Gaming is forever changing. As gamers, we have to get used to the fact that our chosen hobby is always in flux.
Nothing lasts for very long and there is always a new trend around the corner.
This means that as a gamer you need to constantly keep up with the latest news and the latest fads. There isn’t a whole lot of time to look back.
When we do look back we tend to look with rose-tinted glasses. You’ll hear older generations of gamers (like me) talking about the “good old days”. Talking as if we’re boomers talking about the ’60s, not a time before DLC and microtransactions.
I recently had one of those moments myself. I was sitting playing on my PlayStation when my girlfriend (a severely lapsed gamer) asked if I had any games we could play together.
I scoffed. Surely of the literally hundreds of games I have connected to my PSN account, I must have a few split-screen PS4 games me and my GF could boot up.
It was surprisingly hard to think of any. Just a small handful of games.
It was then that I realized just how rare traditional split-screen, couch co-op games have become.
This bummed me out. Some of my best gaming memories, going back to my childhood, are of split-screen gaming.
First as a kid with my dad and insanely competitive older sister. Then after school with my equally geeky friends.
Then later on at drunken house parties and with my University dorm friends.
So, I decided to write this. An article that briefly explains why split-screen gaming is dying out before giving you a list of the top split-screen games PS4 you can play with your nearest and dearest or just about anyone for the fun of it.
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Why has split-screen gaming been dying out?
If you’re of a certain younger generation, split-screen gaming might seem terribly old-fashioned. Why would you put up with half a screen when there’s online multiplayer available?
There are arguably 3 main reasons that couch co-op gaming has largely gone the way of the dinosaurs.
Reasons Split-Screen is dying
Firstly, there are valid technical reasons. Back in the glory days of the PS1, PS2 and even PS3 most games didn’t exactly look great compared to most of today’s titles. When you are playing split-screen your console is having to render two instances of the same game.
Two loads of graphics, two loads of inputs and models, etc.
If you tried running two instances of the latest Battlefront on your PS4 it would burst into flames.
In short, it became too much hard work to package in a good-looking split-screen experience which wouldn’t enrage graphics snobs.
Secondly, there’s the rise of online multiplayer. As online multiplayer has become more popular, split-screen has become less so.
Why trek out to your friends’ house for a quick deathmatch when you can play him over the internet? Why just play against two or three friends when you can play against 30? Or 100?
Publishers have chosen to cater to this audience.
The rise of online multiplayer also leads to the third and final factor. Money. There is very little money to be made from split-screen multiplayer gaming.
You can’t sell battle passes to people playing in the same room. You also can’t sell weapon skins or character skins either.
None of the monetization methods developers have been honing for the last decade can be easily applied to couch co-op gaming.
This has led to many developers phasing out the split-screen components of their games.
They can use the technical difficulties as an excuse, but the truth is why would they encourage split-screen when there is so much more money to be made from online multiplayer.
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Best Split-Screen PS4 games
The Telltales Lego games are some of my favorites when it comes to split-screen PS4 games.
In all honesty, I could probably write this whole article on why the Lego games are awesome. They encapsulate so much of what I love about gaming and also so much of what gaming has lost.
There are around 20 Lego games currently out for the PS4, and they are all 2 player split-screen PS4 games.
The Lego games are based on popular franchises like Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Marvel, DC, and Star Wars and the fan service is incredible.
Each game is full of easter eggs and in-jokes that any fan of the respective franchises should get straight away. Some of these are surprisingly in-depth.
Whilst the games might feel like they are predominantly aimed at children this fan service means parents can play with their children and still have fun.
The effect is very similar to how Pixar films will often include more adult-orientated jokes for the parents forced to watch their movies.
Gameplay is simple and pretty much the same across the series. The player takes control of a character from their favorite franchise and runs around a world generated in Lego causing havoc.
Everything in the game is made of Lego and when smashed rewards the player with studs.
These studs can then be spent on unlocking more characters to play within free-play mode.
Whilst the first run through a level is often easy players are encouraged to replay levels with unlocked characters.
Characters have unique skills allowing them to solve puzzles other characters can’t.
Doing so will reveal hidden secrets and collectibles which in turn unlocks more characters/ vehicles/ cheats etc.
The games feature an instant drop-in, drop-out split-screen co-op. All you have to do is pick up a second controller, press start and away you go.
Working together to solve puzzles is a lot more fun than relying on the often-janky AI controller partners.
There is also an element of competition to see who can gather the most studs by the end of the level.
My personal favorite from the series is Lego Marvel Superheroes. Some of the earlier Lego games can be a little linear with very small hub worlds. This one features a huge New York hub world full of hundreds of secrets and puzzles. I’ve sunk a lot of hours into it.
But whatever franchise you love there is probably either a Lego game based on it or one coming.
The series is great for gamer parents who want to get their children into gaming in a safe way.
The series is also great for partners and friends. This is one of the few games where if I’m playing it my girlfriend can’t help but jump in.
I also have fond memories of booting it up at a friend’s house before a night out.
