how it plays out.
If you enjoyed this video, please do think about subscribing to Rock Paper Shotgun – you’re
only one tiny button press away. And i’ll see you again soon with more moving images
and mouth words. Goodbye.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. While we're on the subject of co-op games, why not check out our co-op let's play of State of Decay 2. You'll enjoy it, honest. Just click here: https://youtu.be/XFwFyc0kSgo

  2. Gah! FPS games need a separate list. They're not bad if you're in the mood for it but it's basically the same experience compared to other types of games. I was hoping to see more games like Factorio, Raft, Don't Starve, etc.

  3. i and my friend managed to do the avenger mission in just one death and no retry, man that was horribly tough, i lost half of my snacks and 4 armors and the doomsday scenario, it took one retry as i died jumping from the third floor to ground floor to catch avon, i lost all my minigun and rpg ammo and 3/4 of shotgun ammo as well with almost all supplies depleted! It was too difficult, i recommend in having a 2 man duo and a good shooter and runner in it

  4. Overcooked. Very fun and ridiculous with absolute chaos at times. Really tests your communication and teamwork and it feels like a real team accomplishment when you 3 star kitchens.

  5. BATTLEBLOCK THEATER. Has to be in top 5.
    Good video! I'm liked and share 582 times 😀
    if you have, just a little doubt- dont, go buy killing floor 2

  6. nah, NOBODY wants to Play payday coop stealth. that you can do alone aswell 😛
    Could use more Speedrunners and perhaps Quake (FTE has splitscreen).

  7. Thank you video person!

    (I hope the channel doesn't turn into list videos)
    BATTLEBLOCK THEATER. Has to be in top 5.

  8. It's a shame there aren't more colab games that don't revolve around killing. Portal was a breath of fresh air in this respect.

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