Couch Co-Op: The Ultimate Friendship Test


When was the last time you played a couch co-op game with your friends? If you’re like me, someone who stopped buying consoles ages ago, it’s probably been a while. You might have even noticed the slow decline of split-screen titles. Couch co-op was my childhood, though, and an experience I’ve missed. From GoldenEye 007 to Super Smash Bros., or even Halo, these games bring me back to a time when gaming meant gathering at a friend’s house and also eating all their food. Now that we’re adults, it’s much harder to plan meetups, especially when some of us aren’t in the same city or state anymore. Playing games online and chatting over VOIP is probably the best we’re going to get, but when the stars finally align, you’d better make it count.

To help you get the most out of your couch co-op experience and rediscover the lost art of trash-talking face-to-face, here’s a quick guide and a few games for your journey. Please note that this is for users who are playing on a Windows PC with Steam.


  • Obviously, you’ll need either a desktop or a laptop with Steam installed. Desktops are ideal if you’re all meeting at a friend’s place, mostly because it’s already there, whereas a laptop is much better suited for group getaways at an Airbnb, for example.
  • Next, you’ll need a TV—a large one. You could probably make do with just your laptop’s display if you’re playing with fewer people, or require a buttery-smooth 144 Hz refresh rate like that on the Acer Helios 300 for action/fighting games.
  • Don’t forget an HDMI cable. Seriously. Don’t.
  • Without enough controllers, your friends will have to sit around twiddling their thumbs waiting their turn. Instead, ask those who have Xbox controllers to bring them, or maybe get an extra one when it’s on sale. (PlayStation 4 controllers are compatible with Windows PCs, as well, but require some extra steps. We’re sticking with Xbox ones to keep things simple.)
  • Most couch co-op games won’t require an Internet connection, but some do. Having Wi-Fi nearby can’t hurt.

Connecting the Controllers

  • Option 1: USB
    • If nostalgia is what you’re looking for, you can connect up to eight Xbox controllers to your system via USB. Bear in mind that laptops have a limited number of ports.
  • Option 2: Xbox Wireless
    • Whether your system has Xbox Wireless built-in, or you’re using an Xbox Wireless Adapter, this option is probably your best bet. It also supports up to eight controllers.
  • Option 3: Bluetooth
    • Similar to Option 2, users can pair controllers via Bluetooth. The quantity, however, depends on your Bluetooth adapter. Microsoft recommends connecting only one controller at a time using Bluetooth, so your mileage may vary.


  • Overcooked 1 & 2
    • Assemble dishes with the correct ingredients and serve them to customers. This restaurant sim requires an exorbitant amount of patience and teamwork to get a kitchen running efficiently. Things get a bit hectic with a full staff of four players.
  • The Jackbox Party Packs
    • Each pack offers different party games, most of which you play by using your phones. Since everyone has a phone, Jackbox is one of the most easily accessible party games. For extra fun, add a punishment for losers.
  • Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
    • Have you ever wanted to experience the anxiety of defusing a bomb? Me neither, but now you can. Instead of years of rigorous training, your friend has the manual and you have the bomb. How well can you communicate?
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2
    • A classic RPG experience with up to four players. Be an elf. Be a lizard. Do things. Travel the world. Heck, make a world! Probably a good pick for Dungeons and Dragons fans.
  • Tabletop Simulator
    • You can spend a bunch of money on board games and end up losing pieces. Tabletop Simulator is virtual and just like in real life, you can flip the table if you’re losing. Play classic games, create your own, setup complete RPG dungeons, and much more.

These were just a few, but there are plenty of other great games out there for you. Even if online games and VOIP are the only options left, don’t falter. The days of using TeamViewer with your friends may be gone, but there’s a new option now, called Parsec. This service lets you play games with your friends wherever they may live and, even if the game doesn’t have online multiplayer and you’re feeling lonely, you can head into Party Finder to meet new friends, especially after you lose a few along the way.

What was your most memorable couch co-op experience? Did you tape a sheet to the TV to create a mini fort, so your friend couldn’t screen look? Unplug their controller? Tell them their parents were calling for them mid-game? Let us know in the Comments section, below.