Right on the heels of the launch of two new consoles Thanksgiving has made me realize something: We may be headed into another console generation where couch multiplayer is cast aside as if online is and must be the only option.
Thanksgiving is usually a time when families get together right? It might be for a lot of things: food, football, arguments, whatever. Throughout my childhood however it was also a time to get together and play video games. After dinner I’d spend whole evenings with family members on Street Fighter, Madden, or GoldenEye. This got a lot harder on PS3 and Xbox 360 because of how hard it became to find games with split screen or any other kind of local multiplayer.
You may say online is the way to go, but are the two really mutually exclusive? Why can’t some games have both? Running a game on four mini screens is really just a matter of making visual sacrifices, which developers were very much willing to do back on the N64, but not on much more powerful hardware.
I imagine at least a few people might be thinking about doing some Thanksgiving gaming on their new PS4 or Xbox One, so to see how disappointed they might be I took a quick look over at Co-Optimus to see how many next-gen games actually have couch multiplayer. Not surprisingly, almost none of the big AAA launch games have it, but there are more games with it overall then I thought.
Out of the big blockbuster stuff, the standouts are Knack, Forza 5 and Call of Duty Ghosts, all of which offer two-player local. Ghosts is notable because it’s the first COD game on a console without four-player splitscreen. All the major sports games are obvious candidates, and sports is probably one of the last reliable genres for local multiplayer.
Family-oriented game developers expectedly still see the value in local multiplayer. According to Co-Optimus it’s in Just Dance 2014, Skylanders Swap Force, and LEGO Marvel Super Herores.
Who’s really likely to pick up the slack in the area of local multiplayer in the future though are indie developers. One of the most notable PS4 games with four-player local multiplayer is Super Motherload. Awesomenauts Assemble and Trine 2 will allow for three players on PS4. Future releases that are four-players include Mercenary Kings, Helldivers, and Assault Android Cactus.
Really though, the best solution for local multiplayer is, and has pretty much always been, a Nintendo console — which today means the Wii U. Probably the highest-rated four-player couch co-op game of 2013 is Super Mario 3D World. You’ve also got the recently-released Wii Sports Club which is basically Wii Sports in HD with online. It’s a shame though Nintendo couldn’t get Mario Kart 8 out this fall.
Current-generation consoles do have a few new games out this year that offer local multiplayer. Splinter Cell Blacklist has two-player split screen co-op. Also from Ubisoft you’ve got Rayman Legends which I believe is four players. After taking a peek at its “Kung Foot” minigame and seeing a video of four people playing it, I think it could be one of the secret best couch multiplayer modes in a while. Dragon’s Crown offers classic brawler action with four players on the PS3.
So, it’s not really a totally barren desert if you happen to have a few friends over for Thanksgiving and want to play some games together. You just have to look a lot harder for games that let you do this.
- Wait for those daily deals on Steam people. That means you need to be buying Rogue Legacy as I type this. But, I don’t see Jet Set Radio going lower than $2.50, or La-Mulana going lower than $3.
- Didn’t realize they did a Zatoichi mega pack. http://t.co/MuODx7ttI4
- New update at the blog for Broforce. http://t.co/1zBxCcffSA
- Art at the top by Zac Gorman.