All of this makes these some of the best split-screen games on PS4.
2. It Takes Two– Best for Couples
Our next entry is one of the best PS4 split screen games for couples.
Whilst anyone can pick it up and the gameplay is simple enough for children to enjoy, the story is aimed squarely at adult couples.
It Takes Two is not just one of the best split-screen games for PS4 it is one of the best platformers on the console period.
I’ve been to several dinner parties recently where non-gamer couples have sparked up conversations about how much they’ve enjoyed playing this game together.
It’s been a refreshing change from being told to watch the Crown for the hundredth time.
To sum up the game story briefly Cody and May are a couple who are having marital problems. They get shrunk and must learn to work together again to survive and get back to safety.
As the story progresses it is simply a joy to watch these two likable characters find each other again.
Of course, a good story is nothing without good gameplay and It Takes Two has this in spades.
This is a platformer where you’ll be working with your partner to solve puzzles and get past environmental hazards.
This gameplay is changing and evolving constantly. One moment you might be flying a paper plane, the next the game is a hack and slash dungeon crawler.
This means the game never gets boring and should hold the attention of your partner even if they have a short attention span.
It Takes Two can be played with children but they’ll probably miss a lot of the story’s meaning which takes away some of the fun. I hope there are future sequels that target different kinds of relationships
It Takes Two proves that good 2 player PS4 games don’t just have to aim at kids. They can be real adult games with real, touching adult stories.
3. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled– Racing for everyone
So, we’ll be featuring more than one PS4 split-screen racing game, but this is my personal favorite
Why? Because at heart I’m a 90’s kid and this game is a heck of a nostalgia sucker punch.
We’ve all heard of Super Mario the Nintendo mascot, and we’ve all heard of Crash Bandicoot the former PlayStation mascot.
Back in the ’90s, their rivalry was fierce. Whatever Super Mario could do Sony sent Crash Bandicoot to do.
This led to the creation of CTR (Crash team racing), a direct competitor to the infamous Mario Kart. PlayStation fans will tell you CTR perfected the Mario Kart formula whilst Nintendo fans will call it a cheap knock-off.
CTR was awesome. It was a kart racer dripping with character. The story mode was a blast but the real fun lay in the split-screen racing.
I cannot tell you how many hours my sister and I spent racing each other.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a remaster/ remake of the original game. It features all of the original game’s tracks and characters faithfully remastered plus some new ones.
I’m not a fan of all the changes Activision has made. They somehow managed to shoehorn in microtransactions and a battle pass system into a twenty-year-old kart racer, for example.
However, these changes don’t affect split-screen racing which is just as excellent as it was in its’ heyday.
The gameplay is easy to pick up and the game’s drift to boost cornering is still as intuitive as it was twenty years ago.
Competency is easy to acquire here, but much like Mario Kart, the game is hard to master.
The great thing about CTR as a split-screen racer is anyone can pick it up and have fun thanks to its low bar to entry. Kids will love the characters and bright colors whilst adults will get an instant nostalgia trip.
Even my 65-year-old father loves it.
4. Borderlands: The Handsome Jack Collection– Crazy shooting for buddies
I know, I know. Another remaster of a past generation’s games.
Borderlands was one of the last big FPS franchises to wholeheartedly embrace split-screen co-op before technical issues meant it started to be phased out.
This is not a split-screen co-op PS4 game you’ll be playing with your kids that’s for sure.
The Handsome Jack collection includes Borderlands 1, 2, and Borderlands the Pre sequel along with all of each game’s DLC. There’s a lot to chew on here.
If you’re not familiar with the franchise then get ready. The games are hyper-violent, multiplayer-focused, FPS/ RPG looter shooter hybrids featuring awesome cell-shaded art.
Yes, that description is a bit of a mouthful!
You and a friend will be running around shooting and looting everything in sight.
The main gameplay hook is the constant loot drops which allow you and a friend to constantly upgrade your characters so that you can take on bigger threats.
Whilst technically playable single-player these are co-op shooters at heart.
The game’s difficulty scales best with two players and many character abilities are designed with synergy in mind.
Whilst the story in the first game felt like an afterthought, later entries in the series changed this and now the game’s story is a blast to follow. Even better, the writing is hilarious. Tiny Tina is a personal favorite.
They are also long games. So, if you and a friend do decide to embark on this journey together be warned you’ll need a few dozen hours of free time to spend together.
If you enjoy multiplayer shooters but aren’t a fan of twitch shooters like COD you should try out Borderlands.
5. Rocket League– Best for Sports Fans
What happens if you want to play with a friend or partner, but have differing gaming tastes?
For example, what if one of you enjoys racers but the other is soccer-mad?
Well, you play Rocket League!
Rocket League has gone from a small indie title to an absolute Esports powerhouse.
The premise is pretty simple. It’s soccer but with cars.
Anyone can jump in and play but the skill ceiling is high.
Matches are quick and fast-paced making the game incredibly addictive. You and your partner may only sit down for one quick game, but you’ll probably still be playing two hours later.
