Multiplayer online games

The best couch co-op games to play with friends

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Online multiplayer may have become the de facto way to play games together, but there are still plenty of co-op titles out there for those looking to catch up with friends and family and enjoy games together IRL.

Couch co-op games are designed to be played by multiple people gathered around the same screen and all working towards the same goal. While the market has undeniably thinned out over the years, it’s still a broad category that covers a wide variety of games. But they all share one thing in common: cooperation is key, and it will make or break your gaming experience.

Your best bet for finding your next favorite couch co-op game is knowing what you expect from it. Do you want to team up with friends to defeat a common enemy or join forces to solve puzzles and platforming challenges? Are you looking to invest yourself in a narrative adventure or revel in the hilarity and frustration of chaotic gameplay?

Below, we’ve rounded up the best co-op titles for PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Each pick was based on the strength of its co-op experience, and we’ve included games that span a range of skill levels and genres.

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“Phogs” literally takes the idea that two heads are better than one. You play as a two-headed noodley dog ​​with a head on each end (think CatDog minus the arms and legs…and the Cat too, I guess). Each player controls one of the heads, stretching and sliding through the colorful environments to overcome obstacles and solve puzzles. Its wonky physics make for hilarious and ridiculous gameplay as you navigate equally goofy challenges, like bouncing around a putt-putt course as a ball or becoming the claw in a giant claw machine.

You can play “Phogs” with up to two players on Switch, PC, and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

From HAL Laboratories, the team behind “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” and the Super Smash Bros. series, comes this charming puzzle platformer with a minimalist design. The latest title in the BoxBoy series and the first to feature cooperative play, “BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL!” is a two-player adventure where each player grows boxes in their head to build bridges, scale structures, and overcome obstacles. There is a limit to the number of boxes each player can create in a level, making good communication essential in determining where to strategically place each one to solve the puzzle.

You can hang “BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL!” on Nintendo Switch.

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The concept of “Death Squared” seems quite simple. Each player must guide their colorful cube-shaped robot to a tile of the corresponding color without dying to complete the level. Where things get tricky, however, is trying to navigate the dangers, deadly lasers, and traps that make each grid-based puzzle increasingly difficult. Traps are color coded and robots of the same color are immune to their effects. Players must work together to block hazards and change the layout of the level by pressing the buttons that match their color to get their teammates through safely.

“Death Squared” supports up to four players and is available on PC, Switch, and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

For gamers looking for chaos

Overcooked: All you can eat!

If you’ve wanted to try the cooperative cooking mayhem of the Overcooked series, it’s never been easier. The “Overcooked: All You Can Eat!” The compilation includes both “Overcooked” and “Overcooked 2” as well as all of their DLCs. Players team up to prepare and serve as many dishes as possible while working in kitchens where no kitchen should ever be, like hundreds of feet above the ground in a hot air balloon or right in the middle of an active volcano. If that sounds like absolute chaos, it is! But the frenetic and often frustrating gameplay is a big part of the fun.

You can get “Overcooked: All You Can Eat!” on PC, Switch and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

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“Streets of Rogue” takes the thrill and unpredictability of a roguelike and turns it into multiplayer mayhem. Set in a top-down view, the game sees players roaming through a procedurally generated city, completing missions and unlocking new gadgets and abilities to wreak more havoc in subsequent races. “Streets of Rogue” has a goofy tone similar to “Enter the Gungeon,” leaning heavily into its own ridiculousness with plenty of goofy gags and fourth-wall-breaking jokes. Playable classes include ‘cannibal’ and ‘gorilla’, chicken nuggets are used as currency, and you gobble bacon cheeseburgers and whiskey to heal.

“Streets of Rogue” supports up to four players locally on PC, Switch, and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

The goal of “Heave Ho” is simple: not to die. But you and your teammates are a wobbly string of legless trapeze artists bobbing through the air, so that’s easier said than done. In this wacky physics party game, each player controls a colorful blob with two arms, using the analog stick to swing them and the left and right bumpers to open and close the corresponding hand. Intentionally convoluted mechanics make the process of getting from point A to point B a tricky exercise in communication and coordination. Navigating the game’s platforming levels becomes a chaotic stampede of gesturing limbs that can test the limits of certain friendships.

“Heave Ho” supports up to four players on Nintendo Switch and PC.

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For players who crave a good story

“It Takes Two” won Game of the Year at the 2021 Game Awards – and for good reason. Designed from the start as a two-player experience, the game follows a married couple on the verge of divorce who, after breaking the news to their daughter, find themselves trapped in the bodies of her dolls. This co-op platformer is packed with a dizzying array of gameplay mechanics that players must use to navigate their now oversized “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” environment. You soar through the air on choppy spinners, brave wintery mountains inside a snow globe, and watch the couple slowly rediscover why they fell in love in the first place.

You can play “It Takes Two” on PC as well as PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

The wonders of Tiny Tina

Borderlands games have always been best enjoyed with friends, and this spin-off for one of the series’ most beloved characters is no different. “Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands” combines the fantasy and role-playing elements of Dungeons & Dragons with the chaos of Borderlands looting/shooting gameplay. In addition to the standard vast arsenal of firearms, a revamped melee and spell system allows players to mow down hordes of enemies at will.

Up to two players can play “Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands” via split-screen on PC and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

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“Knights and Bikes” is what you get when you combine the narrative coming-of-age beats of “The Goonies” with the humor and visual style of “Psychonauts.” This hand-painted adventure game follows two childhood friends as they go on a treasure hunt on a mysterious island with their pet goose, Captain Honkers. Players work in tandem to solve puzzles, clear obstacles, and defeat islanders possessed by an ancient curse. It’s a charming celebration of childhood that doesn’t shy away from the creepy and weird bits of growing up.

“Knights and Bikes” is available on Switch, PC and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

For players looking for a challenge

A longtime indie favorite, “Cuphead” is a run-and-gun shooter that’s as challenging as it is beautiful. Its meticulously hand-animated art style is inspired by Disney and 1930s Fleischer Studios Cartoons, and its jazzy soundtrack borrows from the same era. Players traverse surreal worlds and battle sentient poker chips, demonic clowns, and boxing frogs through elaborate multi-stage boss battles. You will probably die. A lot. But there is a solidarity to be found in overcoming such impossible difficulties side by side with a friend.

You can play “Cuphead” on Switch, PC and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

While not as brutal as “Cuphead”, “Wizards of Legend” is a dungeon crawler with easy to understand but difficult to master mechanics. You juggle an elaborate arsenal of spells and chain together devastating attack combos while trying to survive waves of enemies and ruthless boss fights across 10 levels of a procedurally generated dungeon. Its retro art style is a dazzling throwback to the 16-bit generation, while its roguelike elements make every run something new and unique.

You can tackle “Wizards of Legend” with up to two players on Switch, PC and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

Before “Celeste”, there was “Tower Fall”, an archery combat arena game also from Matt Makes Games where players must rely on quick thinking and even faster reflexes. While its gameplay originally focused on multiplayer deathmatches, the revamped port for PC and other game consoles, “Tower Fall Ascension”, added cooperative campaigns for up to four players. It’s still the same fast-paced combat, split-second decision-making and power-up rush that defined the original experience, just with players using their sniper skills to take down hordes monsters instead of each other.

“Tower Fall Ascension” is available on Switch, PC and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.