Yes, split-screen gaming pretty much went the way of the dodo. However, unlike the extinct flightless bird, side-by-side multiplayer occasionally grows wings and reemerges with some notable offerings.
From the original Xbox to the Xbox One, developers have been sneaking in the occasional split-screen co-op game to appease those who are still ranting about the “golden age of gaming.” Can you blame us for wanting to see the salt in our opponent’s eyes?
The following titles represent the best Xbox One split-screen games you can enjoy with your friends. Just no screen peeking.
15. Resident Evil 5
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom
Resident Evil 4 may have ushered in a new generation for the series, but it was Resident Evil 5 that took it down its darkest path. The amalgamation of action and survival horror was a bold move that caused ample controversy, but the blow was lessened by the inclusion of full campaign co-op.
Players can choose between playing as series favorite Chris Redfield or newcomer Sheva Alomar as they take on a new strain of virus spreading throughout the fictional African region of Kijuju. The pair come up against some nasty baddies, but the most jarring enemies come rushing in with guns blazing. Resident Evil has never been big on action setpieces, but Resident Evil 5 toyed with the recipe a bit for the co-op experience.
When playing with a friend, the game is actually quite a bit of fun. Unfortunately, the AI isn’t too good with resource management, so expect to have your supplies dwindled when playing alone.
14. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Developer: PopCap Games Publisher: Electronic Arts
Surely I must be joking, right? To place a Plants vs. Zombies game in any “best of…” list may sound preposterous, but there is a delightful charm to Garden Warfare 2 that makes it so easy to enjoy. The local co-op mode allows players to battle through wave after wave of opposing forces with a buddy at their side, but it’s not all amicable.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 also lets players stand on opposite ends of the battlefield. When you’re tired of being friendly, square up in any of the competitive split-screen modes. EA ensured there was plenty for players to enjoy, so split-screen multiplayer is available across all game modes on the Xbox One.
Join the garden forces or rise from the graveyard as one of several character classes, like the assault class Peashooter or the brutish All-Star tank class. Each class also features an array of variants that alter stats and perks and provide a level of customization to the game.
Developer: Re-Logic Publisher: 505 Games
Re-logic really wanted players to craft their own adventure with Terraria. Each randomly generated world is ripe for exploration, whether that means fighting through the monsters that call it home or excavating supplies to build your own little village. All of this, of course, is so much more fun with someone sitting at your side.
Terraria lets you decide how you play and which gameplay elements you focus on most. In the split-screen multiplayer, you may be the adventurous one, exploring deadly caves in search of rare treasures while your couch buddy remains behind to care for the growing city.
It’s a new experience every time you sit down to play, which is sure to give you and your closest pals something to while away the hours with.
12. Don’t Starve Together
Developer: Klei Entertainment Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Can you survive a world full of monstrosities while being stalked by a deadly fiend hiding in the shadows? How about with a companion at your side? For many, that’s the only way to make it through Don’t Starve Together.
Originally released as the single-player game, Don’t Starve, this multiplayer iteration allows two players to team up to gather, craft, and explore. Racing against nightfall and a dwindling hunger and sanity meter, players have to find an escape from this literal hell. To do so, they’ll have to build shelters, construct weapons, and craft a number of other useful items.
Don’t Starve Together has plenty to throw at players to keep them on their toes. Move cautiously, and you may just survive. Get overconfident, and you’re sure to become something’s lunch.
11. Ark: Survival Evolved
Developer: Studio Wildcard Publisher: Studio Wildcard
There’s a world of prehistoric monsters out there, and they all want to gobble you up. On your own, it can be a nightmare to try and navigate the deadly world of Ark. With a friend, it can be a hilarious nightmare.
Ark’s split-screen option allows players to tackle the mysterious land with someone by their side. This makes gathering resources and staying alive just a little bit easier. While it won’t lessen the terror of an approaching T-Rex, two spears are most certainly better than one when it comes to some of the smaller creatures.
Teamwork is a viable way to survive in Ark, so long as everyone pulls their weight. If anything, it’s much better than waking up in a multiplayer server and immediately being clobbered by a player umpteen-levels higher than you.
10. Rocket League
Developer: Psyonix Publisher: Psyonix
It’s the FIFA alternative we never knew we needed. Sure, it’s lacking the authenticity of real soccer, but what it lacks in real-world details, it makes up for in fantastical sports fun. Behind the wheel of a four-wheeled speed demon, players play the most unique game of soccer one can imagine. Rocket League is an incredibly competitive game, which makes playing side-by-side all the more fun.
While the concept sounds simple enough – shoot the ball into the opposing team’s net – controlling the speed demon and guiding the ball tends to be quite challenging. If you know what you’re doing, you can pull off some pretty insane stunts, especially with a friend at your side and on your team. Even if you can’t quite get the hang of it, the chaos is wildly entertaining.
Rocket League is the anti-sports game that should appeal to a much larger audience.
9. Forza Motorsport 7
Developer: Turn 10 Studios Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Who doesn’t love embarking on a leisurely stroll with someone you’re close with? Well, that’s not quite the experience you’ll have with Forza Motorsport 7’s split-screen multiplayer. Especially if you’re both highly competitive and have a strong urge to rule the road.
Dividing the screen doesn’t take away from the sheer beauty Forza’s world, but don’t let yourself get too distracted by the environment. Your couch opponent will take any opportunity to speed ahead of you. And then they’ll make sure you never live it down.