Even once you begin to tire of the main game the developers have added some cool extra modes of the years, like a basketball version.
These modes aren’t quite as fun but have their moments.
Rocket League is also a great party game. I’ve been to several house parties over the years where this has been running in the background, forming an unofficial tournament as people “take on the winner”.
6. Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition – Best for hardcore RPG fans
This is easily the most hardcore entry on the list and this suggestion comes with some caveats.
Firstly, you and your partner are going to need some serious time together. This is a 50+ plus hours game with a pretty in-depth story. So, know you’ll both be in it for the long haul.
It’s also a difficult and complex game with a lot of Dungeons and Dragons-inspired rules you’ll both need to get your heads around.
This is a top-down isometric RPG very similar in flavor to Baldur’s Gate.
Whilst you can play with an RPG newbie it’s not recommended. Explaining everything to them constantly can be exhausting and this is a game where every decision has consequences.
There is some fun in playing with a newbie and teaching them the ropes but games like this take patience and dedication.
You may find your partner finds it fun in the beginning but decides to duck out after the first few hours. Now, you’re stuck mid-campaign.
Find the right partner though and Divinity is one of the best local multiplayer PS4 games around.
It is insane amounts of fun role-playing with a friend and using your chosen character’s abilities in sync.
This game probably takes more teamwork than any other game out there.
7. Gran Turismo Sport– Best Racing Sim
This entry is a little bitter-sweet for a few reasons.
The sad fact is if you’re not into racing kart games there just aren’t that many PS4 racing games split-screen options out there.
I suppose this is because racing sims are notoriously obsessed with graphical fidelity. Modern consoles just aren’t powerful enough to run two instances at a time.
This means if you and a buddy want PS4 racing games for split-screen play that are also sims, your only real choice is Gran Turismo.
This is sad because whilst this is a fine racer the split-screen options here are pretty barebones. You and a buddy can race split-screen in arcade mode.
But only the two of you, there’s no AI competition.
That’s a lot more basic than what earlier games in the series offered.
But the actual racing itself is still great. The cars look great, and Gran Turismo is still one of the best racing sims out there so there is still fun to be had.
8. A Way Out– Best Story
Most PS4 co-op games split-screen tend to be either remaster or indie games that aren’t too graphically demanding.
There is very few co-ops only triple-A games out there.
Say hello to A Way Out. A triple-A, co-op-only, story-based game published by EA.
You and a friend will be playing as Leo and incent as they escape from jail.
The game revolves around teamwork as you both have to constantly help each other.
For example, in one nerve-racking scene, one player has to distract a guard whilst the other has to sneak past to search for a key item in a restricted area.
This is the best type of co-op game. You and your partner will bicker when one of you messes up and things go awry but you’ll also celebrate when things go just right.
Gameplay is also varied enough that you shouldn’t find yourself getting bored.
There are puzzles, stealth, and action scenes that all require different types of cooperation.
The story is surprisingly moving, and you’ll find yourselves wanting to see this one through to its conclusion.
There are even a few competitive mini-games sprinkled throughout to scratch that particular itch.
9. Call of Duty– Duh
Of course, no list of multiplayer games is complete without mentioning the big dog, Call of Duty.
Call of Duty 4- Remastered, WW2, and Black Ops Cold War are still some of the best local multiplayer PS4 games.
In each game, you and a friend can play against each other in a custom local deathmatch to see who has the best shooter skills.
These one-on-one matches can grow stale quickly. Luckily each game features a split-screen co-op PS4.
This is the infamous Zombies mode. In zombies, you and your partner see how long you can last against increasingly difficult hordes of zombies. Whilst not scary this makes COD one of the few split-screen horror games PS4 out there.
Hopefully, with this list, you can there are still PS4 split-screen games out there.
Not only that but there’s still actually quite a lot of choice. Yes many of them are either indies or remasters.
But they are great indies and remasters!
Furthermore, games like A way Out give me hope that big publishers haven’t turned their backs on this older style of game completely.
As a gamer, some of the most fun I’ve had has been sitting next to a loved one, thrashing them at COD, or being left in the dust in CTR.
If you’re passionate about gaming then pretty much all of these games are a great way to introduce spouses, friends, or even your kids to your favorite hobby.
Whether you like shooters, RPGs, racers, sports, or narrative-driven games there are plenty of fun split-screen games on PS4 for everyone.
What games on PS4 can you play split-screen?
Most are remasters of older games or indies but there are still plenty of choices.
Is PS4 Rust split-screen?
What split-screen games are free on PS4?
When a game is free they want you to spend money on microtransactions. People don’t spend money on microtransactions when playing free split-screen PS4 games.
Can you play GTA 5 split-screen on PS4?
If you want to play GTA 5 with friends you’ll be doing it online.
Is Wreckfest split screen?
Fans were annoyed upon release that the game doesn’t feature a split-screen. Even after many complaints, the developer is still saying they are not planning on creating this mode.