The best local co-op games 2020

They’re not all from 2020, but these couch co-op games are some of the best fun you can have with others during this cooped-up year.
  • Rocket League

    Best local co-op overall

    4.5 out of 5 overall
  • Gears of War 4

    Best local co-op Xbox

    4 out of 5 overall
  • Overcooked 2

    Best local co-op PS4

    4 out of 5 overall
  • Kingdom Battle

    Best local co-op switch

    4 out of 5 overall
Recent Updates: 1 month ago
Games guru Nathan Lawrence adds even more new categories to further help specific couch co-op tastes to the right games, including Moving Out and a couple of 4s (not indicative of a lack of quality): Streets of Rage 4 and Trine 4.
More than 6 months
This month, Reviews.org writer Nathan Lawrence has shared his latest co-op picks for two and four-player fun, including multiplayer classics like Helldivers and Call of Duty WW2, as well as newcomer Heave Ho.

What are the best local co-op games to play in 2020?

Local co-op games have never been more important than now. Just because you’re stuck in the same home with the same people, doesn’t mean you can’t be connecting in new ways. Local couch co-op is perfect for this.

So whether you’re packing a PC, entertaining with an Xbox One, switching on a Switch, or playing on a PlayStation 4, there’s something for every platform and every age in our list of best local co-op games.

And if you’re planning on upgrading to the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, the good news is that most (if not all) of the local co-op games below will be playable on your shiny new next-gen console.

Icons made by itim2101 from www.flaticon.com

Best local co-op multiplayer of all time

Rocket League

Rocket League is a bona fide video game phenomenon, having crossed the 50 million players mark late last year. It’s easy to understand why. Few concepts are as instantly appealing as “soccer, but with rocket-powered cars instead of people”. Real life version when?

Developer Psyonix was astute enough to realise how much fun groups of friends could have behind the wheel together, so Rocket League doubles down on couch co-op, accommodating up to four people playing together on the same team using the same screen.

In the mess of tyres screeching and airborne cars doing backflips to connect with the oversized ball, coordinating strategy with teammates is no easy task. If it goes wrong, the entire team will end up haplessly chasing the ball around like an under 10s footy team. But when it all goes according to plan, it’s a thing of beauty: few gaming moments are more satisfying than nailing a perfectly weighted cross into the back of the net.

Psyonix has kept Rocket League fresh with constant updates, adding new modes and iconic screen vehicles like K.I.T.T. from Night Rider, various Batmobiles, the DeLorean from Back to the Future, and even the Jeep from Jurassic Park.

Rocket League even achieved world peace. Well, kinda. It’s one of the only games that’s completely cross-platform friendly, meaning PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC players can all battle against each other, ensuring the community will thrive in the long-term.

Rocket League is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC via Amazon Australia.

Runner-up

Diablo III

Story takes a backseat to endless loot hunting and monster-slaying dungeon crawls in Diablo III, so playing with friends seems like a no brainer.

Fortunately, the console version of the game added couch co-op to the experience (still not available on PC, sorry).

The result is just as enthralling as you’d expect.

Diablo III is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC via Amazon Australia

Best local co-op multiplayer on Xbox One

Gears of War 4

Few modern shooters are as geared towards co-op as, er, Gears. Not only is the game’s lengthy campaign playable (and arguably better) in couch co-op, but the wave-based Horde 3.0 Mode is ready and waiting once you’re done with the story.

Set a generation after the original Gears of War trilogy, players take control of JD Fenix, son of original protagonist Marcus Fenix, and his squad of Outsiders. No longer sanctioned by COG, JD and his crew need to battle new robotic foes the DeeBees without the help of Sera’s mighty military-industrial complex. Fortunately, JD’s dad is a pretty useful guy to call on in a pinch…

The campaign is a whirlwind of pretty sights, intense firefights, and a fun but schlocky sci-fi B-movie story. Levels feature more branching paths and open combat bowls than ever before, giving co-op partners more tactical options than you can point a chainsaw-machinegun at.

