The 9 Best Split-Screen Xbox One Games of 2021

Invite a few friends over and enjoy video games the old-fashioned way

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The Rundown
"An action-packed adventure game you'll never forget."
"Great for you and a friend who enjoys movies and likes the feeling of suspense with story-driven gameplay."
"Feels like a blockbuster Hollywood sci-fi movie from the 80s, with beautiful, action-packed sequences."
"Multiplayer competitive game where up to four players can enjoy split-screen together on the comfort of their couch."
"The best split-screen racing game, it's full of content and provides a realistic racing experience."
"First-person shooter where players fight mercenaries with an array of sci-fi weaponry."
Best Open World:
Mojang Minecraft at Amazon
"Explore and mine worlds, build whatever you want and defend against invading forces."
"Provides a balance of action, intrigue, and fun that’ll entertain both kids and adults alike."
"Incredibly updated graphics, silky smooth 60FPS and a whole ton of bonus content."

Microsoft's consoles may not be known as peak party platforms, but the best split-screen Xbox One games prove that Xbox can do local multiplayer just as well as Sony or Nintendo. A great split-screen game can entertain multiple people without slicing up a display into such small sections that you can barely see/follow the action. They also avoid making the second player feel like a third wheel—player two (or three, or four) should be able to progress and contribute the same way that P1 can.

Of course, a big part of determining which game is best for you comes down to what you're looking for. If you want a raucous party game, Rocket League's hyperkinetic mix of racing and sports action is just the ticket. On the other hand, if what you want is a deep, immersive experience to share with a friend, something like A Way Out or Gears of War 4 is probably more your speed. Luckily, Xbox One owners get a breadth of titles across a ton of different genres that can all be played in local, split-screen multiplayer.

Read on to check out our list of the best split-screen Xbox One games.

Best Overall: Studio MDHR Cuphead

What We Like
  • Gorgeous retro cartoon art style

  • Great platforming and combat

  • Sprightly jazz soundtrack

What We Don't Like
  • Extremely challenging

There is no better split-screen co-op game than Cuphead, and there might not be a better game on the Xbox One, full stop. Grab a buddy and get ready to fight, dodge, duck, dip, dive, shoot, jump, and parry your way to victory. The set-up is simple: the Devil is stealing people's souls in dubious contracts, and you have to side-scroll your way through tons of boss fights to save everyone. You play as either Cuphead or Mugman and fire your finger guns against cartoonish enemies in a retro-inspired, 1930s cartoon aesthetic themed shoot-em-up. It features shoe-tapping jazz, tight controls, an all-time art style, difficult challenges, and some unforgettable moments. If you love having someone by your side to go through a fun romp over a long weekend, there really isn't a better option available for the Xbox One.

If you want to play Cuphead on the PC or Nintendo Switch, you can do that too.

Best Story: Electronic Arts A Way Out

A Way Out
What We Like
  • Unique coop gameplay

  • Taut, compelling story

  • Well-drawn characters

What We Don't Like
  • Can't be played solo

A Way Out is like watching a prison movie you’re a part of; you’ll want to take in all of the characters and scenery you run into, but you’re the star and have the plot to unravel, and impatient guards will remind you to keep walking. Whether you’re new or old to video games, A Way Out will wow you with its visual presentation, superb voice acting, compelling storytelling, and unique gameplay.

You have to play with another player — that’s how A Way Out is designed. You and another friend assume the roles of two convicts with opposite personalities who must work together to break out of a fortified prison. Be careful who you talk to, how you talk to them and make sure you workout and interact with the right people — there are consequences to every action you take in this game and you’ll be susceptible to an emotional investment as you decide what you think is the best decision. If you and a friend have some time on your hands, enjoy movies and like the feeling of suspense with story-driven gameplay, then you both will love A Way Out.

Best Action: Microsoft Gears of War 4: Ultimate Edition

What We Like
  • Amazing third person combat

  • Great coop modes

  • Unrelenting action

What We Don't Like
  • Movement can feel sluggish

Gears of War 4 feels like a blockbuster Hollywood sci-fi movie from the 80s, with beautiful, action-packed sequences, vile aliens and a lacking plot you won’t care about because the visuals and gameplay are so entertaining. The third-person, over-the-shoulder shooter is the best Xbox One split-screen game on the list for non-stop excitement.

