What is local co-op?

14 February, 2020

There’s no doubt that cooperation, often shortened to co-op or coop, is a vital part of gaming. Yeah, single player is great too, but what’s better than some shared fun from time to time?

Giving players the possibility to play with friends or strangers, online co-op is something that most people are looking forward to when waiting for a new game.

But there’s more than online co-op. Something more ancient. 

What is local co op?

Local co op is basically a multiplayer mode… offline. Yes, there were times when some platforms couldn’t access the internet or arcade games were the only option. With local co op, people can play together on one computer or console, split screen or not. Local coop is often dubbed couch co-op, since it conveys the image of people sitting next to each other while playing.

Shared screen games of the past

Local co op with a shared screen goes back to arcade games of 1980’s. Co op was usually an option in coin-op games, allowing two players to compete or cooperate. Since consoles didn’t have access to the internet until the 2000’s, split screen was a great alternative for classic coop games.

GamesRadar calls Fire Truck (1978) the first two-player co-op game ever. It was an arcade game about driving a truck through traffic to go as far as possible. One player was steering the truck, while the other was controlling the rear wheels’ tiller. Coop games became more popular with time, especially in the 1990’s.

It’s now hard to determine which one of the first split screen console games was the most important, although many people point to GoldenEye 007 and Super Mario Kart. GoldenEye 007, an FPS released for Nintendo 64 in 1997, had a split-screen multiplayer mode for up to 4 players. Super Mario Kart, developed for Super Nintendo Entertainment System, was released in 1992 and allowed 2 players to play together.

Party co-op games of today

Is couch co-op dead? Multiplayer online is now getting more popular, leaving good, old couch co-op behind. Does this mean there’s nothing to choose from if you want to play local coop games? No! There’s quite a lot, actually. So, what multiplayer games should you play?

There’s Overcooked to play locally on one screen: if you don’t feel like cooking irl, why not do it virtually? Move or Die, an action-puzzle game, has mechanics that change every 20 seconds. And there are more similar, popular titles: Catastronauts, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine. 

If you prefer split screen, there’s Rocket League and Don’t Starve, there are Lego games and Brawl Stars, or such great titles as Divinity: Original Sin 2. And those are just examples.

But you probably already know those titles. So here’s something new!

What to play?

We’ve prepared some suggestions for you. Planning a party or just having your friends come over after school? Feeling like showing everybody who rules your couch? Want to have fun with a younger cousin or impress somebody with your abilities?

Check out these great games!

Tools Up! is an exciting local co-op game that tests your renovation and teamwork skills. Paint walls, tear off wallpaper, and move couches against the clock! Renovate like there’s no tomorrow with up to 3 friends on a keyboard and controllers… or just one keyboard! It’s also one of those games where you can play as an animal. You know, just because. 

Everything about Tools Up!, local co-op game for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch:

Get the Tools Up! now: Steam, PS4, XONE, Nintendo Switch

‘It came from space and ate our brains’ is a unique arcade top-down shooter. Looking for addicting gameplay, four-player co-op mode, and tons of aliens to send into oblivion? You’ve come to the right place!

Everything about ‘It came from space and ate our brains’, local co-op game for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch:

Get the ‘It came from space and ate our brains’ now: Steam, PS4, XONE, Nintendo Switch

Little Racer is a dynamic racing game straight from your childhood. Enjoy various tracks, avoid obstacles and speed your way to the finish line. Slot cars are back in retro style for 4 players! 

Everything about Little Racer, local co-op for Nintendo Switch:

Get Little Racer now: Nintendo Switch

Local co-op vs online multiplayer

While multiplayer online can be more convenient for a quick game, couch co-op has its own irreplaceable charm. You don’t even need a mike and headphones to enjoy local co-op, since you have other players next to you. You can laugh or yell together, poke or hug each other, point at this one thing that you’ve just noticed and want to share it. 

Maybe minimal requirements are too much for your PC, maybe your wifi has taken a day off—with local co-op these obstacles are irrelevant! And nobody will tell you to stop sitting in front of your PC or console and go spend some time with other people. You already are! System hacked!

Read more: