Best Co-op Games 2021 (Local And Online)

Unlike single-player games, the best co-op games provide plenty of opportunities to collaborate with other players to overcome challenges.

They allow you to exercise your communication muscles, play to each other’s strengths, and of course, spark arguments over whose fault it was when things inevitably go awry. 

Whether you’re playing online with a friend located on the other side of the globe or sitting on the same couch, you’ll find there are more co-op experiences available today than ever before.

Here, we’ll be highlighting the best games tailored for cooperative gameplay along with their supported platforms. 

We’ve included a mix of co-op staples that never go out of fashion, as well as recent releases and some hidden gems that may not be on your radar.

Make sure to check back as we’ll be updating this list regularly in the future and if you’d like to receive more gaming recommendations, consider reading through our other curated lists:

Related:Best Party Games 2021Best Competitive Games 2021Best Split-Screen PC Games 2021

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The best kinds of co-op games are the ones that come up with fresh and innovative ways to encourage players to work together. Such is the case in Biped, a two-player action-adventure puzzle game created in the same vein as games like Portal. You and a buddy control cute, bipedal robots that can only move one leg at a time.

This unique gameplay mechanic sets the tone for the entire game as you and your partner take on an array of physics-based puzzles that require constant communication and a sprinkling of luck. The game includes a wide selection of levels based on different themes ranging from icy tundra to a treetop lumber operation in addition to bonus levels, which earn you coins to buy hats for your robots. 

Trine 4 is a return to form for developer Frozenbyte and the fourth entry of the ongoing puzzle-platformer. The game sees the return of series’ protagonists: Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief as they embark on a fantastic quest to rescue a Prince before he succumbs to his dark powers.

Tailored for cooperative play, Trine 4 features support for up to 4-players locally and online, with each player controlling a different character. Challenges revolve around combining each hero’s diverse abilities to traverse risky environments, defeat waves of enemies, and solve intricate puzzles that make creative use of each hero’s specialized kit.

Borderlands 3 offers an updated version of one of the most iconic looter shooters around, supporting both local split-screen and online co-op. Assuming you and your teammates don’t mind over-the-top character classes and cheesy dialogue, BL3 boasts a dynamic weapon generator in which no two guns ever feel quite the same. 

Set seven years after the events of BL2, the game sees you returning to the planet Pandora, a barren wasteland rumored to have hidden vaults filled with treasure and advanced technology scattered throughout. A range of new activities and weapon modifications make Gearbox’s latest installment feel like classic BL with a fresh coat of paint. 

Some games are less about making progress and getting stuff done and more about watching in delightful horror as everything falls apart. That’s probably the best way to summarize what it’s like to play to Totally Unreliable Delivery Service, a tinyBuild published title with over-the-top ragdoll physics.

You and up to three buddies can team up and start accepting delivery contracts across an interactive sandbox world littered with planes, helicopters, trucks, and hang-gliders, that can be useful (or not) for getting packages where they need to go. Trying to get anything done in this game is an uphill battle that you simply won’t win, mostly due to shotty controls that seem intentionally designed to get your character killed at every turn. 

Cuphead is inspired by challenging retro run-and-gun titles where memorizing enemy attack patterns were less of a strategy and more of a necessity for survival. What’s more, this action-platformer does an excellent job of luring you into a false sense of security with its joyful 1930s hand-drawn cartoon visuals before revealing its true sadistic nature.

In it, you take on the role of Cuphead, who, along with his brother Mugman, is forced to defeat a series of bosses to repay an outstanding debt with the devil. These long battles put you and your teammate’s platforming skills to the ultimate test, with environments that continuously shift and bosses who become more aggressive the longer you battle.

Ultimate Alliance was one of the first superhero games to offer players a way to combine their favorite heroes to create the ultimate four-person wrecking crew. Even though it’s been a decade since the last entry released, UA 3: The Black Order plays just like you remember while featuring brand-new cel-shaded visuals tailored for the Nintendo Switch’s hardware. 

The game sees heroes and villains from across the galaxy assembling to prevent Thanos and his cronies from gathering the six Infinity Stones and using them for evil. Boasting a roster of 34 playable characters (and counting), there is a myriad of different combinations that grant unique bonuses in battle. UA 3 supports co-op for up to four friends, locally and online.

