Sometimes you just want to chill with the competition and play a game together. If you want to get some co-op action going on your Xbox One, we have the games for you.
While multiplayer games, in general, are as popular as ever these days, the majority of the are online multiplayer only. If you want to fire up your Xbox with a friend and co-op play right on the couch together, these titles offer the old school local play you crave.
This game has been out for a while, but between community-created levels, and the infinite fun of screaming at your uncooperative partner, Portal 2 is still engaging. In the co-op mode, you and one other player control two testing robots who must solve a series of puzzles to give GLaDOS that science fix she needs.
You can use in-game communication tools to point to objectives and direct your partner, or just sit on the couch screaming at each other. Technically, Portal 2 is an Xbox 360 game, but thanks to Microsoft’s backwards compatibility program, it’s available for Xbox One owners as well.
Portal 2 - Xbox 360
Portal 2 is fantastic on your own, but add a second player and you'll gain access to a new and totally unique co-op puzzle campaign.
Overcooked and Overcooked 2
If you’ve ever wanted to take on the exhilarating challenge of running a restaurant kitchen, you probably haven’t worked in a real one. Still, you might love Overcooked. In this game, you and up to three other friends all control an employee in a restaurant. You all work together to prepare ingredients, cook meals, plate food, and deliver it to the wait staff to send to the customer. Also you’re travelling through time to stop a terrifying hungry monster. Somehow it works. Just make sure to choose your most cooperative friends to play with for a smoothly running kitchen. The sequel, which adds new stages and cooking elements, is bundled with the game on consoles.
Overcooked! + Overcooked! 2
These cooking "simulators" quickly devolve into cooperative chaos.
In this 8-bit Indiana Jones style adventure, you and up to three other players can explore randomly-generated mines, fighting monsters, unlocking treasure, and working your way past traps. Because the levels are randomly generated, every time you play it’s a different experience. Up to four players can play up to nine unique characters, so everyone can roleplay the archaeology adventurer of their choice.
Don’t play this game if you’re easily frustrated by difficult games. We’ll get that out of the way right up front. Cuphead is an absolutely beautiful game, where all assets are hand-drawn in the style of an old-timey cartoon. Every frame of the game looks like it could be straight out of an animated short from the 40s.
Two players can team up to take down a series of bosses as the main character aims to repay a debt to the devil (cartoons were weird back in the day). Just beware, Cuphead is an especially merciless entry in the bullet hell genre. You and your partner will die over and over and over, but if you’re comfortable with that level of challenge, give it a shot.
Lovers In a Dangerous Spacetime
In this delightfully colorful game, you control a round spaceship as it makes its way through a series of side-scrolling levels, fighting enemies attacking from all angles. Like in Star Trek, it takes more than a single person to manage this ship. Up to four people can play this game and every extra pair of hands helps. Different stations on the ship control shields, weapons, or steering the ship itself. The game is a test of your team coordination as you try to stay afloat.
At this point, it’s hard to have gotten through life without hearing about Minecraft—that’s because it’s worth talking about. Players can join a shared world that can be taken apart and built in whatever image they desire. You can even play in local split-screen (you can find instructions to do so here) so you and other players can build together from the comfort of your couch.
Minecraft: Starter Collection – Xbox One
Minecraft is a modern classic, and the latest versions have excellent support for splitscreen co-op on consoles.
This 2D beat-em-up combines the classic side-scrolling setup of games like Double Dragon with modern fast-paced gameplay. Don’t let the cutesy graphics fool you: it’s hard as hell in the later levels, even when you team up with four local players. Though this game originally debuted on the Xbox 360 and PS3, it’s been upgraded with even better textures for the latest generation of consoles.
Don’t Starve Together
Mixing the open-world crafting of Minecraft with existential terror and top-down graphics, and you get Don’t Starve. The survival game was a surprise hit, so developer Klei released an upgraded version that lets you bring a friend into the unforgiving hand-drawn world. You’ll need patience and experimentation to make it through the first few nights, so don’t reach for this one if you’re playing with kids who get easily frustrated.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2
LEGO games always include some surprisingly good local co-op, and their scope has only improved as they’ve expanded into the massive superhero franchises. Marvel Super Heroes 2 includes a new open world with tons of time-travelling and universe-hopping elements, plus the familiar simple combat and puzzle-solving of the original. This is a good pick if you’re playing with kids.
LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 - Xbox One
The latest in LEGO's sprawling open world Marvel games is great for younger players, alone or in pairs.
A Way Out
This sleeper hit is basically a two-player version of Prison Break. Players must cooperate with one another, either locally or online, in order to find their way out of a 1970s prison. A Way Out is built from the ground up for cooperative play—there’s no single-player option. Though the game focuses on story and puzzles, it also has a surprising amount of mini-games to keep things fresh.
A Way Out - Xbox One
This prison escape game is built from the ground up for two players working together.
If you can’t get access to a 2D Mario game, Rayman is a great substitute. The revived version of Ubisoft’s oft-neglected mascot gets some incredible 2D animation and a vibrant, colorful world to explore. Rayman Legends is great as a single-player game, but a friend can hop in at any time and assist with enemies, in the style of Sonic and Tails.
Rayman Legends (Xbox One)
Rayman's latest platfoming adventure includes stunning 2D animation and seamless two-player co-op.
Team Sonic Racing
Most racing games have a winner-take-all approach, but Team Sonic Racing is all about, well, teamwork. The game shines when racers cooperate, sharing items and boosting each other as they compete with other teams, either controlled by the computer locally or in online multiplayer. It’s a fresh take on kart racing that manages to stay competitive while fostering cooperation.
Team Sonic Racing (Xbox One)
This team-based approach to kart racing is a great way to compete while working together.
Michael Crider contributed to this article.