The 9 Best Split-Screen Xbox One Games

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

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With the advent of online multiplayer, couch co-op games receded into the background in the last decade. But luckily for fans of the forgotten genre, the feature has come back with a bang thanks to an onslaught of indie games and fantastic AAA multiplayer experiences that the whole family can enjoy. 

Split-screen multiplayer might not be as popular as its online counterpart, but it’s very handy if you’re part of a big family or want to play games with your kids without the need for two separate consoles. It’s also a good way to avoid playing with random strangers online if that is a point of concern.

We’re going to run through a variety of split-screen games that are available on Xbox One, ranging from kid-friendly open-world adventures like Minecraft to space-faring adult odysseys like Halo: The Master Chief Collection. There’s something for every member of the family on this list, so we hope it helps you build out your local co-op collection.

The Rundown
Best Overall:
It Takes Two at Amazon
The game demands a lot of cooperation and communication from its players as you traverse its levels.
The gameplay is constantly changing to hold your attention, and the graphics and score really elevate the experience.
There are few better fast-paced competitive games on the market, and the split-screen functionality is seamless.
Best Open World:
Mojang Minecraft at Amazon
With countless crossover DLC packs and busy online servers to dig into, Minecraft is endlessly replayable.
This collection of games delivers adrenaline-pumping action that will keep you busy for hours on end.
The story is charming and easy to engage with, which has made Cuphead accessible to all ages.
Best Battle Royale:
Epic Games Fortnite at Microsoft
The tense Battle Royale shooter lets you play with friends all over the world, but Fortnite’s local co-op mode is also easy to set up.
Get ready for shouting matches and belly laughs if you start playing this game on Xbox with up to four of your friends.
With Dungeons and Dragons’ style turn-based combat and an evolving library of skills and abilities, you can really role play.
What We Like
  • Stunning graphics

  • Varied gameplay

  • Like a playable Pixar movie

What We Don't Like
  • Story can be quite heavy for small kids

  • Some puzzles may be too tricky for little ones

It Takes Two is the third game from Hazelight Studios, a developer that specializes in making co-op games that can be played on the couch or over the internet. The studio's latest is easily its best and arrived in early 2021 to much acclaim thanks to eye-watering graphics, a charming Pixar-esque story, and challenging co-operative gameplay.

In this brilliant action platformer, you’ll play as a married couple on the verge of breaking up who are turned into toys and must reconcile their differences while exploring an oversized version of their own home. The game demands a lot of cooperation and communication from its players as you traverse its levels, with one handing Cody a nail and May a hammer that they can use in tandem to solve puzzles.

It Takes Two is also littered with competitive mini games so you can get one over on your partner when the time comes. Word of warning though, its roughly 11-hour story can be quite heavy at times, just like any good Pixar movie. It’s been called gamified couples therapy for a reason…  

ESRB: T (Teen) | Developer: Hazelight Studios | Publisher: EA

Best Story: Electronic Arts A Way Out

A Way Out
What We Like
  • Choices that affect the narrative

  • A tense campaign full of great moments

  • Cinematic production values

What We Don't Like
  • It's not for the faint of heart

Another split-screen entry from co-op masters Hazelight Studios, A Way Out is a far grittier version of It Takes Two with a more compelling, adult story. You’ll play as two criminals who break out of prison and go on an absurd adventure set in the 1970s.

This globe-trotting tale forces an unlikely pair together, resulting in some superb set pieces and heartbreaking decisions to make as a couch-dwelling duo. The gameplay is constantly changing to hold your attention, and the graphics and score really elevate the experience into something cinematic.

If you like playing games where your choices are felt in the narrative and you have a good friend or family member at hand, picking up A Way Out is a no brainer. It should go without saying that you’re going to want to keep this interactive movie away from young kids, though. It can be quite violent and lewd at times, with one scene depicting torture and others featuring nudity.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Developer: Hazelight Studios | Publisher: EA

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

WB Games Rocket League: Collector's Edition
What We Like
  • Constantly updated

  • Free to play

  • Engaging competitive multiplayer

What We Don't Like
  • The AI bots are lackluster

If you’re looking for a split-screen local sports game that you can play for hours, weeks, and months on end, look no further than Rocket League. Developer Psyonix’s crossplay smash hit is soccer with remote-controlled cars.

