A semi-regular couch co-op club of ours has recently led us to much furious Googling and research as we looked for the best games to play with friends (specifically four friends in our case). There's plenty out there for duets, but when it comes to larger parties it can be quite tricky to find suitable titles.
Well, after lots of searching and subsequent playing, we've managed to identify some of the most enjoyable local multiplayer games out there and to save you trawling through the internet in order to find them, we've collected the best for you here. So, grab a friend (or two) and a controller (or four) and get downloading, because these are the best games you can play with a friend from the comfort of your own couch.
Alright, we wrote this article a long time ago and, you know, we've come a long way since then. That being the case, here's the original list with a couple of more recent games sprinkled up top for good measure.
It might not boast the largest pixel count or the fanciest visual effects, but nobody could argue against Cuphead being one of the most striking games of this console generation. Created using hand-drawn assets and classic cartoon-inspired techniques across all aspects of its presentation and audio-visual design, Cuphead is a special game in so many ways. It's also absolutely nails and will happily punish you for the slightest mistake. It's a good job that you can take a friend along for the ride, then.
We could say nice things about Overcooked, but you've probably already played that one by now. Instead, we're going to recommend Moving Out, a new family-friendly co-op game with a cute art style and lots of silly hats. Players have to work together to take down increasingly challenging jobs in their new role of house mover extraordinaire. It's chaos, but it's also accessible and heart-warming and we had a fab time with it.
A Way Out
A Way Out is a game at the forefront of cooperative game design, and while it might be flawed in a number of ways, it certainly makes for an unforgettable experience - and that's not something every game can say these days. A Way Out is co-op-only in the sense that even if your friend is online, you'll still see what's going on over on their portion of the screen. The story beats for both players can be seen at the same time, and there's a bunch of sequences where you'll have to work together if you're going to come out on top. For the most part, it works well, and if you can forgive its quirks, we think you'll have fun.
Divinity: Original Sin II
If it's an adventure you're after, and you don't mind getting comfortable for an extended gameplay session or twenty, then please allow us to direct you over to Original Sin II, the title that finally saw Larian deliver the experience it was destined to make. This epic fantasy role-playing game boasts a grand story full of intrigue, a playful and engaging cast of characters with different origin stories to explore, and tactical combat that's more than simple hack 'n' slash action. It's nothing short of a modern classic and a game that we wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who enjoying fantasy adventures.
We didn't mention Minecraft before, and that was a mistake that we weren't going to make again. What's more, the game has only grown since the first time we shared our co-op top picks, with MS introducing cross-play, unifying the underlying game across different platforms, and adding a ton of content both in the form of free game-changing updates but also lots of paid-for DLC (both stuff made by the devs and via monetised community content). There are few games with the depth offered by Minecraft and it continues to entertain a whole generation of younger gamers as well as a fair few older players who stick around for all that mining and crafting.
#IDARB might be just another game in which you take a ball and stick it into the net, however, it's a little bit more...confusing than that. The game starts off simple enough, but getting into a game with other players ensures that it will quickly become hectic, hard to keep up with, yet very hilarious. #IDARB offers a large amount of customisation, allowing you to create characters and even songs to listen to while playing a match. The bright colours and madness of it all can make for fun local multiplayer games with friends that will easily pass the time in the most baffling way possible, but definitely a game that should be picked up, especially if you've got the controllers needed for an eight-player match.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
One game that exemplifies the term 'pick-up-and-play' is the latest Plants vs Zombies game, which is absolutely ideal for a group of friends looking for something to play together. It features four-player split-screen across every single game mode, meaning you and your friends can co-operate against waves of enemies in graveyard ops, complete a short quest line together, or play against one another in the competitive multiplayer part of the game. There are loads of different ways to get botanical together, and there's great depth here despite the casual façade and easy accessibility.
Clusterpuck 99 is an indie title that works great with the Xbox One's eight-player local feature. The game has two teams of four fighting for a small puck on a dangerous and often complex pitch. The teams must take the puck and slam it into the opposition goal while avoiding spikes, holes, opponents, walls, springs and various other obstacles that will prevent them from scoring a goal. It's a fun game and with enough players it can provide hours of entertainment offline.
Rare's answer to the popular fighting games back in 1994 was rebooted for the Xbox One at the end of 2013 as a launch title. Killer Instinct is a violently-cartoonish fast-paced fighter that makes for a great competitive game to challenge friends with. It's a fun mix of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, bringing the brutally violent tones of MK but balancing it out with bright and colourful visuals of SF. It's also incredibly satisfying to have an intense one on one scrap with two ridiculous characters manically swinging at each other, especially if someone manages to pull off a well-timed "ULTRA COMBOOOOOOO!"
Castle Crashers Remastered
The first edition of Castle Crashers was one of the best games to hit the Xbox 360's Arcade, and it's no different in this generation. Castle Crashers brings with it some amazing co-op action in the story mode, where the simple-yet-satisfying combat system and massive collection of weapons bring the game to life. Co-op is really how this game is meant to be played. It supports up to four players locally, and all of the game modes can be played this way. What's more, the remastered edition includes a new game mode called 'Back off Barbarian,' a simple yet addictive mini-game where you can compete with your friends to see who lasts the longest whilst avoiding enemies.
The follow up to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars came about last year with a lot of hype and (understandably so) a name change. Not only is it a hilariously fun multiplayer game, but it's also one that also requires a dash of luck; cars will be boosting far and wide across the arena frantically trying to thwack the ball into the opponent's net. A goal is always hard to come by but they're oh so satisfying, of course, it's just as likely that one bad manoeuvre means hitting the ball a touch too hard towards an unavoidable own-goal. Rocket League is certainly one to play if you're up for a few games of excitement, shouting, and plenty of laughter with friends.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III
The latest iteration in the widely popular Call of Duty series, Treyarch's Black ops 3 has you running on walls and flying through the air. But while the multiplayer is one of the most popular components to the series, Black Ops 3 has reintroduced a cooperative campaign and their much-loved Zombies mode. Campaign can be played with two players, and zombies can be played with up to four. Even the online multiplayer can be played with four players on one Xbox, so you can team up against the masses in over ten different environments, with more to come soon when the DLC hits. Black Ops 3 is easily one of the best shooters on Xbox One right now.
Forza Motorsport 6
What better way to assert dominance over your opponents than to leave them for dust while you storm ahead in a supercar? The latest addition to the Forza series from Turn 10 is an excellent racing simulator exclusive to Xbox One and just so happens to come with a split-screen mode similar to previous iterations. Forza 6 makes for the perfect place to prove how skilled you are behind the wheel of some of the world's fastest supercars, while competing against your friends at the same time.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
The very essence of what it means to be an Xbox gamer, the Halo series is something everyone has heard of, and most have played. 2014's The Master Chief Collection brought the first four games to the Xbox One in a (mostly) smooth 60fps, and each game has four-player coop in the campaign, multiplayer, and custom games, meaning you and your friends can jump into the action in a number of different ways, with loads of different features in each mode. Forge and custom games allow you to create your own games too, so you and your buddies can personalise the experience and make it your own. This game is a definite must if you are looking for some co-op action, especially considering the omission of local multiplayer in Halo 5: Guardians.