As much as the internet has benefited people, it has also taken away some joys, like playing multiplayer games on the couch with a friend or family members. The PC is especially guilty of this since it popularized online multiplayer gaming to the extent that split-screen has almost been phased out to extinction.
Luckily, there are still games out there that have remained defiantly old-school and offer split-screen gameplay. After all, even though playing with complete strangers over the internet has its perks, there’s nothing quite like gaming with friends in the flesh. Not all split-screen multiplayer games available today are great, but there are plenty of gems out there.
Updated on July 30, 2023 by Quinton O’Connor: While giving this article an overall refresher – you know, spotting little errors and the like – we’ve also added a brand-new entry we think CRPG fans of all ages will appreciate.
20 Castle Crashers
This zany hack-and-slash from The Behemoth seemed to come out of left field when it released in 2008 on Xbox 360, before making its way on PC in 2012. The game quietly became a cult classic and a go-to for PC gamers looking to delve into some fun arcade-style co-op, either online or locally.
Despite its retro feel and Cartoon Network vibe though,Castle Crashersis deceptively deep, sprinkling in RPG elements and progression. You and up to three others can embark on this colorful journey at once — hacking your way through unique foes, collecting goodies, and slaying some absurd bosses. You can even go against each other in a battle arena for bragging rights.
19 Rayman Legends
If you’re seeking a great co-op platformer in the vein of Super Mario Bros, you don’t exactly have a ton of options on PC. However, this charming Ubisoft sidescroller gets pretty close in terms of gameplay, and even surpasses the plumber’s outing aesthetically.
Playing just a few stages of Rayman Legends will reaffirm why Rayman has remained a classic gaming mascot after all these years. A whopping 120 stages and a slew of distinct challenges round out this robust platformer. Innovative mechanics, rich visuals, and solid level design make Legends a delight when playing solo. Still, its simultaneous co-op is where it really shines, as you’re often forced to work together and tackle different tasks to progress.
18 Overcooked 2
Team17’s Overcooked helped pioneer a now-popular party game subgenre that revolves around teamwork, communication, and the juggling of multiple tasks. This deeper, refined sequel adds even more meat and fixings to the succulent experience.
Overcooked 2 draws from the appealing foundation of the first game while tossing in new ingredients (figuratively and literally) to spice things up. Along with more detailed recipes, the game also features more fluid, hazardous stages, and a super engaging online mode. Teaming up to cook countless meals for impatient customers has never been so fun (or chaotic)!
17 A Way Out
It’s not often that a game is specifically designed around teamwork and split-screen gameplay, especially on PC. Yet, Hazelight Studios defies conventions with A Way Out, resulting in one of the most notable multiplayer games. You and a friend assume the role of two convicts trying to break out of prison and elude the authorities. While the experiences are often isolated, you’ll need to work together to progress.
This is sometimes done by improvising and choosing your own methods, which include actions like distracting guards. The experience is further colored with some delightful mini games that range from Pong to Connect Four. With a gripping, cinematic plot and inventive concepts, A Way Out offers a fun and fresh way to game with a friend.
Set in the gorgeous fantasy world of Aurai, Outward blends survival-centered gameplay mechanics with the thrill of exploration. Along the way, there are enough creatures in your path who very much want you dead to mandate weapon upgrades, spell enchantments, and — most relevantly — ample room for a friend to help save your skin.
Games like Outward often sport online multiplayer opt-in functionality. It’s comparably rare to see a developer who’s just as determined to offer local features. There’s something special about splitting the screen to pitch a tent to defend against the dangers of the night.
15 Left 4 Dead 2
Even more than the original hit, Left 4 Dead 2 stands out as both a quintessential zombie game and a highly entertaining co-op romp. You get to kill the infected in multiple different locations and environments with a variety of different weapons, including a frying pan.
Of course, the online missions are as thrilling and action-packed as ever, but what of split-screen multiplayer? Though it’s not available by default, installing a custom menu will allow you and a friend to lock and load locally, and slay the ravenous zombie hordes under the same roof.
14 Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 6 is not the best game in the series; not by a long shot. The horror in it, after all, seems like an afterthought. However, it becomes a lot more fun when deciding to play with a friend.
Resident Evil 6 allows third-person split-screen, granting the ability to play co-op with a friend and kill all the different zombies you see in the game. When played in split-screen, the action aspects of the game become a lot more fun, making it a worthy entry.
13 Serious Sam 3: BFE
The Serious Sam games are famous for being over-the-top: they often throw hordes of enemies at you, typically at the same time. Serious Sam 3: BFE is no different. It’s just as violent, frenetic, and fun as the other games in the franchise.
The game is enjoyable enough in single-player mode, but play it with a friend in split-screen, and it becomes a lot more fun. The arena shooter is one of the few shooters still available today that allow split-screen, and it certainly benefits from that. The mayhem is way too good when the hordes are even bigger, and it’s up to you and your friend to get rid of them.
12 Road Redemption
Most people consider Road Redemption a spiritual successor to Road Rash, a classic game that blended motorcycle racing with the bashing of opponents. It has just as much mayhem, retaining the spirit of the original, and it’s a lot more entertaining with a friend than going solo.
Road Redemption also has a number of additions that keep it from getting stale, like a Campaign mode which plays like a roguelike: your health bar doesn’t replenish, and death requires starting over. The game also offers a Classic Quick Play feature that lets you simply earn trophies to progress.
11 It Takes Two
It Takes Two is one of those rare treats where multiplayer is the entire point rather than an ignorable option. You play with someone else as two halves of a couple who’ve found themselves constantly arguing. But when they’re suddenly turned into dolls, they have to work together to get past obstacles and break the magic spell.
