Back in the day split screen or local multiplayer in general, used to be the thing, the default.
These times are over now, have been for years. Thanks, widespread Internet connection. Finding a good video game that lets you play with a bunch of friends on your couch is hard even if you’re a console player. PC is seemingly even less suited for this kind of experience, so what can you do?
Well, reading this list might help. We’ve picked a bunch of cooperative (or otherwise) games that are fine with letting you invite a pal or palette (I don’t think that’s a proper term, but I already wrote it, so it stays) over and having a blast playing together on a one screen. Let’s stop splitting hairs and split some screens instead.
|A Way Out||2018-03-23||Adventure||Hazelight Studios||61%||Read more|
|Broforce||2015-10-15||Adventure||Free Lives||68%||Read more|
|Burnout Paradise The Ultimate Box||2009-02-03||Race||Criterion Games||43%||Read more|
|Castle Crashers||2012-09-26||Adventure||The Behemoth||22%||Read more|
|Children Of Morta||2019-09-01||Adventure||Dead Mage||77%||Read more|
|Cuphead||2017-09-29||Indie||StudioMDHR Entertainment Inc.||10%||Read more|
|Darksiders Genesis||2019-12-05||Adventure||Airship Syndicate||84%||Read more|
|Divinity Original Sin Enhanced Edition||2015-10-27||Adventure||Larian Studios||57%||Read more|
|Divinity Original Sin 2 Gogcom Key Global||2017-09-14||Adventure||Larian Studios||41%||Read more|
|Dragon Ball Fighterz||2018-01-26||Fighting||Arc System Works||88%||Read more|
|Enter The Gungeon||2016-04-05||Adventure||Dodge Roll||67%||Read more|
|F1 2020 Standard Edition||2020-07-10||Racing||Codemasters||65%||Read more|
|Gears 5||2019-09-10||Action||The Coalition / Black Tusk Studios||33%||Read more|
|Gears Of War 4 Xbox Live Key Global Windows 10||2016-10-11||Action & Shooter||The Coalition / Black Tusk Studios||83%||Read more|
|Guacamelee 2||2018-08-21||Adventure||DrinkBox Studios||91%||Read more|
|Left 4 Dead 2||2009-11-16||Action & Shooter||Valve||Read more|
|Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime||2015-09-09||Indie||Asteroid Base||Read more|
|Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate Edition||2020-11-17||Action||NetherRealm Studios||81%||Read more|
|Outward||2019-03-26||RPG||Nine Dots Studio||64%||Read more|
|Overcooked||2016-08-03||Action & Shooter||Ghost Town Games Ltd.||80%||Read more|
|Overcooked 2||2018-08-07||Indie||Ghost Town Games Ltd.||75%||Read more|
|Portal 2||2011-04-18||Adventure||Valve||Read more|
|Resident Evil 6||2013-03-22||Horror||CAPCOM||80%||Read more|
|Rivals Of Aether||2017-03-28||Fighting||Dan Fornace||4%||Read more|
|Screencheat||2014-10-21||Action & Shooter||Samurai Punk||67%||Read more|
|Split Second||2010-05-18||Action & Shooter||Black Rock Studio||81%||Read more|
|Stardew Valley||2016-02-26||Adventure||ConcernedApe||4%||Read more|
|Tekken 7||2017-06-01||Fighting||BANDAI NAMCO Studios Inc.||84%||Read more|
|Trine Ultimate Collection||2019-10-08||Action||Frozenbyte||77%||Read more|
20. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
|Genre||Action, indie, platform, simulation|
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a delightful, intense, but colourful and upbeat co-op game for up to four players. As a team (or alone, with an AI pet helping you out) you’re going to fly in a spherical spaceship through, indeed, a dangerous space time, running around to shoot enemies with turrets, steer the ship, deploy shields etc. Good cooperation is essential because the space is full of enemies.
The ships are upgradable with gems unlocking new abilities and options, letting you adjust your spacecraft’s functionality on the fly. The maps you traverse are randomised, so your team also has to be quick to respond to unexpected enemies and make quick manoeuvres. On top of it all, the worlds are filled with vibrant neon colours, particles, and often a flurry of missiles and lasers. A lot to look at.
Screencheat’s big selling point is that it encourages players to do what used to be a faux-pas in the old days of playing split-screen PvP shooters. The game forces you to peek at your opponents’ slice of the shared screen, because you can see them in your own, since they are invisible! You have to deduce their position based on what THEIR cameras show. It’s hectic, chaotic, and delightfully confusing.
