Back in the good old days, the concept of split screen and couch co-op was a fundamental idea in gaming.
Before online gaming became the dominant platform for multiplayer, couch co-op and LAN parties were the only way to play games with your friends, family, or partner.
Following the popularity of online multiplayer, couch co-op has taken a huge backseat in the modern era, and you’re usually hard-pressed to find any game that only requires 1 copy to play with your friends.
In this list of top 10 couch co-op games, Game Observer provides you with some of the best modern games to play with gamers and non-gamers alike.
1. Overcooked 2
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Xbox, PC
Developer: Ghost Town Games
The first Overcooked game caused a huge stir amongst players when it was first released in August 2016, and since then it has boiled over into becoming one of the best loved co-op games in the modern era. It’s no surprise then that the developer, Ghost Town Games, decided to release a sequel to their delicious first helping in August 2018.
The Overcooked franchise provides players with an interesting mix of puzzles, platforming, and a requirement on vocal communication that could almost be compared to that of a raid in World of Warcraft. These ingredients are all mixed together to create one of the most exciting and enjoyable co-op experiences in recent years. It is also the kind of game that can be enjoyed by veterans and non-gamers alike; thanks to its charming aesthetic, family friendly themes, and campaign progression that doesn’t require a perfect score for the players to advance through the levels.
Overcooked 2 also won Best Family/Social Game in the 2018 Game Critics Awards, and Best Family Game at The Game Awards 2018.
2. Gauntlet: Slayer Edition
Platforms: Playstation, PC
Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios
For experienced gamers, including Gauntlet 2014 on any top 10 list might seem unusual.
The game received mostly average review scores upon release, and it failed to secure any kind of sequel, but there is an argument to be made for its value as a couch co-op game. Underneath the middling reviews based on basic game mechanics is one of the best introductions to a dungeon crawler that you will ever find.
The 2014 edition of Gauntlet is undoubtedly a simple experience when compared to the greats of the genre, but if you are looking to introduce a friend or loved one to the idea of dungeon crawlers, then this is a great place to start. If you consider some of the more highly regarded games in this genre, such as Diablo or Path of Exile, there is a huge barrier to entry involved with these games for the uninitiated; partly due to their complex mechanics, consistent loot drops, and the idea of creating a character build.
There is a lot of co-op fun to be had with this game if you accept it for what it is, and it’s for this reason that Gauntlet 2014 is probably the best way you can introduce a non-gamer to the genre, in my experience, which is why it has earned a place on this top 10 list.
3. Nobody Saves the World
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Xbox, PC
Developer: DrinkBox Studios
Nobody Saves the World, released in January 2022, is one of the most fun couch co-op games on modern consoles. It features a charming art style, infectious music created by the legendary Jim Guthrie, and a job system that allows players to switch to new characters and builds on-the-go, allowing for some truly interesting battles and interactions with the environment.
Combine all that with a concise open world map; fun story, meta commentaries on the fantasy game genre, and tons of replayability, and you have one of the best co-op dungeon crawlers of 2022. Nobody Saves the World can be completed in around 15 hours or so, but there is a lot of reason to explore its NG+ mode once all characters have been unlocked. If you’re looking for a great game to play with friends that won’t take forever to complete, this is one of the best options available right now.
4. Rocket League
Platforms: Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC
Rocket League isn’t a game that needs much introduction. It is one of the most popular esports games worldwide, but there is a lot to say for its value as a couch co-op game as well.
Rocket League is one of those games that is just fun to play, especially in a casual environment with friends or family. The controls are easy-to-learn but hard to master, and anything from a great goal to a complete fumble warrants a tremendous vocal response from the players. If you’ve ever been to a gaming bar, or live gaming event, you will see exactly why this is one of the most fun 2 player games available today, and is also a great example of the ‘quick game’ format, where you don’t need to dedicate a huge chunk of time whenever you want to play.
If you are looking to get a non-gamer into split screen games, this is probably your best option, especially for those that might not be into the fantasy or sci-fi aesthetics of most co-op games.
5. Wipeout: Omega Collection
Developer: XDev, Clever Beans, Creative Vault Studios.
The Wipeout: Omega Collection combines 2 games from the Wipeout series, the Wipeout HD collection and Wipeout 2048, into a remastered package. The series itself is one of the best loved racing franchises in the Playstation catalogue, and the originals were responsible for introducing an entire generation of gamers to the trance genre of music.
In Wipeout, players control anti-gravity vehicles in a series of 26 unique tracks, filled with secret routes, weapons, and consumable items, to create one of the most exhilarating racing experiences on console. Players can pick up weapons that allow them to attack or hinder other players, as well as items like speed boosts and autopilot to give them an edge in each level.
You could argue that Wipeout is like Playstation’s answer to Mario Kart, and in some way it is, but it is also a wholly unique experience that provides extremely fast-paced gameplay with one of the best soundtracks in racing game history. It also allows players to select from a range of speeds for their vehicles, meaning that those without racing experience can still enjoy the game, without having to deal with the complexity of high-speed racing mechanics.
6. Rayman: Legends
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Xbox, PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Rayman was one of the best platforming games of the 90s, and although it received a few numbered sequels that were a departure both tonally and mechanically from the first game, the original is still fondly remembered in the platforming genre.
