Star Trek Guide

Best Co-op Games To Wreck Your Friendship

In the finest cooperative video games, the fun comes from players learning to work together like a well-oiled machine, but only a few special co-op games can make a complete failure to work together just as entertaining. Whether it's dropping friends into acid during Portal 2 or garbling a recipe in Overcooked, the following co-op titles will make both hard-earned triumph and disastrous discord equally entertaining for players. Just don't expect the friendship to survive the process.

Co-op video games have undergone many changes over the years. With the advent of graphically complex titles and online gaming, first-person shooters with split-screen co-op modes (the first Halo games, for instance) have become less common. At the same time, there has a been quietly flourishing sub-genre of co-op titles that dodge the technical challenges of split-screen games with third-person perspectives – for instance, Diablo 3 and Divinity: Original Sin 2, two notable examples of co-op fantasy RPGs.

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The best co-op titles, unsurprisingly, are the ones built from the ground up with gameplay mechanics centered around teamwork. These following co-op games are perfect for couch gaming and parties, with the potential to strengthen bonds between friends and lovers... or utterly destroy those bonds in the harsh crucible of "not understanding what the other person is saying" or "looking at the wrong character on the screen." While entertaining, players should remember that at the end of the day all of the games listed below are just that: games.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

The premise of the two-person game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is brutally simple. One person grasps the game controller and takes on the role of a bomb-disposal technician, presented with an cartoonishly complicated ticking bomb. The other person reads through a document with an elaborate set of instructions and attempts to talk players through the convoluted actions needed to disarm the bomb. Do things out of order, or read off the wrong set of instructions, and the bomb explodes in the player's face. While the premise seems simple, the complicated steps required to defuse bombs in later stages of the game almost always lead to confusion and arguments about what button should have been pressed when.

Overcooked 2's Cooking With Friends

The premise of Overcooked 1 and 2 is also starkly straightforward. 1 to 4 players take on the role of chefs, who must frantically work together in a labyrinthine kitchen environment to combine ingredients, cook food for the right amount of time, and serve as many customers as possible before the timer runs out. The fun of Overcooked rests in the sheer number of variables players need to (and fail to) keep straight in their heads: following the recipe at the top of the screen, cleaning dirty dishes, avoiding level-specific obstacles, and of course, not overcooking the rice.

Portal 2's Co-Op Campaign

In the co-op campaign of Portal 2, players take on the role of robots navigating test chambers created by a sadistic and extremely passive-aggressive AI.  The brain-bending process of using portal guns to navigate through the three-dimensional puzzles of each test chamber is made easier by  'Ping Tools' that help the players indicate to each other where portals should be placed. An elaborate system of emote gestures can foster a sense of friendship and trust.. .or be used to laugh at the other player when a button is accidentally (or purposefully) pressed, causing them to get crushed beneath a giant spiked plate.

Magicka 2 (and Helldivers)

The action RPG Magicka 2 is about wizards running amuck, while its spin-off, Helldivers, is a sci-fi military pastiche in the vein of Starship Troopers. In the Magicka games, players can cast elemental spells in tandem to create new, enhanced magical attacks. In Helldivers, players deploy special firearms, vehicles, turrets, and bombardments from orbit to fend off hordes of bugs, robots, and Hi-Tech Glowing Aliens. In both games, friendly fire is always, always on.

Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator (Or Star Trek: Bridge Crew)

Friends who feel they could do a better job than the crew of the USS Enterprise should get together and play Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator or the official Star Trek: Bridge Crew VR game. In both games, players take on the roles of Captain, Helmsman, Engineer, Communications Officer, and so on, trying to successfully steer a spaceship through uncharted territory. After a few hours, players will start to realize why the bridge crew in Star Trek always repeat the captain's orders before carrying them out. Then they'll realize that controlling a starship is much harder than it looks.

There's lots of different multiplayer co-op games out there, but titles like Portal 2 and the other games mentioned above have a much higher chance of being both fun and inciting than most. For players who don't mind a little angry cooperation, this is a perfect combo.