It’s not really a game one plays to score headhsots and own noobs. Instead, it’s great for one or five quick rounds as you hang out with friends or want to warm up before jumping into a more demanding FPS. Maps are designed to have distinctive locations which makes it a bit easier to keep track of your opponents and shoot them with weird one-hit-kill…implements, including a exploding teddy bear.
18. Guacamelee! 2
Extraordinary luchador Juan Aguacate returns from brief retirement, armed with new bone-crushing moves and an improved chicken transformation. Now you can not only run as a chicken, you can also fight as a chicken. And it’s more effective than you’d think. There are also new bosses and new challenges in front of Juan, so it’s a good thing you can play this game with up to three friends.
Guacamelee! 2 is a metroidvania set in the “Mexiverse”, a world inspired by Mexican legends and customs, and it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. It’s bright, filled with great, evocative designs of locations and creatures, and it works really well in co-op. Each of the players (up to four) can pick a different character/skin, some of which need to be unlocked in various ways.
17. A Way Out
A Way Out is an ambitious, cinematic co-op game for two players. It’s so much of a co-op game that it can’t be played solo at all. The game follows the story of Vincent Moretti and Leonard Caruso, both incarcerated and agreeing to help each other escape. What follows is a tightly woven story that wouldn’t look out of place in a TV show, except here you make the decisions.
A Way Out makes excellent use of split-screen and shared screen to create dramatic situations. Sometimes one character may be trying to distract somebody while the other completes some sabotage or steals something. Deciding which character goes to do which task can change the outcome in meaningful ways, so playing together on a couch makes the necessary communication much easier.
|Genre||Run and gun|
Cuphead is easily identified by its art style, very unique as far as video games are concerned. The game is explicitly inspired by the “rubber hose” animation created at the beginning of the 20th century, and the player characters are two lads with cups for heads. The story involves losing a game with the devil and doing his dark bidding to erase their debt. What follows is a lot of shooting and jumping.
Unlike several games on the lsit, Cuphead isn’t going to be walk in the park. The bosses tend to be tough as nails, and the road to them is always filled with enemies and obstacles which can eliminate you quickly. When you play with a friend at least there’s a small window of time to grab a ghost of a fallen companion and bring them back to life, and additional firepower is always welcome.
15. Children of Morta
Children of Morta is a family story at heart. You play as one of the Bergsons, a family of heroes and adventurers, who made monster hunting and exploring dark dungeons their family business. Before each dungeon run you get to pick a character to tackle the challenge. Dungeon delving is a mix between roguelites and hack’n’slash games, with fast-paced combat and run-specific buffs.
The game supports couch co-op for two players, each controlling a different member of the family. From the father, an archetypal sword-and-board fighter, to a Pyromancer younger daughter, each of the six playable characters plays differently. Curiously, over time you won’t only upgrade individual family members, but also the family as a whole.
14. Darksiders Genesis
|Genre||Hack and slash, role-playing|
A spin-off from the main Darksiders series, Darksiders Genesis is at its best when it’s a 2-player adventure, with both sword-swinging War and gun-toting Strife are player controlled. You can play alone without much issue at all, but it’s definitely more thematic when the two brothers fight back to back just as you cooperate with your fellow partner in exacting the Charred Council’s justice.
Although Darksiders Genesis pulls the camera way further than any of the previous games in the series did, it retains the core of the DS spirit: exploration, solving puzzles, and fighting anyone silly enough to stand in your way. You’ll also collect new tools, new augments for your abilities, and prove why standing against any number of Horsemen is unwise in general.
Gather up to three friends, and go explore the world, avoid deadly traps laid by your foes, defeat powerful bosses and their hordes of minions. Forced is a game quite simple in concept and great in execution. Looking on the map from high above, the (up to) four of you will control unwilling participants of the world’s deadliest gladiatorial arena, with an almost useful spirit mentor.
Upon entering the game you have a pick of four classes: a ranged Storm Bow, defensive Frost Shield, Volcanic Hammer cleaving through groups of enemy up close, and the most single target-focused Spirit Blades. As each class performs regular attacks, the enemies gain marks, opening them up to special abilities. FORCED is an excellent co-op hack’n’slash, despite aging graphics.
