Multiplayer games are everywhere. This includes recent titles such as Fortnite but also some older ones like Starcraft that are still being played over two decades after their release.
But what ever occurred to spending a full evening indulging in traditional split-screen games?
Although not remotely as popular as they were in the past, there are still some highly enjoyable games out there featuring split-screen support.
Since nothing quite compares to playing side-by-side with your friends, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best split-screen games that you can try out right now, from big-budget shooters to some obscure indie titles.
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Split-Screen PC Games
Rocket League takes the traditional framework of soccer (or football, based on where you live) and flips it on its head by replacing human players with vehicles. It incorporates vehicular acrobatics and low gravity in an enclosed stadium, making for very fast, over-the-top gameplay.
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy Rocket League, and what better way is there to weather the ups and downs of a fiercely competitive match than alongside your best buddies in the comfort of your own home?
Ah, how we miss the good old days when Valve focused more on making games than making money. In addition to classics such as Half-Life and Counter-Strike, one of Valve’s most popular IPs are its puzzle game Portal and its sequel, Portal 2.
Portal 2 was a bit different from its predecessor. Without delving too deep into it, one of the most noteworthy additions was a new 2-player mode that came with a separate campaign designed specifically with two players in mind.
So, you haven’t really beaten Portal 2 until you also beat its 2-player campaign with a friend. This can be done via online multiplayer, but split-screen is also an option — a better option if you ask us. Sadly, this campaign is quite short and can be beaten in about four hours, but it’s fun all the way through.
Resident Evil 6
Despite not being the best Resident Evil game, Resident Evil 6 is a compelling third-person shooter that can be played on split-screen.
It contains four different campaigns, with some focusing more on fast-paced action and others on the traditional survival horror elements that the Resident Evil series is known for.
Three of the four campaigns are played in co-op, and they all make for a good couch split-screen gaming experience. If Resident Evil 6 suits your taste, then you might also want to check out its predecessor, Resident Evil 5, as it plays in a very similar fashion.
A Way Out
Josef Fares’ much-publicized jail-break co-op game, A Way Out, bases its central premise on cooperative split-screen gameplay. It was designed specifically with split-screen in mind, so you can rest assured that you’d be in for a highly engaging 2-player experience.
A Way Out is an action-adventure game that will require the players to cooperate to get through a variety of situations and solve puzzles to beat the game. Ultimately, the game is much more flexible than you might think, and there are different ways to get through different scenarios, so there’s a fair amount of replay value, too.
Gears of War 4
Fast-paced shooters can be tricky to play in split-screen, so many FPS and TPS games forego this mode entirely. But Gears of War 4 is an exception.
Overall, the game is based around mechanics introduced in the very first Gears of War title such as cover-based shooting and melee combat that come together with a very distinct and gory visual style to make for an enjoyable, gritty gameplay experience.
If you end up liking this game, then you might want to check out the rest of the series, as all of the Gears of War games were met with very good reception. More recently, though, it has been suffering from some franchise fatigue, as most long-lasting franchises do.
Team Sonic Racing
What is there to say about a racing game that features everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog? Team Sonic Racing is a kart racing game that will appeal to gamers of all ages, and it’s similar to Mario Kart in many ways.
The game features fifteen characters from the Sonic series, and there are three classes of racing cars that provide some flexibility when it comes to each racer’s playstyle. Moreover, Team Sonic Racing also focuses on cooperative gameplay, and the players can get more points if they work together and share power-ups.
Ultimately, some people found Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing from 2010 to be a better game. While that is probably true for the most part, Team Sonic Racing is more readily available on modern platforms.
Horizon Chase Turbo
Another racing game, Horizon Chase Turbo is inspired by the good old 90s arcade-style racing titles, and it shows in both the gameplay mechanics and the graphics style. It boasts simple but effective visuals, and the same can be said for the gameplay.
The game is easy to get into and features up to a four-way split-screen. You’d probably also like to know that it is quite cheap at the moment, so considering the hours of entertainment that the game can offer, we’d say it’s a pretty good deal even at full price.
