Xbox has always been pretty great about local multiplayer, and over the years very little has changed in that regard, with this admirable legacy extending to Xbox One and, more recently, Xbox Series X/S. Be it big productions or charming indie games, Microsoft’s console has local multiplayer in spades!
Don’t let anybody tell you split-screen is dead. Let’s take a look at a few games that are a breeze and joy to play with a friend or three sharing a couch and screen with you.
|It Takes Two (Xbox Series X)||2021-03-26||Platform||Hazelight Studios||Read more|
|The Ascent (Xbox Series X/S, Windows 10)||2021-07-29||Cyberpunk||Neon Giant||Read more|
|Samurai Warriors 5||2021-07-27||Action||KOEI TECMO GAMES CO. LTD.||Read more|
|Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse||2021-03-16||Action||Wideload Games, Aspyr, THQ Nordic||Read more|
|A Way Out||2018-03-23||Adventure||Hazelight Studios||Read more|
|Ark Survival Evolved||2015-06-02||Adventure||Studio Wildcard||Read more|
|The Binding Of Isaac Rebirth||2014-11-04||Action & Shooter||Nicalis, Inc.||Read more|
|Borderlands 3 Standard Edition||2019-09-13||FPS||Gearbox Software||Read more|
|Crimsonland||2014-06-11||Adventure||10tons Ltd||Read more|
|Cuphead||2017-09-29||Indie||StudioMDHR Entertainment Inc.||Read more|
|Diablo 3 Eternal Collection||2012-05-12||Hack & Slash||Blizzard Entertainment||Read more|
|Divinity Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition||2017-09-14||Adventure||Larian Studios||Read more|
|FIFA 21||2020-10-09||Sports||EA Sports||Read more|
|FIFA 22||2021-09-26||Sports||EA Sports||Read more|
|Enter The Gungeon||2016-04-05||Adventure||Dodge Roll||Read more|
|Forza Motorsport 7||2017-10-03||Racing||Turn 10 Studios||Read more|
|Gears Of War 4||2016-10-11||Action & Shooter||The Coalition||Read more|
|Halo The Master Chief Collection||2020-11-17||Action & Shooter||343 Industries||Read more|
|Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2||2017-11-14||Action||TT Games||Read more|
|Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate Edition||2020-11-17||Action||NetherRealm Studios||Read more|
|Overcooked||2016-08-03||Action & Shooter||Ghost Town Games Ltd.||Read more|
|Overcooked 2||2018-08-07||Indie||Team17, Ghost Town Games||Read more|
|Rayman Legends||2013-08-29||Adventure||Ubisoft Montpellier||Read more|
It Takes Two
|Genre:||Action & Adventure|
It Takes Two is quite deceptive. It looks cute, but gets unreasonably, almost comically dark at many points.
At first glance it looks like a run-of-the-mill platform game with a co-op gimmick, but no individual screen can show you the incredible diversity of experience offered by this game. In some ways every region is like a separate game in its own right as far as gameplay and style goes.
It Takes Two is exclusively co-operative. Just like the Hazelight Studios’ previous game, A Way Out it requires two players, no more, no less. The game’s theme is working together and communicating, and by Dr. Hakim’s bodacious pages, the gameplay does enforce it. The protagonists, Cody and May, aren’t fully symmetrical either: each gets different tools to play.
|Genre:||Cyberpunk & Action|
The Ascent is a game in a genre which has always been great about shared-screen co-op: a twin-stick shooter.
It has all the hallmarks: an isometric view, tons of enemies trying to kill you every waking second of your life, and many ways to dispose of them. Better yet, it welcomes up to four players even in local co-op, so you know that things can get quite flashy here.
The game is cyberpunk to the max, with corporate overlords, alien planets, cybernetic augmentations, and inevitable street-level strife between gangs and factions. The story serves as a perfect excuse to go around planet Veles shooting people who try to take control in your home district for their own greedy ambitions.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
|Genre:||Action & Adventure|
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a full-blown, stand-alone sequel to a Borderlands 2 DLC Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep.
The original DLC was a riff on Dungeons & Dragons, and it’s popularity was enough to have the idea spun off into a separate game. And wouldn’t you know, it turns out that it’s awesome too! It’s also split-screen, local co-op friendly, because it IS Borderlands, after all.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands mixes Borderland’s love for guns and wacky humor with fantasy stylings to create an explosively fun game. The map is half appropriate minis and terrain and half whatever junk Tiny Tina had lying around, something any Game Master will appreciate. The game can handle two players locally on Xbox One, but Xbox Series manages a full party of 4 players.
Samurai Warriors 5
The musou games are a very mixed bag of gameplay. They are both over-the-top slasher featuring vibrant characters, AND rather tactical-minded in how hard it can sometimes be to complete all the objectives.