If that premise doesn’t excite you already, the cars have turbo boosters and can fly through the air, controlled by careful player inputs, which raises the skill ceiling while also making the game inherently chaotic. This means that even if you’re playing against someone with plenty of hours in the bag, there’s always the potential for the underdog to upset an experienced player.

There are few better fast-paced competitive games on the market, and the split-screen functionality is seamless. It’s also so easy to drop in and drop out, with matches taking roughly 5 minutes each.

ESRB: E (Everyone) | Developer: Psyonix | Publisher: Psyonix

Best Open World: Mojang Minecraft

Minecraft
What We Like
  • Crossplay

  • Endless replayability

  • Busy online servers

What We Don't Like
  • No good if you need something linear

Minecraft is one of the most recognisable games of all time, and if you don’t already have it, here’s another great reason to pick it up: Minecraft happens to be a fantastic split-screen, co-op game, thanks to its procedural open-world sandbox which creates limitless opportunities for exploration.

Whether you want to go on a survival-focused adventure with your kids or build some serious architecture in Creative Mode, this blocky world is your oyster. With countless crossover DLC packs and busy online servers to dig into, Minecraft is endlessly replayable and a lot of fun for all ages and experience levels.

ESRB: E10+ (Everyone 10+) | Developer: Mojang | Publisher: Microsoft

"Even a decade after its original alpha release, Minecraft remains a pure and compelling sandbox experience, dropping players into a blocky world full of seemingly endless possibilities." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Microsoft Minecraft

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best Shooter: 343 Industries Halo: Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)

343 Industries Halo: Master Chief Collection
What We Like
  • Tons of content in one small package

  • Upgraded graphics

  • Iconic narrative

What We Don't Like
  • Only two-player local co-op

Often regarded as the flagship franchise of the Xbox, the Halo series has been a staple of Microsoft’s gaming output since the release of Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001. The space-faring shooter follows the adventures of the Master Chief, a supersoldier tackling an alien force known as The Covenant. If you’ve never engaged with this superb shooter, then 343 Industries’ Halo: The Master Chief Collection would be the perfect place to start.

This visually upgraded remaster collection includes Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Reach, and Halo 4, so you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. The historic campaigns that power these great games are all playable in split-screen, local co-op and deliver adrenaline-pumping action that will keep you busy for hours on end.

ESRB: M (Mature) | Developer: 343 Industries | Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

Best Platformer: Studio MDHR Cuphead

Cuphead
What We Like
  • Charming art style

  • Challenging co-op

  • Great soundtrack

What We Don't Like
  • Brutally difficult

With an art style inspired by old-school cartoons, Cuphead launched in 2017 and quickly gripped the world with its challenging platforming and co-op capabilities. The Studio MDHR smash hit is one of the most exciting multiplayer experiences on the market thanks to the sheer variety of its enemy-filled levels. As well as being gorgeous to look at, Cuphead is lifted by a great soundtrack and intuitive controls that are tough but fair. 

If you want to show your kids what it was like "way back when," Cuphead would be a superb trial by fire. Just make sure your chosen partner is OK with dying a lot, as Cuphead’s brutal difficulty can be off-putting for gaming newcomers.

Luckily, split-screen co-op makes the game a lot easier. Two players control Cuphead and Mugman as they embark on a dangerous adventure to settle their debts with the devil. The story is charming and easy to engage with, which has made Cuphead accessible to all ages.

ESRB: E10+ (Everyone 10+) | Developer: Studio MDHR | Publisher: Studio MDHR

Best Battle Royale: Epic Games Fortnite

Fortnite
What We Like
  • Tense showdowns

  • Constant updates

  • Intuitive controls

What We Don't Like
  • Not much to do offline

Easily recognizable to most kids and adults, Fortnite is a cultural juggernaut and a fantastic co-op game to play on Xbox. The tense Battle Royale shooter lets you play online with friends all over the world, but Fortnite’s local co-op mode is also fully featured and easy to set up.

With a few taps, you can hop into a game and start wearing down the competition in chase of that elusive Victory Royale. With 100 players in every game, there are always opportunities for dynamic, adrenaline-pumping shootouts.

Fortnite is well-balanced as a tactical shooter, with plenty of opportunities for underdogs to use their skills in collecting, sneaking, and crafting to outwit enemies. If you’re looking for something reliable that you can play every day, then Fortnite is also a great option given the game’s constant updates and moreish gameplay loop.

