Some games are made to shine when played with others. While the competitive urge has taken over an industry obsessed with tacked-on multiplayer, the co-op shooter is still as prominent as ever. Who can forget the four-player madness of Left 4 Dead, and now its spiritual successor Evolve, a game that is pretty damn dull when played alone, but amazing when played with up to four friends.
To celebrate the release of Turtle Rock’s explosive co-op shooter, let’s go on a ride through gaming’s best cooperative shooters.
Splinter Cell Conviction
The co-op campaign in Conviction is undoubtedly one of the most under-appreciated co-op experiences in gaming history. Taking control of two agents, you’ll play through a prologue of the game’s campaign, combining abilities and skills before facing off against each other in an epic conclusion. If you’ve got Conviction sitting somewhere, dust it off and jump into co-op: you won’t be disappointed!
Call of Duty: World at War
While 2010’s Call of Duty: Black Ops certainly took the series’ acclaimed “Zombies” mode to new heights, it was 2008’s World of War that started it, and it still stands as the series’ most simplistically addictive horde mode. Call of Duty games have in the past complicated the experience with far too many variables and features to keep the mode grounded in simple co-op fun, and so a return to World at War’s iconic Nazi Zombies should be on the cards. As the story goes, we shouldn’t even have Call of Duty Zombies: the mode was being made secretly by agitated designers during the development of World at War, much to the frustration of the game’s leadership team.
This divisive epic from Halo creator Bungie managed to be both one of the most played and hated games of 2014. Reviews were mixed but the community remains strong, and while the game’s lacking “campaign” fails to live up to the universe’s fascinating lore, the world of Destiny is best played with friends.
Resident Evil 5
This game is often credited as being the beginning of the end of the Resident Evil franchise. It was never going to reach the heights of RE4, but there’s still a great co-op experience here. Both Chris and Sheva present unique gameplay experiences and the sharing of weapons and inventory items made for great friendly banter between two comrades.
This game should have been fun in single-player, but the AI is god awful, probably purposefully so. This game manages to take the best parts of generic Hollywood heists and shootouts and translates them perfectly into a fun and explosive gameplay experience. When played with at least one friend, it’s a highly engaging and sociable experience, reliant on strict planning, placement, and precision.
Awful DLC and launch day pricing aside, Evolve is a co-op shooter grounded in staunch teamplay philosophy. Superbly balanced, Evolve spectacularly blends tactical combat with all-out brutality, spread across 12 human characters, one monster and five players. Pure co-op bliss!
Its great drop-in, drop-out co-op outing, looting and lengthy gun battles made Borderlands an exhilarating multiplayer experience with friends. The game Destiny wanted to become (and still can), Borderlands 2 helped set the standard for genre.
Gears of War 3
It’s hard to split these Gears 2 and , because blasting through hordes of locust with a friend is equally as enjoyable in both. While Gears 3 certainly lacked the story coherency of its two predecessors, the action keeps pace, and the co-op outing makes for one of last generation’s best.
Halo 3 on Legendary with three friends. Woah! Still one of the best co-op campaign experiences around. Halo 4 doesn’t quite compare (as great as it was), with Halo 3 officially heralding in the Xbox 360 as a console for the ages.
Left 4 Dead 2
No contest, right? Valve’s Left 4 Dead series influenced a new generation of co-op shooters, introducing gamers to a refined four-player beast. While the first game was brilliant in its own right, Left 4 Dead 2 perfected the formula with its addictive style, strict team play and endless replayability.
Portal 2 – While not actually a “shooter”, it deserves a mention because, well, the Portal Gun is probably the best piece of hand welding technology in gaming history. The co-op campaign featuring Atlas and P-Body is tough and merciless, bringing with it more puzzles to compliment the second Portal Gun.
ArmA 3 – It’s not quite “cooperative” in nature but the act of teaming up with 62 other players in a brutal war zone while battling alongside your friends makes it worthy of a mention.
Far Cry 3 – It isn’t even Far Cry 3’s anarchic freedom in co-op that makes it worth playing with a friend. Rather, it’s the fact you get to play through a story-less “campaign” and cause as much havoc as you can in a tropical sandbox. Bliss!