Remember the days when you could go to friends house and boot up the PS1, PS2, Gamecube etc. Plug in another controller and enjoy some couch co-op romps on games like Timesplitters, Champions: Return To Arms, Mario Kart, and Crash Bash. I mean I don’t, I haven’t got any friends but I’m sure you do and remember it fondly. Nowadays when a game has co-op it tends to be online co-op only. Which is such a shame because some games could really benefit from having what is now an underrated and overlooked feature.
I am cheating a tiny bit with this first entry as it isn’t even out yet but it’s out in early access form on the 25th of July which isn’t too far away. Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, described this game as “Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead”. An online co-op survival game with creative building which see’s players work together to explore and scavenge for resources to build up their fort during the day. While at night defending it from waves of enemies for 14 days, hence the name Fortnite. The game also has a class system with each class having different abilities. Your character’s skills can also be customized by upgrading and leveling up. This game just scream’s couch co-op but unfortunately, it’s not going to have it. It’ll be single player or online co-op which is odd because it’s clear that the game has been developed with co-op being the main feature. So why not have the split-screen feature as well to make sure that cooperative play is available at all times.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands
The Tom Clancy game which had it’s worldwide release back in March is indeed a fun game, as long as you play it cooperatively. The shooting and tactical play can be fun but it reeks of that old and tired Ubisoft formula. Have a map filled with very similar distraction all the through the game. Playing the game by yourself can end up being a chore. Amazingly it’s infinitely more fun when you and buddy team up to take down the drug cartel. I’m still not sure if its the game and it’s mechanics that make it more interesting in co-op or if it’s you and buddy doing ridiculous things, probably the latter. Which is why split-screen should have been essential, I’d rather team up with friends and go explore the beautiful Bolivian setting then couch co-op it up in FIFA or CoD. When I heard there would be an update with a new feature added I thought “good job guys” As I assumed (for some reason) that it would be Split-screen. However, it turn’s out that it’s going to be a competitive multiplayer mode…why?
It’s a similar story to Wildlands with Payday 2, it’s only really enjoyable in multiplayer, preferably in a group of 4 as players can do things that the AI can’t. I understand that 4 player split-screen might not be optimal but It would be better than playing on your own. Payday is about teamwork, communication and fat stacks of cash. A game where you complete multiple different heists with an emphasis on stealth for money (in-game) and experience bonuses. If you and your mates are good at the game then you can complete levels without even raising an alarm. If you’re like me and my even worse at games mates then that won’t happen but we probably laugh more. In the end, gaming is about having fun and that’s exactly what you’d get if you had 4 friends round your house with pizza’s, beverages and Payday 2. In the alternate reality where Payday released with local 4 player multiplayer.
This is a bit of sad one really and stupid now that I think about because every Halo game has online co-op, whether it’s campaign or firefight. Every Halo game also has local 2 player split-screen. So when 343 Industries got round to making Halo 5 when someone said “Keith, shall we put the 2 player split-screen in the game”. What Keith should have said was “Yes! you imbecile”, instead his answer was a disappointing “no”. This is the only Halo game to not have split-screen and Microsoft’s Phil Spencer’s explanation was less than ideal by him basically saying “People tend to play co-op game across Xbox live anyway”. Perhaps it’s all about nostalgia though and we need to move on to less primitive ways of enjoying things with our friends. Fans want what fans want however as, before the release of the game, Gamespot did a poll asking if the removal of split-screen was a problem, 70% of gamers said that it was.
You could substitute a few games for Dead Island here like, Dead Rising or Dying light. All are co-op games, none offer split-screen. The thing with the latter 2, however, is when you play online with a friend they play as the exact same character. So in Dead Rising 2, for example, the second player also plays as Chuck Greene. The reason Dead Island gets the spot here is that there are 4 separate characters to choose from. The game is designed as a co-op story, cooperative play is encouraged, yet they didn’t bother to put split-screen into the bloody thing. It’s a shame because the game is fantastic in co-op whether you have 2 players or 4. Exploring the island’s jungle and cities, doing quest’s and smashing zombie heads is a blast. Maybe if Dead Island 2 is still a thing they’ll have some sense and make sure split-screen is involved.
Hopefully, in the future more games will be split-screen, even gamers have wives.