From the standalone breakneck vehicle sections, the crunchy cover shooting, or the defend-the-fort Horde Mode, everything feels right in Gears of War 4. And it feels even… righter… in co-op.

Gears of War 4 is available for Xbox One via Amazon Australia

Runner-up

Cuphead

Although the beautiful 1940s Disney animation style grabbed all the headlines, Cuphead deserves kudos for its great co-op gameplay.

The tough-as-nails boss battles don’t really get any easier in co-op because they get buffed with more health, but hey, at least you have someone to share the pain with!

Cuphead is available digitally via the Microsoft Store. 

Best local co-op multiplayer on PS4

Overcooked 2

Want to work in a professional kitchen but don’t want to deal with the wage theft and grievous workplace HR violations? Overcooked 2 is hilarious, intense co-op action for up to four players, both locally or online.

Clear communication is essential as you work together to chop, cook, and serve up the onslaught of incoming food orders from increasingly irate customers. This is made more complicated by the random oven fires and platforming hazards that naturally occur when your kitchen just so happens to be situated on a white-water raft or a hot air balloon. (Ok, maybe the HR violations can’t be avoided?)

Overcooked 2 adds the ability to throw food to your co-op partner or even straight into the pot from a distance. This means if you’re accurate enough you can minimise walking time and maximise food production efficiency. It’s a nice touch that gives skilled players more options while also adding to the overall hectic vibe – nothing says “everything is under control” quite like a steak being hurled across a burning kitchen.

Few co-op games are as hilarious as Overcooked 2, which is always a hit among small gatherings.

Overcooked 2 is available for PlayStation 4 via Amazon Australia.

Runner-up

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It’s exceptionally strange that the only notable video game based on J.J. Abrams’ US$2 billion Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a Lego game.

Fortunately, the Star Wars purist’s loss is the co-op fan’s gain.

Lego games have always worked well with a couch buddy, especially for younger players, and this is no exception.

Loosely following the events of the film, and detouring into some bonus previously unseen canonical backstory (no, seriously), you’ll smash every brick on screen and encounter blocky renditions of all your Star Wars favourites.

Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens is available for PlayStation 4 via Amazon Australia

Best local co-op multiplayer on Switch

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a bizarre X-COM inspired concoction starring the Mushroom Kingdom’s finest characters and Ubisoft’s most annoying, is far better than it has any right to be. There’s a certain genius in its madness.

Although you can’t play the main story mode with friends, there are five extra campaigns that can be blasted through in couch co-op. Action plays out a lot like in single player, except instead of controlling the entire squad, each player takes charge of two characters.

The turn-based nature of combat means you’ll be waiting around to take control for a little while, but with games like this discussing the finer points of strategy is part of the charm. Many abilities become exponentially more powerful when they interact with others, so successfully teeing up match-winning chain reactions with a friend never stops being hilarious fun.

Few co-op games are as hilarious as Overcooked 2, which is always a hit among small gatherings.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is available on Nintendo Switch via Amazon Australia

Runner-up

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe lets up to four players get involved in Mario’s Goomba-stomping madness on the same screen. The results can be a little chaotic.

Keeping track of exactly which character is yours is sometimes tough, but what do a few accidental deaths matter when the payoff is this much silly fun? 

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is available for Nintendo Switch via Amazon Australia

Best local co-op multiplayer on PC

A Way Out

A Way Out is the rarest of breeds: a game that only works in co-op. The brainchild of developer Josef Fares, who previously dabbled with co-op in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, A Way Out incorporates multiplayer and storytelling in an innovative, unique fashion.

Unlike most co-op games, where breezy arcade fun is the primary goal, A Way Out is a narrative-driven experience. Players take control of either Vincent or Leo, two inmates that meet in jail and begin plotting their escape. After gathering the necessary materials for their plan they eventually break out, at which point the story switches to a good ol’ fashioned on the lam tale. And, as you know, these always have happy, not-at-all tragic endings…

Action largely takes the form of a series of cinematic minigames. None excel in and of themselves, but taken as a whole it’s a great way to make sure both players feel invested in the narrative outcomes. A Way Out is a reminder that even in the worst circumstances, trust, either earned or misplaced, is a powerful tool.

