There are few bonding experiences quite as childishly fun as playing co-operative games with your friends. But if you don’t want to go through the hassle of buying, downloading and installing new games, then you can easily get your gaming fix through your browser.
We’ve put together a list of the best browser-based co-op games you can start playing in a matter of seconds.
1. Town of Salem
Everyone’s been at a drunken dinner party where they’ve played Werewolf or Mafia, right? One or two people play the killer, while the rest try to work out who they are. This concept is expanded brilliantly in Town of Salem.
A group of 7 to 15 players are assigned roles such as serial killers, townsfolk, Mafia and dozens of others. No one knows what role another person is playing, so it’s up to the killers to knock people off at night, while the townsfolk try to catch them during the day. It’s a perfect party game where co-operation is essential for survival.
There’s Fortnite, there’s PUBG, and then there’s Surviv.io.
Okay, admittedly, that last one is a browser game with super-simple graphics and a top-down perspective, but why should that count against it? It’s still an awesome squad-based Battle Royale shooter where teams of two or four players try to outlast the others.
For those unfamiliar with the Battle Royale concept (where have you been these past two years?), you start with almost no equipment and need to scour a large map for guns, armour and other resources. Then, once you’re stocked up (assuming you’re not dead yet), you head out to hunt down other teams or just hunker down and try to survive.
Last team (or person) standing wins!
3. Gracie & Mike
Something a bit smaller-scale than most of the offerings on here, Gracie & Mike is a 2D run-&-gun platformer that you can actually play with your friends in the same room (if you have gamepads).
Unusually for a 2D platformer, you play the game in split-screen, running through jungles and enemies’ hideouts, all presented with nostalgia-inducing 8-bit graphics. Think of it as a stripped-back version of the arcade classic Metal Slug.
4. Realm of the Mad God
This is another browser game that eventually made it over to a Steam release (which is free to play). Luckily, you can still play Realm of the Mad God for free in your browser, letting you enjoy one of the most intense shooter experiences alongside your friends. (Each instance has an 85-player capacity.)
You traverse a vicious fantasy world, fighting increasingly powerful mutations, monsters and bosses while accruing “fame.” Death is permanent here, but you can use your previous character’s Fame points to purchase equipment for your next creation.
It may look simple, but this is a brilliantly designed co-op experience.
A gritty survival experience masked in cutesy top-down graphics, Devast.io is an online game set in a post-apocalyptic world where the extent to which you co-operate or go solo is entirely up to you.
You start by gathering resources from trees and stones while desperately seeking out food, with the aim of eventually building up a self-sustaining base out in the wasteland. There are other players in the world as well as hostile creatures and radiation to worry about.
Do you join up with other survivors and choose to build a better world or just kill them and loot their corpses?
6. Pokemon Showdown
Pokemon is one of the most popular gaming series in the history of gaming. It’s only right that a browser version exists to get your Pokemon fix. Enter Pokemon Showdown. This battle simulator ensures that you can train your Pokemon prior to competing in any professional games. Make your own team or pick from random players around the world. What makes Pokemon Showdown even more appealing as a browser game is that it’s good for both children and their parents. Jumping straight into battle is the best part. No long console-level intros – just straight battles. What more do you need with Pokemon?
7. Catan Universe
The classic board game has been brought to your browser. Trade, build, gather resources and destroy your friends all without leaving your home. Just like the board game itself, Catan Universe ensures that outsmarting your friends or random opponents is now the name of the game. Do you want to block a tile with the robber? Do you want to play the Seafarers or Cities and Knights campaign? Fire up Discord or a video chat call with your friends and make this an immersive co-op and multiplayer experience.
This one is less about a specific game and more about the itch.io website, which is full of browser-based games that are full of fantastic pick-up-and-play co-op gaming. As of the beginning of June 2021, there are a total of 169 co-op browser games available Games like Guardian Sphere and Life in Quarantine are fantastic choices to kill some time with friends.
The gameplay is simplistic, and you can quit each game without feeling any guilt about having to start over during your next play session. My Rusty Submarine helped me waste over 30 minutes before I even realized I was playing as I struggled to keep my appropriately-named rusty submarine afloat.
If you want to relive the glory days of Nokia phones from decades past, Powerline.io is the game for you. Just like Snake, the game that appeared on Nokia phones, your goal is to compete against players from around the world to “eat” the beams (or cubes) and grow as long as possible. The trick is not to run into any of the other competing snakes, else it’s game over for you. It’s simple, it’s basic and it’s a whole lot of fun.
These are just the top, with plenty more where they came from. Which co-op games have vacuumed up most of your time? If you prefer to play board games instead, check out the list of sites here where you can play board games online, and if you’re into fighting games, check out the best fighting games you can play in 2021.
Of course, games are not the only entertaining digital way to spend time with friends who are far away. You can also watch videos with friends online in real time.