From quirky roguelikes to frantic zombie shooters, some video games really are best enjoyed with friends.
Certain gaming experiences just hit different in co-op; the desperate cries for heals and revives, the perfect coordination when solving a puzzle, or even just the battle over who has to use the clunky third-party controller. In recent years we've seen co-op games take a dramatic shift from being simple tacked-on modes to full-fledged adventures, perhaps best seen in the likes of It Takes Two or A Way Out.
This week, we've put together a list of some of our favorite co-op games and experiences from over the years - but it wasn't easy to narrow them down.
DBLTAP's Best Co-Op Games of All-Time
Noam: I was 12 when Castle Crashers made it to the Xbox 360. My best friend and I had already played Alien Hominid to death, so we were primed for The Behemoth's next charming, ridiculous co-op adventure. It did not disappoint.
Gaming inspires obsession. That's true no matter how old you are. But when you're young, you have both the time and the will to milk a game for every single ounce of enjoyment it could possibly bring, and then to keep playing it for a while after that. There was no good reason to play this game as long as we did, long after unlocking everything and playing the same levels over and over. But we did it anyway, our eyes going blank and our lizard brains operating the controllers. It was a surrender to compulsion, and it was beautiful.
Nina: If you like Overcooked, you'll love Moving Out! It will have you either nailing a cooperative rhythm or screaming instructions (mixed with obscenities) at your teammates. Your job is for you and up to three other other players to move furniture into a moving truck, figuring out the best routes to take, before time runs out. Some levels include small puzzles you'll need teamwork to solve and perfectly fit your furniture into the moving truck. This is definitely the chaotic, fun co-op you need to play with friends.
Call of Duty: World at War - Zombies
Max: High school was a golden era of co-op experiences: Halo campaigns, Gears of War, Resident Evil 5 and Call of Duty Zombies. Some might argue one of those necessarily doesn't fit in with the rest, but I digress. Of those to choose from, Zombies was my personal favorite. A revolutionizing mode in Call of Duty that came just a year after CoD 4 changed class-based shooters forever.
Such a simplistic mode that was built on figuring out how you could survive the longest. Nacht der Untoten was such an iconic map. Boarding up windows, figuring out where to go next, locating the mystery box, trying to figure out which corner to group up in. By and large the most memorable co-op experience of my adolescence.
Suzette: It's Groundhog Day meets a retro beat-em-up in a dungeon. This is a co-op game I can play any time and play as little or as much as I need to. Basically, you wake up in a dungeon with your co-op bud and you have to go through all five levels of dungeons and defeat the baddie. Except you will probably die. BUT THAT'S OKAY. When you die, all the souls you killed you can apply to level up skills. You'll need to die dozens (or hundreds) of times in order to max out your skill branch.
The game used to be so much harder; healing weapons were impossible to get so you had to rely on eating bananas and apples. I swear the game is good though.
Left 4 Dead 2
Alex: It's actually not possible to talk about co-op games without mentioning Left 4 Dead 2. Sorry.
This was the go-to multiplayer for me during high school. As soon as that bell rang at the end of the day, it was an immediate race home to pick up some games of Left 4 Dead 2. If I were to pick a video game level to run through blindfolded it would be The Hotel in Dead Center. I wouldn't get very far, but it's the enthusiasm that counts. My friends and I would hold regular video game nights at each others houses and cart over multiple Xboxes, just so we could LAN it up together in the same room and mash up some Infected.
Has an action ever earned as much resentment from your peers as startling the Witch? Probably. But we all had that chaotic friend who did it deliberately. God, I miss 2009.
Ralston: Back in its heyday in 2008, I remember hanging out with my cousins and playing this with them endlessly on their PlayStation 3. An extremely fun puzzle platformer, the amount of creativity on display from the homemade aesthetic to the seamless "Popit" character customization feature was amazing.
Each map had its own fresh atmosphere and, combined with the chaotic energy when four players are all simply trying to survive and advance, made for some timeless moments. The game also had a level designer mode that was way ahead of its time, with a vast community level library of endgame content to show for it (shoutout my shark survival level makers).