The Division 2 is a culmination of everything developer Massive Entertainment has learned from player feedback regarding the first game and contained a lot more content at launch than the original. The game is set in Washington D.C. seven months after the events of The Division and sees your character caught in the middle of a civil war between survivors and deadly enemy factions.

Players team-up online with a squad of four and explore dynamic environments brimming with increasingly powerful enemies and loot. The game’s PvP component has been reworked to now include multiple ‘Dark Zones’ where players can face-off against one another to earn better rewards. A recent update introduced a new 8-player raid, and Ubisoft has plans to continue supporting the game long-term.

Although GTA games have included online multiplayer in the past, none have offered the same breadth of content as GTA 5. Separate from the game’s single-player story, GTA Online features an array of criminal activities that allow players to work together (or against one another) to earn cash and cause mayhem.

Chief among these are the Heists, which have a squad of players completing elaborate missions with multiple parts. These challenging operations require hours of planning and coordination but can yield some of the best rewards for teams who can communicate effectively.

Overcooked 2 is an arcade-inspired cooking sim that sees teams of up to 4-players coordinating to prepare and cook food orders in kitchens with ridiculous layouts. Levels are filled with multiple stations designated for different tasks like chopping, frying, boiling, and plating, and become increasingly difficult to perform as orders stack up and environmental hazards come into play.

The sequel introduces the ability to throw ingredients at your fellow chefs from far away, which will either be a benefit or total disaster, depending on your teammates. The game is brilliant in that it supports both local and online multiplayer, making it easy to team-up with friends.

Monster Hunter: World streamlines many of the creature slaying franchise’s features to appeal to a larger audience. While it may not always deliver on this promise when it comes to its antiquated online matchmaking systems, once you and your mates assemble, everything else is smooth sailing.

Quests can be completed with up to four players, and they scale in difficulty depending on how many players are in a squad. World‘s already satisfying combat and crafting systems become infinitely more fun and approachable when you have teammates calling out whenever they find a rare material or spot the monster you’re attempting to hunt.

Deep Rock Galactic is an online co-op shooter in which teams of up to 4-players control foul-mouthed dwarves tasked with completing contracts for an intergalactic mining company. Missions are focused on exploring diverse underground biomes filled with hostile creatures while collecting valuable resources that can be used for upgrading equipment and acquiring new skills.

The game features four character classes—Driller, Engineer, Gunner, and Scout, with each specializing in a different field. Indie developer Ghost Ship Games has been supporting the game ever since its release, frequently adding new maps, enemy types, and timed events for players to check out.

Sea of Thieves is an action-adventure title where up to 4-players can come together online and live out their wildest swash-buckling pirate dreams. And we recommend getting as many of your friends as you possibly can because the majority of ships you’ll want to use are fairly complex, requiring multiple players to man different stations to steer, hoist sails, navigate, and fire cannons.

Players embark on quests that see them searching for buried treasure underwater or on islands filled with undead enemies and possibly other human players. And by possibly, we mean you should be prepared for battle at all times since Sea of Thieves features a shared universe. 

By now, pretty much everyone is familiar with Minecraft’s premise: break blocks and use them to construct tools, weapons, food, decorative items, just about anything you can imagine. While the game is already pretty enjoyable as a solo endeavor, meeting up with a friend in the same server offers even more opportunities for emergent play as the two of you carve out your journeys. 

The survival sandbox’s appeal is made even better by messing around with mods, which can drastically change the experience visually and gameplay-wise. Flexible in-game goals, a nice soundtrack, and addictive gameplay make it one of the best and most relaxing co-op experiences present. 

Sometimes the greatest ideas get their start in a ridiculous premise, like what would happen if two adorable dogs were joined at the hip. Whether or not you consider that a “great” idea is a matter of personal preference, however, PHOGS! makes a strong case in favor of double doggo mayhem.

Described as a “puzzle-filled adventure,” this indie game sees you and another player combining your canine wits to get past a series of physics-based obstacles spread across 24 levels and three distinct worlds. Each one introduces new mechanics that call for unique strategies centered on three pillars of dog: barking, biting, and bouncing. 

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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