You could be worlds apart geographically or sharing a couch, but grabbing a friend for an evening of top-class gaming is still one of the best social experiences that you can have in life. With co-op gaming bigger and better than ever, we’ve had a look at the best social games to play in 2022, thanks to the data provided by GameSpot’s sister site Metacritic.
The best examples of online and local co-op for 2022 represent a fascinating spread of genres and ideas. From our list, we can see that Elden Ring’s helpful summoning system has placed it at the top of the charts for a reason; Destiny 2: The Witch Queen is a fun and flexible space adventure where teamwork does indeed make the dream work; and Victoria 3 is deeper than the Marianas Trench with its socio-political worldbuilding.
There were plenty of other great co-op games available this year, and for nostalgic fans, the chance to explore Atari at the height of its power or test out some shinobi skills in a brand-new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game was a cherry on top of a retro sundae. You can see all the games that made the cut below, and for more Metacritic lists, check out GameSpot’s roundups of the best Xbox, PlayStation, and PC games of 2022.
Misery loves company, and in Elden Ring, the dark fantasy becomes even more fascinating when a fellow Tarnished joins you for some shenanigans in a forgotten realm. The catch here is that summoning some friends to assist you also opens up the portals for invaders to sneak in, leading to some of the most intense moments of the game, but the tension is worth it when you’ve got a friendly sword at your side to help you through some of Elden Ring’s tougher battles.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course
Local co-op is at its best in Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course, the meaty expansion to the original Cuphead game. With Ms. Chalice thrown into the mix, new skills to master, and some of the best boss fights to ever grace a TV screen, The Delicious Last Course doesn’t hold anything back when it starts serving a white-knuckle ride of fun. Having a partner to split the stress makes for an even more exciting experience, and the rest of this DLC is a superb showcase of polished action and amazing art direction.
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen
Destiny 2 is a brilliant power fantasy when you’re out exploring the cosmos, but the option to join fellow Guardians as you fight cosmic horrors across the stars substantially improves the experience. Everyone gets a chance to shine in Bungie’s latest expansion for its ever-evolving game, and when you’re fending off genocidal monsters with style and skill, seeing your teamwork melt those monsters into ash always feels absolutely terrific.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
What’s better than a nostalgic romp through New York City as you tear through hordes of Foot Clan robots? Doing just that with a friend by your side, or if you’re planning a party, assembling an entire quartet of pizza-chomping ninja turtles to help save the day. With the aesthetic of an authentic arcade classic, this pixel-perfect rebirth of TMNT’s golden age offers some chaotic co-op fun that’s hard to beat.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak
With both online and local co-op on offer, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak shares the thrill of the hunt and the fun in chasing down legendary beasts. It’s always handy to have some friendly hunters by your side when pursuing dragons and other walking extinction-level beasts. Sunbreak adds a ridiculous amount of content to Rise, so you won’t run out of beasts to track down anytime soon in this Capcom hit/
Crusader Kings 3
Crusader Kings 3 is a game with an admittedly steep learning curve, but when you’ve got someone tagging along with you, the game’s complex web of intrigue and betrayal is easier to pick up. By taking notes–or copying your fellow player’s homework–players can work together and grow their kingdoms into feudal powerhouses who have each other’s back. At least that’s the plan most of the time, as you never know when a game will switch from cooperative to competitive in this medieval masterpiece.
Total War: Warhammer 3
Imagine the chaos of Warhammer’s grim fantasy realm playing out across cooperative campaigns and head-to-head battles to see who has the best brain for strategy. That’s Total War: Warhammer 3. The latest entry in the series adds some novel twists to the usual co-op formula as you fling thousands of troops into battle; and with diplomacy playing a vital role in how the story expands, it’s a fascinating look at forging alliances, betraying factions, and generally having a knife aimed at someone’s back in this epic strategy game.
Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels
With online co-op support for up to six players, Forza Horizon 5’s Hot Wheels expansion becomes a joyous sandbox of childhood nostalgia when you take the colorful matchbox cars out onto a track that laughs in the face of danger. It’s all the technical polish of Forza Horizon 5 viewed through a toyetic lens, and nothing’s better than defying gravity in an expansion which taps into imagination and high-speed thrills to deliver an exhilarating racing experience.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
Kirby’s latest adventure on the Switch is a charming showcase of pink blob fun, but if you’re looking to expand on the gluttonous adventurer’s escapades, then grab a friend. A co-op partner can take control of Bandana Waddle Dee, letting them use the little warrior’s spear to help even the odds for Kirby. It’s nothing revolutionary, but this co-op mode does help share the splendid fun of one of the best Switch games of the year.
Nobody Saves the World
From the team behind Guacamelee, Nobody Saves The World is a crisp and sharp dungeon-crawling adventure where the key hook is the power to shape-shift into more powerful forms. On its own, that’s a great gameplay loop to get engaged in, but the real magic happens when you recruit a friend to join you in those dangerous dungeons. With each form having its own particular quirks and abilities, there’s a synergy at play here that makes each excursion a chaotic but fun experience packed full of experimental energy.
A first-person shooter with an old soul, Prodeus is a retro-inspired romp that’s also a reminder of how two nigh-unstoppable protagonists armed with plasma weapons are better than one. Simply put, co-op in Prodeus is like a Pantera album: a vulgar display of power that looks, feels, and plays brilliantly as you paint space installations red with the pixelated blood of anything that stands in your way.
An absurdly complex socio-political game in which you run the entire world during one of humanity’s most pivotal industrial years might not sound like a ticket to multiplayer fun, but Victoria 3 is the exception to the rule here. If you’re willing to put in the work to learn the nuances of this grand strategy title, you’ll find a deep sandbox full of possibility and a chance to build an ideal utopia in a simulator that is both elegant and realistic. Doing so online only deepens the experience, leading to a century of activity that you’ll seldom want to leave.