Looking for a split screen PC game that you and your buddies can co-op or play against each other on? In this list, we’ve highlighted nine of the best split screen PC games currently available.
Video games have been a popular hobby for decades, bringing people together to play the same game. Unfortunately, it seems like more and more games have looked at the idea of multiplayer gaming and focused on arranging things so that each player has to use their own machine, joining in through a wired connection, be it the internet or a LAN set-up.
While couch co-op might seem to be going the way of dial-up internet, the PC market still has plenty to offer people looking to engage in a local multiplayer game. In an effort to promote co-op PC games, this list has been compiled to highlight nine titles that not only offer multiplayer, but also happen to split screen PC games. As this list covers a variety of different game genres, there should be at least one title that scratches the itch to game with friends through one machine.
Announced in March of 2010 and released in April of 2011, “Portal 2” is a physics-based puzzle game that features both single and multiplayer modes, requiring two players to play as testing robots tasked with cooperating in order to reach the exit of each testing level. Unlike with the normal gameplay of Portal, the multiplayer gameplay mechanics of Portal 2 mean that each robot only gets access to one of the two colors of portal gun. The titular portals of this game are created when a blue portal gun fires onto a suitable surface and then the orange portal gun is fired onto another suitable surface.
The game has won a sizable number of awards, including BAFTA awards for “Best Design,” “Best Game” and “Best Story.” More than half a decade after its release, the game continues to enjoy a robust player base exceeding 4,000 players a day.
Released in July of 2015, this game mixes racing with sports as players control tiny rocket-boosted cars in a game of soccer where the ball is larger than the cars. Some of the reasons for this game’s sizable player base and popularity are the ability for players to customize their rocket car, the sizable amount of cross-play enabled between PC, Xbox One, macOS, PlayStation 4 and even the Nintendo Switch, the option to change game modes and the rules of the arena and its status as an official game for eSports competitions.
Rocket League has either won or been nominated for dozens of awards from BAFTA, IGN, the “Golden Joystick Awards,” “NAVGTR,” “The Game Awards” and “DICE,” covering categories like “Best Sports,” “Best Multiplayer,” “Best Game Design” and “Best Family Game.” It status as an eSports title has earned it recognition as “eSports Game of the Year” by the Golden Joystick Awards in 2017 and again in 2018. And, one of the nicest things about Rocket League is that you don’t need a high-end gaming computer in order to run it.
The “Madden NFL” Series
Madden has been among the most prestigious and established of American football games since the series began as “John Madden Football” on MS-DOS in 1988. Madden is such a beloved series for diehard gridiron fans that many Super Bowl match-ups have been run as a simulation through the multi-platform sports game prior to the real world event. Despite its lengthy tenure and sizable fan base among the halls of sports gaming, Madden NFL 19 marks the return of the series to PC since an absence that started with Madden NFL ’08.
Although Madden NFL 19 has not yet received any awards, as it only released on August 10th of 2018, it holds an aggregate score of 80 on Metacritic. Madden is an annual series, meaning a new version releases every year. Every year’s cover of a Madden game features some NFL athlete as its mascot.
The “FIFA” Series
Outside of the United States, it is soccer and not gridiron that draws many people’s attentions; if you know a soccer fan and she has a game console or plays games on her PC, chances are very high that she has at least copy of FIFA. The passion of the non-American sports fan is why Electronic Arts’ sports department also produces the FIFA series of soccer sports games. Much like Madden NFL, FIFA is also an annual sports game release, with FIFA 19 hitting store shelves and digital storefronts on September 28th of 2018.
Unlike other FIFA titles, this is the first installment that allows players to play with the Chinese Super League. Much like the previously covered Madden series, the most recent FIFA game has yet to win any awards but holds an aggregate score of 81 on Metacritic.
Launched by Blue Mammoth Games on October 17th of 2017, Brawlhalla is a free-to-play multiplayer fighting game that features over 40 different unique characters, each of whom uses 2 of 11 different classifications of ranged and melee weapons. The goal of the game is to send your opponents flying off the screen or down into the endless pit at the bottom of each stage. Players can either adapt to having a rotating stable of six different characters or put down some money in order to have access to all the characters at all times.
