Playing games alone is fun. You know what’s more fun? Playing games with friends. You know what’s even more fun than that? Playing co-op action games with friends. And if that sounds like your brand of fun, boy do we have a list of games for you.
While “action” may be a vast genre with hard to define edges, we were able to narrow our list down to games that deliver on that “action-packed” feel. Whether you’re facing off against intimidating bosses or fighting your way through twisting dungeons, it doesn’t matter as long as your having a great time with your friends.
We specifically focused on games that feature online multiplayer for this list, so if your friends are far away, you can still have a great time together. We’ll also mention whether each game has crossplay or not, so if you and your friends are spread across multiple platforms, you know what you’re getting into.
Boss fights are a staple of video games; whittling down a giant enemy’s health bar is as exciting as it is tense. The Monster Hunter series has always done a great job of taking the concept of boss fights and creating an entire game around it, but 2018’s Monster Hunter World takes things a step further than its predecessors. Environments look better than ever, monsters are smarter and can perform new moves, and your own avatar has a few new tricks up its sleeve that weren’t seen in previous games (like a grappling hook).
The whole point of this game was to modernize the long-running series and make it more accessible to new players, which was definitely achieved. Regardless of whether you’re a brand new player or a seasoned Monster Hunter veteran, you can jump right in with your friends and experience some of the grandest boss battles you’ll ever encounter. They may take a long time (some of the harder fights in the game can take upwards of an hour), but the rewards make it all worth it when you can finally make that cool new electric sword.
Dauntless does not attempt to hide that it’s inspired by the Monster Hunter series. You still fight epic bosses, craft new gear, and explore beautiful environments. While it would be easy to call Dauntless a simple clone, it’s hiding a few surprises and unique ideas to give it its own identity.
Of course, one of the biggest draws of Dauntless is that it’s free to play and has full cross-play between all platforms. This means you can play it will all your friends, regardless of their system of choice or budget. Add in some nice stylized graphics, and you’ve got a great time on your hands here. And, despite being free to play, it doesn’t try to extract every cent out of you either—it’s pretty respectable of your time (well, some of the bosses still take a long time, but that’s the nature of the genre) and money.
The indie game scene has been heavily inundated with roguelikes (games where you typically restart after death while using your new knowledge and gear to get through the game faster and faster). However, despite this, Risk of Rain 2 still manages to set itself apart.
Like other games in the genre, you spend most of Risk of Rain 2 fighting enemies and collecting items. These items do a wide range of things, from simple speed boosts to creating heat-seeking fireworks every time you open a chest. The interesting part of Risk of Rain 2 comes in when you start collecting lots of items late into a run, as they can all be stacked indefinitely. You can create some crazy builds that make your character feel unstoppable (assuming you survive long enough). Throw in a varied cast of characters that all play differently, and you can easily spend many hours hitting that new run button (because you will die a lot).
Dungeon crawlers are all about looting and fighting your way through strongholds and labyrinths to build up your character’s power. Diablo is one of the most iconic series in the genre, and Diablo 3 is definitely the best option if you’re looking to play with friends—it’s the easiest to get your hands on (and is the most modern).
All your equipment is randomized in Diablo, which means each run is wildly different from the last. Collect increasingly powerful items for increasingly difficult stages, all with a squad of friends by your side. The mechanics are deep and complex, and there’s plenty of choices to make, so you and your friends will have plenty to sink your teeth into here.
Another dungeon crawler, this time taking place in the blocky world of Minecraft. Minecraft Dungeons aims to simplify the genre to be friendlier to those new to the genre or younger players. The difficulty can be ramped up at your discretion though, so there is still something to work through for experienced players.
Like Diablo and most other games in the genre, you’ll come across randomized loot that power you up over time while traversing these blocky landscapes. This means you and your friends can work together to build out your squad and make sure everyone has a role to play. If you’re new to this genre (or have friends who are), then Minecraft Dungeons is the perfect launching point.
Who hasn’t wanted to be a pirate? Heading out on the open seas plundering ships, discovering treasure, and having an all-around good time. Well, at least that’s how shows and movies portray them, and Sea of Thieves is no different, featuring a world of pirates that is bright, colorful, and full of secrets to uncover. You can sail the beautiful seas to the various islands to follow quests or hunt down other players.
While the game launched lacking content, the frequent updates from the developers have turned it into something worth playing. And, with it being a Microsoft game, it’s available on the Game Pass for both PC and Xbox One, which means it’s easy to give it a try without paying full price. So, grab your friends, form a crew, and try not to get sunk too quickly.
If the fantasy genre has taught us anything, it’s that dwarfs are pretty good at mining, so why not inject some science fiction into that cliche and mine some crystal in space?
Deep Rock Galactic sees you and your friends playing as a small team of dwarfs exploring and excavating asteroids and planets in search of your next haul. This is not a path without dangers, though, as many enemies will try to stop you from getting to your treasure. And if you succeed in getting the treasure, they’ll try to stop you from leaving alive. This means coordination is key because everyone will have a unique role to play, from the movement-focused scout to the hard-hitting gunner.
