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The 26 best couch co-op games to play with a partner - Best News

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The 26 best couch co-op games to play with a partner

Online multiplayer is part and parcel of many video games these days, but finding something you can play on the couch with friends and family is tougher. If you’re looking for some local co-op fun, allow us to help. Below are 26 of the best couch co-op games we’ve played across the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC. Note that we’re focusing on genuine co-op experiences, not games that have local multiplayer but aren’t truly cooperative in practice. So, no Mario Kart or Jackbox. Nevertheless, our list encompasses everything from platformers and puzzlers to RPGs and arcade shooters.

Quick Overview

Super Mario 3D World

$60 at Amazon

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

$60 at Amazon

Rayman Legends

$20 at Best Buy

Baldur’s Gate 3

$60 at GOG

Vampire Survivors

$5 at Xbox

Luigi’s Mansion 3

$60 at Amazon

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics

$27 at Amazon

BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!

$10 at Amazon

It Takes Two

$40 at Amazon

Portal 2

$10 at Steam

Streets of Rage 4

$35 at Amazon

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

$30 at GameStop

Stardew Valley

$15 at Amazon

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

$40 at Xbox

Untitled Goose Game

$18 at Walmart

Chicory: A Colorful Tale

$21 at Walmart

Spiritfarer

$30 at Amazon

Overcooked! All You Can Eat

$40 at Amazon

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

$15 at Nintendo

Cuphead

$20 at GameStop

Spelunky and Spelunky 2

$20 at Nintendo

Ikaruga

$15 at Nintendo

Wizard of Legend

$16 at Amazon

Assault Android Cactus

$20 at Nintendo

Wilmot’s Warehouse

$15 at Nintendo

Escape Academy

$20 at PlayStationSee 21 moreNintendo

Super Mario 3D World

Available for: SwitchLength: 17 hours

$60 at Amazon

You know the broad strokes of any Super Mario game by now. But within the series, Super Mario 3D World stands out for using a largely fixed camera and levels that are more semi-3D than the totally open spaces in Super Mario Odyssey or Super Mario Galaxy. There are still many items to grab and secrets to uncover across the characteristically charming, brisk and inventive stages — but everything you can find at a given moment is right in front of you, which encourages you to look closer and move from foreground to background.

Co-op play can be chaotic, but 3D World owns that. You and up to three buddies share lives but are scored on your individual performance, with the leader receiving a literal crown at the end of each level. This makes for a sort of competitive co-op mode, one in which a devious “teammate” could straight-up grab you and chuck you off a cliff in an attempt to secure their high score. The adventure only has to be as spicy as you and your partners want it to be, though; if you aren’t playing with a group of sickos, 3D World should be an exciting update to a familiar Mario formula.

We’ll also shout out Super Mario Bros. Wonder, the latest 2D Mario game. That one supports local multiplayer too, but its camera is a bit too zoomed-in, which can make it harder for players of different skill levels to stay on screen at once. It’s a great platformer and still a decent co-op experience, but it feels designed for solo play first and foremost.

Nintendo

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Available for: SwitchLength: 15 hours

$60 at Amazon

Like most Donkey Kong Country games, Tropical Freezeis a 2D platformer that’s both structurally straightforward and aesthetically gorgeous. Donkey Kong is not Mario: He has a more immediate sense of gravity to him, so when he leaps, he comes down hard. But the platforming is uniquely deliberate as a result, and the way the game leads you from one stunning scene to the next, even within the same stage, is a delight.

Tropical Freeze can get difficult, particularly during some later boss fights, but a “Funky Mode” in the Switch version eases things slightly. If you still have a Wii or Wii U, meanwhile, this game’s predecessor, Donkey Kong Country Returns, is just as great, if not better.

Ubisoft

Rayman Legends

Available for: PS4, Switch, Xbox, PCLength: 16 hours

$20 at Best Buy

If Donkey Kong is Mario’s brutish animal pal, Rayman is the eccentric French buddy he visits when he’s overseas. Rayman Legends is a more out there 2D platformer than the Nintendo properties above: Instead of the pristine environments and perfect geometry of a Mario or Donkey Kong game, here everything is a bit more abstract, cartoony and crass. (There are more fart sounds, for one.)

The moment-to-moment movement is a little less precise, too, but Legends still plays fast and light, with stages that are loaded with optional rooms and collectibles that invite your curiosity. This is an unpretentious game, a fun side-scrolling platformer that merely wants to be a fun side-scrolling platformer, and it becomes more enjoyable (and frantic) with friends.

Larian Studios

Baldur’s Gate 3

Available for: PC, PS5, XboxLength: 105 hours

$60 at GOG

Baldur’s Gate 3 is a mammoth CRPG that plays like a digital Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Part of that is because it’s set in the “Forgotten Realms;” another is because its tricky, turn-based combat is based on D&D 5th Edition’s rules. But most of the resemblance lies in its flexible spirit. No video game is as malleable as a real DM’s imagination, but Baldur’s Gate 3 asks you to make a ton of decisions, even when you don’t realize it, and the timeline of its world morphs alongside them. It becomes more rigid as it rolls along, but a driving plot and a compelling cast of characters help keep it moving. The near-universal praise is no accident: Baldur’s Gate 3 follows gaming’s eternal promise, that “your choices matter,” to an extent most narrative-based games do not.