Earth Defense Force 4.1 The Shadow of New Despair
A remastered edition of the PlayStation 3 version, Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is playable with up to three friends. Featuring a wide selection of locales and boasting over 100 different guns for each soldier subclass, Earth Defense Force 4.1 lets you destroy everything and anything in your way.
Light-hearted and fun, perfect for quality time with friends, Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is a very distinctly Japanese game that will have you defending the Earth from all sorts of kaiju threats.
Screencheat is a beautiful gaming oddity that, on the surface, is a run of the mill FPS. However, we think you’ll agree that it quickly descends into unchartered territory if we tell you that all players are invisible. Yes, you read correctly — invisible.
The central premise of the game, as the title implies, is to peek at the other players’ portion of the screen in order to figure out where they are. As you can imagine, Screencheat is a very unique split-screen experience that you definitely shouldn’t miss out on.
The Lego Movie Videogame
The Lego Movie Videogame is just what the title implies. If you’ve ever played any of the Lego games, you’ll know exactly what to expect.
This is a simple, light-hearted action-adventure title that is suitable for gamers of all ages. It’s full of colorful and creatively designed levels with plenty of action, and platforming segments.
Super Indie Karts
We all wish Mario Kart were available on PC. The reality is bleak, with Nintendo eager to keep its flagship series confined to their consoles. On the bright side, for nearly every console exclusive out there, there’s a viable substitute.
In this case, it’s Super Indie Karts, a kart racing game that captures the aesthetic, the gameplay, and overall feel of Mario Kart. The game features pixelated retro graphics and plenty of game modes, and it’s a great split-screen game for PC.
Another racing game, albeit a much newer release, is Distance. It’s a futuristic game with a somewhat TRON-like vaporwave aesthetic that features all sorts of vehicular acrobatics across a variety of tracks, with some pretty unforgettable track design.
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition
RPGs are usually single-player experiences, but Divinity: Original Sin goes off the beaten path by having you create two player characters instead of a single one.
It is an isometric turn-based RPG that can be played either in single-player or in multiplayer, and it’s a proper role-playing experience through and through. The campaign can take about 100 hours to complete, so you can rest assured that you’ll be in for quite a journey.
The game has also received a sequel titled Divinity: Original Sin II, and it does precisely what a proper sequel should do – it improves upon the base set by the original in almost every possible way, so definitely check it out if you like the original.
Hackable Split-Screen PC Games
In this section, we list games that, on the surface, don’t offer a split-screen option. However, with a little help from their modding communities, these titles can be transformed into ‘’hackable’’ couch co-op treasures. The term “hackable” is a bit misleading; in reality, we’re talking about modding.
The requirements vary from title to title, but overall the process is quite simple. With some Googling, you shouldn’t have trouble setting up the split-screen mods for any of these games.
Stardew Valley is the ideal farming simulation, loved by numerous independent game enthusiasts worldwide. The multiplayer upgrade created excitement within the community and drew large numbers of new followers who delighted in the enchanting appeal of the game.
With the help of a simple mod, the game can be turned into a very enjoyable split-screen experience, allowing you to get immersed in everything that the game has to offer in a new way.
Borderlands 2 is arguably the best entry in this highly popular series. It is a colorful and engaging “looter shooter” game with some RPG elements and a very distinct visual style.
The very first Borderlands game was designed with co-op in mind, and that didn’t change in the titles that came later. Borderlands 2 features several player classes that have different playstyles and abilities, so it’s a very dynamic multiplayer experience. It goes without saying that you should check out the rest of the series if you liked the second installment.
Don’t Starve Together
Don’t Starve is a rather original take on the survival genre, and has received a ton of well-deserved attention. It has a very distinct art style, and the procedurally generated levels give it a lot of replay value.
When the Don’t Starve Together multiplayer expansion arrived, the lack of split-screen felt like a big oversight on the developer’s part, but luckily, modders stepped in to fix the issue. With its high replayability and low price, Don’t Starve Together is a very good deal, offering a ton of fun at the price point of a short indie game.