Developer: Larian Studios Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
When it comes to RPGs, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a pretty solid option with some delightful world-building and plenty of character customization. What you may not expect is that it’s also an enjoyable split-screen multiplayer game for the Xbox One.
While it’s recommended that players stick together and balance one another’s skills, Original Sin 2 allows everyone to go their own way and reconvene only when desired. When it comes to combat, the adage “strength in numbers” certainly does apply. Battling the world’s baddies requires skill and a tactical mind. Players that work together and plan out attacks will succeed far more often than a lone wolf.
There are a lot of areas to explore in Divinity: Original Sin 2. There’s no reason you should venture into it alone.
7. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Developer: Infinity Ward Publisher: Activision
The Modern Warfare 2 remaster may not have included a split-screen option, but thankfully, the Xbox One is compatible with the original. Players can team up in Spec Ops, which really play out like mini story-based missions, and take on the worst of Modern Warfare 2’s baddies. Gameplay is pretty similar to the single-player experience, but the game does have a feature that so few split-screen multiplayer titles do.
As you play through the Spec Ops missions, you’ll receive experience that increases your rank. Much like in competitive online multiplayer, your split-screen rank unlocks a host of goodies to alter how you play and earn killstreaks.
There’s nothing incredibly fancy about Modern Warfare 2’s split-screen multiplayer, but it’s a great way to pass time with your closest friends.
6. Borderlands 2
Developer: Gearbox Software Publisher: 2K Games
Exploration and shooting in an open world. It doesn’t get much better than this. Borderlands 2 offers players a quirky story that’s a delight to play through, but it’s the gameplay that really sells this multiplayer experience.
On the deadly planet of Pandora, players take control of one of six hero characters, all with unique perks and stats. The split-screen experience allows players to balance one another out so that they’re ready for any monstrosities and psychos waiting for them.
There is much to be enjoyed during your time in Borderlands 2, but cycling through the myriad of weapons sure to be thrown your way is among the most fun aspects. Finding the right combination of firepower is the secret sauce to really enjoying this return to Pandora and the fight against Handsome Jack.
Developer: Mojang Publisher: Mojang
This has to be among the pinnacle of split-screen gaming.
Minecraft is a game where you can sit with your best buds and spend hours performing nonsensical tasks. At the end of your session, you could be staring at a towering castle full of wondrous secrets. Or, things may have taken a different turn and one of you may have demolished the other’s creation with rows of dynamite. You never know which direction a game of Minecraft is going to go in.
Whether you’re tinkering around in the calmer sandbox mode or fighting for your lives in Survival, Minecraft is simply better with a couch buddy. There’s nothing quite like slaying the Ender Dragon or building a magnificent structure with someone sitting right next to you.
4. Left 4 Dead 2
Developer: Valve Publisher: Valve
Few games handle zombie multiplayer action really, really well. Left 4 Dead 2 isn’t just one of them. It’s the best of them. The frantic, chaotic action will have you and your split-screen cohorts screaming at one another, especially when Jockeys, Hunters, and Smokers start incapacitating players.
It’s the kind of game where you learn who your real friends are. If someone is willing to unload precious ammo into the Smoker that’s pulled you back through the map, then you’re true compadres. Typically, though, it can turn into an “every man for himself” scenario.
Left 4 Dead 2 is one of those multiplayer experiences that can never be replicated. It’s fast-paced, fun, horrifying – it’s almost everything you could ask for in a co-op zombie shooter.
3. Portal 2
Developer: Valve Publisher: Valve
Portal 2’s split-screen co-op serves many purposes. If you want to see if you and a significant other are compatible, it’s worth sitting down to see how well you work together. If by Chamber 3 you’re ready to walk away from it all, that may be a sign. It’s also a good gauge in determining who the “slow” one is in your group of friends.
The increasingly difficult levels offer new and unique challenges, all solvable using the portals and teamwork. Can you figure out how to get the square box from an isolated chamber onto a conveyor belt and into a repository that’s 15-feet above your head?
Well, you better figure it out, because that’s the only way you and your couch-mate are going to beat the puzzles laid out by the devious team at Valve.
2. Gears of War 2
Developer: Epic Games Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Gears of War revolutionized third-person co-op shooters. Its gritty world, gloomy story, and visceral combat may have made for a great single-player game, but Epic took things the extra mile for a solid multiplayer experience. Gears of War 2 didn’t change the formula much from its predecessor, but its smoother mechanics and peak storytelling solidified it as the best of the series.
Controlling a duo of beefy soldiers that are somehow both supremely badass but also able to elicit sobs from the audience, players battle through a world torn apart by the ravenous Locust. The only way to survive the onslaught of underground dwellers is by working together, utilizing the series’ innovative cover mechanic, and mastering crude-looking weapons.
With a friend at your side, the firefights get more epic and intense as you instinctively call out incoming enemies and frantically beg for a revive.
1. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Developer: 343 Industries/Bungie Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Those that grew up playing the original Halo in split-screen likely remembers the heyday of side-by-side multiplayer gaming. Halo: The Master Chief Collection may not recapture those memories perfectly, but it does a fine job of enhancing them with updated visuals and smoother controls.
The Master Chief Collection gives players access to the first three of Master Chief’s adventures. All three of them feature a split-screen multiplayer mode, so you can unravel the epic tale and admire it with a close friend at your side.
Whether you’re playing Halo for the first or the 100th time, split-screen never gets old. There is nothing quite like rushing Covenant forces and coordinating attacks or screaming in unison as the Flood becomes problematic. Maybe the best feature in The Master Chief Collection is being able to play with the classic visuals.
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