Whether you’re playing with a spouse, friend, or family member, It Takes Two teaches you something about reconciling differences with the people you care about. Besides that, the gameplay and challenges it presents, combined with the fun and colorful visual design, make for a memorable experience, as well as a great way to bond.
10 Sonic Adventure 2
Sonic Adventure 2 is a blast to play. You get to see the perspective of both the heroes and the villains, and each character has their own skills, encouraging you to try them all out. But the game’s multiplayer feature is just as much fun, as it offers several different types of challenges that you and a friend can compete in.
One of you plays as a character from the heroes’ side, while the other plays someone from the villains’ side. The modes consist of platform racing, a shooting game, and a free-roaming exploration challenge. It’s not just nostalgia at play here; Sonic Adventure 2 is a fulfilling experience with friends.
9 LEGO Batman 2
Virtually every LEGO game offers split-screen multiplayer. However, LEGO Batman 2 stands out because it’s such a fantastic game. First, it’s made for the family so that younger players can enjoy it just as much as older ones, if not moreso. It also has plenty of humor, which contrasts the seriousness of Batman in other media.
LEGO Batman 2 lets you and a friend control Batman and Robin, along with other superhero friends from DC comics. The gameplay is easy and anyone can learn the controls in a few minutes, making it accessible for kids or your non-gamer loved ones.
8 Gears Of War 4
Gears of War 4 is a great third-person shooter, and one of the better games in the franchise. Taking place 25 years after the Locusts were finally wiped out, the COG have become the new villains. You take on the role of James “JD” Fenix, who’s on a quest to save the world after a new enemy called the Swarm appears.
The game offers split-screen play for the campaign, although the multiplayer part is only online on PC. So, it’s a good thing that the campaign in Gears of War 4 is one of the most enjoyable, especially if you’ve been following the storyline of the previous games.
7 Sonic & All-Stars: Racing Transformed
From the makers of Split/Second and Blur, Sonic & All-Stars: Racing Transformed is one of the best kart racers available on PC. It has non-stop acceleration, fun weapons, iconic video game characters like Sonic and Knuckles, and unique tracks that even include the sky.
What makes it all the more fun is the multiplayer aspect. You can play with up to three other friends in a four-screen multiplayer, which often leads to hours of fun. If there’s an answer to Nintendo’s iconic Mario Kart, it’s definitely Sonic & All-Stars: Racing Transformed.
If Mario Kart had real cars instead of karts, it would be this game. Blur blends the exciting racing action of games like Need for Speed and Project Gotham Racing while giving you access to explosive weaponry that’s often reserved for kart games.
It lets you go against three other friends in four player split-screen, and there are five different modes for you to play. The modes vary their targets: some focus on destroying opponents’ vehicles, while other modes are all about racing. Whatever your preference, the odds are good that it can be found in Blur.
5 Divinity: Original Sin 2
This is one of the most beloved RPGs to come out in recent years. It has a spectacular story that tugs at players’ heartstrings, with meaningful choices making it more investing than most stories in video games. It also allows you to experiment however you want, which gives a level of freedom not seen in other games.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is also an excellent multiplayer game. You can go online or opt to adventure with a friend in split-screen. Though it also allows a four-player co-op, an additional PC and a second copy of the game will be required.
4 Rocket League
Rocket League is a unique game that blends arcade racing games with a soccer sim. It’s basically a soccer game but with rocket-powered cars in place of players. The result is a fun game that can be played for hours without getting tired. Try playing with a friend to amp up the excitement and investment.
There’s nothing like beating a friend in a fast-paced game with your own skills (or a bit of luck). If you don’t like soccer, Rocket League has expanded since its launch to include other sports like ice hockey and basketball.
3 Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: The Master Chief Collection follows in the footsteps of Left 4 Dead 2. Local split-screen isn’t available by default (though online multiplayer split-screen is!), but with a bit of internet detective work, you’ll find what you need to do the trick. It’s a shame 343 Industries hasn’t given the MCC an official outlet for it, given that it already exists on consoles, but them’s the breaks.
Regardless, it’s well worth the minor hassle. Kicking back while clipping Covenant troops galore is quite the satisfying experience. Grab a cold one with some friends, mow down some foes, and relive a timeless series together.
2 Portal 2
Portal 2 is an exceptional puzzle game, and one of the best games from Valve. It pits you against a homicidal AI, and the puzzles themselves are pretty varied. It also has plenty of humor and sarcasm, making the characters iconic.
As fun as Portal 2 is to play solo, though, it’s a lot more fun when playing in split-screen co-op, where you and a friend can take on the role of two different robots. The puzzles demand working together, whether it’s figuring out part of the puzzle or getting the timing right. It’s a different kind of multiplayer, but that’s why it lasts long in the memories of those who play it.
1 Baldur’s Gate 3
Our last entry is also, by far, our most recent. Baldur’s Gate 3 has been in Early Access for years, but its full-fledged launch version is upon us at last. Larian, the folks behind the Divinity series, took the Baldur’s Gate reins and ran with them.
In one of those fascinating little ‘Ouroboros’ moments in the gaming medium, we’re seeing Dragon Age fans’ interests piqued by what BG3 has to offer; never forget, the original Dragon Age was pitched as the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2! But one thing that ably separates Baldur’s Gate 3 from any Dragon Age, likely including the upcoming Dreadwolf, is the inclusion of splitscreen co-op.
Don’t just fight together. Grow together. What could be more romantic than embarrassing your real-world partner by jumping in right when their character’s romancing an NPC?
NEXT: Best Split-Screen Multiplayer Games On Xbox One, Ranked