As far as cooperative experiences go, it doesn’t get better than the Left 4 Dead series. But let’s suppose you’re so hooked with Valve’s cooperative first-person shooter that you want to play a similar experience. What would you play? What are we looking for exactly? These are some of the parameters we’ll take into consideration for this list: we need first-person or third-person shooters that can be played cooperatively with one or more friends. Sounds simple enough, but believe it or not there aren’t that many games that fall into that category. This is what I came up with:
10. Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)
One of Gears of War’s best features was the possibility of playing the five-act campaign with a friend. Gears of War 2 has a cooperative campaign and includes some inviting new features. For the first time, players can select different difficulty levels and the enemies’ artificial intelligence will match the selected difficulty to give each player a fair challenge. On top of that, the coop campaign can be played in a drop in/drop out manner, so you don’t have to wait for a friend to make some progress.
9. Kane & Lynch: Dog Days (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Kane & Lynch: Dog Days makes use of a visual style that’s similar to documentary films, so the gameplay and visual aspect has been refined to generate impact and a unique sense of realism. Still, the core aspects of the game are still here, which means that one player controls James Seth Lynch and the other controls Adam Kane Marcus. Apart from the cooperative mode, there are other multiplayer modes as well.
8. Dead Rising 2 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
In this open-world survival horror game you play as Chuck Greene as he fights hordes of zombies in the most unconventional ways possible. There are some competitive modes, but the cooperative one stands out above the rest. In this mode, both players play as Chuck and they gain experience and keep the items they have collected throughout the game. The only caveat is that the host player is the only one able to save the progress.
7. Borderlands (PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
There aren’t zombies in Borderlands (unless you take The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned DLC into account,) but this action RPG first-person shooter still shares some similarities with Left 4 Dead. Players can select one of four characters and each of those has unique abilities and weapon skills. Characters take on missions given by NPCs and as they complete them, they acquire experience points, money and reward items. Two player cooperative is supported via split screen and four-player cooperative is supported online or over a LAN.
6. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
In this third-person action game, you and up to three other buddies can fight hordes of zombies in four-player cooperative Raccoon Mode. There’s a zombie outbreak in Raccoon City (the story is set around the same time as Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis) and an elite of mercenaries for the Umbrella Corporation has to retrieve the G-virus. Although it received mixed to negative reviews from critics, Operation Raccoon City can still be entertaining with a couple of friends.
5. Killing Floor (PC, Mac, Linux)
Killing Floor is definitely one of the oldest cooperative first-person shooters with zombies. Although originally released as an Unreal Tournament 2004 modification, a retail version came out in 2005. In Killing Floor, you fight hordes of zombies and each wave becomes significantly harder than the previous one. Once a set number of waves have been defeated, the players have to face a boss. For each kill, players receive currency which can be used to buy ammo and additional weapons (weapons include katanas, bombs, flamethrowers, shotguns and so on.)
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Nintendo Wii, Mac)
Call of Duty: Black Ops is a pretty traditional first-person shooter, but a handful of extra content makes it unique, such as the zombie cooperative mode. Originally featured in World at War, this is a vastly improved mode that has a handful of new features. In this four-player cooperative mode, players take on the role of John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara and Fidel Castro as they fight waves of zombies at the Pentagon. There are multiple maps, unlockable modes, new weapons and perks, Easter eggs and more.
3. Contagion (PC)
Contagion is a spiritual successor to Half-Life 2 mod Zombie Panic: Source. Unlike Left 4 Dead, this cooperative survival FPS focuses on scarce ammunition, careful aim and the use of your GPS device. There is randomly generated ammo, weapons and item placement, so that each playthrough is a bit different. As of this writing, Contagion is still in Beta.
2. Payday 2 (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
In the sequel to Payday: The Heist, players perform bank heists and robberies. When compared to the original Payday, this sequel has a vastly improved and expanded gameplay, with multiple new abilities. Coordinating attacks and infiltrating locations in a stealthy manner is a must and those players who play cooperatively will be rewarded. Money that’s received from a heist can be used to receive new weapons or modify the ones you already have. There are also a variety of skill trees to customize and equip some handy abilities.
1. Dead Island (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
In this terrific action role-playing game survival horror game, you and a couple of other survivors are in a zombie-infested open-world island. Dead Island puts a lot of emphasis on melee combat and unlike Left 4 Dead, you are encouraged to complete quests to gain more experience. But the core elements are all here: there are zombies and you have weapons that you use to kill them.
These are some of the titles that were considered for this list, but didn’t make it to the final cut: Dead Island: Riptide, Alien Swarm, SWAT 4, Resident Evil 5, Lost Planet 2, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, Gears of War, Payday: The Heist and Dead Space 2.