Top 10 Best Co-op Games for the PC

The PC as a games platform has been a foundation for multiplayer gameplay, and was the first to feature online co-op long before Xbox Live made it onto the scene. Listed here are some of the best co-op games for PC.

The console platforms might be more well known for their versatility and support for local multiplayer gameplay, by which I mean you can play games with your friends, roommates or spouse with just the aid of a few additional controllers.  

The PC on the other hand is a much more solitary experience, generally speaking. But this little fact doesn't exclude the PC from offering equally enjoyable online multiplayer experiences. You might not be able to yell at the guy sitting next to you, but there's really nothing stopping you from doing it over Mumble or Ventrilo… not that you'd want to be known as a loudmouth on the internet, but I digress.  

Here are top ten games on the PC that offer unbeatable co-op experiences.  

Titan Quest 

titan quest

If you manage to get past the hassle of getting your router to work with the GameSpy Arcade functionality of "Titan Quest," or happen to have a local LAN set up, then you're in for a major treat.  

With only a small group of friends (or even just one other), Titan Quest offers some of the best action RPG experiences since Diablo II was released a decade ago. You'll journey through the lands of Greece, Egypt and all the way across the Orient with your group in tow, each player with a totally different set of skills, thanks to the diversity offered by the game's multi-classing character system.  

"Titan Quest" is fun to play alone, but there's only so much killing you can do with the same set of skills before it starts to feel like a grind. With more than one player, the game feels a lot more like an actual adventure than a grind-heavy clickfest.  

Killing Floor 

killing floor

In "Killing Floor" players must fend off increasingly difficult waves of zombies as they make their way to shopkeepers across the map to refill their supplies and upgrade their equipment. It's a fairly simple concept to grasp and it has no learning curve whatsoever, making it a very casual experience. Simply put, it's easy to play and it's a whole lot of fun, especially if you don't have the time to spend an hour or two in a game that requires more dedication.  

As an FPS, "Killing Floor" is not quite up to the standards of Valve's own titles, but the cooperative gameplay that it offers is no less fun. The beauty of the game rests with its drop-in functionality, allowing players to log into a server at any time and partake in the on-going massacre of zombies.  

Starcraft II 

starcraft 2

While not strictly a co-op game, "Starcraft II" offers great cooperative experiences thanks to the official inclusion of co-op "Player vs. AI" modes. Either with people you know or with random strangers, players can team up to do battle against the computer. Thanks to the game's difficulty scaling, players both new to the game or even real-time strategy games in general and veterans can find ways to enjoy it. Be warned, though, the "Brutal" AI in "Starcraft II" is exactly as the name implies.  

If you're fed up of playing the vanilla game, "Starcraft II" offers a multitude of custom made maps that support cooperative gameplay, ranging from "Tower Defense" to RPG-lite campaigns. Blizzard has also announced the release of a new DOTA for "Starcraft II", which is supposed to come out at some point in the near future. That map alone will undoubtedly provide hours of cooperative gameplay.  


Guild Wars 

guild wars

Although released years ago, "Guild Wars" has managed to capture a huge chunk of the online gaming market thanks to its dedication to providing "cooperative online experiences", as advertised on the box. Free to play and still full of players despite its age, "Guild Wars" offers a very different experience from most MMORPGs thanks to its Magic: The Gathering-like skill system and its need for players (up to groups of 8) to cooperate to defeat diverse sets of enemies. Players can also team up against other groups of players in team-based competitive modes, some of which allow a maximum of 32 players to duke it out in arenas.  

Since its release, "Guild Wars" has seen multiple standalone expansions, each of which extend the game's co-op storyline and add new playable classes and dozens of new skills. Their release has managed to extend the life of the game by a great deal, and players will no doubt be able to enjoy the title until "Guild Wars 2" comes along.  

World of Warcraft 

world of warcraft cataclysm

This list of cooperative games would be incomplete without the inclusion of "World of Warcraft", a time-consuming, yet enjoyable game that offers a lot in the way of cooperative experiences. Be you a casual player who only plays games on the weekends or a hardcore raider who sets their alarm clock to go raiding every night, "World of Warcraft" caters to players of every sort.  

It's impossible to go into too much detail about the game due to the amount of content it provides, but regardless, players can team up to complete everything from mundane quests to more involved story instances where teamwork is an essential element to victory and earning the spoils of battle. Players can also team up to partake in PvP (player vs. player) battles that range from simple capture-the-flag scenarios to all out war.

While playing "World of Warcraft," I spent much time hunting, questing and leveling with a single partner with whom I shared the loot and experience. There were times when our communication turned into frustration (which was mostly due to the difficulty of certain instances and the presence of other players) but the experience was never soured by those moments.  

