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 shared screen.
Couch co-op is the best is you want to stay at home and still have some social life. Let’s stop splitting hairs and split some screens instead.
The best Couch Co-Op & Shared /
|15. Children of Morta||Rougelike||Adventure||2019||Buy|
|14. Darksiders Genesis||Hack & Slash||RPG||2019||Buy|
|13. Forced||RPG||Arcade 4 Player||2013||Buy|
|12. Left 4 Dead 2||Shooter||Survival Horror, Zombies||2009||Buy|
|11. Trine: Ultimate Collection||Platform||Puzzle||2019||Buy|
|10. Resident Evil 6 Complete||Survival Horror||Co-Op, Zombies||2012||Buy|
|9. Enter the Gungeon||Roguelike||Pixel Graphics||2016||Buy|
|8. Rivals of Aether||Fighting Game||4 Player Local||2017||Buy|
|7. Viscera Cleanup Detail||Simulation||First-Person, Gore||2015||Buy|
|6. Castle Crashers||Adventure||Indie, Action||2012||Buy|
|5. Broforce||Action||Pixel Graphics||2015||Buy|
|4. Overcooked 2||Cooking||Indie||2018||Buy|
|3. Rocket League||Sports||Soccer, Racing||2015||Buy|
|2. Gears of War 4||TPS||Shooter||2016||Buy|
|1. Divinity: Original Sin 2||RPG||Turn based||2017||Buy|
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.
|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.
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.
Trine: Ultimate Collection
|Release year:||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. Resident Evil 6
Screaming at Leon
Resident Evil 6 isn’t going to go down in the long-winded annals of the RE franchise as one of its greatest achievements, but playing it with another person next to you on the figurative couch helps to lessen the punch a fair bit. Knowing that someone shares your experience makes it automatically more satisfying.
The game is about four people sharing a dreadful experience and you can share the game with a friend in a local or online co-op, which makes the narrative work well on a meta-level at the very least. Can the two of you help Leon, Chris, Jake, and Ada succeed against all obstacles thrown their way?
9. Enter the Gungeon
|Genre||Rogue-like bullet hell|
Gun with the wind
Enter the Gungeon is one of the increasingly popular rogue-lite genre coupled with indispensable pixelated aesthetic that’s par for the course. 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.
8. Rivals of Aether
How about more of them sharp pixels, huh? 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.
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.
On the multiplayer front RoE has the expected local multiplayer, with 1v1, 2v2 and free for all fights going on, and if needed the game is perfectly happy to let you take your fights online.
Rivals of Aether is fairly new as games go, a bit over a year old, and it’s still supported by the developers, and new Rivals are still coming.
Although this isn’t really a co-op, but it’s a rather stylish and friendly beginning of your adventure with fighting games, or a breather for more hardcore titles.
7. Viscera Cleanup Detail
Mop up simulator
The only game that can be said to have a visceral gameplay without it being a tired cliché of video game marketing from 8 years ago.
Anyway, 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. Yeah.
Viscera Cleanup Detail is a remarkable game, if only for the mop physics. On the whole it’s a very fun, out-there idea perfectly suited for a cooperative play, even in local multiplayer. It goes to show that it’s mostly the games that don’t treat themselves too seriously that care to include this feature. Better still: the game even provided handy stats to shove in your incompetent co-op buddy’s face to prove you did most of the heavy lifting.
Seriously, though, the mop is hilarious.
6. Castle Crashers
The Dark Souls of party games
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.
There isn’t much to write about it, truly, Castle Crashers is a very simple game, and this is what makes it great for players of all ages. Go and play it.
The copyright dodging explosive and pixelated platform game is one hell of a silly and thoroughly enjoyable game. Its story is pure gung-ho, square-jawed, eagle-petting nonsense we’ve seen in countless action movies from the 80s and 90s. Its player characters are all caricatures of famous characters, such as Rambro, Brobocop, Snake Broskin, or Bronan the Brobarian, which is just the best name for any character in all of fiction.
Yes. Every character’s name is twisted so that it has “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. Very fast the map is ripped apart by your guns, your enemies’ artillery, and the explosive barrels someone decided to place in the most precarious places, bless their soul.
The game has a four-player split screen PC co-op, because otherwise it wouldn’t have landed on this list, and you can even buy the full 4-pack of it if you want to share it with your bros. And why wouldn’t you?
4. Overcooked (2)
|Release year||2016 (Overcooked), 2018 (Overcooked 2)|
Too many cooks?
What’s more to say about Overcooked? It’s 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 you get into logistics and things get complicated. Things have be done in order, the kitchen’s layout changes regularly, dishes have to delivered and plates have to be cleaned. 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 tried to establish order.
Overcooked is shared screen, local multiplayer only, but the sequel adds online functionality, so there’s that.
It’s very appropriate that the game likely to make you hate your gaming partners is published by Team17, the people behind the evergreen Worms franchise which has been doing that for decades.
3. Rocket League
Car football, aerial acrobatics. Go play it now.
Rocket League is a successor to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, a game whose title I will never be too bored to type and say. Go on, say it out loud. It’s super catchy, super accurate, and could be a tagline for Rocket League itself, because it’s basically that, but better.
Your task in RL is to nudge a huge exploding ball into the opposing team’s goal area, but you’re a car, you can use jets to jump and fly, and if you stay on the ground a lot then you’re playing the game wrong.
Rocket League took gamers by storm, and it has a local split screen multiplayer for up to four players that somehow works really well even through the game requires great spatial awareness. RL also has cross-platform play with XO and Switch, and limited one with PS4.
This game also lets you adjust your exhaust fumes to spill rainbows or Xmas gifts.
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 comic book…ahem, VISUAL novels. It’s latest incarnation, GoW4 takes place over two decades after the conclusion of the original trilogy, and even changes its protagonist to embrace the full “new generation vibe”. Don’t worry, though, grizzly muscleman Marcus Phoenix is still in it, but it’s his son that’s is the focus here.
Gears of War 4 keeps the series tradition of letting you enjoy a split-screen cooperative experience in multiple modes. Nothing says going all back-to-back badasses like sticking to a chest-high wall and shooting fools rushing your position.
1. Divinity: Original Sin 2
The Fanest RPG of 2017
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is by all accounts the second coming of The Witcher 3, the Jesus of gaming. I jest, but it’s 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 whether in the story campaign or in the GM Mode, both of which are viable, and fun to play.
Much like its immediate predecessor, the original Original Sin, OS2 allows you to play the entire story with others, more specifically: the sequel allows you to play in a quartet rather then a duet of the previous game. And it’s still drop-in/drop-out. Although the game can’t handle more than two players on a single machine, two copies and four controllers are enough to play the game together.
A way to revive the LAN party tradition? Why not.
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 co-operative and competitive games 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.