What are the best games like Left 4 Dead and Payday 2? Having a group of friends alongside you can make even bad games bearable, so when a game is great in the first place, you can end up with something truly memorable. Co-op is one thing, but there’s a certain elusive subgenre – arguably codified by Valve’s 2008 shooter Left 4 Dead – that just scratches an itch other co-operative games can’t.
Usually featuring teams of up to four players, complimentary classes with varied abilities and skill trees, and sporadic hordes of some horror or other trying to ruin your day, these games all share similar DNA. ‘Left-likes’, ‘Dead-likes’, and ‘4-likes’ are three descriptors literally no-one has ever used before and will never use again because they’re all terrible, but you probably get what we’re talking about by now.
If you’ve had your fill of genre mainstays, it can be hard to find others to scratch the itch, but we’ve got your itchy back, like a giant back-scratcher made of words. So, choose your classes, your loadouts, your flavour of horde, and, for goodness sake, do your best to keep your medic alive. Here’s our picks for the very best games like Left 4 Dead and Payday 2 on PC.
Here are the best games like Left 4 Dead and Payday 2 on PC:
- Deep Rock Galactic
- Hunt: Showdown
- Killing Floor 2
- Left 4 Dead 2
- Vermintide 2
- Payday 2
- Gunfire Reborn
Deep Rock Galactic
Landing somewhere between the co-operative teamwork of Left 4 Dead and Payday 2, and the fully-destructible environments of Minecraft, Deep Rock Galactic sees you and up to three friends playing as (and savour this sentence, as it doesn’t come up every day) mining space dwarves. Each mission has you delve deep into subterranean caves rife with hostile alien flora and fauna, and it’s up to your team to mine precious minerals and complete objectives, before performing a tense and dangerous exfiltration. The more dwarves that make it out alive, the greater the rewards, which you can then spend on character and equipment upgrades.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes Deep Rock Galactic so special, as it’s very much more than the sum of its parts. Four wildly different, complimentary classes with a minecart full of different upgrades means tons of variety, but there’s a level of detail, polish, and imagination poured into every facet. There’s also a bar you can drink and dance in between missions. Did we mention space dwarves?
Hunt: Showdown is somewhat of a wild card in this list, but that’s by design. It’s hard to pin it down with other games like Left 4 Dead and Payday 2, simply because there aren’t any other games exactly like Hunt: Showdown out there. Combining PvP, PvE, PvPvE, and various other, steadily-more complex acronyms, Hunt: Showdown’s darkly atmospheric matches are something truly original.
Combining an unsettling Wild West aesthetic with nightmarish creatures, Hunt: Showdown feels like a Nick Cave concept album about giant, face-eating spiders. Everything is coated in a thick sheen of grime and rust, and the tension leading to an encounter with other players is often much, much longer than the actual gunfights themselves. Traps, noise, and even stray gunshots all play a part into success or failure, injecting each careful footstep taken through its vast maps with an ever-present tension.
Killing Floor 2
Combining the bastard-big zombie hordes of Left 4 Dead with the bastard-big guns of Payday 2, Killing Floor 2 is a raucous co-op rampage that knows what it is, and what it is a game about killing wave after wave of horrifically mutated flesh-guzzlers, preferably before they guzzle your flesh.
Since the FPS game launched in 2016, it’s seen a bewildering array of updates and DLC, which may mean new players have a confusing time knowing where to begin. The core gameplay loop is, at its heart, still just compulsive, gory fun, so don’t worry all too much about whether you need to pick up every single expansion.
Left 4 Dead 2
Rogue. Dark Souls. Doom. There aren’t many titles that can lay claim to having spawned an entire genre. Though there might not be an official name for its co-op shooter sons, we reckon Left 4 Dead deserves a place of pride among those hallowed titles.
Left 4 Dead 2 perfected the original’s formula, offering reams of AI-directed tension to keep teams of players on their toes. It’s not just another zombie game. For many, it’s the zombie game. It’s a classic for good reason – those old maps still hold up – but that hasn’t stopped new content being released as a free Left 4 Dead update.
Let’s get this out of the way: Skaven are adorable, and deserve to inherit the earth. However, since just letting our noble rat overlords take over the planet wouldn’t make for an especially interesting setup for a game, the next best thing is Vermintide 2. A melee and magic co-op blast, and the absolute pinnacle of ratmashers everywhere.
Taking close inspiration from genre grandaddy Left 4 Dead (shamelessly, it even copied the number in the title), Vermintide 2 lets you and up to three friends team up to battle against the combined forces of Skaven and Chaos. Players put off by the concept of first-person melee needn’t worry – Vermintide’s block, slash, and strafe combat is precise and satisfying. There’s also bows, crossbows, and pistols, for those who prefer to hang back and watch their teammates get devoured. Thanks, team!
If there’s one thing cooler than doing crimes, it’s doing crimes in colourful masks surrounded by friends, and that’s Payday 2 in a nutshell. The core here is the same objective-based co-op as Left 4 Dead, but instead of fighting off waves of zombos, you’ll be committing some of the coolest crimes out there – from kidnapping jobs to robbing banks.
Featuring dynamic scenarios with procedural elements, specialised character classes that excel in specific jobs, and tons of guns and equipment to customise your loadout, Payday has maintained a dedicated following since its release all the way back in 2013. This means newer or solo players should have no problem finding plenty of crime buddies to team up with.
While games like Left 4 Dead and Payday 2 set their co-op action in bespoke levels, Gunfire Reborn embraces the roguelite chaos of procedural generation, from its levels to its weapon drops. It’s co-op with up to three friends, and you can utilise a selection of hero-classes to take on your foes with a selection of colourful, zany weapons and abilities.
Though still in early access at the time of writing, Gunfire Reborn has already amassed a sizable following of fans. This might be down to the fact you get to choose between playing as an alchemist cat, a canine explosives expert, and a martial arts parrot. It might just be because it’s a damn fun co-op shooter, with tons of customisation and upgrade options. There’s a panda in there somewhere, too.
So, that’s the best games like Left 4 Dead and Payday 2 on PC. If you’re hungry for some more undead action, don’t forget to check out our list of the best zombie games. For more fun with friends, here’s the best co-op games. And here’s the best FPS games, if you’re not too fussy about what you shoot, as long as you get to shoot something.