Holiday 2014 Local Multiplayer Checkup


“I do think that consoles trying to concentrate on online rather than local multiplayer will be remembered as a huge mistake.”

— Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw of Zero Punctuation in a VICE interview

I’m pretty sure Thanksgiving and holiday family gatherings played a role in Nintendo’s planning the release date for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Last year I talked about how these new consoles stack up when it comes to local multiplayer at a time when it might be most prevalent. I’m gonna take just a little bit of time this year to check in on this again along with local multiplayer on PC, which is a steadily rising thing.

Predictably, the Wii U has only become more of an ultimate family get-together machine. Not even mentioning Wii Sports Club, you got the games I mentioned last year, New Super Mario Bros. USmash, and Mario Kart 8. All that could already provide for the next several years of your local multiplayer needs. Unfortunately I don’t have the console yet.

The PS4 and Xbox One seem a bit better in this area compared to last year if you look over at sites like Co-Optimus. I only just remembered it, but one game possibly above all others could make or break holiday gatherings for those systems — Diablo III. Let me just say that’s probably the only game I’d buy on a console as opposed to PC, largely because local co-op is such a no-brainer for isometric action RPGs. It’s really a wonder Diablo never made it to consoles before.

One game with local co-op some people might overlook is Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and its two-player local. It’s sort of the same kind of game as Diablo too really, just with guns. The only really big AAA games with any kind of local mulitplayer from what I can see are Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, each sporting two-player.

A possible stealth elephant in the room here is Geometry Wars 3 which just came out for basically every system. I actually don’t have much experience with this franchise so I didn’t realize it has four-player local. This season it’s also probably one of the best choices for PC.

Since I don’t have any of the new consoles this subject caused me to look through my steam library for good local multiplayer games, only to find basically one. PC has never really been the place people look to for couch multiplayer, but indie developers have been pushing in that direction on PC to a surprising degree. More are starting to design towards the people who hook their PCs up to TVs, and most of the indie games I see doing this don’t even have console versions. One site I’ve found that’s completely devoted to indexing such games is PCcouchCOOP. If you’re fine with early access games the most interesting choice is probably Crawl — a sort of dungeon crawler where three players spawn enemies against one.

Local multiplayer is still very much taking a backseat to online these days, but there are so many developers out there that enough of them are filling the niche. It’s just that Nintendo is basically the only really big developer making it a priority with well-known games. For the rest you have to look a lot harder than in the days when local multiplayer was the norm on consoles.


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