While the advent of online gaming has significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, the potential for co-op gaming, sometimes cooperative games are best played with a friend. Below are some of the best split-screen co-op games to gift your kids this Christmas.
Left 4 Dead – Co-op FPS
Left 4 Dead is a first-person shooter / action game developed by Valve Software. It features multiple local and online multiplayer options.
Even though Left 4 Dead features four characters attempting to escape various locations with their lives, the game only allows 2 human players via split-screen at a time. However, this limitation does not hinder the gameplay significantly.
The AI that fills the void is, at times stupid, but quite skilled and works well enough as adept partners. However, the real reason why the 2-player split-screen limitation is not an issue is because two players on one console can connect online with more human players.
Left 4 Dead features a Campaign Mode, a Versus Mode, and a new Survivor Mode. All three modes of play are heavily focused on cooperative gameplay. Even Versus Mode, which is essentially Left 4 Dead’s version of Team Deathmatch, forces both teams to utilize cooperation and team strategy in order to win.
Resident Evil 5 – Co-op Zombie Game
The sequel to the acclaimed third-person action / adventure / survival-horror game Resident Evil 4, RE5 largely disposes its survival-horror past in favor of an exhilarating co-op action game.
Resident Evil 5 is one of those rare games that was built from the ground-up for 2-player co-op. Playing single-player feels like a crippled experience, as wonky AI simply cannot substitute for a human player. Additionally, the many “Oh my God!” moments offered by RE5 are better appreciated with a buddy on the couch.
RE5 offers a lengthy campaign with numerous challenges. While the plot and storyline may be a bit of a let-down, the whole experience is great for any fan of co-op, zombies, or intense action.
Perhaps the true deal behind RE5, however, is the Mercenaries Mode. Ever since it first debuted in Resident Evil 3, the Mercenaries Mode has evolved and improved, and Resident Evil 5’s Mercenaries is the best yet – adding another player into the mix greatly enhances the gameplay and allows for unique strategies and teamwork.
Earth Defense Force 2017 – Co-op Action Game
While not as flashy or big-name as the other games on this list, Earth Defense Force 2017 deserves special mention for a hilarious premise and maddening challenges on the higher levels of difficulty. Also, unlike others on this list, EDF 2017 is only split-screen co-op – no option for online co-op in this budget priced title, only local multiplayer.
Fighting off giant Ants, Spiders, Robots, UFOs, and Godzilla-like monsters come to destroy Tokyo and the world, up to two players use a variety of quirky weapons, ranging from a slow-as-molassus mini-nuke launcher called the Air Tortoise, to a sniper rifle that fires five shots in a row called the 5 Card, to Acid Spray guns, flamethrowers, shotguns, handgrenades that level an entire city and, well, the list goes on.
In addition to the massive library of collectible weapons, EDF 2017 features some vehicles, such as a Tank, Helicopter, and a Mech with jump-jets. At first, the controls limit the vehicles’ usefulness, but after adapting to the control scheme, cleverly piloting a vehicle can mean the difference between life and death in the harder difficulties.
Halo 3 – Co-op FPS
Halo 3 is the end of the Halo trilogy, developed by Bungie Studios and published by Microsoft. It’s a first-person shooter (FPS) with extensive co-op game modes and options.
Halo and Halo 2 brought some of the best co-op gameplay to Microsoft’s Xbox console. The co-op was so good that many felt Bungie had reinvented co-op. If nothing else, Bungie certainly set the standard for many years to come.
The Co-op options in Halo 3 are extensive as well – up to 4 players online, and 2 players split-screen. The entire campaign can be played through with 2-4 players, and even after playing through the game once, numerous “skulls” are hidden throughout the levels which, when activated, will add unique challenges to the game.
In addition to a fully cooperative campaign mode, Halo 3 also allows bringing a “guest” into the online competition. And, since Halo 3’s online matchmaking is so good, two players on the same screen will never accidentally be paired up on different teams.
While Halo naysayers will always have something to complain about, there’s no denying the well designed co-op modes in Halo 3.
Gears of War, Gears of War 2 – Third-Person Tactical Co-op Shooter
Gears of War and the sequel Gears of War 2 are both Third-Person Tactical Shooters with a heavy emphasis on Co-op play, developed by Epic Games.
Similarly to Resident Evil 5, Gears of War can certainly be played solo if so desired, but it doesn’t really feel like a “complete” game. Gears of War and the sequel were both clearly designed with co-op in mind.
Playing with a friend certainly has its advantages. Since Gears of War is a more tactical shooter, running and gunning away almost always results in certain death. However, with a friend tagging along split-screen, one player can distract the enemy while the other sneaks up from behind using the now infamous Chainsaw Gun.
While the co-op may not be as extensive as other titles on the list, Gears deserves special mention for requiring cooperation and on-the-fly strategies between partners.