As you hear the yelling orders of your chief commander, you and your bud will be carried by an accompanying intense orchestra, running past blazing fires, dirt rising mortar explosions while taking in the detailed scenery and aiming down your rifle sights at muscular bro aliens. Even in its slower paces, Gears of War 4 always has something going on that gets the hair on the back of your neck rising and heart pumping because you’re worried about an ambush or what monster might be lurking in the shadows of an old church corridor. The main campaign will last you and your friend about nine hours as you both take cover and strategize in defeating enemies in a fluid and varied gameplay that’s always intense and surprising.

Best Sports: WB Games Rocket League: Collector's Edition

WB Games Rocket League: Collector's Edition
What We Like
  • Great mix of soccer and racing

  • Over-the-top, dramatic action

  • Deep car customization

What We Don't Like
  • AI can be subpar

Rocket League is soccer meets driving; a physics-based multiplayer focused competitive game where up to four players can enjoy split-screen together on the comfort of their couch. Rocket League has over 10 billion different combinations, so you can deck out your own vehicle with different frames, tires and other accessories to give it attributes that fit your play style.

Easy to learn but hard to master, Rocket League will grow on you with its fast-paced reckless driving as you and another friend go against either two AI or other human players to control a giant soccer ball and score it in your opponent’s net. Players will get to rocket boost across a giant green playing field as they discipline themselves to exercise controlled restraint in being able to manage the ball as it bounces around and other players zoom to take control of it. For gamers who like a little competition with constant suspense, Rocket League is the sure-fire winner among split-screen Xbox One games on the list.

Best Racing: Microsoft Forza Motorsport 7

Microsoft Forza Motorsport 7
What We Like
  • Absolutely gorgeous

  • Huge selection of cars and locations

  • Deep tuning and customization options

What We Don't Like
  • Tricky to master driving model

The graphics in Forza Motorsport 7 will make your jaw drop but remember, this is a racing game, and you and your friend need to focus on the road with one of you passing the finish line first. The best split-screen Xbox One racing game is full of content and provides a realistic racing experience with 4K resolution at 60FPS on Xbox One X consoles.

With over 700 cars (you read that right) and 200 different configurations, as well as over 32 locations, Forza Motorsport is jammed pack with content that’ll keep you and your friends busy playing for hours on end. Players will get to feel the subtle differences in handling and speed as they tune up, upgrade and detail their car for a unique fit to their play style. It's hard not to take in the scenery of the game: there are raindrops hitting the windshield and lightning rods off in the distance.

Best First-Person Shooter: Activision Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

What We Like
  • Great coop shooting action

  • Best zombie mode yet

  • Can blend online multiplayer with local split-screen

What We Don't Like
  • No campaign split-screen

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare — Xbox One Legacy Edition allows for you and a friend to go online in competitive multiplayer matches against other players around the world, as well as fight alongside one another in its popular zombie game mode. The Xbox One Legacy Edition comes with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare as well, remastered and in full high definition.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare — Xbox One Legacy Edition is a popular first-person shooter set in the future where players engage with both human and robot mercenaries with a large array of sci-fi weaponry. Ideal for more competitive players, the online split-screen mode gets you and another friend to partake in various game modes, including team deathmatch, domination and search and destroy while allowing customization of your own loadout of weapons, tactical gear, and special abilities. For players who want a more casual experience, Infinite Warfare’s zombie mode faces you off against an increasing wave of undead where scoring points gets you access to more items and weapons.

Best Open World: Mojang Minecraft

What We Like
  • Laid back, creative fun with friends

  • Still the best survival-crafting sim available

  • Constantly expanding and improving

What We Don't Like
  • Graphics will always be divisive

Lay back, relax and enjoy Minecraft: Xbox One Edition with three other friends. It's the best split-screen game on the list for carefree gaming with endless possibilities. Limited only to the imagination, Minecraft allows players to explore randomly generated worlds where they mine the environment, collect items, build whatever they want and even defend against the invading forces of the night.