Samurai Warriors 5 is a worthy successor to this tradition, and as the title suggest it puts you in control of a whole host of historical figures of the Sengoku period.
Of course, they are suitably redesigned and turned into one-person armies, but that’s just the style of the Warriors games. Samurai Warriors 5 features a 2-player local co-op, which might make it less stressful to complete the missions. There’s no need to worry about the killcounts, because like always they go into hundreds.
Stubbs the Zombie Remaster
|Release:||2005-11-15 / 2021-03-16|
Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse is a rare opportunity to play as a zombie.
Better yet: the game is mostly comedic in nature, so while you’re shambling around doing undead things, most of them is played for laughs. You can eat people’s brains, use your body parts as weapons, and command your own undead hordes for revenge. That’s right, you have a grudge to settle.
As you might have gathered by now, Stubbs the Zombie features a co-op mode, which gives the second player a once in a unlife-time opportunity to play Scrubbs’ buddy: Grubbs. Together you’ll be able to wreak chaos you wouldn’t be able to on your own. The 1950s town of Punchbowl has no chance to survive.
Rocket League is an excellent game in many different ways.
The premise, rocket-powered cars playing football, is very fun and unique. The matches are fast-paced and never take more than a few minutes. There’s a lot of customisation. But, for the purposes of this list, the key feature is that it allows a 4-player local split-screen multiplayer, either together against another team, or in local 2v2.
Another notable aspect of Rocket League is that its skill ceiling is very high, and it will take some determination and a reliable gamepad to reach it. In addition to a football-like game there are also ice hockey and basketball-inspired variants, as well as custom modes with player-defined parameters if football (wheelball?) doesn’t appeal to you. It’s an amazing game if you have a few spare controllers and like games about cars and sports.
Although the original launch of Gang Beasts happened in 2017, the game wouldn’t come to Xbox (One) until 2019, which makes it a bit fresher on that platform.
What is Gang Beasts? It’s possibly the least malicious, and one of the funniest fighting games in modern memory. The fighters are very clumsy, floppy humanoid blobs who can not only throw a punch, but also grab enemies or environment.
The ability to grab onto stuff is crucial, because it allows you to grab into an enemy and throw them out of the arena, or, in fact, resist being thrown out. Whoever is the last fighter standing wins the match. The jelly people are customisable, their animations are but delightfully and purposefully uncoordinated, and the game is too funny to make anyone mad over losing a match. Perfect.
Crimsonland is a very simple game, and in this simplicity lies its strength.
You are a space-age soldier plopped onto an area swarming with hostile and deadly aliens. Thankfully, you get new weapons, including fancy energy-shooters, and some perks which can substantially change how you complete each map. As you progress, the aliens get more dangerous, so it’s nice that friends can help you.
You can shoot aliens to death with up to three friends, which means four times as many bullets and bolts of plasma, but it also means you have a slightly higher chance of surviving against more advanced swarms. Crimsonland doesn’t look like much, it’s graphics are very functional, but even solo it’s a great game to launch for a few quick runs. Played with friends, it becomes even better.
Rayman is a series that’s been running around for decades at this point.
Even though the disjointed protagonist isn’t as much of an icon as he used to be, his games are still great, and Rayman Legends is one of the coolest in the recent memory. It also has a solid local multiplayer in which each player controls a different character. It works even on Legends’ coolest concept-levels.
There’s a few levels which synchronise music (such as a custom version of Eye of the Tiger) and level layout, so that you jump, slide, and smash to the music. It’s a great, family-friendly game, and running side by side, conquering levels together is very fun. There’s also a minigame, Kung Foot, which is another football-related option on this list: attack the ball to score goals. Simple, right?
|Genre:||Hack and slash|
The Diablo series is a timeless classic, And for good reasons.
Carving the way through dusty dungeons and ruined villages, wading through legions of demons and undead is a time-honoured tradition. While you’re perfectly capable of saving the world alone, masterfully wielding magic and weapons, there’s a unique appeal to doing it as an adventuring party, of, for instance, 4 people.
Diablo 3 on Xbox allows 4 players to play together, occupying the same couch and sharing the same bunch of snacks. There are 7 classes, tonnes of loot, and seemingly endless supply of monsters to deal with. Although there’s Diablo IV being made, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to check out D3, it’s still a solid game with a lot to like about it and a lot of room for very specific class builds.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2
When you’re looking for split-screen/co-op games LEGO titles from Traveller’s Tales are always a reliable choice.
For this list we’ve picked Marvel Superheroes, but there are also LEGO game for fans of DC comics, or Star Wars (like the recent Skywalker Saga), or Jurassic Park… In the case of Marvel Superheroes 2 the game gives a rare chance to play characters absent from the movies, or wearing a cool costume from the old days.
