A semi-regular couch co-op club of ours has recently led us to much furious Googling and research as we looked for the best games to play with friends (specifically four friends in our case). There's plenty out there for duets, but when it comes to larger parties it can be quite tricky to find suitable titles.
Well, after lots of searching and subsequent playing, we've managed to identify some of the most enjoyable local multiplayer games out there, and to save you trawling through the internet in order to find them, we've collected the best for you here. So, grab a friend (or two) and a controller (or four) and get downloading, because these are the best games you can play with a friend from the comfort of your own couch.
Mario Kart 8
Is there a feeling more exquisite than taking out your nearest opponent with a well aimed shell, or sending a hot-in-pursuit adversary spinning into oblivion via an expertly placed banana skin? Probably not. The series has always had a rich pedigree, but Mario Kart 8 is pound-for-pound the best entry for many, many years. There's plenty for players to get their teeth stuck into, whether it's multiplayer racing or asymmetrical take-it-in-turns time trials. At the end of the day it's the huge personality of the game, coupled with excellently weighted controls and masterful design, that makes this one of the finest racing games on any console, ever. While the online side perhaps edges it as the smoother experience, the hoots of laughter from local play will distract all but the most critical players from the slight drop in framerate. Stellar stuff from Nintendo.
The best Lego game on Wii U - the exclusive Lego City Undercover - is solo only, but that doesn't mean that there isn't plenty of other options for someone looking for some healthy, family-friendly co-op fun. Whether you prefer your blocks with a fantasy edge (Lego The Hobbit) or the recent movie tie-in, or even if you're more of the Marvel or DC persuasion, TT Games has got you covered. All of these offer two-player co-op, and on top of that you know exactly what you're going to get; decent quality, a dash of humour, some very gentle puzzles, enjoyable platforming, and loads of referential nods. It doesn't matter which entry you go for at the end of the day, you can rest assured that the quality will be solid. On top of an already sturdy line-up, we're now looking forward to Lego Jurassic World later this year.
New Super Mario Bros. U
You can include the additional content found in the New Super Luigi U campaign to this entry too. This is 2D platforming perfection - well, almost - and it's a great game to enjoy with a friend, as much as it is fun to play on your lonesome. While the design might be starting to tire just a little bit, fans of the red plumber will still find much to appreciate in this generation's offering. There's five-player co-op for one, with four players taking control of on-screen characters, and the fifth player interacting with the world via the Wii U's gamepad. Perhaps not the best co-op on the Wii U, but a solid offering nevertheless. Mario proves as reliable as ever.
There's a few similarities between multiplayer on Rayman Legends and New Super Mario Bros. U, and it's probably not unfair to call these two franchises out as the current best within the platforming genre. In the Wii U version of Ubisoft's game you can also take control of five characters, with the player holding the gamepad assuming the role of Murfy, and using the touch-screen to help out the rest of the team. There's also the Kung Foot mode, which is a break from traditional platforming and offers something more akin to football, and up to four players can participate. Rayman Legends is top quality stuff, and well worth picking up for the console (if you haven't already).
Disney Infinity or Skylanders
It really does depend on which way you want to jump. Both games share similarities, most notable among them is the figurines that accompany both. This makes collecting either of the franchises an expensive proposition for any parent. There's fun to be had with both title's two-player local co-op for sure, however the first decision you have to make is whether you go with Activision's Skylanders franchise, which first popularised the genre, or Disney's Infinity, which recently released a second iteration starring some of their Marvel characters. Both games are decent enough, and while Skylanders might edge it in some respects, the lure of Disney's various IP should be enough to keep them in the game.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Probably the best local multiplayer experience on the platform, and what a game. Super Smash Bros. has it all; intense battles, crazy game modes, and much more besides. If you've got the controllers you can even partake in some insane eight-player matches (to help facilitate this Nintendo made sure plenty of different options are compatible). Even if you've not got the controllers or the space, you can still have a great time with a smaller number of combatants. There's a decent selection of modes to keep things interesting, and the roster is over-flowing with classic Nintendo characters, so even the most casual of gamers will be able to pick out someone that they know, with characters plucked from from a whole range of classic franchises.
Super Mario 3D World
Another Mario platformer, and another chance to bust out some four-player co-op on the platform. Mario and Luigi are joined by Princess Peach and Toad, and each has their own specialism that changes the in-game dynamic. Throw in a few quirky levels that have players taking on new challenges in interesting new ways, and take into account the explorable 3D world map and the game-changing abilities of things like the catsuit, and you've got another solid Mario title to keep the whole family entertained for many, many hours.
Nintendo does party games better than anyone else, and both Wii Party U and Nintendo Land offer some entertaining local multiplayer opportunities. Trine 2 gives three players the chance to platform and puzzle solve in this unique fantasy adventure. Platinum Games' The Wonderful 101 competitive co-op mode is basically digital chaos. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is not the best of games, but the synergy between the main characters makes this an interesting option for players looking for a co-op experience.
Something we missed? Add it in via the comments section below. The more the merrier!
Loading next content