The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

As you’re sitting on the couch wearing a headset, playing a game and chatting with your distant friends over the internet, it’s easy to forget that video games are often best enjoyed with another person in the same room.

Of course, that’s not the only way to enjoy a game. There are a lot of different ways to play games with people. Still, sometimes it feels like when most of us think of playing games with friends, we think of playing games against our friends.

Today, I wanted to list some games that are great to share, or to play play with a friend. Lately, my girlfriend and I have been finding a lot of time to play games together. Sometimes she watches me play games for work, other times I’ll watch her play stuff, and still other times, we trade off the controller or play co-op games together. As a result of all that, I’ve been thinking a lot about the most fun games to play and share with another person.

The list below isn’t made up entirely of games with built-in co-op. Some of the entries are singleplayer games that are nonetheless fun to share with someone. Maybe they’re just enjoyable to watch, or maybe there are aspects of them that are still cool to share even if only one player gets to hold a controller. The main criteria I used was that they’re all games that are good to play with someone, but they never (or very infrequently) make you feel like you’re playing against the other person. They’ll bring you closer together, rather than pitting you against one another.

This is not a complete list — it’s a starter list, pulled together after I polled Kotaku‘s staff and got some suggestions. I’d love for you all to help me complete it, to share the games you like to play with your friends and why. For now though, here are some great games to play with your friend or significant other:

Portal 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Probably the most obvious entry on this list. This game has some of the best split-screen cooperative multiplayer of all time OF ALL TIME.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

A surprisingly close second to Portal 2 in the “Co-op puzzles” category; this game is waaaaay smarter than I expected it to be, and I still play it from time to time.

Catherine (Xbox 360, PS3)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

A straight-up singleplayer game that still works well with a friend or even a room full of friends. Hand the controller around during the frustrating puzzle sections, but make sure everyone weighs in on the moral choices and girlfriend dilemma.

Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Not really a very good game by most conventional measures, but still surprisingly fun to share with a friend. Furthermore, having one player control Aiden and one control Ellen Page further underlines the idea that they’re to different people.

Puppeteer (PS3)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

An unfortunately overlooked, wonderful little game that allows for one less experienced player to provide assistance for the main character.

Super Mario Galaxy/Galaxy 2 (Wii)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

A pioneer in the helpful sidekick department, Galaxy lets both players contribute while saving its steepest challenges for the first player.

Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Collaborative in a different way from Galaxy, the Wii U’s latest, greatest Mario game makes you work together more than it pits you against one another. It’s certainly not the relationship-killer that New Super Mario Bros. Wii was, which is a relief.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

The ScareScraper might be the most unsung part of the generally excellent Luigi’s Mansion, particularly given that you can play a limited version via with friends who don’t even own the game. (They’ll need their own 3DS, though.) This is an excellent way to kill time at conventions or at the airport.

Broken Age (PC, Mac)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Broken Age felt more like an animated TV miniseries than a classic hardcore adventure game, but that’s actually a good thing. Even using a mouse it was a cinch to play on the big screen, and looked lovely in HD.

The Walking Dead (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac, iOS)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

The first (and so far, second) seasons of The Walking Dead were both like tense, well-written TV shows, but where the characters respond when you yell advice to them. Works if you hand the controller back and forth, but also good if you just quickly confer on the difficult decisions.

Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Gears of War is one of the big daddies of console co-op, and the third game in the series will have you and a friend back to back in the trenches before chainsawing your way through the Locust hordes. Always a good time.

The Wolf Among Us (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac, iOS)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Enjoyable for similar reasons to The Walking Dead, if a little more slow-paced. Particularly good for fans of the comics.

Fingle (iPad)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Probably the sexiest iPad game ever made, or at least one of them. Warning: Do not play this game with your siblings or parents.

Pac Man Championship Edition DX (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

It may be a single player Pac-Man game, but Championship Edition DX is still a blast to share with a friend. Switch off games and see who can get the highest score, the biggest chain of ghosts, and the most ridiculous bonuses. And don’t forget to dance to the music.

Heavy Rain (PS3)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

The story’s a mess and really, so’s the game, but it’s all unusual enough to be really fun to play with a friend next to you on the couch. Plus, plenty of decisions to tear your hear out over.

Lego Marvel Superheroes (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PC, Wii U)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Or really, any Lego game. These games are a blast to play co-op, and great for gamers of most ages, too.

GTA V (Xbox 360, PS3)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Grand Theft Auto games come with a time-honored tradition of handing a controller and giving everyone one life to cause as much havoc as possible.

The Last of Us (PS3)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

This game, along with Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series, might be the most watchable action games around; they’re plenty enjoyable for their narratives, cutscenes and performances. The Last of Us in particular is a fine game to share.

The Room/The Room 2 (iPad)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Few games are as fun to play with a friend, the two of you hunched over the iPad and studying the gears and buttons on each of the many intricate puzzle-boxes. The Room‘s “Eureka!” moments are best shared.

Outlast (PC, PS4)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

Outlast is fun to share for the same reason that it’s fun to watch a horror movie with a friend. Getting scared is just more fun with another person to grab when you scream. And dudes… you will scream playing this game.

Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac)

The Best Video Games To Play With A Friend

As fun today as it was when it first came out, Left 4 Dead 2 on consoles offers a fine split-screen mode that’ll have you frantically working together to fight off the zombie hordes.

Like I said at the top, this list is a good starter but it’s far from complete. I hope you’ll chime in below and list your own additions, bearing in mind the criteria for this specific list: Games that are mostly co-operative, even if they’re single-player; that can be as fun to watch as they are to play, and that are great to share.

