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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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."
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."
"The Eternal Edition provides players with the base game as well as the Reaper of Souls and Rise of the Necromancer expansions."

Split-screen multiplayer modes may not be as prevalent or as popular as they were with previous console generations, but you can still find some Xbox One games that offer it. Split-screen is great for playing with friends or your kids on your own couch rather than separately online; this is perfect for parents concerned about letting their little ones play online with strangers.

The moniker can be somewhat misleading, as some local multiplayer doesn't actually split the screen into different viewing areas for players, but has everyone on the same screen for better visibility, better puzzle solving, or setting up combat combos. Kid-friendly games like the LEGO series offer plenty of silly fun for adults as well, using slapstick comedy to break up serious stories or make meta jokes about being toys. More adult-oriented games like Halo and Diablo provide much longer story campaigns and deeper multiplayer modes with tons of customization and level building options to tackle high-level dungeons or powerful bosses.

Whether you're looking to squeeze in a round or two of Rocket League after work or planning a weekend Diablo raid with friends, split-screen multiplayer makes it easy to enjoy your favorite games with others. Check out our top picks below to see which could be the next perfect addition to your game library.

Best Overall: Studio MDHR Cuphead

Cuphead
What We Like
  • Gorgeous art style

  • Great music

  • Great controls

What We Don't Like
  • Very difficult

  • Unintuitive button remapping

Cuphead offers one of the best split-screen multiplayer experiences available on the Xbox One. You and a friend can blast through side-scrolling levels inspired by vintage cartoons, busting a wide variety of enemies and clever bosses with finger guns and power-ups to the hot jazz soundtrack. The local multiplayer is reminiscent of games like Contra for the NES: it doesn't split the screen into smaller viewing areas, but lets both players control their characters in the same area for better visibility and to set up combo attacks.

The difficulty of Cuphead is notoriously brutal, but it's a bit more manageable with a friend to cover your back. The simple story is perfect for weekend play sessions with friends or kids who may not have the time or attention span to take on deeper games.

Best Story: Electronic Arts A Way Out

A Way Out
What We Like
  • Great story and mechanics

  • Well-rounded characters

  • Unique gameplay

What We Don't Like
  • No solo play mode

If you're a fan of shows like Prison Break and 24, A Way Out should be right up your alley. You can play with a friend either locally or online in traditional split-screen format, allowing you to set each other up for puzzle solving, info gathering, or sneaking past prison guards. Each new challenge is cleverly designed to make players work together in different ways; dialogue prompts give the option to take divergent paths to solve problems. Players are given choices like either talking their way out of sticky situations or barrelling through obstacles with guns blazing.

Each choice shapes the narrative in subtle ways, either making your path forward a bit easier or letting law enforcement catch up to you. It's not all rootin' tootin' vintage gun shootin'. A Way Out has a very emotional core narrative as players learn more and more about their own characters and the relationship they have to each other as well as their motivations for getting into, then right back out of, prison. At times, A Way Out feels more like an interactive movie than a traditional game, but that just adds to the charm.

Best Action: Microsoft Gears of War 4: Ultimate Edition

What We Like
  • Good amount of action

  • Good third-person perspective

  • Local and online co-op

What We Don't Like
  •  Story has pacing issues 

Gears of War has been a sort of pillar franchise for the Xbox consoles since the 360 days, and this fourth installment keeps players coming back for more. The third-person, over-the-shoulder viewpoint lets players take in the unique alien visuals and gritty, mechanical environments that harken back to 80s action movies like Alien and Robocop. The fast-paced action and near-constant gunfights pair well with the cheesy bravado of each character, offsetting the somewhat formulaic plot and simple dialogue.

The main campaign takes a little under 10 hours to complete, making it ideal for weekend or after work play. New weapons like the Dropshot and Buzzkill let you take out invading aliens with explosive drill bits or frisbee-like circular saw blades, and the changing weather patterns affect strategy and gunfights, making players take dust storms and high winds into account when planning an ambush or stealth approach.

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

WB Games Rocket League: Collector's Edition
What We Like
  • Free to play

  • Tons of customization options

  • Fun controls

What We Don't Like
  • Bot opponents can be disappointing

Rocket League is best described as a soccer match, a demo derby, and rally racing were all thrown into a blender to create a bonkers good time. Up to four players can play together locally on a split screen or online to drift, charge, and blast their way to victory. Each car can take one of a staggering 10 billion combinations of components to suit your personal or team play style. The physics of the game make it fun and easy to pick up and play, but deceptively difficult to master. While it's fun to rocket across the pitch and slam into opponents, players have to balance the urge to wreak havoc with exercising control over the ball to work with teammates and score points.

Matches usually last about 5 minutes, using sudden death overtime rules if the score is tied, making it great for quick play when you want to squeeze in a few rounds after work. The best part of Rocket League? It's free to play.

Best Racing: Microsoft Forza Motorsport 7

Microsoft Forza Motorsport 7
What We Like
  • 4K HDR support

  • Tons of vehicle and track options

  •  Dynamic weather system

What We Don't Like
  • Steep learning curve

For fans of more traditional racing experiences, Forza Motorsport 7 offers ultra-realistic circuits and hundreds of car models to customize your garage. Two players can go head-to-head in split screen local multiplayer mode or online, testing their skills on over 30 race tracks and a dynamic weather system that pushes each lap to the limit.

