If your Thanksgivings are anything like mine over the years, there’s a bit of dead time throughout the afternoon/evening where cousins, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters need to be kept occupied. As such, in my house that meant it was often time to bust out the video game consoles.
Time have changed, however. There are less and less local multiplayer games that don’t rely on passing a controller around the room. And you’ll be lucky if you even own 2-4 controllers in the first place, given how rare local multiplayer can be these days.
But great local multiplayer experiences do still exist this console generation, and I wanted to highlight eight games in particular that might work well for this circumstance. And if you have older consoles lying around, by all means, use those as well. But I’m sticking with current gen for this list.
I suppose I could also sub in Super Smash Bros. in this slot, but honestly, I find Mario Kart more accessible, and the Wii U’s version is one of my favorite variants of the series, and probably my overall favorite game for that system. It’s easy enough for anyone to pick up and play, and chances are if you have a Wii U, you have a gamepad and a Pro controller lying around at the very least.
Alright, well this one uh, might not be age-appropriate for everyone in your family, but you will be hard pressed to find a better couch co-op game than this, in my estimation. It’s one of the few local multiplayer games on this list that doesn’t rely on split-screen for local play, and it’s like an arcade dungeon crawler of old. There’s a reason this games has sold 30 million copies, and co-op is one of its best features by far.
It’s simple, it’s a blast, and it might be the perfect game to play with your family. Rocket League has taken the world by storm for good reason, and it makes for a pretty fantastic co-op game as well as challenging teams online. This is probably the best “pick up and play” games on this list due to its utter simplicity, and the ability to be played by all ages.
Minecraft may not be my cup of tea, but show your cousins how cool you are by letting them play co-op on the big screen when they’re normally used to playing the game on phones or iPads. Create future generations of console players and save the industry. I am not a Minecraft person so I’m not quite clear on what you do in co-op Minecraft, but I have it on good authority it’s fun.
Now we’re moving into nostalgia territory where you can play old games on a new system and have fun with local multiplayer that way. There are a ton of great local multiplayer games in the collection from Battletoads to Perfect Dark. The only shame is that Goldeneye 007 isn’t included in the list because of licensing issues.
I’m not quite sure about the current state of the servers for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, but with or without them, you can have some split-screen fun with the game. We are now living in a dark age where games like Halo 5 have cut out split-screen multiplayer altogether, so once again we have to travel back in time to make that happen. Halo MCC is a dose of nostalgia like no other, and the game is no longer in a constantly broken state like it was in the months after launch, so that helps as well.
If you want a co-op shooter that doesn’t rely on team deathmatch-like gameplay, than try on Borderlands for size. This one is sort of one you have to invest in for the long haul, as if you’re starting from scratch it will take you a decent amount of time to start getting really cool guns, but if you have an existing save file, hand your controllers to your family and watch them go nuts on some AI enemies.
8. All the Sports Games (Wii U, Xbox One, PS4)
There’s a reason that Madden/FIFA/NBA/NHL/MLB games continue to be hugely popular year after year. Yes, it’s because many people just like sports, but it’s also because these are the only games these days where you can have a friend over for local multiplayer guaranteed, as that’s inherent to the entire experience. Your exact game of choice in this category will be up to you, and I’m no expert in this field, but these games are great bets for any family gathering, as they have been for 25+ years at this point.
I know there are more out there I’ve missed, but this is the list I’m going with for now. Give you own suggestions in the comments, and Happy Thanksgiving!
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