Add in a comedic tone throughout and a unique low-poly art style, and you and your friends are sure to fall in love with these grimy space miners.
Is there a more iconic shooter than Halo? The series was fundamental for developing the FPS genre, and now you can play the first six games in the series in this fantastic collection. With all six games sporting two-player co-op campaigns, you have a lot of content to work through. So, grab a friend by your side and enjoy blasting through aliens in this epic shooter franchise.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is available on PC and Xbox with cross-play between both systems solely for the competitive modes. For the co-op campaigns, there is no cross-play, and you’ll be limited to two players.
Borderlands was designed from the get-go for cooperative play, so it’s a perfect choice for fans of this genre to play together. All three games feature the same RPG-like mechanics where you find random loot and weapons to build up your character. It forms an addictive gameplay loop, and the unique visuals and diverse characters only further your desire to keep playing. With three games in the series, you’re sure to be spending a lot of time in the world of Borderlands.
Borderlands 1 and 2 are available in the Borderlands: The Handsome Collection for PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and the Switch. Borderlands 3 is available on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation currently. Crossplay is only supported in Borderlands 3 between all platforms, but you can play with three other players in both titles.
If you and your friends enjoy a challenge, then you should definitely try to struggle through Dark Souls III together. This action RPG takes place in a dark fantasy world and is chockfull of ultra-difficult bosses and enemies for you and your friends to overcome. You can play in a group of up to three players, and each of you has full control over your personal loadouts. Want to fight using a big battle axe, a quick sword, or a powerful mace? That’s completely up to each player, allowing everyone to have their own play style to complement the group.
Not to say that will make things easy, you’re all going to die a lot no matter how good you think you are at games. But what else makes for a great bonding experience than getting repeatedly pounded into the dirt together?
While the term “MMO” may bring to mind games like World of Warcraft, Warframe takes a different approach to the genre by entirely relying on real-time, action-packed combat. It controls like a standard third-person action game, but with the questing structure and loot system of an MMO. You can use various weapons when dispatching enemies, all while exploring the beautiful locales for various quest objectives.
Being an MMO, multiplayer is obviously a large part of the game, so playing together with a clan of friends is, if anything, recommended when playing. Once you get to the harder quests, you’re going to want some friends by your side to make things easier. A game like this requires a good amount of patience and dedication, of course, but if you and your friend are in for the long haul, then Warframe is a very long haul.
What can we say: MMO’s are a great thing to play with friends if you all have the time for them. Destiny 2 is very similar to Warframe—it features the standard structure of an MMO but with more involved combat systems—but instead of third-person action, Destiny 2 takes on the first-person shooter genre.
Made by Bungie, the same people who created the original Halo games, it’s no surprise this results in a good game, even if it wasn’t received well at launch. With recent strides to improve the game through patches and expansions over the past couple of years, Destiny 2 is in a better place now than it’s ever been. So if you want a great FPS that offers enough action-packed content to last you thousands of hours, Destiny 2 provides that and allows you to play in squads of three when completing most quests.
Destiny 2 is available on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation with a complicated cross-play situation. There have been some whispers from the developers that cross-play is coming in the future, and there has even been a couple of limited-time events that enabled it. So cross-play isn’t currently in the game, but it will likely be implemented at some point.
Originally released on Xbox Live in 2008, Castle Crashers stole the hearts of many with its charming art style, humor, and simple gameplay. You and up to three friends all control different knights to save princesses from the evil Wizard. It’s cliche, but Castle Crashers still manages to stand out thanks to its spectacular bosses and well-drawn levels. The gameplay is straightforward, so no matter how experienced your friends are at games, everyone should have a good time here. When it comes to multiplayer mayhem, you can’t go wrong with Castle Crashers.
If you have a passion for the classic beat-em-up titles of the arcade, then Streets of Rage 4 is a faithful resurrection of that genre. This modern entry in the series features online multiplayer for up to two players, a brand-new hand-drawn art style, and the same classic gameplay from decades ago (but a bit more polished).
It feels like it’s straight from the arcade, but the wide variety of levels and enemies keeps things interesting despite the fairly simple gameplay. While this is certainly made with people who loved the originals in mind, you can still get a lot of mileage out of this if you’re brand new to the series as well.
There are a lot of survival games out there, many of which feature both action-based gameplay of some form and multiplayer. But what made us pick Terraria specifically is that it focuses on those action elements much more. While yes, you still need to gather materials, craft items, and eat food, just like most survival games, Terraria is a sidescroller and takes a lot of inspiration from classic action games.
You gain the most powerful gear in the game from defeating a boss or dungeon rather than grinding ores for hours (although you still do that as well). There are hundreds of items and enemies in Terraria, each introducing something new and exciting. You can use a grappling hook for easy traversal, defend your home from a vicious goblin raid, and even build up a small town of NPC’s, each of which offering various perks in exchange for protection. It’s an engrossing blend of survival gameplay and typical sidescroller action, which makes it a co-op experience like no other and one that should definitely be tried if you’ve never played it before.
Terraria is available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch with no crossplay currently. Still, the developers want to add according to their “State of the Game” post from January 2021. You can also play with up to eight players in one world.