Left 4 Dead 2
Another great title from the good old golden days when Valve still used to churn out quality games is Left 4 Dead 2. While it was originally met with some controversy due to launching only a year after the first game, it quickly surpassed its predecessor in nearly every imaginable way.
This is a team-based FPS game that has the player teaming up with up to three different people and wade through overwhelming hordes of zombies across several campaigns with unique maps. It can also be played with bots.
Left 4 Dead 2 is obviously a multiplayer experience, and while it doesn’t have built-in split-screen capabilities, it’s fairly easy to set it up with the help of the in-game console.
Minecraft became a huge success even before it’s official release, as it was something completely new. It featured a mind-bogglingly procedurally generated world, a simplistic but recognizable visual style, and most importantly, it allowed players to build pretty much anything they could think of.
Needless to say, it makes for a very captivating split-screen experience. However, as with all the other games in this category, setting up a split-screen game requires some fiddling first, as a split-screen mode isn’t officially supported.
Although not technically split-screen, these titles can be played on the same PC by two or more players. Since split-screen is essentially all about “couch multiplayer”, we figured we should mention a few more games that you could enjoy side by side with your friends.
Dragon Ball Fighter Z
One of the latest games in what is one of the most popular anime series ever created, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a fighting game that was met with a lot of enthusiasm from fans and was ultimately very well-received among critics.
It features a familiar cast of characters, including those from the new Dragon Ball Super series, and it’s one of the best fighting games to come out in recent years. Filled with flashy combos and featuring superb graphics, we feel that most fighting game fans will appreciate this one.
For more great fighting games, feel free to check out this article.
Next, we have Cuphead, a 2D old-school run-and-gun game with beautiful hand-drawn graphics that simply ooze nostalgia. You probably will have heard about it due to how difficult it can be.
It’s easy to forget that Cuphead also has a 2-player cooperative mode, so you can share all the rage and joy that this game has to offer with another player.
Building on the foundations of its incredible successor, Overcooked 2 is a cooking simulator that has teams of up to four players cooperate and prepare meals within a limited time frame.
As you might guess, Overcooked 2 is a fast-paced, chaotic, and ultimately very fun and light-hearted game, plus it’s more addictive than you might think.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
The successor and remake of the original The Binding of Isaac, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a roguelike game that has all the trademarks of that genre.
It is challenging, with procedurally generated dungeons containing various loot that can enhance the player’s abilities and help them overcome hordes of cartoony yet grotesque enemies.
Now, one of the key features that Rebirth added and that was lacking from its predecessor was a co-op mode. However, keep in mind that this is a rather difficult game, despite what the art style might suggest.
The Trine series is composed of several puzzle platformers that allow up to three players to explore a colorful 2.5D fantasy world in which you can be a wizard, a warrior and a thief. All these three characters have unique abilities to fulfill their different roles when it comes to solving puzzles and taking on the many enemies that the game will inevitably throw at you.
It can played in single-player mode, in which case the player would be switching between all three characters based on whose abilities they need at a given moment. However, we’d say it’s a much more enjoyable experience with at least two people, and preferably three.
There is currently a total of four games in the series, in addition to the first Trine: Trine 2, Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power, and Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince. The third game experiments a bit with 3D environments, but the fourth game ultimately went back to the tried-and-true 2.5D approach as 3D doesn’t work quite as well for a game like Trine.
Guacamelee! 2 is a Metroidvania-style platformer that can be played in single-player or with up to three other players, and a four-player Metroidvania is exactly what you’d expect. Overall, the game is chaotic, with addictive combat and a very unique aesthetic that makes it stand out, not to mention that few Metroidvanias allow for cooperative gameplay.
That would be our selection of the best split-screen games, along with some other games that make for great couch co-op.
Naturally, there are a ton of similar games out there and we couldn’t possibly list them all. So, if we have skipped any of your favorites, let us know in the comments and we’ll see about adding them in the near future!