A Way Out is available digitally for PC via Origin

Runner-up

Trine 2

Few games are as charming as Trine 2, a gorgeous physics-based platformer that tasks a small fellowship with crossing a colourful, majestic landscape.

The three playable characters – a knight, a wizard, and a thief – each have unique abilities that are used in tandem to progress past foes and puzzles. 

Trine 2 is available digitally for PC via Steam

Best local two-player co-op

Call of Duty: WWII

Sure, there’ve been two CoDs since, but Call of Duty: WWII still has the best two-player split-screen co-op to date. While CoD may be renowned for its short-lived campaign and bombastic multiplayer, one of the somewhat-sung-but-not-sung-loud-enough parts is the co-op Zombies mode. Nazi Zombies, to be specific. With CoD: WWII, this went full circle. What started as a tacked-on co-op mode in the World War II-set Call of Duty: World at War has evolved into a full-fledged, insanely fun horde-based shooter that’s packed with puzzles and underlined with a strangely addictive B-grade story (in the very best kind of way). You can play it in two-player split-screen for the zombies, for the joy of cracking the puzzles, or to have it all. Either way, you’ll have a blast.

Call of Duty: WW2 is available for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One via Amazon Australia.

Runner-up

Nex Machina

Bullet-hell games tend to be best played solo because of the sheer amount of on-screen insanity. By adding more players, it becomes harder to track. Somehow, despite the abundance of visual overload, Nex Machina not only lets you track it playing solo, it works incredibly well in shared-screen two-player co-op. It also makes it easier to tackle the tricky projectile-filled combat puzzles with a buddy.

Nex Machina is available physically via Limited Run games on Amazon Australia.

Category pick and runner-up co-oped by Nathan Lawrence.

Best local 4-player co-op

Heave Ho

The simple things in life are often the best, and Heave Ho proves that’s also true of co-op mechanics. In Heave Ho, you play as a disembodied head albeit with arms flapping off either side of your noggin. In terms of controls, it’s a cinch. Grip or release your customisable avatar’s left and/or right hand and the movement of your left and/or right arm. The rest is up to physics and strategy. You could play Heave Ho alone, and while fun, it doesn’t hold a candle to the sheer hilarity of four-player same-screen co-op. Working together to physics platform your way through increasingly trickier levels as a team is as challenging as it is entertaining. It’s also equally hilarious to fling your friends into certain death, or deliberately not catch them when they swing for your dangling arm. Play it for the puzzles but love it for the side-splitting LOLs.

Heave Ho is available for PC and Mac via Steam and Nintendo Switch via the eShop.

Runner up

Helldivers

Even though there’s somehow another Starship Troopers game (based on the movie) in development, you really only need to play one. Helldivers. Sure, it’s not an officially licensed game, but it is clearly inspired by the sci-fi property and it also happens to be officially awesome. This is no cakewalk either, and while many hands make light works of serving a nice cup of “liber-tea” to increasingly threatening alien foes, friendly fire is permanently on, which means firefights are always intensely satisfying.

Helldivers is available for PlayStation 4 via Amazon Australia.

Category pick and runner-up co-oped by Nathan Lawrence.

Best local co-op multiplayer for kids

Moving Out

Competitive games can lead to temper tantrums for gamers of all ages (let alone young’uns), which is why kid-friendly couch co-op games are such a great gaming outlet. Take Moving Out, for instance. It takes the a few pages out of the delicious Overcooked recipe book and mixes in its own herbs and spices. More importantly, Moving Out is infinitely less stressful and yell-y than Overcooked.

As the name suggests, you play as a removalist, with local co-op allowing for up to four players to lug furniture at a time. If that reads like a gamified version of one of life’s least-fun activities, fret not. Toss items through windows. Sprint between moving traffic Frogger style. And slap ghosts that try to slow you down in a haunted mansion. Moving Out is easy to pick up and play, plus it gets bonus points for being fun for the whole family.