If you do submit an entry, be sure to include an image from the game (Preferably 16×9, avoid massive box-art if you can help it), the name of the game, and why it’s a good one to share with a friend.


  • I’d like to add geometry wars: retro evolved 2 to the list. amazing party game, especially if you’re already gacked

  • Left 4 Dead 2 is available on PS3, is it?

    Plus, The Last of Us? “Hey, sit here and watch me play this game.” Sounds…great.

    Snark aside, the recent Rayman games, LittleBigPlanets, and hey, House of the Dead: Overkill, because grindhouse zombie killing never gets old.

    • Actually people always seem to enjoy watching along with the Last of Us.

      I love Zombie games, and FPS, but never had much fun with L4D, just found it boring and grindy.

      • If people do, I won’t argue. It’s such a tense game though that sitting on the sidelines would just make me incredibly frustrated.

        Didn’t play L4D, but did grab L4D2 when it was free over Xmas – it’s fun to just randomly drop into a game, although having campaigns from two whole games probably helps.

  • I really haven’t had a fun co-op experience since my brother, my cousin and I would huddle around the old 286 playing Rampage. Now that was fun!

  • I’m still looking for people to co-op through Portal 2, Lara Croft, Left 4 Dead 1 (never touched 2) and 4-man co-op through Gears of War 3. I also picked up the second Army of Two game during an EB sale for 12 bucks that I want to start.

    and really, how can this list not include a single Halo game? Reach scales the difficulty based on amount of players, and ODST is probably the best co-op experience of them all.

  • I’d definitely add borderlands. I’m not sure why exactly, but it’s been a pretty good entry point for AAA gaming in my experience. My non-gaming fiance definitely loves it.

    I’ve only recently gotten into left 4 dead with a mate. It’s a lot of fun, though it seems to be a bit unbalanced just playing it 2-player. Usually we’ll struggle through the first 20 minutes of an episode (even on easy) and then breeze through once we get a machine gun.

  • A mate and I have a blast in BF4 using Skype. Its almost become a daily ritual. When we get sick of playing the objectives we jump in a jeep or a heli or on a bike for some shenanigans.

    • Making your own 2 man fun machine is great in Battlefield. A friend and I do the same. Sometimes we’ll pair up on a hill with snipers, and once bored of that, we’ll grab a quad/motorbike and start trying to cap objectives or destroy things with explosives. So much fun.

  • I have to agree,
    The older im getting, the further im getting from Vs. games because im sick of always being in competition, hence coop is my cup of tea, just to casually chill and progress with a friend not compete

  • I’ve been playing a LOT of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc lately, and it’s surprisingly good with someone else in the room- especially the class trials, the debates between my girlfriend and I over who was guilty got more hectic than the actual courtroom at points…

  • Can you do a list of games that are the best offline coop games? Games you can play with your girlfriend? I think my girlfriend would grow bored quick smart if she had to sit and wait next to me.

    • This… My fiancee just wanders away if I’m doing something that she’s not into..

      We’ve been playing Mario 3D World but previously played Wonderful 101, L4D2, Borderlands 2, Dead Island and Dead Island:Riptide..

      • I thought about getting her a Wii U so she could play Mario and Wonderful 101. Zombies creep her out so Dead Islands out. We’re trying out Lego Marvel which she likes a lot.

  • My gf and I have played through about half of Mario Galaxy where one of us holds the movement controller and the other controls jumping etc., It’s actually pretty fun once you get the hang of it but usually if there’s a super hard section one of us will take over and alternate till we get through it. Hopefully we can finish this soon.

  • Mashed – Hands down my favorite game to play with mates. Wrecked: Revenge Revisited being the update version has also added hours and hours of game time.

  • Adventure games in general are fun to share, I’ve discovered. There’s sometimes a little frustration, as I like to exhaust all dialogue options but my wife likes to turn on the subtitles and skip through dialogue as quickly as possible.

    Once we found a happy middle ground, though, it was a lot of fun to share the story. You’re also much less likely to get stuck for any length of time when you have someone else playing with you.

    It’s a little painful to watch her just waltz through puzzles in classic games that kept me stuck for weeks as a kid, though.

    • Yep, agreed. My first ever playthroughs of Monkey Island 1&2, the Police Quests, Space Quests, Quest for Glory’s etc as a kid were all played with my older brother. 90% of the time he was running the mouse, didn’t diminish from the gaming experience at all.

  • I’ve been enjoying playing Project Zomboid with friends lately, 8bit graphic zombie survival! The best of fun you have with mates.

  • My partner wanted to know what all the fuss was about with mass effect. She is no good at shooting games, so we decided I would do the game play and she did the chatting/moral choices. We’ve played the whole trilogy like that and she absolutely loved it. She’s even got a cyber crush on kaiden.

  • No mention of Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii)? Gorgeous textiles aesthetic, and due to death only being a minor inconvenience it accommodates having two players of different skill levels particularly well.

  • Just for the uninitiated: If you do not have a console handy, plug your PC into your TV and 2 controllers, as Portal 2 (and I think L4D2) have split screen support on PC. So does Borderlands 2 I think

  • Rampart on the PS store. Fun for up to 3 players (and for those watching!). Gets pretty intense when everyone gets the hang of how to play. LittleBigPlanet is good for parties. Particularly fun browsing the community levels; especially shark-related ones.

    Diablo 3 is great for RPG-junkies. I mean, there’s a fuss when everyone wants to customize skills, but with just two players it isn’t so unbearable. And in a matter of time we’ll have it on our PS4s/Xbox Ones with plenty of new content.
    And if Borderlands is your thing, to memory the console varieties include splitscreen coop.

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