If you want to play as an Old West version of Tony Stark alongside Agent Venom, you can! The game features a split-screen perfected over numerous LEGO game made by Traveller’s Tales. The world is filled with secrets, many of which only specific characters can discover thanks to their powers, and, like all LEGO games, Marvel Super Heroes 2 has a good, family-friendly sense of humour.
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
Borderlands has always been at the height of its entertainment potential when you play with friends.
It’s been true of the first game in the series, and it’s still true for the third. Borderlands 3 has the expected 4-player online co-op, but if you have an extra controller for your Xbox One, a friend can join you on the couch, and the other two players, perhaps also sharing a couch, can join online.
BL3 divides the action, and the story, between three very different planets, one of which is, of course, Pandora. There’s also a new group of cool Vault Hunters ready to do whatever job is paying best, and to loot tonnes of procedurally generated guns. All character have their own skills, which include commanding beasts (FL4K) and manifesting astral arms to pummel enemies (Amara).
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Divinity: Original Sin 2 got a lot of publicity since release for many reasons, but one of them was the great way it does multiplayer.
First of all, DOS2 offers two-player split screen, with two (or, in one case: three) players can join online. Each player can create their own, unique character, or pick one of the pre-generated, Origin characters with their own stories and motivations.
Aside from potentially deadly combat encounters, the game doesn’t prevent you from exploring the map on your own, pursuing your own goals, and occasionally maybe rushing to help your co-players with a difficult battle, or trying to break them out of jail even as they try to find their own way out. Or you could poison a health potion and give it to another player, nobody will say you can’t do it.
12. Overcooked! (2)
|Genre:||couch co-op & cooking game|
Overcooked is a game which does local multiplayer right.
So much so, that it has a special controller option which allows two players to use one gamepad, because controls are very simple. What is Overcooked! about? It’s about managing chaos inevitably consuming any kitchen with too many cooks. It doesn’t help that the kitchen can drastically change its layout without warning.
The final mark for the level depends on the number of orders you complete before it ends, and that involves good management. One person may be tasked with cutting ingredients, while another makes sure there’s always a clean plate ready, and yet another works the stove. You must also coordinate, so that no snarls appear in the workflow. They inevitably will appear, but planning makes thing better.
Mortal Kombat 11
Fighting games are some of the best games to play if you have a friend over, two controllers, and a thirst for digital blood.
Especially the last part is going to be thoroughly quenched if you launch Mortal Kombat 11, the juiciest MK game to date. Of course, blood flowing freely isn’t the only reason MK11 is an excellent fighting game in its own right, benefitting from over two decades of devs’ experience.
There are almost 40 playable characters (25 without DLC), familiar and new, and they can be customised to a degree. The story is pleasantly convoluted, complete with time travel shenanigans, magic, gods, and Johnny Cage wincing at how awful he used to be as a younger man. All in all Mortal Kombat is a fantastic, if brutal and rather complex, fighting game, solo, online, and locally.
Enter the Gungeon
Starting with an easy one, we have the cute and hilarious Enter the Gungeon, which also received an exquisitely named update called “Gungeons and Draguns”.
If the name alone isn’t an endorsement you may not enjoy much of the game’s tone. EtG doesn’t take itself seriously at all, at least as far as the story is concerned, because the gameplay is polished, tight, and exciting. What is the game like, then?
In Enter the Gungeon you can team up with a friend to take on a randomly generated labyrinth filled with humanoid Bullets and Guns wielding more guns, discover random loot and tackle the dungeon’s imaginative and vicious bosses. Your screen will be frequently filled with all manners of projectiles, which require skilful dodges and manoeuvring if you want to stay alive.
Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
The Binding of Isaac is certainly a very odd game.
Famous for its grim aesthetics filled with monstrosities and scatological references, and its weird trailers, Binding of Isaac is something of a Rogue-Like Prime. Its release ushered a wave of titles and still can serve as something of a blueprint on how to make it right and how important it is to inject something of your own into the game. Even if that something amounts to a very long poop joke and blasphemy.
In Afterbirth, you can partner up with a friend to brave Isaac’s basement together, but be warned—in order to initiate the co-op, you’ll need to sacrifice one of your lives. You also have to carefully manage drops between the two of you, but on the plus side, fewer things you find will get wasted. Sacrificing a life turns the co-op into an investment, as your partner functions like a power-up with a drawback. A lot can be said about this game, but certainly not that it isn’t creative.
Forza Motorsport 7
The latest (with a new Forza Motorsport on the horizon) title in the long-standing series of fantastic racing games lives up to its status with the huge variety of locations, cars and game modes it offers.
Forza Motorsport 7 features a full single-player campaign, so there’s stuff to do even when you’re not racing with friends and adds new vehicles and tracks on top of ones returning from Horizon 3.