All of this works better as a solo experience, but it takes on a different flavor in its co-op mode. You and a partner can go through the whole story, but neither of you haveto follow the other’s lead. Part of the fun is in the ways your buddy could undermine or alter your quest in unforeseen ways, perhaps by killing an important NPC or taking up a quest with contradictory goals. But if you want to travel together and work out combat strategies in harmony, that’s fine too. As with Divinity: Original Sin 2, another great couch co-op RPG from developer Larian Studios, the question is this: What would happen if your RPG party members behaved like actual people, not a collective bound to one path? The answer: a mess, potentially, but a thrilling one. Just note that a playthrough can last well over 100 hours, so you’ll want a partner who can commit for the long haul.

Poncle

Vampire Survivors

Available for: Xbox, Switch, PCLength: 33 hours

$5 at Xbox

Vampire Survivors is a retro-looking, shoot-em-up title with a twist: The game shoots for you. You select from a handful of characters, each with distinct abilities, and face hordes of monsters in a set of endless stages. As you defeat enemies, you gain experience. With each level-up, you choose a new weapon or passive ability, adding a layer of strategy and contingency as you figure out fun “builds.” Do it right, and you’ll mow down screens of baddies within seconds. The only goal is to survive until a time limit. It’s a focused, naturally replayable loop, and the comically huge amount of cannon fodder you end up blasting by the end of each round borders on a parody of gaming power fantasies. But it’s that auto-firing that makes Vampire Survivors stand out: Instead of caring about aiming or dexterity, it’s about movement and the ability to visualize space within chaos.

All of this still applies in its co-op mode, which supports up to four players, but there’s a new element of communication on top. You split weapons and trade off leveling upgrades, so you’re encouraged to stick together and work out how to turn your team into a collective monster-blasting machine. This can make the game slower and tougher, especially at first, but the extra tension adds more excitement to each run.

Nintendo

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Available for: SwitchLength: 16 hours

$60 at Amazon

Luigi’s Mansion 3is another ghost-hunting adventure starring Mario’s scaredy-cat brother, who this time must stomach his fears and use his “Poltergust” vacuum to rescue his friends from a haunted hotel. Its co-op mode isn’t available until an hour-ish into the story, but at that point, a second player can become “Gooigi,” a Luigi clone made of green goo with infinite lives. (It makes sense when you get there.) Though the game isn’t particularly tough, this setup gives you more freedom to mess around with puzzle and boss fight solutions without having to start over repeatedly.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 has some frustrating elements more generally — controlling that ghost-gobbling vacuum can be annoyingly imprecise, and backtracking through previously-conquered areas can get tedious — but the creative level designs and Pixar-esque animation give it a distinct personality compared to other Nintendo games. It’s a silly and usually satisfying time, one that’s especially well-suited for kids.

Nintendo

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics

Available for: SwitchLength: 18 hours

$27 at Amazon

Clubhouse Gamesis a compilation of 51 classic tabletop games, from Yahtzee and Connect Four to shogi and nine men’s morris. Not every entry in the collection supports couch co-op, but most do, and almost all are made easy to grasp.

Apart from being accessible, Clubhouse Games stands out for the quality of its curation. The included games span cultures, time periods and even modes of play; some are built on skill or patience, others on abstraction or chance. When you first boot up the game, you’re asked to identify your “heart’s desire,” and there’s a fair bit of detail on each game’s origins and history as you go along. Taken as a whole, this is a game that recognizes play itself as a kind of universal connection. But even ignoring all of that, Clubhouse Games is a fun, chill time — much like busting out a favorite board game.

Nintendo

BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!

Available for: SwitchLength: 11 hours

$10 at Amazon

BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!may not look like much, but this minimalist puzzler from Kirby makers HAL Laboratory has the kind of simple pleasure and regularly inventive design you’d expect from a Nintendo-published game. In its two-player campaign, you play as Qbby and Qucy, two walking boxes with the ability to grow additional boxes out of their heads. Your goal is to get from point A to point B, using those boxes to cross gaps and navigate various obstacles along the way.

The catch is that you can only create a certain amount of boxes at a time, so you and your partner often have to think outside the box (sorry) to find a safe way past. You’ll start off making basic bridges, but the bite-sized levels quickly build on themselves with a stream of new ideas. Eventually, you’ll find yourself using boxes as makeshift grappling hooks, shovels, laser-blocking shields and more, in ways that quickly make sense. Simply beating the game isn’t difficult, but collecting the tricky-to-reach crowns tucked away in each stage brings a greater challenge if you want it.

EA

It Takes Two

Available for: Switch, PS4 & PS5, Xbox, PCLength: 14 hours