The game has a base of players sizable enough to merit its having serious tournaments in addition to a variety of casual modes. The Brawlhalla World Tournament is a professional gaming event, run by Blue Mammoth Games, that features a $50,000 cash prize and has been held for at least three years. Brawlhalla also has incredibly low requirements, meaning even the cheapest gaming PCs and budget gaming laptops can run it with no problems.
Gears of War 4
The fourth installment in the Gears of War franchise of third-person, run-to-cover shooters debuted to the general public on October 11th or 2016; there was also an Ultimate edition of the game that launched earlier, on the 7th. The game takes place 25 years after the events of the previous game, in a world where fossil fuels are gone and humanity’s government is adapting to the ecological shock of removing prior threats and devastating freak occurrences of windstorms.
GoW 4 has been nominated for three awards: two from 2016’s The Game Awards, for Best Action Game and Best Multiplayer, and a technical award from 2017’s Visual Effect Society Awards. Several major game review outlets gave the game warm accolades, rating it an eight or nine out of a possible score of 10. Recent events indicate that GoW 4 has been played by over six million people.
If you can think of a major media property, be it Marvel, DC, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, etc; chances are that there is at least one LEGO game version of that property. These games are all about adventuring in those various world, with “Lego Dimensions” serving as one massive crossover media title that incorporate the toys-and-games mechanics of rival franchises like “Skylanders” and Nintendo’s “amiibo.”
It almost seems like these games are calculated exercises in excellence between having competent controls, amusing writing and being a combination of the long-loved LEGO toyline and a variety of franchises that are appealing to the mass market. Of the 69 games published under the LEGO license, over 50 of them have been published on PC. “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2,” a relatively recent LEGO game installment was nominated for six different awards.
Released in June of 2014, GRID Autosport is the ninth installment of the TOCA franchise of racing games. The game seems to take a few cues from the serious simulation half of car racing titles, over the arcade portion, featuring a large variety of cars, race tracks and classifications of cars. At its peak popularity, GRID Autosport had over 3,500 players zipping around from the driver’s seat of serious cars on realistic tracks.
Considering how cutthroat and alien the behaviors of the game’s AI can be, players might prefer the chance to play against other humans. GRID Autosport has a single award to its name, earning GamesRadar’s award for “Best Racing Game” of 2014. The PC version of this title holds an aggregate score of 78 on Metacritic, with a good number of game reviewing sites giving the game a score hovering around an 80.
Released on October 21st of 2014, Screencheat is a multiplayer-only FPS with a novel approach to targeting that seems inspired from the old FPS practice of “screen peaking,” a frowned-upon practice where players would look at another player’s section of the split screen in order to discern where that player might be hiding. While the game makes each player’s character model invisible, it also allows players to see what their opponents see.
Players must then use this information in order to hunt down their opponents in a variety of brightly-lit areas. It even has a few novel variant modes like “One Shot,” where reloading can only occur after an opponent fires their weapon, and “Murder Mystery,” where players have to kill a certain opponent with a certain weapon. While the game has not received any awards, the PC version holds a Metacritic aggregate score of 71.
If you have been looking to bring some friends and family together for gaming on the PC, especially around the family-rich times of the winter holidays, but only one of you has a suitable machine for that purpose, you can see that there are several options available to you.
While this game list is a good starting point, there are plenty of other multiplayer titles worth considering. Whether you would prefer to burn asphalt in GRID Autosport; fire off some guns in Gears of War 4, Screencheat; knock around some balls in FIFA, Rocket League or Madden NFL; solve some physics puzzles with Portal 2, have a cartoony multi-person rumble in Brawlhalla or just play in an adventure title that takes a particular favorite IP and lets you explore a LEGO-fied version of that property; there are plenty of game genres you can enjoy with others without needing each participant to have his or her own machine.