The controls are great, the tracks are imaginative and varied, and cars have detailed and believable physics. It doesn’t hurt, that Motorsport 7 is gorgeous, and the dynamic weather looks as lifelike as one could have hoped for in a racing game. If you are a fan of the genre, you shouldn’t sleep on Motorsport 7, because it is one of the better racing games currently on the market.
In the years since its release Minecraft has become one of the most famous and influential games ever made.
Its community has tested the limits of what can be done in this game, recreating in surprising detail famous landmarks and locations from movies or games alike. In addition to already robust possibilities of the core game, the modding scene enables even more ambitious projects.
Better yet, you don’t have to build everything yourself. There’s cross-play between PC and your Xbox and, more importantly, an up-to-4 player co-op on your console. So you could, if you wanted to, have a whole team of builders working together to create something really big: gathering resources, planning the layout, and complaining that someone ate all the snacks before others had their share.
You may want to wait a bit, because a new one is always coming soon enough.
Regardless, if you want to go for a tried and tested game, FIFA 22 is a solid, and the latest at the time of writing, entry into possibly the most popular football game on the market. The FIFA Ultimate Team mode features a hundred Iconic players and even new co-op options within FUT.
Other than that, 22 is, as usual, a step-up from the previous iteration without drastically changing the formula. Up to 4 players can enjoy the game at the same time, making for some exciting 2v2 of 4 vs CPU set ups, especially since the Kick-Off mode allows you to introduce modifiers to the match rules. If you like sports and have friends who do, this one is for you.
Ark: Survival Evolved
If you are a fan of survival games, you can certainly appreciate the emergent narrative that comes out when two people faff about in an intricate environment.
That’s what Ark offers: a big, open world to explore, a place to build your base in and a lot of hijinks on that way facilitated by the presence of dinosaurs. Yes, you can pet and domesticate them, that’s the whole point.
On Xbox, you can team up with a friend for a two-player local co-op (split-screen) and you can combine that with up to two more players through online play. There’s also limited crossplay, depending on the platforms. That’s probably the most advisable way to tackle this game, you know what they say: the more the merrier. This statement is especially true in a game involving dinos and hungry dragons.
Cuphead has a whole lot going for it.
Great art style? Check. Satisfying and tight mechanics? Check. Great music? Check. Imaginative and unique designs? Check. Local co-op? Check, check, check! Made with fantastic care and attention to details, Cuphead is brimming with style, but at no point does that style overshadow the substance.
It’s a difficult game, but it fills the player with immense satisfaction after beating every level. In co-op, the second player controls the Luigi to Cuphead’s Mario—Mugman, and both players get the ability to revive each other in a short window of opportunity if one of them falls. Cuphead was one of 2017’s most acclaimed for very good reasons: the style and gameplay worked together perfectly well.
Gears of War 4
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
Not for the faint of heart, the Gears series is very much a power fantasy about burly men and women with very big guns shooting at very scary aliens and occasionally cutting said aliens open with chainsaw bayonettes.
Subtlety isn’t a trait the Gears of War series cared about in the original trilogy, and doesn’t seem to care for in the new generation story that is Gears of War 4 and it’s direct sequel, Gears 5.
You can play the entire game in a local two-player coop in split-screen and there’s a surprising amount of plot and good dramatic tension, as Player 2 takes control of either Kait or Del. You can also play the improved horde mode with many new features, like classes and special abilities. Gears of War 4 is like a nice, full course meal—it will leave you with a sense of fulfillment every time you dig in.
A Way Out
|Genre:||Action & Adventure|
A Way Out was designed from the ground up to be a cooperative experience.
The game is automatically two-player split-screen, although there’s an option to play it with online multiplayer (but playing it with a friend locally is the best way to do it). There’s no way to play it alone. Whether online or locally, you won’t go anywhere without the second player. It’s quite unique that way, or was until It Takes Two.
A Way Out is a game about trust. Its mechanics takes the idea of a cooperative game to the next level and require conflict resolution skills from players. You need to work together to escape the prison, but that’s just the beginning of the journey. Made by the creator of Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons, A Way Out is a masterpiece of combining all elements that make a video game a cohesive whole.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
|Genre:||Action & Shooter|
You’re technically getting a total of 4 exclusive titles for the price of one game.
The Master Chief Collection includes anniversary editions of Combat Evolved and Halo 2, as well as Halo 3 and 4. All of them received major content updates to bring them up to modern standards. Each of the games in can be played in two player, split-screen co-op, with two more players able to connect online.
The Halo series is legendary for its tight gunplay, with each new iteration improving on the previous one. This purchase could easily serve for more than a year of friendly gatherings, and even if you’re on your own, the Halo series has a famously dramatic and engaging story. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is seriously tough to pass on for anybody owning Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S.
That concludes the list of the best split-screen games for Xbox One. Hopefully you’ve found some titles which fits your and your friends’ gaming preferences and you’re going to have a lovely time arguing over who messed up and blaming the controllers!