ESRB: T (Teen) | Developer: Epic Games | Publisher: Epic Games

Best Party Game: Ultimate Chicken Horse

Ultimate Chicken Horse
What We Like
  • Create your own levels

  • Charming art style

  • Every game is unique

What We Don't Like
  • Gaming newcomers may find the controls tricky

Ultimate Chicken Horse may be one of the more unorthodox entries on this list, but it’s a massively underrated co-op game that families and friends can get a lot out of. After picking a character from a selection of cutesy animals, you’ll be tasked with building a platforming level before playing it.

This means carefully setting traps and obstacles to block your co-op partners from the goal, but you also have to make it just easy enough so that you can do it yourself. Threading this line is a crash course in good game design as well as a recipe for competitive co-op chaos.

Get ready for shouting matches and belly laughs if you start playing this game on Xbox with up to four of your friends. The asset selection in between rounds is randomized and includes bombs so that players can destroy devilish trap combinations to find a cheeky route to the exit. With multiple maps to play on and loads of obstacles to tinker with, every round is unique in Ultimate Chicken Horse, providing serious replay value.

ESRB: E (Everyone) | Developer: Clever Endeavor Games | Publisher: Vibe Avenue

Best RPG: Divinity: Original Sin II Definitive Edition

What We Like
  • Deep and rich narrative

  • Fun Dungeons and Dragons gameplay

  • A long campaign to dig into over months

What We Don't Like
  • Maybe too much of a commitment for some

Launching in 2017 to great acclaim, Divinity: Original Sin II Definitive Edition is a top-down RPG from Larian Studios which can be enjoyed with a friend in couch co-op on Xbox. In a fascinating fantasy world, you’ll embody a team of complex heroes as they endeavor to hold back the Void and save the world. With Dungeons and Dragons’ style turn-based combat and an evolving library of skills and abilities, you can really role play and immerse yourself as you explore Larian’s enormous world.

The story clocks in at roughly 60 hours so it would be quite the task to complete Divinity: Original Sin 2 in co-op, but at least you’re getting tons of bang for your buck. However, if you and your co-op partner are ready to commit to this sprawling adventure, there are very few gaming experiences as rewarding as this.

ESRB: M17+ (Mature 17+) | Developer: Larian Studios | Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Final Verdict

With a superb story and remarkable gameplay variety, It Takes Two (view at Amazon) is our pick for the best split-screen Xbox game. But if you want something more replayable and easy to jump into, check out the action sports sensation Rocket League (view at Amazon).

About Our Trusted Experts

Jordan Oloman is a freelance writer passionate about how technology can improve your productivity. He has years of experience writing about tech and video games for sites like The Guardian, IGN, TechRadar, TrustedReviews, PC Gamer and many more. 

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering technology and video games since 2006. His areas of expertise include smartphones, wearable gadgets, smart home devices, video games, and esports. 

FAQs

What games on Xbox One are split-screen?

Beyond the games listed above, the best way to check if an Xbox game supports local co-op is to head to the game’s Microsoft Store page, either on your Xbox console or within a browser. There you will see a number of tags at the top of the page under the "Capabilities" heading that will tell you what kind of multiplayer the game supports. You’re looking for "Xbox local multiplayer" or "Xbox local co-op," and make sure to note how many players are supported.

How do you play split-screen games on Xbox?

If you want to play split-screen or couch co-op games on Xbox, you’re going to need at least one Xbox console. From there, if you’re not playing a game from our list, it would be worth checking out the game’s Microsoft Store listing page to find out if it supports local co-op or not, and how many players can enjoy the game locally on one system.

From there you’ll need a controller for each player, and usually, it’s a case of turning on the controller and navigating the menus to find the couch co-op option. You will typically be prompted to jump in within a lobby screen, but it varies per game. Once everyone is present and the screen is split, you will be ready to embark on your next gaming adventure.

What is the difference between split-screen local co-op and online co-op?

Split-screen local co-op is purely for families and friends who want to play together in front of one system. It’s usually called "couch co-op" as when you play, you’ll likely be sat on the same couch. Online co-op is more widely supported across games and usually means playing with another person from two separate locations, leveraging the internet to connect to the same games. Many games that support local co-op will also support online co-op, to add to their versatility and widen the net of people who can play together.

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

Co-op Creativity

Split-screen Xbox One games can either be cooperative or competitive. If you want a more laidback 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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