Published 2 years ago
, Updated December 30th, 2012 at 12:41 pm,
The Best Co-op Games of 2012
Throughout the years of the current console generation, we've seen more and more publishers feel the need to add in multiplayer features into games that weren't originally designed with that in mind. Although competitive multiplayer modes seem to be a 'must' for most shooters, we feel that many franchises and new IPs could better benefit from letting gamers play with others as opposed to against.
One of the best aspects of old school arcade gaming and the early Nintendo/Sega consoles is the simple concept of couch co-op. Let players enjoy games together, whether that be through LAN play, splitscreen or system linking. Why spend dozens of hours exploring the lands of a fantasy world or shooting down thousands of enemy combatants, when that can be enjoyed even more with (player-controlled) allies at your side?
We love co-op games at Game Rant and so we've listed the 10 best co-op games of the year.
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 is arguably the best single-player shooter of the year thanks to its highly polished and wonderously realized gameplay to go along with its beautiful and detailed open world, but the package comes with competitive and co-op multiplayer as well. Take on one of four combat-ready survivors to participate in multiple co-op missions and enjoy using many of the tricks and takedowns from the campaign, but this time with friends. The co-op works two-player splitscreen and online (one per console). No system link though.
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
A beautiful, stylistic and fast-paced shooter, Syndicate embraces a similar aesthetic and tech-inspired design and story to last year's Deus Ex: Human Revolution. While its story campaign is a single-player affair, and one not worth playing through twice, its standalone co-op mode is a fun and exciting experience where up to four players can work together (online only) to complete unique objectives, and upgrade their skills and weapons. EA thankfully dropped the online pass requirement for Syndicate but dropped the ball on marketing, so the game doesn't have the community and support it deserved.
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
New Super Mario Bros. U
The most-own launch title for Nintendo's new Wii U console, New Super Mario Bros. U takes the same formula from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but adds a twist to its classic-inspired side-scroller action. Now, the four players (Mario, Luigi and two Toads) can be joined by a fifth player via the Wii U GamePad who can help (or hinder) the other players by placing up to four additional blocks anywhere in the level. The GamePad player can also help delay or knock out enemies and reveal secrets that otherwise are inaccessible. Five-player couch co-op Mario is an easy formula for success. The game can only be played on one console this way as online play is oddly not supported.
Platforms Wii U
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
After disappearing from the gaming scene for years after Advanced Warfighter 1 & 2, Ubisoft brought back Ghost Recon in style with Future Soldier and they didn't forget what we love most about the series ever since the days of Ghost Recon 2 and its Summit Strike expansion: co-op. Not only can players enjoy the entire story campaign of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier with up to three friends, but there's an additional Guerrilla Mode that lets four players fight off waves of enemies, forcing them to move from base to base on multiple maps. Campaign co-op works via system link or online, only one player per console. Guerrilla supports two players per console system link and online.
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Guild Wars 2
The long-awaited sequel to Guild Wars of course includes expansive PVP options, but playing with friends as opposed to against is where we have the most fun, even if the more personalized stories aren't co-op friendly. Dungeon raids with friends is the way to go, so long as you know someone before signing up. Guild Wars 2 is an online-only MMO.
Forget the always-online, auction-house-motivated Diablo 3 and its weak end game and launch issues, when there's the incredibly fun and high quality Torchlight sequel at a much more affordable price. The original game was a solo affair but Torchlight 2 adds the much desired co-op for up to six players and takes the mantle as the year's best top-down action RPG. Players can play online or LAN, one per system.
343 Industries did a wonderful job at taking over the Halo franchise from Bungie and they did well to support four-player co-op in its campaign, even if it is too short. There are some bugs with transporting players closer together, but all of that is blown away by Halo 4's new Spartan Ops ongoing co-op campaign, which adds new content and stories on a weekly basis. Co-op works with up to two players per console via system link or online.
Platform: Xbox 360
Borderlands was an epic success when it came to co-op shooters and it meshed it successfully with a unique cel-shaded aesthetic and the looter RPG formula. The sequel continues and builds upon what works and is a game much better enjoyed with allies in battle. Borderlands 2 can be played online and system link with up to two players per console, except on PC (there's an unofficial workaround for PC splitscreen though).
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Mass Effect 3
Many fans scoffed at the idea of BioWare introducing multiplayer into the story and character-focused Mass Effect series, some even accusing publisher Electronic Arts for forcing them to do it. Although at launch, it came off a shallow tack-on for marketing purposes, BioWare expanded the multiplayer co-op component of Mass Effect 3 into something incredibly fun to play. There are tons of unlocks to earn, from characters and weapons, to mods and power-ups, to go along with free downloads of new maps and character classes. It was a success and tons of fun to play with friends who enjoy the series. And you can play as aliens! The multiplayer does not support splitscreen or system link, only online one player per console.
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
One of the best games of the year, the indie (albeit, Sony published) Journey was a beautiful and charming addition to Thatgamecompany's resume of work, which already includes the unique Flow and Flower. The game's musical score, its aesthetic and gameplay are highlights in and of themselves, but its play-with-a-stranger co-op that really separates it from the pack, letting players enjoy co-op encounters with random players who can help and learn to communicate with one another. Journey's co-op is online only.
Looking for a game to play with family or friends between Christmas and the New Year? We highly recommend the above titles, many of which have been out for months and months and can be purchased at a discount.
Research the game(s) that pique your interest to ensure you and your allies-to-be have enough copies of the game, the right PC requirements and/or the right number of consoles and Xbox Live accounts. Some of them unfortunately are restricted to only only or one-per-console locally.
A few honorable mentions that didn't make the list are Assassin's Creed 3 (Wolf Pack mode) Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (Zombies mode), Diablo 3, and Skylanders Giants.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.