Half the screen, double the fun
The PlayStation 4 is definitely not hurting for couch co-op games, from the epic adventures of Diablo III to the indie chaos of Overcooked. However, having to stay close to your in-game partner can feel a little confining. If you want to venture out and do your own thing, while still gaming right next to a friend or loved one, you need a split-screen game. These titles — sometimes cooperative, sometimes competitive — let you play by yourself, but still together. And sometimes, that's just the right amount of distance. Read on for split-screen survival, shooters, sports and more.
Ark: Survival Evolved
Ark: Survival Evolved was an early-access game on Steam for a long time, but it finally got a full release on the PC, the Xbox One and, of course, the PS4. The game is all about surviving in a harsh wilderness, crafting tools, clothes, food, shelter and whatever else you may need to thrive in a harsh environment. Where Ark sets itself apart from the rest of the genre, though, is that its world is populated primarily by enormous dinosaurs. If you want to mount a T-rex and strap laser cannons to the beast, you're more than welcome, and it's even more fun with a friend.
Credit: Studio Wildcard
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
In case you've never played it, Borderlands is a series of compulsively playable FPS/RPGs that cast you as a treasure hunter on a harsh planet, full of dangers both human and alien. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection on PS4 collects both Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and both of them allow two, three or four players to share a local split-screen. In fact, this is arguably the best way to play the game, since each player can choose a different character class, and co-op partners will make relatively short work of the game's myriad challenges.
Credit: 2K Games
Call of Duty: WWII
While you can't experience the cinematic campaign in Call of Duty: WWII with another player, everything else is pretty much fair game. Whether you want to oppose each other or team up in multiplayer matches, you can do it from a split-screen perspective. Even better: You can collaborate in the game's zombie mode, which lets you and a friend experience a campy, imaginative horror story with the tried-and-true Call of Duty control scheme. If you have fond memories of playing split-screen Halo with friends after school, this isn't terribly different; just a little more grounded in 1940s technology.
Divinity: Original Sin
Old-school RPGs with couch co-op are pretty rare to begin with, but one with split-screen functionality is almost unheard of. Divinity: Original Sin delivers a single-player experience that most other games in the genre would envy, then goes a little further by offering the entire thing in split-screen co-op. You and your friend/partner/sibling/person you grabbed off the street will each create a Source Hunter: a powerful warrior who can use both conventional weapons and magic to save the world from evil magicians known as Sourcerers. The turn-based combat manages to be both breezy and strategic, but you'll need to invest a long time to finish this long adventure.
Credit: Larian Studios
Divinity: Original Sin II
The first Divinity: Original Sin had couch co-op; you didn't really think the developers would take that feature away, did you? This RPG sequel — which received even more critical and fan acclaim than the first — casts you once again as a "Sourcerer," who can channel divine magic in order to become better combatants or cast fantastical spells. This time, the player is in contact with a mysterious entity known as the "Godwoken," who guides him or her on a perilous quest across a broken land. There's adventure, intrigue and friendship — which is appropriate, since you can play the whole thing, start-to-finish, with two players, each of whom has a customized character to control.Credit: Larian Studios
Don't Starve Together
Don't Starve is one of those games whose title is also its instruction manual. The premise is pretty straightforward: You're stuck in a harsh world, full of dangerous beasts, adverse weather conditions and unpredictable terrain, and you need to somehow find food, shelter and the weapons needed to take down hostile monsters. Don't Starve Together lets you and one other person collaborate, as you share your resources and do your best to survive together. You'll double your output, sure, but remember: You'll also need twice as many supplies to survive. You can try your luck with other players online, or keep it to just the two of you.
Credit: Klei Entertainment
Gran Turismo Sport
You can't write a list of split-screen games and not include a racing title. Gran Turismo Sport is, first and foremost, a stunningly gorgeous game, featuring meticulous re-creations of more than 160 real-life cars and 17 imaginative racecourses. Tight controls and a focus on realism should help racing-game aficionados and novices alike find something to suit their tastes. Beyond that, there's not too much to say; Gran Turismo Sport lets you race two digital cars against each other, very fast, just like you've been doing since the dawn of video games. And sometimes, that's all you need.
Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Finding something to play split-screen with a younger audience can be a challenge, but Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 does a good job of appealing to kids and adults alike. You'll take control of the titular plants and zombies from the popular tower-defense game, but this time, you'll control them directly rather than play the role of an unseen tactician. This third-person shooter is an easy way to play either competitively or cooperatively, and the more you play, the more characters and collectibles you'll unlock.
Credit: Electronic Arts
Who could have imagined that "cars playing soccer" would have turned into one of the most popular video games of the last few years? (Well,The Simpsons anticipated it, but that show always knows the future.) Rocket League has turned a shockingly simple premise into one of the most beloved competitive sports(?) games on the market. If you want to play some competitive split-screen, simply load the game up on your PS4 and grab a second controller — and a third, and a fourth, if you want to make things really chaotic.
Star Wars Battlefront II
Star Wars Battlefront II is far from a perfect game. The campaign is thin, the multiplayer progression is all over the place and the game still isn't sure whether it wants to embrace annoying loot boxes. If you want split-screen Star Wars action, though, the game can deliver that in spades. You and one partner can load up the game's Arcade mode, and play cooperatively through a handful of the game's multiplayer maps, including a Rebel base on Yavin 4 and a First Order Star Destroyer. Arcade mode lets you unlock credits that can be used to unlock items in the game's online multiplayer mode, as a tempting extra incentive.
Resident Evil 6
Full disclosure: Resident Evil 6 isn't a good game. In fact, it's kind of a bad game. But a) It's the kind of bad game that's entertaining in a train-wreck sort of way; b) It eschews the uncomfortable racism of Resident Evil 5; and c) It's one of the few ways to experience a cooperative split-screen zombie-killing campaign on PS4. If you want something story-driven and action-packed, Resident Evil 6 (mostly) delivers, weaving together three stories about classic protagonists: Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy as well as newcomer Jake Muller. At the very least, it's better than suffering through the campaign alone.
Lego DC Super-Villains
The Lego games are always a solid co-op bet, and as an added bonus, they're about as kid-friendly as they come. And while cooperative kids' games have a (somewhat deserved) bad reputation for being buggy and unimaginative, the Lego series almost always bucks the trend. Lego DC Super-Villains puts you in control of the greatest antagonists of the DC Universe, including Lex Luthor, the Joker, Solomon Grundy, Lobo and even Darkseid himself. Along the way, you'll solve puzzles, fight off pesky superheroes and follow a totally original plot that pits you against a despotic, alternate-universe version of the Justice League. You can even make your own supervillain, if the game's massive cast doesn’t do it for you.
A Way Out
A Way Out is unique in that it's the only game on this list that requires co-op play. In this title, you'll take control of either Leo or Vincent. Each one is a prisoner with one goal in mind: to stage an elaborate jailbreak and escape to the countryside. Players will have to cooperate to fend off enemies, sure, but the bigger draw of the game is that they'll have to collaborate to solve elaborate puzzles. One player may need to act as a distraction while the other figures something out, or both players may need to set a bigger plan in motion. It's worth noting that A Way Out wasn't universally beloved by either fans or critics, but it's worth a look for sheer originality, if nothing else.Credit: EA