Playing solo has benefits. You can focus on the story, master your technique, or just play whenever you feel like it. But sometimes, in some games, it’s actually way more fun to chat up a friend of three and hop into a game together. We’ve listed 13 of such games, picking from some of the bigger titles of the past few years.

Co-op Terminology 101

Throughout the list, we’re establishing which forms of co-operative multiplayer are available, using two specific terms. Local means that you and your co-op partners are together, playing the same copy of the game. Most commonly it’s achieved via means of a split-screen, but some game don’t need to resort to such means. To play local co-op you’ll need enough controllers for every player, and also probably additional snacks and drinks. Online means that although you are playing with someone, they are going to be sitting at their own hardware, with their own copy of the game, you’re playing over the network, and your snacks are safe. Sometimes you can combine local and online co-op, for example with two people playing on the same, say, PS4, while the other two connect online.

13 Modern Games worth playing in co-op

A Way Out

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2018
Genre:Action-adventure
DeveloperHazelight Studios
Co-op type:Local, Online

Probably the only game on the list you absolutely can’t play alone, unless you’re Goro from Mortal Kombat, maybe. The cinematic game devised by Hazelight Studios follows two convicts trying to escape from prison, and then avoid the police as they complete their personal goals. Each player controls either Vincent or Leo in tightly directed sequences.

Many events require solid communication between players, and play out simultaneously, leaving no time to switch between two controllers to cheat the system. A nice aspect of the game is that only one person needs to own it, the other can simply use a special pass provided by the owner. Or you could just play locally, because that’s obviously also possible.

Key features
  • Cinematic, dynamic presentation
  • Strong focus on the narrative and communication between players
  • Many minigames designed for two players
  • Two endings

Borderlands 3

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2019
Genre:Action role-playing, first-person shooter
DeveloperGearbox Software
Co-op type:Local, Online

Any Borderlands would do, really, except Tales from… but Borderlands 3 makes the cut by the virtue of being the most recent and the biggest of the series. Much like its predecessors, BL3 is a shameless looter shooter with larger than life characters, and an improbable number of possible gun variations you can grab from enemy corpses, buy, or find in a cache somewhere.

Borderlands 3 (Super Deluxe Edition)

Borderlands 3 supports parties of up to four people, including the host, and this is definitely enough to not only help you handle any threat possible but also generate a fantastically chaotic battlefield awash with bullets and special ability effects. There’s also some story going, but you’re likely to be too busy shooting things to go and push the plot along.

Key features
  • More gun variants than you’ll ever find
  • Several playable Vault Hunters with unique abilities
  • You get to visit more planets than just Pandora
  • Play with up to three friends in your party

Call of Duty WWII (Zombies)

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2017
Genre:First-person shooter
DeveloperSledgehammer Games
Co-op type:Local, Online

Although the base campaign of Call of Duty WW2 isn’t playable in any form of co-op, there is the, by now obligatory, Zombies mode to compensate for this. The Nazi Zombies mode allows up to four players to grab the weapons and stop the vicious necromancers from supplying Nazi forces with potentially endless hordes of undead soldiers.

Call of Duty: WWII - gameplay

A change introduced to Zombies in CoD: WW2 was a class system, rather than a character selection from the more over-the-top, crazy versions of the mode in earlier games. There are even gear loadouts and perks, bringing Nazi Zombies closer in line with the main multiplayer mode. Regardless, it’s still quite entertaining, with two difficulties yielding different outcomes.

Key features
  • Delightfully pulpy Nazi Zombies storyline
  • Several classes to choose from, each with special abilities
  • The regular competitive multiplayer is as good as usually
  • There also a singleplayer campaign, substantially more serious in tone

Deep Rock Galactic

PC
Xbox One
Release year:2018
Genre:First-person shooter
DeveloperGhost Ship Games
Co-op type:Online

Who would have thought that a game about a group of space dwarves descending into the depths of procedurally-generated mines would be this good? Deep Rock Galactic is the video game version of the “Diggy Diggy Hole” Yogscast song, with rare resources and monstrous aliens (called Glyphids) to deal with as a bonus to exploration and completing the objectives.

deep rock galactic cover art

There are four classes in the game, differing by gear and abilities: Engineer, Gunner, Driller, and Scout. If you can find three people to play with you, you can get a perfect team composition to deal with any number of possible challenges. And even if your co-players don’t talk, the dwarves themselves do, with various thematic barks and grunts.

