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The state of split-screen gaming, fall 2016

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Ready player two?

You remember playing games with friends on the same couch, right? Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64. Modern Warfare on the Xbox 360. While today’s online multiplayer experience is better than ever — with thrilling battles, complex raids, and cooperative missions — playing with friends in the same room is rarely an option.

Playing with friends in the same room is rarely an optionAs the hardware we game on begins to approach the computational equivalent of a small supercomputer, the industry as a whole seems to have decided to direct that power wholly toward improving single-player and online gaming experiences, with fewer resources and computational power directed at local play.

But all isn’t lost. While there aren’t any major multiplayer games scheduled for the Wii U this fall, Nintendo’s console still remains one of the best choices for local multiplayer, with a glut of great cooperative and competitive local gaming titles, including Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Mario Kart 8, Mario Party 10, Hyrule Warriors, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and more. Plus, prices for the aging console will dip as it’s replaced by the upcoming Nintendo NX.

While the more high-profile consoles have largely gone online only for most of their major titles, there are still a few games coming out this fall that embrace (to varying levels) the local multiplayer spirit. Of particular note is the recently released Gears of War 4, which joins last year’s Star Wars: Battlefront as one of the few AAA games to include split-screen cooperative play across all of its game types.

What follows is our recommendations for those who want to keep the local game spirit alive in 2016 and beyond.

Madden 17

Release Date: August 23rd, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 4

Like its recent predecessors, Madden 17 features four-player local play. Just remember, it’s still cheating to look at what play your roommate is calling. (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Don’t Starve Together

Release Date: September 13th, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 2

Don’t Starve is an indie survival game. Don’t Starve Together is a recent expansion that allows you and a friend to try to not starve together. It’s actually been out on PC for a while, but came to consoles with the PlayStation 4 release in the beginning of September. (PC, PlayStation 4)

NHL 17

Release Date: September 13th, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 4

Ice hockey fans can still play together in the latest installment of the EA Sports NHL games. (PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

NBA 2K17

Release Date: September 20th, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 4

The latest calendar update of the NBA 2K series also continues to support couch co-op (along with legacy consoles), which is nice. (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC)

FIFA 17

Release Date: September 27th, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 4

Another sports game makes the list! FIFA 17 continues the trend by allowing up to four players to play soccer together without having to actually go outside and play soccer together. (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC)

Gears of War 4

Gears of War 4

Release Date: October 11th, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 2

Microsoft has what might be the biggest co-op game of the fall, with Gears of War 4 offering a full, split-screen experience for up to two players throughout all the games modes, including the campaign, online multiplayer, and cooperative Horde 3.0 mode. (Gears of War and Gears of War 2 both featured only two-player split screen, the more recent Gears of War 3 and prequel Gears of War: Judgement expanded that number up to a four, but I’ll take what I can get at this point.) (Xbox One, PC)

Skylanders: Imaginators

Release Date: October 13th, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 2

Imaginators is not a word. That point aside, Skylanders: Imaginators will offer local multiplayer for the latest installment of the puzzle / platformer. Despite being largely built around the core Skylanders toys-to-life concept, Imaginators adds the option for players to create their own characters for the first time. Oh, and Crash Bandicoot is back in this one. So dibs on Crash. (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U)

Lego Harry Potter Collection

Release Date: October 18th, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 2

Traveller’s Tales’s Lego games have always been reliable at supporting local co-op, and this remastered collection of the two earlier LEGO Harry Potter games is not exception. It’s strangely only releasing on PlayStation 4, instead of the usual spectrum of platforms the Lego games are known for. (PlayStation 4)

CoD-IW-space-combat

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Release Date: November 4th, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 2

Unlike last year’s Black Ops III, which went out of it’s way to feature local multiplayer, Infinite Warfare is cutting the split-screen campaign option. But two players will still be able to join up together on one device for the Zombies mode. (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered

Release Date: November 4th, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 4

This one just technically makes the list by virtue of being a remastered version of a game from 2007 back when local multiplayer was still something people cared about. That said, it also stands out as the lone supporter from this year’s releases for full, four-player split-screen. (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)

Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers

Release Date: November 8th, 2016

Simultaneous local players: 4

An extremely generic-looking, side-scrolling action brawler, but with Cartoon Network characters. Play as Steven from Steven Universe, Jake and Finn from Adventure Time, and, uh, some other characters from shows that aren’t Steven Universe or Adventure Time, with up to three other friends. (PlayStation 4)