DEFCON

defcon

"DEFCON" is a game of wits, conspiracy and a little bit of luck. Presented as a minimalistic world map populated with symbols which represent cities, fleets and nuclear missiles, "DEFCON" somehow manages to be a more gripping, and a more dramatic experience than most games which boast cinematic qualities. This abstraction of reality in a nuclear world is, quite frankly, somewhat scary.  

There are no real winners in "DEFCON," as each nation bombards the other with their nuclear arsenal. Millions die, and the nation left standing with the least amount of casualties is considered the victor. Some victory.  

In any case, you spend the majority of the game plotting to deliver nuclear ruination to the other players' lands and in doing so, conspire with some of those other players to work together. The game features a variety of modes, some of which allow you to switch sides whenever you like, while others lock you into alliances. It's cooperative strategy at its finest.  

Diablo II 

diablo 2

"Diablo II" is almost a decade old, but it hasn't lost any of its luster despite its age. With seven character classes to choose from and a whole lot of skills, there's plenty of replay value to go around to keep the game as interesting today as it was years ago. 

The single player experience might not be much–there's no fun in leveling and killing monsters all by your lonesome–but the multiplayer experience holds the very essence of brilliant cooperative gameplay. Teaming up with 7 other players, you take on the forces of darkness, who range from the corrupted human Sisters of the Sightless Eye, once noble rogues now turned insane, to the demonic legions that roam the earthly plane of Sanctuary. The difficulty of the game ramps up as more players join the fray, so it always manages to offer a challenge to even the most jaded of gamers.  

Thanks to the free battle.net service and Blizzard's continued support, "Diablo II" remains as enjoyable as the day it was released.  


Minecraft 

minecraft

As a game, Minecraft isn't difficult to classify. It is a sandbox that essentially allows players to craft a world of their own creation using all of the game's resources (terrain, trees and harvestable material). Players can do this either alone, or with friends on a dedicated server. 

Players are faced with all sorts of challenges arising from the hostile lifeforms that inhabit the lands of Minecraft. Creepers, who explode on contact with the player, and aggressive giant spiders are a constant threat for the would-be architect. The threat of these monsters can be diminished with the construction of boundaries and lighted areas, which all in all forces players to work together and secure their construction sites. At least, that's the idea–it hasn't been fully implemented yet.  

Although the "Minecraft" remains in beta, the game's developer Notch is assiduous in keeping the game updated with fresh new content every so often, which ranges from the minor (new materials) to the major (new gameplay mechanics, large world changes.  

Some would argue that the game can feel pointless without any objectives to accomplish, but the philosophy behind "Minecraft" is that creation is its own reward. I'm inclined to agree.  

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 

battlefield bad company 2

You might be wondering why a shooter like "Bad Company 2" would be on a list of cooperative games. After all, isn't the goal of most shooters simply to get the most kills? With "Bad Company 2", the goal of the multiplayer game is to function as a team. Scores are determined by your contributions to your squad and to your side, which range from support functions like healing and spotting to offensive functions like killing enemies and capturing objective points.  

Due to the way it's designed, "Bad Company 2" encourages players to play cooperatively, and a being a part of a close-knit squad can be every bit as exciting as relying on your buddy in any dedicated co-op experience.  

Whether you're playing as the Russians, Americans or the North Vietnamese Army in the game's "Vietnam" expansion pack, "Bad Company 2" is a solid first person shooter and its multiplayer, team-based offering is hard to surpass.   

Left 4 Dead 2 

left4dead 2

Valve's latest game is also arguably its finest. Building on the strengths of the original "Left 4 Dead," Valve's "Left 4 Dead 2" is basically the same game but with the addition of melee weapons and three new Special Infected zombies to up the ante.  

In the original "Left 4 Dead," players took on the roles of Zoey, Bill, Louis and Francis, four disease-immune survivors who must make their way out of a city turned upside-down by an outbreak of zombie flu. They made their way through apartment buildings, a hospital, sewers, and eventually find their way to an abandoned farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania to be rescued by the army. That is where their story ends.  

In the new "Left 4 Dead 2", the story takes place a thousand miles from where the original survivors were–in Savannah, Georgia. The four characters here are Coach, Nick, Rochelle and Ellis, who are mixed archetypes like the previous four.  

Although you can play the game in single player, the game's main offering are its online modes, that place you in the role of one of the survivors as you make your way across the Southern United States. Like the original "Left 4 Dead," the story is split into several campaigns consisting of several levels each.  A couple of newly released patches for "Left 4 Dead 2" included the additions of weekly mutations (a mode that changes the way games are played), and three additional campaigns–two of which bring the return of the original cast of four. Players can also team up against other teams in versus mode, which pits the survivors against infected, where players take turns with each side. 

"Left 4 Dead 2" is a dedicated co-op game, and with the exception of its predecessor, there's nothing else like it on the market. You can't go wrong with this one.  

Honorable Mentions

Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, Planetside, Resident Evil 5, Borderlands, Dead Rising 2

Upcoming Co-op games

Brink, Portal 2, Diablo 3