Multiplayer games are everywhere. From your global phenomenon like Fortnite to Starcraft veterans who still play over two decades after release, gaming is more than ever experienced with other people. Unfortunately, they tend to be hundreds if not thousands of miles away and the only real connection the harsh tones of squadmates through a crackly headset.
Whatever happened to wasting an entire evening away on good old split-screen games? Although not remotely as popular as in the past, there remains a healthy smattering of games that support split screen.
Because nothing quite beats a gaming experience when shared with friends in the flesh, we’ve compiled a list of the best split-screen games available for PC from the big budget shooters to the obscure indies.
Split-Screen PC Games
Rocket League takes the traditional framework of the beautiful game (football or soccer for the initiated) and throws it on its head by incorporating vehicular acrobatics, low gravity, an enclosed stadium, and fast-paced gameplay. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t enjoy Rocket League and what better way 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 halcyon days of classic Valve games. You know when they spent more time making games than selling them on Steam. Portal 2 is classic 3D puzzle platforming at its best, and it just gets better with split-screen. Players can share portals, solve puzzles together, and generally have a blast playing as robots through the cooperative campaign that ties into the single-player campaign in more ways than one. If only it weren’t so short at just over four hours.
Resident Evil 6
Although not the best Resident Evil game by any stretch of the imagination, Resident Evil 6 offers a compelling third-person shooter split-screen experience. Players can join forces and sleuth around killing all manner of ungodly aberrations to bring an end to a disastrous bio-terrorist attack. As expected, Resident Evil staple Leon makes an appearance and throws his weight around saving the world was impending doom.
A Way Out
Josef Fares’ much-publicized jail-break co-op game, A Way Out, bases its central premise on cooperative split-screen gameplay. By doing so, the game takes the shared narrative experience to unprecedented heights all with stunning graphics and a touching story of redemption, friendship, and tough choices. Cooperate with your partner in crime to solve puzzles, get out of sticky situations, while having a uniquely personal experience of the game because time flows forward regardless of what the other player is doing. The result is that one player could be conversing with an NPC, while the other is fine-tuning preparations for their escape.
Gears of War 4
Due to the inherent technical minefield of incorporating split-screen gameplay, most triple AAA titles completely bypass the mode, but not Gears of War 4. The devs went to extra lengths to ensure the mode was not just implemented but offered a fun, and gritty cooperative experience for all: big guns, even bigger explosions, fierce gunfights, and a sweeping story of humanity surviving in the face of a powerful, mysterious enemy.
Blur is an arcade racing game that offers up to four-player split-screen gameplay. You race cars, gather power-ups and generally have a good time doing so. Pretty standard fare for racing games, but done well. It’s a little on the old side now but packs enough punch to warrant a go as a lighthearted competitive title.
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. Roam through a wide selection of locals, using over different 100 guns for each soldier subclass, and 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 will have you defending the earth at all cost.
Screencheat is a beautiful gaming oddity that, on the surface, is a run of the mill FPS, but it quickly descends into unchartered territory by making every player 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 to track them down. The gameplay is resultantly chaotic and is a test of split-second reactions, sly cheating, and one-hit kill aiming prowess.
The Lego Movie Videogame
Parents listen up. We know you loved the movie (thanks mainly to the emphatic ‘’Everything Is Awesome’’ theme tune), and now you can dive back into the world of The Lego Movie in co-op with your children. Fun, full of color, and light on the violence side of the gameplay, it’s a perfect way to introduce a young mind to the intriguing world of video games, especially if they have a pre-existing interest in the equally fascinating world of Lego.
Super Indie Karts
We all wish Mario Kart existed on PC. The reality is bleak with Nintendo eager to keep its flagship series on console only. Fret not, as Super Indie Karts steps in with unabashedly Mario Kart-like gameplay, look and feel, supplemented by a cool retro gaming art style of pixel art and chiptune sonic loveliness. The game has loads of modes from time trial to battle mode, as well as weapons to disrupt competitors, and an overall colorful style guaranteeing hours of classic kart racing fun for all.
Sonic Adventure 2
Sonic Adventure 2 doesn’t need much of an introduction; Sonic, split-screen, updated graphics, what else would you want? Perfect. Suit up as everyone’s favorite hedgehog and speed through varying levels with someone by your side. It’s not the prettiest of games, but it sure remains fun despite the years.
Distance is a futuristic, dystopian take on the racing game trope done with pure class. Reminiscent of classics like Wipe Out, it pits players against one other in split-screen through race courses that don’t just require skilled cornering technique, but also parkour ability with vertiginous jumps, acrobatics and a fair share of flying. Distance is one hell of a good looking game to boot. Released in late 2018, it’s a reassuring sign that split-screen gaming is still on the mind of a share of developers, which bodes well for the future.
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition
Divinity: Original Sin is an isometric Diablo-inspired high fantasy RPG defined by turn-based combat, a richly interactive world to discover, and a story about defeating a new force of evil sorcerers intent on destroying the world. Oozing with deep lore, fantasy staples any fan will be pleased with, the game is a sweeping epic is there ever was one. Initially, Divinity: Original Sin didn’t have split-screen, but with the Enhanced Edition, developer Larian Studios brought the cooperative mode to life alongside revamped voice-overs, modes, content, and quality of life improvements.
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 vibrant modding communities, these titles can be transformed into ‘’hackable’’ couch-op treasures. The term ‘’hackable’’ is a bit misleading, and we are in reality talking about modding.
The requirements fluctuate depending on the titles, but overall the process is simplistic. If you’re interested, details are easily accessible via a well-worded search on the trusted purveyor of knowledge and memes, the mighty Google.