Also, if you’ve got Xbox Game Pass, you’ve already got access to Moving Out.

Moving Out is also available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One via Amazon Australia, and can also be purchased digitally on Steam

Runner-up

Minecraft Dungeons

Sure, people may throw shade at Minecraft Dungeons for being ‘babby’s first’ Diablo III but, honestly, how is that a bad thing? While it’s light on both mining and crafting, Minecraft Dungeons is an easy-to-play dungeon crawler for up to four players, which has straightforward RPG elements and frantic combat. If you’ve got Xbox Game Pass, you already have access to Minecraft Dungeons as part of your subscription.

Minecraft Dungeons is also available digitally on PlayStation 4,
Nintendo Switch, and on the Windows Storefor PC.

Category pick and runner-up co-oped by Nathan Lawrence.

Best local co-op multiplayer brawlers

Streets of Rage 4

In ye olde gaming days when arcades reigned supreme, brawlers were an incredibly popular genre of game, with fistfuls of quality examples like Double Dragon, Alien vs. Predator, Streets of Rage, and Final Fight. At long last, the dormant beat-’em-up genre is seeing a resurgence, and Streets of Rage 4 is a great mix of respecting old-school brawler gameplay albeit spray-painted with a contemporary sheen.

The gorgeous hand-drawn art style is a great complement to the rose-tinted glasses of older gamers who have fond memories of an iconic look that really doesn’t look too flash these days. What’s even better is the killer soundtrack, or purists can jump back to the original soundtrack. It’s worth grabbing four controllers and three buddies to get the most out of Streets of Rage 4 because it’s tough but oh so rewarding to put the hurt on the seemingly never-ending waves of punching bags ready to throw down. Nab it on Xbox One or PC with Xbox Game Pass.

Streets of Rage 4 is also available on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch via Amazon Australia, or digitally for PC on Steam.

Runner-up

Battletoads

As if Streets of Rage 4 didn’t prove the point of a brawler resurgence, the Battletoads reboot has finally landed after a long-gestating hop. Battletoads is rougher around the edges than Streets of Rage 4, but it’s got a killer art style, some great combos that you should mix up against different enemy types, and the Turbo Tunnel will still beat you more than you beat it… more so if you’re dodging stuff with three players.

Battletoads is digitally nabbable on Xbox Game Pass for Xbox One and PC, plus you can also grab it on Steam.

Category pick and runner-up co-oped by Nathan Lawrence.

Best local co-op multiplayer puzzle game

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince

You could easily replace Trine 4 with the original Trine: Enhanced Edition or Trine 2: Complete Story (which is also a runner-up above) here because it’s an amazing series. Wait, what about the obvious missing series entry Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power? For that one, developer Frozenbyte took the pitch-perfect 2.5D action-puzzle-platforming of the first two games and pushed it into a fully 3D world. That change had mixed results. Trine 4 corrects this misstep.

Play locally with up to three players in a shared-screen 2.5D experience that’s as enchanting as it is entertaining. You’ll quickly discover your favourite character of the returning trio. Built-for-battle Pontius the Knight. Nimble-archer Zoya the Thief. Or magical-platformer Amadeus the Wizard. You can play this solo, switching between the characters, but there’s more satisfaction to be found in dragging another player or two along for the puzzle-packed ride. The combat is also best-in-series and the skill trees offer compelling aspirational unlocks.

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince is available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch via Amazon Australia.

Runner-up

Death Squared

Supporting local Aussie developers is particularly important in the current climate, but it helps when the locally made game is fantastic. That’s exactly what Death Squared is. And it should be given it’s from the same developers behind Moving Out. Party up with up to four players on your couch for a tricky-but-satisfying co-op puzzler that’s easy to learn and explosive to master (you’ll blow up a lot). If you’ve got Xbox Game Pass, you can already play Death Squared.

Pick up Death Square digitally for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam, or even Android (for two players instead of four on the other platforms).

Category pick and runner-up co-oped by Nathan Lawrence.