So you want to get your significant other gaming, huh? Good shout. But let’s not destroy your boyfriend/girlfriend/imaginary mate/wife/husband/cat/dog/whatever (delete as applicable) in competitive mode just yet, especially if they struggle to hold a controller – or if they’ll beat your ass. Dignity, always dignity.
Jump in with our top screen-splitting, couch co-ops.
Lara Croft: Temple of Osiris
What’s it all about? Tomb Raider spin-off, this is an isometric action-puzzler that requires just enough teamwork to be fun, but isn’t so totally reliant on it that frustration festers in the dark heart of your lover because you keep fucking up one jump to complete the level. Solid combat, simple puzzles and plenty of modifier pick-ups keep it interesting.
What’s it all about? Goofball RPG-lite FPS with approximately 9.5 bajillion weapon, shield and mod variations – so you can game based on your own peculiar particular playstyle. The not-at-all serious universe is absolutely bonkers, filled with the undesirable and the deranged, making it good laugh, with or without a toke.
Left 4 Dead 2
What’s it all about? The gold standard for co-op shooters, face off against zombies and other infected undead of the running, raging 28 Days Later variety. Simple and satisfying gunplay and melee (cracking rotten skulls head never been more fun). Left 4 Dead 2 requires genuine teamwork; sticking to each others’ asses, healing them up and making sure your squad of four have a well-rounded arsenal. Grab the DLC for access to all new maps, as well as all those from the original game.
What’s it all about? It might feel like a very well-polished free-to-play game, but there’s tons of replayability here, with an online split-screen story mode that crescendos into a big bastard boss battle. There’s no real emphasis on story – something about the end of the universe, blah-blah-blah. The real joy comes from picking one of 25 heroes (there’s always someone to fit your style) and level up your skill tree differently each time you play.
What’s it all about? Absolute king of creative co-operative play, if you and your chief hand-holder-in-chief haven’t spent time crafting your dream home (or, more likely, a bricky box that just about functions as a bed-sit) then it’s time to power up that second controller. As you’ll probably know, given Minecraft is ine-fucking-scapable, you’re pretty much limited by your imagination – or imagination and your life-bar, if you’re playing survival mode. Pro-tip: Scale up to four blocks cubed rather than 1:1 for total creative freedom without running out of space.
Divinity: Original Sin
What’s it all about? Isometric myth-and-magic turn-based actioner. It’s pretty in-depth, so not one for a quick blast before dinner, but that’s part of its challenge. The game’s not too overwhelming, though, particularly since everyone attacks one at a time with a set amount of AP. It’s even better if you’re working together, and making discoveries with your loved one (or even your unloved one). Now and then there’s an element of tongue-in-cheek humour that helps prevent it from getting too heavy and, in true RPG fashion, you can craft your hero just the way you like ‘em – from skills to clothing to…hair (because that’s the most important aspect of any hero).
What’s it all about? A wildly silly side-scrolling beat ‘em. Take control of members of the awesomest punk rock group in the world, and fight for the number one spot using a variety of abilities – or just whack the buggers with your bass guitar. Badass, over-the-top art style are pitch-perfect complement to Charlie Murder. This is Streets of Rage for the iPod generation. This is the ultimate battle of the bands.
Gears of War Quadrilogy
What’s it all about? Guns. Gore. Alien mother-fuckers. This is the gaming equivalent of a Summer blockbuster popcorn movie – and that’s not a bad thing. The Gears games know precisely what they are, they’re not trying to be high art, and that just makes them even more fun (Except Gears of War: Judgment, which is just kinda meh). The story is that age-old good-versus-evil business we’ve seen a billion times before, but the real joy comes from chainsawing the bejesus out of rabidly violent aliens. There’s also an awesome Horde mode in Gears 3, ideal for co-opping with a few other pals online.
What’s it all about? One of those throwaway racing games that isn’t built for pros. Simple controls makes it accessible for pretty much anyone, even when you factor in all the sick tricks you can do (e.g. back-flipping like a demon). Sure, coming first counts, but you’ll never feel more like a racing don than when grabbing some air and pirouetting on the saddle of your bike.
What’s it all about? Not just an awesome indie puzzle-platformer, but possibly one of the best game-play narratives you’ll ever experience; there’s real soul to Never Alone – the story of an Alaskan girl and a fox who must defeat a villain who burnt her town to the ground. It’s based on the stories of the Iñupiat natives, and it doesn’t hurt that the art style – reminiscent of tribal drawings – is utterly beautiful. One that needs to be played to be believed. There are also some great documentaries in between the eight chapters, to really get a feel for the history and tradition of the Iñupiat.
What’s it all about? Destructively fun co-op add-on that sees two of you play as infinitely destructible robots that must complete a series of fiendishly tricky puzzles to get from the A (safe!) to B (not-at-all-safe). Since it’s built entirely for online or local co-op, there’s a lower difficulty than the mainline single-player game – so frustrations should generally be fairly low. This one will require some brains, no brawn and genuine teamwork to complete every map. And only occasionally, you might cause your partner to plummet to their death. Aw, dat’s love, folks.