Local co-op PC games with some semblance of story?
April 8, 2017 9:15 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I have found one of our favorite ways to spend time together is playing local co-op games. However, we don't really enjoy games that are mostly focused on gameplay, and prefer at least some story. Most of the local co-op games I've been finding don't look like they'd be to our taste. Details on what we're looking for inside.

1. Must be actually cooperative (e.g. working together instead of against each other).
2. Must be available on PC (preferably on Steam, but not a hard requirement)
3. Must be able to play with a controller instead of two people on one keyboard (currently we have a keyboard and a controller; if there happens to be a game that requires two controllers and doesn't allow keyboard + mouse for some reason, I'd be willing to buy a second controller)
4. Would prefer not highly difficult games unless there's an easy mode or co-op makes it significantly less arduous (e.g. Hyper Light Drifter)

Games we have really enjoyed:
- Octodad: Dadliest Catch
- Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons
- Child of Light
- Never Alone (Kismia Ingitchuna)
- Hyper Light Drifter

Games we enjoyed but would have preferred more story to (would still consider games like these):
- Rayman Origins/Legends
- Trine 2
- Guacamelee
- The Cave
(Basically, if it's a platformer and it's quirky enough we might enjoy it)

Popular games in the Steam local co-op tag I've looked at and don't think we'd enjoy:
- Rocket League (no story, not a fan of racing games)
- The Binding of Isaac (too unpleasant looking)
- Brawhalla (just looks like a beat-em-up with no story)
- Pit People (not super a fan of strategy games and the web Flash-game look is putting me off)
- Earth Defense Force 4.1 (looks like a bunch of fighting with no story)
- Battleblock Theater (don't see much story + again that Flash-game look)
- Castle Crashers (same as above)
- Nuclear Throne (looks highly difficult + little story)
(I could be wrong about any of the above, so feel free to try and change my mind, but this is just to give you an idea of what I'm not really looking for.)

Our computer can handle a lot; it's my partner's dad's old personally built gaming computer, so while it might not play top-of-the-line, just-came-out games, it plays Dragon Age: Inquisition fine so we don't really have much in the way of computer limitations. We also don't mind games where co-op was just tacked on later or the game isn't built around it (e.g. Hyper Light Drifter, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Child of Light), and in fact seem to enjoy those more since they tend to have more story. We just want to both be able to contribute to the game experience more than backseat "hey try doing this thing."
posted by brook horse to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Borderlands is my first suggestion. Borderlands 2 is the best of the three games, I'd start there. You won't miss any story continuity.

As always with these questions I recommend looknig at Co-optimus for ideas. if you filter for Co-op Campaign and sort by Review score, what pops out the top is Borderlands, Torchlight 2, Dead Island, Monaco. Gears of War 4 and Left 4 Dead also feature highly.
posted by Nelson at 9:35 AM on April 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Portal 2 sounds like it'll fit the bill, but it's gonna take some setup.
posted by isauteikisa at 10:10 AM on April 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Chariot is a lot of fun but might require two controllers.
posted by sixfootaxolotl at 10:10 AM on April 8, 2017

Borderlands is my first suggestion. Borderlands 2 is the best of the three games, I'd start there.

Unfortunately, the Borderlands games don't offer local coop without hackery involving running multiple instances of the title.

If you're willing to put up with the required hackery and have a beefy enough machine to run multiple instances simultaneously, or if you're willing to go console, they really are great games. I still enjoy the overall mix of the first game the most, but no question that 2 has the best story followed by the presequel.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:28 AM on April 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Crypt of the NecroDancer is incredibly cute, has not a lot of story but is quirky and charming. It's a lot of fun on local co-op. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light DOES have a story, is bloody good fun and is great local co-op, though I play it with two controllers and haven't tried it keyboard plus controller.

Have you tried the Lego games, like Lego Marvel Super Heroes? They're co-op, do have story (even though the story is more a bit of a larf than it is deep and serious) and are a joy to play.
posted by monster truck weekend at 11:08 AM on April 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Left 4 Dead (a 2009 Valve game, and still active with online Steam players too) and its sequel L4D2 are co-op zombie shooters with 4 characters who are managed by humans, as available, and bots. Each campaign places 4 Survivors into a zombie movie in 4 acts + finale (game stages) as you flee to safety, ultimately permanent safety (or so it appears-- the campaigns have a particular order, like movie sequels).

The maps and story are linear, yet the game is replayable because of the random deployment regular "infected" (as zombies are called), of the "Special Infected" (zombies with particular abilities, like pouncing, ensnaring, or just being extra aggressive and strong) and "Zombie Panics," an attack rush of the normal, weak infected, which varies with your gameplay-- if are too conservative with ammo, or advanced too quickly, the AI director (a sort of virtual film director) will trigger a panic sooner, so they can happen at any stage of the game. The campaigns also cover a wide variety of environments: maze-like buildings, cramped sewers, wide open forests and swamps, etc.

Fair warning: It's a bloody mess, like all zombie movies. I think it meets your co-op+story criteria overall, but at the same time, survival horror's not for everyone.
Here's a single-player walkthrough of the 4th stage of the "No Mercy" campaign, an ascent into Mercy Hospital. The player is driving Zoey, while Bill, Francis, Louis are bots.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:45 PM on April 8, 2017

Left 4 Dead

I love Left 4 Dead co-op, but keep in mind it would need some modding for local.
posted by monster truck weekend at 3:26 PM on April 8, 2017

Seconding the Lego games for this. The stories are light and silly, but they're there and the gameplay is fun.
posted by Ahniya at 9:31 PM on April 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you like RPGs, Divinity: Original Sin has a local co-op version in the Enhanced Edition, is available on Steam, and is very highly regarded. It does require two controllers, however. I loved the game, though I have not tried the co-op.
posted by EKStickland at 11:27 PM on April 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Take a look at Overcooked - there might not be enough story for you, but it's designed around local co-op and is a ridiculous amount of fun. Plus you can play it with two people sharing one controller if you're especially bonkers.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:44 AM on April 9, 2017

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