While local multiplayer may not be as prevalent as it once was, there’s still plenty of great local multiplayer games available on PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U.
The last generation of gaming saw an unfortunate trend begin. Developers started releasing games without any local multiplayer or co-op options, forcing people to play online if they wanted their multiplayer fix. While there is something to be said about the benefits of online multiplayer gameplay, there are many gamers that prefer to sit on the couch with friends, and enjoy gaming as a more social experience.
Those gamers may feel as though there aren’t many options for them on the PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U. However, there are actually quite a few games with local multiplayer functionality for players to enjoy on the eighth-gen systems. The 13 listed below are especially great, and should be enough to satisfy anyone’s craving for good, old-fashioned couch multiplayer.
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
First up is something for those that enjoy a little loot-based RPG elements in their first-person shooters. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection brings together remastered versions of Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, and it significantly improves the local co-op functionality of those games in the process, adding rare 4-player split-screen support for the campaign.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
The Call of Duty franchise has long been a champion for local multiplayer, and so far the best representation of that on current gen systems is Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The game offers split-screen for competitive multiplayer, co-op, and through its DLC expansions, the challenging Exo Zombies mode.
While the most recent game in the series, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, released to stronger reviews, it disappoints in the local multiplayer department, with weak split-screen that makes text nearly impossible to read. This gives Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare the edge over its successor, and it’s why Advanced Warfare has our recommendation over Black Ops 3.
Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition
The Diablo franchise has provided engrossing co-op experiences since its inception, and Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition carries on that tradition. Bundling the Reaper of Souls expansion with an enhanced version of the core Diablo 3 experience, Ultimate Evil Edition is the best way to enjoy Diablo 3‘s addicting brand of dungeon crawling, hack-and-slash, 4-player co-op action.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
Admittedly, one is likely to have the most fun with Gears of War: Ultimate Edition in its online arenas, but the game also has plenty of support for the local multiplayer-minded gamer as well. This includes split-screen online for Gears of War‘s popular competitive multiplayer modes, and a campaign built entirely around the local co-op gaming experience.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Halo: The Master Chief Collection had a rough launch, but with those problems mostly cleared up by now, players are free to enjoy the game for its excellent multiplayer. The Master Chief Collection features 4-player split-screen for versus multiplayer, and 2-player split-screen for campaign co-op across the first four games in the Halo series, with the option for split-screen online as well.
This stands in stark contrast to the latest game in the series, as Halo 5: Guardians has no split-screen at all. Here’s hoping that Halo 6 takes after The Master Chief Collection, and Halo gets back to its local multiplayer roots.
Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart 8 is the best selling Wii U game for a reason. It is the deepest game in the Mario Kart series to-date, offering an unprecedented number of tracks and racers, while also expanding the game’s level of vehicular customization. Mario Kart 8 continues the franchise’s focus on quality local multiplayer experiences, allowing up to four players to enjoy the game in split-screen.
Nidhogg is a game about dueling with swords, with the goal to escape via the opponent’s side of the screen. Its simplistic gameplay creates an interesting dynamic of cat and mouse, and while it may not have a huge budget like other games on the list, it’s hard to find a local multiplayer experience as purely entertaining as Nidhogg.
When one is looking to relive the glory days of local multiplayer, it’s hard to go wrong with the nostalgic romp that is Rare Replay on Xbox One. For the unaware, Rare Replay collects some of the developer’s finest video games from its 30-year plus existence. A number of those games also include some great multiplayer components, with Conker’s Bad Fur Day and the Perfect Dark games as standouts.
Rocket League may very well be the king of indie multiplayer games right now, mixing soccer and cars to tremendous results. A surprise success, Psyonix Games has managed to keep the large Rocket League community engaged since launch with frequent updates that have enhanced the 4-player split-screen game both online and off. Players can download Rocket League right now for PC and PS4, and an Xbox One version of Rocket League is coming soon.
Super Mario 3D World
In Super Mario 3D World, Nintendo takes the gameplay style of Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS and translates it to the television screen. This larger real estate allows Nintendo to include 4-player co-op in Super Mario 3D World, with players able to take control of Mario, Luigi, Peach, or Toad across the game’s many brilliantly designed 3D platforming levels. Players will want to work cooperatively to fully complete the game, but at the same time, there is a sense of competition to see who can earn the most points by the end of each stage.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
The ultimate fighting/party game franchise is Super Smash Bros., and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the most robust game in the series yet. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has 8 player matches, features an exhausting amount of game modes that can be played competitively or cooperatively, and also allows those playing together locally to take the fight online. Nintendo has managed to give Super Smash Bros. for Wii U additional longevity by releasing a steady stream of DLC for it, which has included some truly surprising guest stars, such as Final Fantasy 7‘s Cloud Strife.
The Jackbox Party Pack
Traditional party games may be especially hard to come by on current gen systems right now, but The Jackbox Party Pack fills the void nicely, consisting of mostly adult-oriented entertainment through five different digital board games.
The game strives to be as convenient as possible, allowing players to participate using their smartphones instead of a standard game controller. As our Jackbox Party Pack review shows, we’ve been enthusiastic about the game since its release, and it is still good for plenty of laughs at parties.
TowerFall Ascension was once the premiere Ouya exclusive, but the game has thankfully made its way to more relevant platforms. It offers addicting co-op gameplay through a number of highly challenging stages, while also bringing to the table a chaotic versus mode for up to four players. Like Nidhogg, TowerFall Ascension‘s simplistic design works in its favor, creating a local multiplayer experience that is easy for anyone to pick up, play, and enjoy.
Since last generation, the trend has been for less games to feature local multiplayer, but it looks like things are starting to turn around, slowly but surely. In the meantime, the games on this list should keep local multiplayer enthusiasts busy while they wait for the next big release with local multiplayer support.
Which local multiplayer experiences on current gen consoles have been your favorite? Do you wish that more developers made the effort to include local multiplayer in their games, or would you rather play with your friends online? Sound off in the comments below and leave us your thoughts on the state of local multiplayer in today’s gaming world.