It’s the holiday season, and for a lot of gamers, that means one thing: Family. For better or for worse, now’s the time of the year when lots of us are going to be with our nearest and dearest, whether that be blood relations or family of choice. If you’re a gamer and want to gift yourself a title that will give you something to do with your familial partner-in-crime, or if you know a gamer who has friends, these are the 2023 titles that would make the best gifts.
To keep things simple, we’ll focus on games that came out in 2023 — goodness knows there were enough of them. If we got for all co-op games ever, we’d have to cover classics like It Takes Two, Stardew Valley or Left 4 Dead. As fun as that is, we’d be here all day (though we will cover some of them in the bonus section). The games on this list is are those that have come out since the beginning of the year, and can be enjoyed by two or more people.
Gunfire Games’s action RPG, Remnant II, is one of the most accessible co-op games for parties of up to three people. It’s a third-person shooter in which the players must choose a class and then proceed through procedurally generated levels, up to and including fights with terrifying boss monsters. The game offers many different environments and worlds for a party to explore.
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While Remnant II can be played solo, playing in groups of three evens the players’ odds against the hordes of randomly generated enemies. Since the story and quests are also random, the game has a level of replayability that may be lacking in other titles on this list.
Sometimes group game time doesn’t need to be that serious. Sometimes you want to have a little player vs player action — perhaps to settle personal scores, or just to prove a point. In Party Animals, each player is an adorable animal, as the name suggests. They must battle physics, the environment and each other in multiple different game modes.
Players in Party Animals can either work together or against each other to accomplish goals, though the former is significantly more likely than the latter. If you’re a social gamer who needs chaos in their life (or you know a social gamer who does), Party Animals is a choice pick for unleashing precisely that on friends and family.
The latest entry in Blizzard’s RPG series returns players to a world where teaming up to play isn’t a luxury, but almost a necessity. The world of Sanctuary is a bleak one, so traveling in groups is an advantage both in-universe and out. It features procedurally generated dungeons, non-party player vs player combat, and world bosses that can be fought by up to 12 players.
Diablo IV features parties of up to four players, with five character classes from which to choose. Unlike other games on this list, Diablo IV supports cross-play, meaning that gamers can party up with others on different platforms.
Baldur’s Gate 3
One of the most discussed and most lauded games of the year, Baldur’s Gate 3 can be played as a solo adventure or, in the manner of classic tabletop Dungeons & Dragons, with company. The co-op in Baldur’s Gate 3 allows two player characters to share each other’s adventure, and if you play together from the beginning of the game, each player can create their own characters.
Co-op in BG3 is a bit more loose than it is in other games. Players are free to separate and explore the world as they see fit, without even needing to join in on each other’s particular quests and battles (though of course the game is more fun if you’re adventuring side-by-side).
Super Mario Bros Wonder
Normal price: $60 on Nintendo Switch
If you’re playing with younger gamers, then perhaps you want to avoid the violence and adult themes of some of the other games on this list. For more family-friendly co-op fun, you can’t go wrong with a good, old-fashioned Mario game. Wonder is a return to the classic 2D Mario game style, with several twists on the gameplay to keep it fresh for older players who have played other games in the series.
Super Mario Bros Wonder can be played by up to four players in local co-op, with eight playable characters including Mario, Luigi, Peach and Daisy. Co-op is designed so that players can drop in and out as the players require. The game features several new power-ups and on-screen flare that would make local co-op particularly enjoyable in a group setting.
What game would you be playing with your loved ones this holiday season?
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