12. Left 4 Dead 2
|Genre||First-person shooter, survival horror|
Left 4 Dead 2 improved massively on the first game, with a better AI Director making sure you’re always pushed just enough for victory to be satisfying. L4D2 more than most other games on the list requires really solid teamwork from everyone, lest the mission is failed and everybody is dead. But this is what makes the game so good and a well-run mission so rewarding.
What is Left 4 Dead 2 in the first place? Put it simply, a cooperative first-person shooter putting a group of four survivors with different weapon preferences, against rampaging zombies both of the regular shambling variety and powerful specialised ones, like the infamous Witch. It’s tense, it’s fast, and even though it has a singleplayer mode, it’s best played with friends.
11. Trine: Ultimate Collection
|Release||2009, 2011 (Trine 2), 2015 (T3), 2019 (T4)|
|Genre||Platform/puzzle, Action role-playing game|
Trine is lovely series of puzzle platformers sending three characters on a journey. There’s a Thief called Zoya, Amadeus the Wizard, and a Knight, Pontius. Together they brave the threats to a troubled kingdom. Like Darksiders Genesis earlier on this list, Trine CAN be played solo, but it’s more fun with two friends, with each of you playing a different character.
A measure of cooperation will be helpful, because each character has a set of abilities which are going to be useful while solving puzzles. The wizard, for example, can manipulate objects from afar, while the Thief has a grappling hook. Working together, they’ll be able to deal with every obstacle the series’ many levels throw at them.
10. Stardew Valley
Since its release in 2016 Stardew Valley grew to be one of the highest rated games on Steam and one of the go-to titles for everyone who seeks a friendly, relaxing game about creating something, instead of wreaking havoc. It started off as a singleplayer experience, but over time the developer, ConcernedApe, added multiplayer features, including a split-screen mode letting you play with friends locally.
What do you actually DO in Stardew Valley? You start by cleaning up a dilapidated farm your character inherited, then you begin setting up plots for vegetables, plant fruit trees, and sell produce in a nearby town, forming lifelong friendships with NPCs in the process. If you share the game with your friends they can help you on your farm: water the plants, or help you change the layout to make the fam look cooler.
9. Enter the Gungeon
|Genre||Rogue-like bullet hell|
Enter the Gungeon is one of the increasingly popular rogue-lite genre coupled with a charming pixelated aesthetic that became almost obligatory for the genre. Become one of the Gungeoneers, each with a unique loadout of starting guns and items, and do what you must to survive and reach your goal: a past-killing gun. Which means rolling, dodging, shooting bullet-like enemies in the primer.
There are dozens and scores of cool guns and other stuff to unlock and discover, an endless supply of challenging rooms, and a great local co-op experience for you and one pardner to help you have a glorious shootout at a More Than OK Corral. Enter the Gungeon supports a local co-op for two players, and it is fully drop-in/drop-out, which is always a great idea.
8. Rivals of Aether
Rivals of Aether is clearly not the first and I promise you it’s not the last pixelated game here, but it’s perhaps the only fighting game here, for those of you who need the satisfaction of stomping your play buddy into the dark crevices of your shared couch. RoE has the expected local multiplayer, with 1v1, 2v2 and free for all fights, and if needed the game is perfectly happy to let you take your fights online.
The premise is that there’s a war between nations characterised by their control over the classical elements of Air, Water, Earth and Fire and the fact that they are animals. That’s more or less what you need to know right now, and the game has a story mode, so you can dig into the lore of individual fighters at your leisure, learning their movesets in the process. Win-win.
7. Viscera Cleanup Detail
This game has you and you co-op buddies play the roles of the poor folk who need to clean up a space station after a brave protagonist of a shooter game killed all the pesky invading aliens, leaving a quite literal trail of blood and destruction in their wake. Imagine having to clean up the UAC facilities after Doomguy was done. Thankfully you have your trusty, exquisitely floppy mop to help.
Viscera Cleanup Detail is a remarkable game, not only for the mop physics. It’s a very fun, out-there idea perfectly suited for a cooperative play, especially in local multiplayer. Up to three friends can join you for a local split-screen, and up 32 online. The game even provides handy stats to shove in your incompetent co-op buddies’ faces to prove you did most of the heavy lifting.
6. Castle Crashers
Team up with up to three friends, pick a colour-coded grim-helmed knight and go save a princess. Your journey will take you through villages, scenic natural vistas, enemy castles and more, and your weapons will sow chaos among enemy ranks. All of it comes with a colourful, cartoon style which makes the carnage unleashed by your knights a lot less gruesome and a lot more amusing.