Key features
  • An excellent, easily read 3D map you can refer to during missions
  • Plenty of customization options unlockable with credits and resources
  • Procedurally generated levels
  • Mechanical and cosmetic upgrades to spend resources on

Destiny 2

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2017
Genre:First-person shooter
DeveloperBungie
Co-op type:Online

Destiny 2 is an across-the-board improvement over the first game in the series. Its storyline is more pronounced and doesn’t require the player to keep referring to materials outside of the game, the gunplay is one of Bungie’s finest yet, and the wealth of available loot, weapons and armor alike, is staggering. There are also upgrades and updates to the three classes.

destiny 2

As an MMO, Destiny 2 has a lot of party-friendly activities. There are explorable areas set on several different planets in the Solar system, and several raids presenting hard-to-beat challenges in return for exceptional rewards, and various shades of the PvP content. Overall Destiny 2 bears a ton of content suitable for playing with friends, or to LFG for a raid.

Key features
  • Excellent gunplay
  • Three classes, Titan, Warlock, Hunter, with several subclasses each
  • Plenty of PvE and PvP content to play through with friends
  • The base game is currently free to play

Divinity: Original Sin 2

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2017
Genre:Role-playing
DeveloperLarian Studios
Co-op type:Local, Online

Divinity: Original Sin 2 solo is a great RPG adventure rich in systems and story. The same game played as a party of up to four players becomes the closest thing any video game could be to tabletop RPG experience. Technically, each player can go on their merry way and complete quests on their own, or even try to oppose other players to some degree. It’s crazy how much is allowed.

splitscreen-divinity-2

Even outside of the main campaign, DOS2 has a Game Master mode, which allows four players to find a, well, Game Master to run custom games for them, with dice rolls, setting the scenes, etc. You don’t even need a copy for each party member, because DOS2 supports 2-player split-screen AND online play, so two copies for the players and one for the GM is enough.

Key features
  • Excellent solo, truly shines when you have other players to play with (or against)
  • Flexible and easy to use Game Master mode
  • Main campaign supports up 4 players, Game Master campaigns handle 4+GM
  • An excellent RPG in its own right

Gears 5

PC
Xbox One
Release year:2019
Genre:Third-person shooter
DeveloperThe Coalition
Co-op type:Local, Online

A sequel to Gears of War 4, Gears 5 focuses its story on Kait Diaz, previously a supporting character, now taking the leading role, as someone revealed to be closely related to events taking place. Of course, since this is a Gears of War game, the co-op features are very important to the experience, which makes room for several ways you can play with your friends.

gears-of-war-05-11-2019.jpg

There’s a new co-op mode for three players called Escape: a frantic run through a Swarm Hive ahead of a biological weapon detonation. If you’re so willing, you can play the main campaign with friends, both online and locally, and Horde is obviously back as well, throwing waves of enemies at you until you die or decide to call it quits, and it support 5, not just 3 players.

Key features
  • Escape is an interesting addition to the series’ co-op modes
  • Co-op supports from up to 3 to up to 5 players, depending on the mode
  • Expands the backstories of the setting
  • You can combine local and online co-op in several modes

Grand Theft Auto Online

PC
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Release year:2013
Genre:Action-adventure
DeveloperRockstar North
Co-op type:Online

While the main game doesn’t have a lick of multiplayer capacity, it more than makes up for it with GTA Online, the key to GTA5’s ongoing success. With frequent enough updates and occasional new mode inclusion, GTA Online fostered a dedicated fanbase, which is just as eager to pursue multiplayer gameplay as to make fully roleplaying servers to play cops and robbers on.

gta online motor wars

What can you do in GTAO? A lot, actually. For the most co-operative experience, you’d probably go to the Heists mode, letting you plan your own Ocean’s Eleven heist and execute it perfectly (or far from perfect) with up to three of your friends. It’s probably the closest we’ll ever see to a remake of Payday 2, and it fills the gap quite nicely in this regard.

Key features
  • Many, many servers for you to take your pick from
  • There are both competitive and cooperative modes you can play
  • Extensive player avatar customization options
  • Comes free with every copy of Grand Theft Auto 5

Minecraft

PC
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Xbox One
NS
Release year:2011
Genre:Sandbox, survival
DeveloperMojang
Co-op type:Local, Online

Minecraft seems to be made to encourage engaging in group projects with a bunch of other people. Setting up a Minecraft server and inviting your friends to share it with you can be either a fodder for great competitive build-off, or building something amazing together. Working together to accomplish something creative might have pitfalls, but it’s also very satisfying.

Minecraft: Windows 10 - gamescreen

Minecraft is of course the world’s most famous, most educational, and most cubical craft & survival game. With enough time and determination, you could build amazing structures or even machines. People have recreated cities and building from the real world and from works of fiction, all possible thanks to Minecraft’s flexibility and usually many people working together.

Key features
  • Possibly the most powerful engine for freeform construction in video games
  • Broadly used for educational purposes
  • Plenty of amazing, useful mods
  • Playing with friends can make large projects go much faster

Monster Hunter: World

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2018
Genre:Action role-playing
DeveloperCapcom
Co-op type:Online

Monster Hunter World is effectively a boss rush type of game mixed with a pretty brutal nature documentary. There are plenty of small and large creatures collectively called monsters, and you’re a hunter tasked with researching, capturing, and often killing them, for various reasons. You can well play it solo, except for Sieges, but it’s more fun, and more challenging if you find a group.

