Thanksgiving usually means family gatherings, and when I was a kid that usually meant whole afternoons of video games with cousins or close friends. It was only recently that I looked back and noticed the association of that day with local multiplayer gaming, which has sort of been on the wane for big releases for a while now. That’s why every Thanksgiving now I like to look up what the latest good local multiplayer games are. Last year I think I held up the console version of Diablo III as the main option for those who don’t own a Nintendo console.
A quick look at Co-Optimus.com has actually left me surprised that there are quite a few robust new options this year outside Nintendo if you plan to sit down and share a game with someone after dinner. Halo 5 is the obvious gaping hole in the selection here, but there are enough other shooters to fill that hole unless for you it absolutely had to be Halo that you played with your friend or family member.
The one that really caught me off guard is Star Wars Battlefront. I guess my usual disinterest in multiplayer-only shooters made me sleep on this one, but I was shocked to discover it not only has survival and bots modes that can be played offline, but that they can be played in splitscreen with one other person. That has got to be one of the biggest games of the season that even casual consumers will be grabbing, and I bet a lot of them will be happy to know they can play part of it with a friend on the couch. The other big local multiplayer shooter of 2015 is of course Call of Duty Black Ops III.
A game some people might miss this season that has local co-op is Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition. Maybe you can sort of call it this year’s equivalent to Diablo III in that respect, though I believe it’s turn-based and more strategic. In any case it’s unusual for something hailed as a classic-style PC RPG to show up on consoles with couch co-op, but at the same time couch co-op makes perfect sense for this kind of game. Tales of Zestiria would be a Japanese equivalent with four-player couch co-op.
If I had a PS4 though and an opportunity to get four people together for one game, I’d probably try out Rocket League. I actually haven’t played the game at all but I have an idea of how its brand of simple fun has garnered the reaction it has, and that simple fun sounds like the perfect match for four-player splitscreen. I imagine playing it will feel somewhat like the quirkier multiplayer Nintendo 64 games I played back in the day, or perhaps even compare to Mario Kart in some way.
The Apple TV also probably already has a few good games to play with the family in a Wii Sports fashion.
Ironically I’m probably going to continue to play Fallout 4 throughout the holidays — one of the few big-budget games this year that’s completely singleplayer and offline.