There are 25 characters, dozens of different weapons, and an accessible combo system which will let you fire off powerful attacks with ease. You even get to improve your character’s stats and have a cute companion, so the game isn’t JUST crashing castles and taking names. And if you get tired of co-operating with up to three friends on your couch, you can fight them in an arena!
Broforce is one hell of a silly and thoroughly enjoyable game. Its story is pure gung-ho, square-jawed nonsense we’ve seen in countless action movies from the 80s and 90s. The player characters are all caricatures of famous characters, such as Rambro, Brobocop, or Bronan the Brobarian. Every character’s name is twisted to have “bro” in it. There’s even Ellen Ripbro, because broness transcends gender.
Better yet: as the developer Free Lives proudly states in its description the game has Fully Destroyable Everything, and this is accurate. Almost immediately the map gets ripped apart by guns, artillery, and explosive barrels someone decided to place in the most precarious places. The game has a four-player split screen PC co-op and you can even buy the full 4-pack of it if you want to share it with your bros.
4. Overcooked (2)
|Release||2016 (Overcooked), 2018 (Overcooked 2)|
Overcooked a game with adorable exterior which will make you want to strangle your friends and family after playing it for fifteen minutes. The core is simple: you have up to four cooks in the kitchen, a recipe, ingredients to prepare, and a bunch of kitchen utensils. Then it gets complicated. Things have to be done in order, the kitchen’s layout changes regularly, plates have to be cleaned… you get the idea.
Every delay means you can squeeze in fewer order deliveries, which means you don’t get as many points as you might have wanted. It’s a study in chaos, especially when someone tries to establish order without others’ cooperation, but also immensely fun. Overcooked is shared screen, local multiplayer only, but the sequel adds online functionality, so there’s some flexibility, if you need it.
3. Rocket League
Rocket League is a successor to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, a game whose title, in addition to being just perfect, could also be a tagline for Rocket League itself, because it’s basically that, but better. Rocket League is like football, but teams are way smaller, and also populated by cars which can jump, fly, and ride up the walls to chase a huge ball and score goals with it.
Rocket League has a very high skill ceiling, and the best players can do things that are almost too precise and graceful. RL took gamers by storm, and it has a local split screen multiplayer for up to four players that works really well even through the game requires great spatial awareness. Important note: Rocket League really benefits from a gamepad, playing on keyboard is much harder.
Rocket League is free to play game.
2. Gears of War 4
Gears of War is a franchise with a pedigree, over the course of its existence spawning a few games, a few novels, and a few visual novels. It’s latest incarnation, GoW4 takes place over two decades after the conclusion of the original trilogy, and introduces a new protagonist, Marcus Fenix’s son JD. Of course, JD isn’t alone and has his own group of friends, COG soldiers like himself.
Gears of War 4 keeps the series tradition of letting you enjoy a split-screen cooperative experience in multiple modes. You can play through the campaign together, or team-up and have a go at the inevitable Horde mode, deploying defences, sticking to chest-high walls and pouring hot lead from any of your brutally efficient guns. It’s Gears of War, so a solid split-screen is a given.
1. Divinity: Original Sin 2
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a really, really good game when you play it alone, and rises to a fantastic status if you can get your pals to play it with you. Much like its immediate predecessor, the original Original Sin, OS2 allows you to play the entire story with up to three friends. You can play in split-screen with one friend, and have two more (possibly also playing in split-screen) join online.
And then there’s the DM Mode. If playing pre-packaged stories isn’t for you, find four more people (for a total of five), decide between yourselves who’s the storyteller, and go on a custom-made adventure created using DOS2’s fantastic creator, letting you string together locations, adjust their ambience, pick music, add texts… It’s basically what crafting a tabletop RPG game session is like, only in digital format.
Put down your controllers
That concludes our subjective list of subjectively greatest split screen on PC. You’re likely to disagree with it, because we didn’t include a game you consider the best for local multiplayer. Let us know in the comments what you pick would have been.
If you found this article informative, we’re also going to feature some tailored specifically for XO and PS4, listing some of the best local co-op and competitive games for these platforms as well. Some might even feature cross-platform multiplayer! You won’t know until you check them out.
And in case you’re missing any title from the list and seek to expand your library in case you need to entertain a nephew or a party of blood hungry friends, head over through our marketplace and grab some.