With 4K HDR support, each car and driver is rendered in mind-boggling detail for ultra-lifelike graphics that make you really feel like you're in the driver's seat. The seventh installment of the Forza series introduces new racing leagues, a spectator mode, and new vehicle partners like Porsche so gearheads and racing enthusiasts alike can find something to love.

Best Open World: Mojang Minecraft

Minecraft
What We Like
  • Two play modes

  • Tons of mod available

  • Laid back gameplay

What We Don't Like
  • No real story

Minecraft is a juggernaut of both indie and triple-A gaming. First released as a beta build in 2009, it quickly established itself as the ultimate open-world sandbox. Players can get access to unlimited resources and building materials in Creative Mode to create just about anything they can dream up; players around the world have built truly amazing things like scale models of The Red Keep from Game of Thrones to fully functional games within the game.

Survival Mode features both health and hunger bars as well as limited resources that pit players against mobs of enemies and the elements to see how long they can last. With online multiplayer, you can work together with friends to build fortresses, craft items, and trade rare resources to create and conquer each procedurally generated map.

Best for Kids: WB Games Lego Marvel Superheroes 2

What We Like
  • Fun and simple gameplay

  • Great for kids and adults

  • Tons of replay value

What We Don't Like
  • Gameplay may be too repetitive for older kids

The LEGO games have always been great examples of how kid-friendly games don't have to be overly simple or frustratingly saccharine sweet. LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 gives kids and adults alike plenty of action and adventure as they take on roles of their favorite Marvel characters like Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America to solve puzzles and take down bad guys. Collectible items like gold bricks and studs, which act as a kind of in-game money, can be traded for unlockable characters and items which can help players access previously blocked-off areas of levels, giving the game massive replay value. A 4-player Super Hero Battle Mode lets you pit characters against each other in fighting arenas to finally settle the argument over who would win in a free-for-all fight. There are 10 DLC packs available to expand available levels and characters for even more fun.

Best Remaster: 343 Industries Halo: Master Chief Collection

343 Industries Halo: Master Chief Collection
What We Like
  • 60fps support

  • Tight controls

  • Multiple games for one price

What We Don't Like
  • Some bugs with each new update

The Halo series has been a pinnacle franchise for Microsoft since the first game was released way back in 2001. This updated, remastered collection of the core games offers revamped, HD graphics, tighter controls, and better audio. The collection preserves the classic split-screen multiplayer mode that will punch fans of the series back to late Friday night sleepovers with friends, playing capture the flag in Blood Gulch and drinking entirely too much Mountain Dew.

The collection gives players over 60 hours of campaign over 45 missions and over 100 multiplayer maps to revisit. With the Halo 2 update, players have the option to switch between the original and updated graphics on the fly, which is perfect for anyone who wants a truly nostalgic experience. With 60fps support, each remastered game will look amazing on modern 4K televisions, and the slew of bonus content like live-action videos and achievements will make old fans and series newcomers happy.

Best RPG: Blizzard Entertainment Diablo 3: Eternal Collection

Diablo 3
What We Like
  • PVP combat

  • Scalable difficulty for party play

  • Hardcore Mode for experienced players

What We Don't Like
  • Requires an always-on internet connection to play

This third installment of Blizzard's Diablo series was released for Xbox One in 2014, and the Eternal Edition provides players with the base game as well as the Reaper of Souls and Rise of the Necromancer expansions for one price. Players can take on one of seven character classes, mowing down low-level enemy mobs, clearing dungeons, and raiding boss lairs to boost stats and gain rare loot.

The new Hardcore Mode introduces permadeath for an extra challenge to experienced Diablo or RPG players. Player-versus-player combat in specific free-for-all areas pits up to four players against each other to hone skills or just try out different character builds. The main campaign can be played solo or in cooperative multiplayer mode, making it much easier to take on high-level dungeons and bosses. Players can also trade items and resources with each other, and they can take advantage of the scalable difficulty to tackle stronger bosses and higher-level areas.

Final Verdict

Cuphead is king of the multiplayer games. The vintage cartoon visuals and hot jazz soundtrack pair wonderfully with the kooky combat styles each player utilizes to take on enemies and bosses. The only drawback is that the challenge can be quite steep for some players. A Way Out, on the other hand, offers a unique play style that handles challenges by utilizing cooperation. Two players have to work together to escape prison and exact revenge, synchronizing movements to distract guards and fellow inmates, steal tools, and create escape routes. The narrative is just as compelling with a strong, emotional core and good pacing.

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FAQ

What is the difference between split-screen and online multiplayer?

Split-screen multiplayer is a holdover from the early days of console gaming, literally splitting the screen so 2 or more players can control characters on the same screen but in different areas. It's most often used in local, offline multiplayer modes, but it can be seen in online multiplayer as well. Online multiplayer means you need to be connected to the internet in order to play with others, and usually means that you see only your point of view on your TV or monitor.


How do I know if this game is appropriate for my kids?

You can quickly check to see if a game is age appropriate by looking at the game's rating. The ESRB, PEGI, and Australian Game Rating System all have multiple, easy to understand ratings based on who the intended audience is, ranging from E for Everyone to Adults Only. The rating can be found on the cover of the game or by searching for the game online.


What are microtransactions?

Microtransactions refer to things that you can buy with real money in your games. This can be anything from new levels and missions to character costumes and items. They may seem inexpensive at times, but the cost can add up. So keep an eye on your credit card statements and make sure to talk to your kids to let them know it is important to ask for permission before buying anything; we've all seen the stories of kids racking up thousands of dollars of credit card debt buying loot boxes.


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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