Split-screen is dead. With today’s graphics, it’s a real shame, since it would finally be a lot easier to see what’s actually going on. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone wants split-screen gone, and cooperative multiplayer is still a desired, widespread feature online. Recall that 343 Industries infamously frustrated many long-time Halo fans after removing split-screen in Halo 5. Of course, that was the least of that game’s controversies. But believe it or not, friends may actually want to visit each other, and families might want to play video games together—between arguments. So, here are some great co-op games for the Xbox that will either bolster or ruin your actual relationships.
10 Human Fall Flat
Nothing quite builds teamwork like problem solving. No Brakes Games’ Human Fall Flat, released in 2016, is a physics-based puzzle game with wobbly heroes. They’re all referred to as "Bob", a customizable guy that resembles the fighters in Gang Beasts. With the opportunity to include up to 8 players online, and a control system that makes players move each arm at will, the level of physical interaction is surprisingly generous. There is more than one solution for any puzzle in the game, which allows for great exploration and screwing around. Also, it’s currently available with Game Pass!
9 Monster Hunter: World
If you couldn’t get enough of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and you need some Kaiju in your life, look no further than Capcom’s RPG hack-and-slash Monster Hunter: World. Yet another Game Pass release, the franchise began in 2004, and now allows you to hunt giant creatures with your friends online. The voice acting is deliciously absurd, and the story is nonsense, but the hunts are glorious. The various new territories are expansive enough, and feature incredible detail. Aside from the monsters’ innate attraction to potions, the AI is also remarkably convincing. The monsters even interact with each other! Typically, up to four players can join a hunt, using insanely customizable characters.
8 Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Bungie’s Halo franchise has been a staple of cooperative play since its initial release of Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001. Combined with its revolutionary sequel, the series carried Xbox to success, and helped establish Xbox Live as a phenomenon. It’s also one of the few co-op campaigns you can still play with someone in the room. But the original releases don’t look quite as pretty these days. So, purchasing the remastered versions is a fun investment, and with four collected campaigns, there’s plenty of bang for your buck with this action-adventure shooter. The multiplayer consistently receives updates, and it’s great to relive the golden days of Halo—or get caught up for the upcoming Halo: Infinite, whose new trailer caused waves at E3 2019.
7 Overcooked (1 And 2)
Cooking food as quickly as possible may not sound addictive, but it absolutely is. Ghost Town Games’ Overcooked allowed four players to rush around a kitchen, completing orders before time runs out. However, the creative obstacles and classic arcade style make the game very endearing. While the first entry only had couch co-op, the sequel added online co-op too, as well as a number of various improvements and features. With thieving rats, abrupt fires, shifting floors, and a constant ticking clock, the urgency of the game and its inspired challenges always keep it fresh.
6 Apex Legends
Battle Royale is all the rage these days, and EA’s acquisition of Respawn Entertainment led to the fast-paced shooter Apex Legends. Although it might be tough to become adjusted, it’s also a free game that delivers a smoother, visually polished experience that may invite players who are otherwise opposed to the Battle Royale genre. Up to three friends are dropped onto an island, with 60 players total. You must loot equipment and weapons as a closing ring forces everyone into a fight for the death. With a literal respawn feature, a pinging system, and great pacing, it’s a challenging and rewarding endeavor for anyone who loves shooters. While not couch co-op, several of your friends can play the game together.
5 Mortal Kombat 11
It may seem pandering or obvious, but this game simply can’t be ignored on a list like this. NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat 11 is a new sequel in the longstanding fighting series that’s resulted in furious parents since 1992. After a seemingly endless series of games and spin-offs, the franchise ultimately resorted to its iconic format, only incorporating small and creative elaborations on a formula that worked. This restored fans’ faith, and delivers on every expectation. The game allows local and online co-op, where fantasy characters bloody each other up with increasingly inventive in-game dynamics. If you aren’t certain it’s for you, pick up Mortal Kombat X at a more reasonable price.
System Era Softworks’ 2016 release Astroneer finally reached consoles this year, where it’s also available with Game Pass. It’s a sandbox game about space exploration, allowing players to use their little astronaut to colonize multiple alien worlds. Since the goal is to discover everything, it’s best to avoid spoilers, but the game definitely feels more inviting with a friend. There is a serious amount of problem solving, organizing, and mining. The polygon system of the terrain is troublesome, and the controls take some getting used to, but there are countless possibilities in this game that truly set it apart from others in the genre. Learning to survive is the first hurtle, and afterwards, finding your own objectives is immensely satisfying.
3 Star Wars: Battlefront II
Although EA started off on the wrong foot with its fans, Star Wars: Battlefront II has become an entertaining shooter, resolving enough of its innate problems since the 2017 launch. With several different classes, and a roster of famous characters that has grown to a reasonable selection, it’s easy to find characters you are comfortable with and play the game your way. Up to four players can form a squad, to descend upon a variety of maps that effectively recreate popular Star Wars environments. With familiar music cues, robust art design, and a relaxed pace that doesn’t spell ultimate doom when you die, this can be a fun online co-op game for any generation of Star Wars fans. It even has an arcade mode for couch co-op.
Mojang’s 2011 release Minecraft should go without saying. Sure, it has been listed a thousand times—but it is the definitive sandbox game, and survival mode alone offers seemingly endless possibilities. The visuals are charming, and simple. Countless mechanics allow interaction with animals, confrontations with fun yet lethal enemies, farming—literally anything the imagination can muster. That’s the strength of simplicity. It never even needs the story mode episodes, which were recently jacked up to $100 apiece. With creative mode, players are free to use perpetual blocks, from various elements, to conjure anything from a summer home to a calculator. There are no enemies, and no fear of death; essentially, digital LEGO. And it’s even got cross-platform multiplayer.
1 Gang Beasts
This indie title from Boneloaf was first released in 2017, but Xbox One drew the short stick. The console didn’t receive a Gang Beasts port until March 2019, but it was definitely worth the wait. Despite what some critics might have you believe, it’s a fun and hilarious game with the same ragdoll physics as Human Fall Flat. This fighting game was specifically designed for multiplayer, embracing the silliness with bizarre characters and random settings. The sheer unpredictability makes for a lot of ridiculous moments, leaning into the humor of it all rather than aiming for anything beyond a simple brawl. This is probably one of the least competitive fighting games available, and that chill attitude can bring out the best in up to 8 players—either online, or on the couch.