When you love someone, you might find yourself wanting to include them in everything you do. You eat together, sleep together, watch TV together – all that lovey dovey stuff. So it’s understandable when you decide that you want to include your significant other (SO) in your gaming hobby too.
But there’s one major difference: You can’t be a filthy scrub at eating, sleeping or watching TV. With video games, you can. Some games are simply easier or more newb-friendly than others, and setting your partner down in front of something like Dark Souls is unlikely to endear them to video games in general. It’s best to ease newbies into it, and before long you’ll instil in them the same kind of passion you have for the gaming world. Or maybe you just want someone to force into playing a healer in an MMO. I won’t judge.
Having been through this experience myself, and now often being outplayed by my SO, there are a few games that I have discovered are simply better for converting your partner to the pixelated side. So, if you’re keen to turn your partner into player two, check out my top six picks for newb-friendly co-op video games.
1) Borderlands 2
One of the most confusing things that any newbie to the gaming world will encounter is the utter obsession with numbers. Stats. Traits. Abilities. Levels. Damage. Range. The gaming world, to many new players, is nothing short of a spreadsheet simulator with a graphical interface – pretty, but utterly incomprehensible. Borderlands 2 offers an easier delve into this algebra through easy-to-understand gun stats, as well as RPG mechanics such as quests and skill points, all wrapped up in a nicely humorous and engaging plot. Get your SO going with this little number, and you may find that you have unleashed a loot-thirsty, gun-crazy psycho into the world.
While the original Borderlands was brilliant in its own right, and would certainly be well worth a try for any power (gaming) couple, Borderlands 2 took the rooty-tooty-point-and-looty gameplay and gave it a well-deserved quality-of-life upgrade. Better graphics, clearer markers, developed characters – it may seem like a strange suggestion, but sometimes it’s better to start with the sequel.
2) Call of Duty: Zombies
This is a dear one to my heart, as it was one of the first games that my SO and I played together when we were younger. Nowadays, she’s twice the zombie-slayer I am and frankly it’s just embarrassing on my part. However, despite my own shame, I can’t help but recommend it, due to its fantastic level of co-op play and easy access for new players. There are no tutorials, so you may have to give them a hand with the control scheme to start with (my SO spent a lot of time spinning around looking at the ceiling, for example), but Call of Duty: Zombies teaches a lot of integral FPS skills. Aiming for the head, learning how to avoid enemy attacks, long range engagements versus CQC: all skills that the budding fragger needs to learn to truly call themselves a “gamer”.
The Call of Duty series has a number of games that include some form of the zombie mode, so you may be wondering which one you should pick. Personally, I enjoy Black Ops, as it is well-developed from the original version of zombies but hasn’t become as in depth as the subsequent versions. Perfect for teaching new players how to blat zedheads, while still retaining a certain level of strategy without getting overwhelmed.
3) Super Smash Bros Melee
How many friendships do you think have been ended primarily by this game? Along with Goldeneye and Super Mario Kart, this was the main game that was absolutely certain to end with a thrown controller, a fight or a broken television – sometimes all three. However, despite that, it still remains as one of the best games for introducing your SO to brawlers. It’s light-hearted, it’s not quite so focused on combos like Tekken, and of course features a smorgasbord of various gaming characters. It’s an ideal jumping-off point for many other games and beat ’em ups in general.
However, you do have to be careful with Smash. It can be easy to annihilate an unprepared opponent, though this can, of course, be avoided by playing together against bots. Your SO won’t get the full experience of fighting against a devious human, as the game was intended, but it’s a good starting point. From there, you can pit them and a bot ally against you (assuming you’re good enough yourself!) and eventually graduate to mano-a-mano fights with one another. There’s a good progression there, so you don’t have to immediately drop them in the deep end.
4) Rocket League
Here’s something you might disagree with: I think that nobody really knows what they are doing in Rocket League. But that’s part of the appeal. The utter chaos of a bunch of rocket-powered vehicles flying around the maps, missing the ball as often as hitting it and desperately trying to coax it away from your goal posts and towards your opponents’: There’s something truly fantastic about the experience. The games are quick in both playtime and matchmaking, there are no additional car skills or points or whatever to worry about, just pure, unmitigated, chaotic co-op fun.
And, because nobody seems to know what they are doing, that’s perfect for someone who actually doesn’t know what they are doing. While you can certainly be outplayed in Rocket League, more often than not you’ll find people are just as inexperienced as your SO. Furthermore, with both console versions and PC play, this makes it an ideal game to start teaching people how to use PC controls, in a format that they are already familiar with. Just like all the other games on this list, there is also a co-op mode, so you can join in the madness together.
5) Portal 2
Portal 2 is without doubt one of the best co-operative games ever made. It converted people that didn’t even enjoy puzzles with its fantastic plot, great progression, and frankly unbelievably good gameplay. What started as essentially a spin-off to Half Life quickly became one of the most beloved titles of this generation of games. What’s more, the story of Portal 2‘s co-op mode is entirely separate from the singleplayer, so even if you yourself have completed the main game, this section offers even more of the same discovery. But this time, you get to enjoy it with your SO.
This is a light-hearted, low-risk title to bring to the attention of your partner, and has some deeply satisfying teamwork to boot. While other games have a co-op mode simply slapped on and are often frustrating to play with a partner, Portal 2 was practically designed for it. It isn’t ridiculously hard right off the bat, it’s great for learning controller skills without having to worry about enemies, and what’s more it shows your SO how a game can be funny and plot-driven too. Your partner could be one of the many gamers who don’t enjoy combat that much, and Portal 2 gives you the chance to show them that not every title requires headshots and executions.
6) Rayman Origins
I’ll admit something to you: Rayman Origins was the first ever Rayman game I actually played. I know, it’s a sin, and what’s more, I was forced into it by a friend. However, I quickly learned how with the right co-op game, you can have absolutely no idea of what you are doing, have a huge amount of fun and still feel satisfied at the end of a level despite being utterly useless. So long as your partner knows what they are doing, of course.
And sometimes, that is exactly what you need when you are introducing your SO to gaming. You can have all the newbie-friendly mechanics in the world, but it doesn’t count for anything if that game isn’t fun. At their core, video games are designed and intended to entertain – if your SO isn’t having fun, then they aren’t going to be interested in continuing the experience! Rayman Origins provides this fun factor with very little preparation required. Set your partner down this path, and you’ll soon find that they are storming through levels all by their lonesome.
Reckon we’ve missed any out? We’re always on the lookout for more great co-op games, so let us know in the comments below what you think would make a great introductory game for newbies.
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A serial hobbyist, Jack loves everything from blacksmithing to brewing – and, of course, the occasional video game.