Stardew Valley is the farming sim perfected, and the darling of indie game fans the world over. The multiplayer update sent waves through the community and attracted throes of new fans who reveled in the whimsical charm of the title. With a little tweaking and some artisanal savoir-faire, it is possible to play the game in split-screen and share in the joys of farming, exploring, and wooing the local populace alongside a friend. Be prepared for hour upon hour of fun. As addictive as it is enjoyable, Stardew Valley is one of those games made for split-screen gaming.
Borderlands 2 is an open world action RPG with the coolest art style in gaming. Cult by anyone’s standards, Borderlands 2 has players jaunting across decimated landscapes, looting, and hunting to no end. Split-screen works beautifully and is sure to deliver a fun, gritty shared experience of a world on the brink of total collapse, ridden with a colorful cast of equally disdainful characters. It’s also a perfect way to pass the time until we finally get official confirmation that Borderlands 3 is into development.
Don’t Starve Together
Don’t Starve’s original take on the survival genre is well documented, in part due to the dark comedy that courses through the game and the procedurally generated maps. When the Don’t Starve Together multiplayer update arrived, the absence of split-screen felt like a massive oversight on the part of developer Klei. Modders stepped in and did their under the hood magic to offer fans the chance to explore the dark but hopeful world of Don’t Starve alongside a fellow budding survivalist. Replayable to no end, the low price is a thrifty way to access endless hours of non-repetitive gameplay.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is among the most iconic GTA entries to date; it catapulted the player to an open-world so vast it has defined the genre to this day and offered a unique take on the trials and tribulations of a lowly criminal’s rise to fame and fortune. The player base is surprisingly large and active, and there’s no better way to relive the game than alongside someone who wants to bath in waves of nostalgia with you.
Hyper Light Drifter
Another indie gem, Hyper Light Drifter is an action RPG title that takes the best of Zelda and Diablo merging them into a sweeping story of terminal disease and magic-imbued swords with a good dose of classic gaming. Bolstered by arguably one of the best soundtracks to grace our medium, playing Hyper Light Drifter injects new life into a game that needs to be experienced, alone or in co-op.
Left 4 Dead 2
Another vestige from when Valve used to churn out quality games, Left 4 Dead 2 is an irreverent take on the old classic Zombie movie genre. Taking down hordes of increasingly aggressive zombies with an arsenal of weapons is wholly satisfying. In split-screen, the cooperative elements of the title are even more accentuated, and there’s bucket loads of good fun to be had.
Quake III Arena
Old doesn’t necessarily mean outdated, and no game portrays this better than Quake III Arena. All the Battlefields and Call of Duties of this world took inspiration from this iconic entry in the pantheon of gaming. There’s no better way to pay homage to that rich heritage than by diving into this fast-paced FPS in split-screen. The graphics have aged, that much we can agree on, but the gameplay is quality through and through nearly 20 years on from release.
Unreal Tournament 3
Before Epic Games took the world by storm with Fortnite, it used to make excellent multiplayer FPS shooters, notably the Unreal Tournament series. In very much the same way as Quake, the franchise set the tone for years of FPS games to come. You’d be hard pressed to find enough players for an online game today, so split-screen is the next best option. Gather a handful of friends and get fragging in Unreal Tournament 3.
A favorite among budding gamers and full grown adults alike, survival block-based title, Minecraft, is indeed playable in split-screen. As with all the ‘’hackable’’ titles it takes some doing, but the results are excellent.
Although not technically split-screen, these titles can be played on the same PC by two or more players. We, therefore, felt they were worthy of a mention and a nod for offering compelling shared gaming experiences.
Dragon Ball Fighter Z
Bandai Namco’s latest fighting game, Dragon Ball FighterZ, channels the best parts – including characters and moves – from the classic Japanese anime and offers up a skill-based, explosive take on head to head combat. Vying for bragging rights has never been so competitive and enjoyable. No wonder the title has spawned a vibrant and ever-growing eSports scene to rival the most established fighting games.
Ask anyone what the hardest game they’ve played is, and alongside Bloodborne and Dark Souls, Cuphead will invariably get a mention. What better way to handle the frustration of continually dying than to share the plight of successive deaths with someone alongside you? The early 20th-century aesthetic only helps to plunge us even deeper into its entrancing cartoon world.
Building on the foundations of its incredible successor, Overcooked! 2 pits us against the demands of hungry mouths in a fast-paced cooking game about serving meals as quickly as possible. As fun as it is stressful, the design of Overcooked 2! is perfect for cooperative gameplay and an evening with friends is the ideal scenario to get the best out of this unassuming but excellent title.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
The successor and remake of the original The Binding of Isaac, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is a roguelike developed by renowned one-person developer Edmund McMillen who rose to fame for featuring in the Indie Game: The Movie documentary alongside other esteemed indie game alumni. The game is about escaping reality through imagined dungeons and exploring the weight of religion on a young person. A serious subject, but done with aplomb, and worth experiencing in couch-op.
Human: Fall Flat
A favorite of content-hungry streamers, Human: Fall Flat is a puzzle platforming game developed by Tomas Sakalauskas. Wonky physics are the name of the game as players control a gelatinous blobby character as he makes his way across unforgiving levels. With the introduction of multiplayer in 2017, the game came into its element and players haven’t looked back ever since.
Reprising the role as a prized luchador, Guacamelee! 2 throws us back into the rough and tumble of the Metroidvania platformer goodness of the original. The local co-op mode doubles the fun and is the only way to play Guacamelee! 2 multiplayer. The Mexican-inspired aesthetic is seriously fun complemented by a rich palette of colors and characters adorning every frame