It was in 2011 that Ubisoft decided to return to the franchise’s roots with Rayman: Origins, this time with an updated hand-drawn art style that set the game apart from many other platformers. The game was highly praised for its art style, comedic tone that afforded some genuine laughs, and fast paced co-op gameplay. Following the success of Origins, Ubisoft released a new entry into the series called Rayman: Legends, which features over 120 levels, daily challenges, unlockable characters, and remastered versions of levels from Origins.
As a co-op game, Legends is an extremely fun and light-hearted offering that provides hours of gameplay, genuine laughs, and challenges that are only enhanced by the addition of a co-op partner.
If you are looking for a great family friendly split screen game, Rayman: Legends should be at the top of your list.
7. The Ascent
Platforms: PC, Xbox, Playstation
Developer: Neon Giant
The Ascent was one of the best surprise hits of 2021. Originally released for the Xbox Series X/S and PC, and later ported to Playstation in 2022, The Ascent is a twin-stick shooter set in a beautifully realised cyberpunk world, featuring a brilliant high/low aiming mechanic; cover shooting, a fully customizable character complete with upgradeable weapons, armour, and skills, a great cast of characters, and a fun story that will take you from the sewers to the very top of the games’ world.
Granted, some reviews for the game didn’t give much praise to the story or characters, but when you consider this is Neon Giant’s first game, made by a team of just 12 people, you can absolutely forgive some of these shortcomings. If I’m honest, once you’ve got into the gameplay and open world setting, the characters and story do a fine job of immersing you in the fantastic world of The Ascent.
This is one game you need to play if you’re a fan of cyberpunk settings, twin-stick shooters, or split screen games.
8. Diablo 3
Platforms: Playstation, Xbox, PC, Nintendo Switch
The Diablo franchise is probably one of the best known co-op dungeon crawlers of all time. When Diablo 3 first released in 2012, it was mired in server issues that affected people’s ability to play the game for hours or even days at a time, including some instances of players losing character progress altogether.
Fast forward to now, and the game has received a huge amount of updates, multiple expansions, patches, and server upgrades, and is now one of best dungeon crawling experiences you can play.
There are literally hundreds of hours of content for those that wish to dive deeply into the games’ multiple difficulty levels and permadeath modes, but in its most basic form, Diablo 3 is a fine example of a hack and slash game that affords players huge amounts of character customization, skill tree upgrades, loot, and exploration opportunities in a sprawling series of maps and dungeons. Combine all that with the fact you can enjoy the game from start to finish with up to 4 players, and you have every reason to pick up this couch co-op gem today.
9. Divinity: Original Sin 2
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Xbox, PC, iPad
Developer: Larian Studios
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is considered one of the best games of all time, and if you have spent more than a few hours with this masterpiece then it isn’t hard to see why. Granted, if you are unfamiliar or entirely new to the CRPG genre, then getting to grips with exactly what you can do with this game can be quite overwhelming.
Original Sin 2 is a game that invites you to try and break it at every turn. Where your traditional RPG might say “here is a locked door, go and find the key”, Divinity 2 wants you to figure out your own way of getting past the door. Sure, there may also be a key hidden somewhere, but Original Sin 2 really comes into its own when you diverge from normality to find creative ways of advancing the game.
In it’s opening hours the game tasks you with breaking out of a prison fort, and this can be done in countless ways; including teleporting your party out with some magical gloves, making alliances with rebel guards, befriending a cave full of anthropomorphised fire-slugs, escaping via a boat with an orphan boy, or simply brute-forcing your way through the main gate. Divinity rarely tells you the answer to its questions, but once you understand there isn’t just 1 answer, the brilliance of this game really shows.
Combine all of this with a fantastic levelling system, loot, the most intriguing cast of characters in a modern RPG, and a breathtaking series of open world maps filled with side quests, you are left with probably the best co-op RPG ever made.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 also won multiple awards, including ‘Best Multiplayer Game’ at the BAFTA Games Award 2018.
10. It Takes Two
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Xbox, PC
Developer: Hazelight Studios
Game director Josef Fares already made a name for himself with previous games A Way Out and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, both of which were exciting and creative entries into the couch co-op genre that celebrated a wide range of classic game mechanics and scenarios, but it was 2021’s It Takes Two that would prove to be his magnum opus. A split screen game that was as emotionally touching as it was a complete joy to play.
The game focuses on parents Cody and May as they enter the final days of their relationship in the midst of a somewhat messy divorce, as their only child attempts to deal with the emotional duress of this news by using her toys to play out a scenario in which her parents stay together through the help of an anthropomorphised relationship therapy book.
What follows is an exciting and genuinely heartwarming story that takes the players through a series of classic gaming scenarios and homages, ranging from platforming sections, to third-person shooting, puzzles, twin-stick fantasy adventures, and sci fi chase sections, which combine to deliver a game that will stick in players minds long after the credits have rolled.
It Takes Two is the perfect game to play with your partner, even if they have no prior gaming experience. The game won over 9 awards following its release, including the 2021 Golden Joystick Awards for Best Multiplayer Game, and Game of the Year at the 2021 Game Awards.
What Co-Op Game Should I Play With My Partner?
It Takes Two is considered one of the best co-op games to play with your partner, whether they are a gamer or not. The game is incredibly fun from start to finish, features a charming art style, great voice acting, well thought out gameplay sections that require communication, and story beats that make you both go “aww”.
For gaming couples, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is by far the most rewarding split screen co-op game on the market today. If you are looking for a deep RPG with characters and plotlines that react to your decisions, one that requires communication and offers a huge range of character customization, then this is the game for you. D:OS2 is a must-play game in general, but it is even better when played together.