Minecraft: Xbox One Edition allows for two main modes to be played: Survival Mode and Creative Mode. Creative Mode is the more relaxed of two, allowing for no danger and just peaceful gameplay where players can build anything with unlimited resources and without interruption. Survival Mode is a little scarier, as you and your friends chase daylight in order to forage for food, mine for materials, and eventually build ladders, planks, holding boxes, weapons, armor and any type of building to protect against the creatures of the night (think giant spiders, skeletons and exploding cactus monsters) who are all looking for trouble.

Best for Kids: WB Games Lego Marvel Superheroes 2

What We Like
  • Huge cast of Marvel superheroes

  • Fun, varied gameplay with tons to do

  • Accessible for kids, deep enough for adults

What We Don't Like
  • Similar to previous LEGO games

Simple and easy to play, LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 is an action-adventure video game played from a third-person perspective where players take the role of their favorite Marvel heroes in the Marvel universe. The best split-screen Xbox One game for kids will get them and another friend to explore 17 different Marvel locations as they run around, smash stuff, collect items, build with blocks, solve puzzles, battle enemies and save the world without any pressure or seriousness.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 lets kids play as their favorite superheroes — each with their own unique abilities — like Star-Lord (who can fly), Black Panther (who can use his claws) and Spider-Man (who can swing with his webs and crawl on walls). The game’s plot incorporates cut scenes and includes teams of superheroes like the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers who are all sent on various missions around the world and in space to battle against an alien force with multiple villains guest starring. LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 is one of the most relaxing and carefree Xbox One games on the list and provides a balance of both action, intrigue and fun that’ll entertain both kids and adults alike.

Best Remaster: 343 Industries Halo: Master Chief Collection

343 Industries Halo: Master Chief Collection
What We Like
  • Gorgeous, updated graphics

  • Still some of the best shooting on consoles

  • Silky, 60FPS action

What We Don't Like
  • Required several patches to smooth out issues

The defining series that made the Xbox, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a bundle of the original Halo games remastered, including Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 — and yes, every one of them has split-screen. If you and your friends have been with the Xbox since 2001, you’ll fall in love again with this remastering, thanks to incredibly updated graphics, silky smooth 60FPS and a whole ton of bonus content.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection provides players over 60 hours of gameplay across all of its campaigns with over 45 missions plus more than 100 multiplayer maps that allow you to go head-to-head with three other friends. New and old fans alike will enjoy the thrilling sci-fi, action-packed adventure of Master Chief as they explore different planets and take on a legion of aliens while having access to different weapons, vehicles, and ships. A unique aspect of Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s Halo 2 port is that you’ll be able to switch between the original and updated graphics on the fly, showing you how far the game has come along after all these years.

About Our Trusted Experts

Alex William has been writing about tech and gaming for five years now, and has covered a wide gamut of topics and categories, ranging from wearables to action cameras and beyond. He also has experience with front end web development and UX design.

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a high energy, super fun platforming romp, Cuphead is one of the best ever to appear on consoles, with its retro-cartoon style and amazing leap, shooting, dodging action. On the other end of the spectrum, A Way Out is a thoughtful, gritty, and varied coop tale of a couple of unlikely friends escaping prison and all the fallout and consequences that accompany their breakout.

What to Look for in a Split-Screen Xbox One Game

Co-op creativity - Split-screen Xbox One games can be either cooperative or competitive. If you want a more laid back experience, or you’re playing with a child, check out creative split-screen titles like Minecraft and the many Lego games that are available for Xbox One.
Genre variety - Split-screen games on Xbox One aren’t just limited to first-person shooters. Check out exciting sports and racing titles, cooperative platformers, and innovative indie games for a taste of variety.
Split-screen online multiplayer - Some games that include split-screen put a sharp divide between local and online multiplayer. If you want to take your game online, without giving up your local split-screen, look for games that support this feature. Some even allow guests to play online without their own Xbox Live Gold subscription.

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