Welcome back, gamers. We hope the holidays were generous to you in every way. After spending the last year on the sidelines, we finally splurged into the PSVR this year and have not been disappointed (more on that soon). Now we’ve entered that surreal time between Christmas and New Year’s when school is still out or work isn’t really a factor yet, so it’s a time to reflect on the year and get primed for 2018. We wanted to take a moment to look back the year of coop games for 2017 and consider the highlights. Here now are the 5 Best Coop Games of 2017.
5. Ghost Recon: Wildlands (March 7th – PC, PS4, and Xbox One)
Ubisoft has gotten so much mileage from the Tom Clancy license it’s absurd and we’re willing to look past much of his crazed rightwing political views due to the impressive films he scripted and for many of the great games he, we suspect, provided a quick nod of approval during an awkward presentation at the Ubisoft offices. Wildlands takes the carnage to a freakishly combative Bolivia where explosions mar the horizon (seriously, this happens regularly and without explanation as you play) and drug lords run the countryside. The game is yet another open world shooter with checkpoints to clear, guns to unlock, and bosses to seek out and kill. Early you get access to a deployable chopper that will become you main means of transportation, and, considering the frequency you can get shot down or crash, becomes surreally hilarious as you litter the countryside in burned out helicopter corpses everywhere you go. Cooperatively you and friend could play this game for 30-40 hours. We did, not really sure it’s worth that much of your time but it doesn’t help this was an anemic year for coop games.
4. Shadow Warrior 2 (May 19th – PS4 and Xbox One)
To be fair, this launched originally in 2016 for PC but didn’t hit consoles until this year. Shadow Warrior 2 is the over-the-top fast-paced shooter you missed this past year. Channeling the best parts of Serious Sam and Borderlands, Shadow Warrior 2 sends you across demon infected worlds and dimensions battling OP bosses that drop color coded loot incrementally better than your current loadout. Cooperatively the game is a blast rarely slowing down for even a loading screen with no real penalty for death meaning you’re never really ripped away from the action. It’s a mindless action romp like a Nicolas Cage flick but more Con Air than The Wicker Man.
3. Styx: Shards of Darkness (March 14th – PC, PS4, and Xbox One)
Man, I really miss Splinter Cell. Ubisoft’s experimental third person stealth platformer was one of the flagship franchises for the Xbox for so many years. Ubisoft has since moved on releasing Assassin’s Creed games seemingly every six months or eerily similar games like Watch Dogs or The Division which lifted so much of Splinter Cell but have dropped the enjoyable stealth coop modes late Splinter Cell games offered. Styx: Shards of Darkness appeared this year seemingly out of nowhere to pick up that mantle. You play as the titular hero sent to investigate a mysterious alliance between dark elves and dwarves (which is highly forgettable) but the gameplay is straight up Splinter Cell. You’ll parkour around the level, hang from ledges, drop on enemies to instant kill them and hide the bodies before being spotted. Cooperatively it’s even more fun as you strategize, take your time, and inevitably botch some part of a multifaceted plan and scramble wildly to retreat, rally, and try again. Unfortunately, later levels opted for hardcore stealth with insta-fail for being spotted which just ruins the game but for ten hours or so this is a great Splinter Cell replacement.
2. Sniper Elite 4 (February 14th – PC, PS4, and Xbox One)
Sniper Elite is one of the best coop franchises living just off the radar of fame and missed by most. It’s truly a shame though as the experiences these games offer are really unique from most other titles. You play, methodically lurching across a war torn countryside deep behind enemy lines, basically a one man army looking to thin the Nazi ranks one well placed long ranged sniper shot at a time. Nailing that perfect shot results in an incredibly grotesque and frequently hilarious fatality-style bullet cam shot revealing the trajectory of the shot as it shatters bone, muscle, and cartilage. Single player would be a grind, but cooperatively this game opens up a whole new experience that easily puts in on our top experiences of the year.
1. Destiny 2 (September 6th – PS4 and Xbox One)
As we’ve mentioned many times before, Destiny is the franchise gamers love to hate. We have so many grievances to air at Bungie that the annoyances tend to dominate headlines despite the fact that we’re all still clearly playing the game. Whatever you’re particular issue is (the point about the two primary guns being valid), Destiny 2 continues its predecessor’s track record of providing dozens (or hundreds) of quality cooperative gaming hours for you and your buddies. Thankfully the story this time is enjoyable out of the gate and the highly mechanical raid and mini raids make the endgame content rewarding and challenging. We can debate the validity of Mercury’s presence as a full planet, or the reduced Crucible match sizes, or the diminishing returns of replaying strikes, etc. but we’re all still playing it and that’s because it continues to be the most fun coop experience you can have in 2017 and likely for most of 2018.
- Star Trek Bridge Crew proves coop gaming works in VR but we need longer experiences to make these games really stand out.
- Cuphead brought back the punitive tough-as-nails gaming of yesteryear with a coop mode, but we’re not really sure wanted that genre to come back. If you go in with a partner, be sure they know this masochistic experience is out for richly animated blood.
- Earth Defense Force 5. Seriously, we can’t wait, but it’s only in Japan still. Where’s our version??