Monster Hunter World - gameplay

See, the game makes monster substantially harder to kill if you play with other people, to compensate for higher damage output. Playing with friends is also great if you want to make full use of the Hunting Horn weapon type, or the Bowguns, which are easier to handle if someone else grabs the monster’s attention. Up to four people can work together on non-siege missions.

Key features
  • Many creatively designed monsters with unique behaviors and abilities
  • Large monsters tend to clash in ground-shaking Turf Wars
  • Monsters scale to match the party size to ensure proper challenge level
  • Fourteen weapon types, each with individual and extensive research tree

Sea of Thieves

PC
Xbox One
Release year:2018
Genre:Action-adventure
DeveloperRare
Co-op type:Online

Sailing isn’t something one can do on their own. Especially if you want to steer and board an enemy vessel at the same time. This is why Sea of Thieves is best enjoyed in a group of up to four players. It also leaves someone to take care of the ship when you decide to go for a swim, or to steal treasure from the enemy ship. After all, it only matters who delivers it, not who found it.

You can complete tasks you picked up on the hub island, or just sail around hoping to find some losers who did the job for you. Or you could just explore, dividing ship duties between your friends. Even efficient navigation requires two people, because you can’t take the charts to the wheel. There are a lot of ways a rowdy group of friends can be entertained in Sea of Thieves.

Key features
  • Cartoonish graphics which won’t age quickly
  • Playable solo or in a party, but best experience comes with a full crew
  • Tonnes of customization options
  • Crossplay between Windows and Xbox One is available

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2019
Genre:Action role-playing, third-person shooter
DeveloperMassive Entertainment
Co-op type:Online

In the aftermath of a smallpox outbreak, and the events of the rough Manhattan winter from the first game, The Division 2 takes the action to Washington D.C. in the summer, because the city desperately needs the help of professionals. The Air Force One is down, bandit gangs run the streets, and loot lies uncollected. The city needs The Division.

the division 2 air force one wreckage

If playing lone agent isn’t up to your tastes, you can team up with up to eight people, although only for the raids. If you’re interested in playing the campaign, you have to limit yourself for a party of four, tops. You can also form a clan of up to 50 players, to reap some nifty benefits. Or you could enter a Dark Zone with 11 other players, and hope they don’t steal your loot.

Key features
  • A trip to a Washington post-deadly epidemic, overgrown and chaotic
  • 4-player co-op campaign, 8-player raid, 12-player Dark Zones, 50-player clans
  • Well thought-out player progression and endgame
  • An improbable amount of realistic guns

Warhammer: Vermintide 2

PC
PlayStation 4
Xbox One
Release year:2018
Genre:Action
DeveloperFatshark
Co-op type:Online

Warhammer’s Old World is gradually falling to the forces of Chaos, but it’s no reason to stop fighting for the civilized peoples. Which is why 5 champions: three humans, an elf, and a dwarf, teamed up to stem the Vermintide once again. On a less dramatic side of things, you can jump into the game with up to three friends

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is an intense, first-person action game, focused mainly on close-range melee combat, but ranged combat is definitely an option. Completing the tasks thrown at you by the game is going to require solid teamwork because the Skaven and Chaos cultists aren’t going to wait for you and will chop you down as eagerly as you’ve been killing them.

Key features
  • Five very distinct characters with three specializations each
  • Set in the lore-rich Warhammer Fantasy setting
  • Brutal, bloody, and satisfying combat
  • There’s plenty of loot to further customize your characters

Upcoming games that might well be great cooperative experiences

Some games are yet unreleased at the time of writing (late January 2020), but are announced and we know at least a bit about them. One such game is Crystal Dynamics’ Avengers video game, delayed until September 2020, which will provide both a singleplayer campaign and a co-op experience for people who want to deploy more than a solitary Avenger on a mission. Another title would be Techland’s Dying Light 2, which is likely to be at least as good a co-op zombie survival game as the first one was, especially with Chris Avellone as the writer.

It’s scheduled to be released sometime in 2020, but no specific date was provided so far. Similarly, no solid release date is set for Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones, an action game that took strong inspiration from Ubisoft’s own Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. It moves the action to the Indian Ocean and will allow players to team up to run a ship or a fleet together. Another Ubisoft’s game, Rainbow Six Quarantine, is similarly set to launch this year, but lacks any solid date. It’s going to be a tactical, three-player campaign against an alien parasite, initiated by an event within Rainbow Six Siege.

Invite your friends and press ‘Start’

This concludes our list. These suggestions do not, obviously, exhaust the topic, but it should help you find something relatively fresh and big-budget to play with your friends.