Baldur’s Gate 3 Will Hopefully Kickstart a New Era of Split-screen Gaming

Highlights Split-screen multiplayer used to be a popular feature in games, but recent years have seen it decline in favor of online multiplayer. Larian Studios has brought back split-screen multiplayer with Baldur’s Gate 3, adding a co-op experience to the single-player RPG. The inclusion of split-screen multiplayer in Baldur’s Gate 3 highlights the importance of couch co-op and may inspire other studios to follow suit.

Split-screen gaming used to be all the rage in the gaming industry, but recent years have seen the studios move away from the concept in favor of live-service games instead. This has limited the appeal of consoles as split-screen gaming used to be a core part of the business. While some games like Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO games still focus on that type of multiplayer, most games have shed the mechanic altogether. However, it seems like Larian Studios aims to change that with Baldur’s Gate 3.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is primarily a single-player RPG, but Larian also added a slew of co-op features to make the game feel like an actual Dungeons and Dragons experience. Not only can players play the game online with three other friends, but they can also experience this fantasy world via split-screen multiplayer. No matter what device they choose to play the game on, players can experience everything it has to offer together on the same screen. This is a fantastic addition to the formula, and hopefully it leads to a resurgence in split-screen multiplayer.

Baldur’s Gate 3 Has Brought Split-screen Multiplayer Back Baldur's Gate 3 Bard

Split-screen multiplayer used to be a major selling point of video game consoles. Games like Mario Party, Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, Call of Duty, and Halo were all built around the concept of playing together with friends from the comfort of the couch. While some of these franchises dabbled in online multiplayer, the focus was primarily on couch co-op. This was the way of things for years, but then something seemed to drastically change with the rise of services like Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus.

Once video game companies realized they could put their games online, there was no turning back. So many franchises started to focus on the online space and studios spent their resources building exciting multiplayer experiences instead. While some franchises kept their split-screen multiplayer, other series began shedding it or never included it to begin with. The entire concept of couch co-op seemed to die off within the AAA space, and only a select few modern games would include it. Even franchises like Halo ended up removing split-screen completely, and that proved very controversial with the fanbase.

Nintendo games, Call of Duty, fighting games, and Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO games are some of the only AAA titles still including split-screen multiplayer. Other franchises and studios have been spending their resources on live-service games instead. The console market sold itself on the idea that players could play together on one device on the TV. Nowadays, that entire concept seems to have fallen by the wayside, but Larian Studios may be able to bring it back.

Larian Studios chose to include split-screen multiplayer in Baldur’s Gate 3, and that helped create a fantastic adventure. RPGs are not often known for multiplayer, but Larian was able to craft an experience unlike any other. It helped make Baldur’s Gate 3 one of the best RPGs ever created and has given players a true Dungeons and Dragons experience. It can be a lot of fun with the right people, and other studios may potentially want to emulate it.

While Baldur’s Gate 3’s split-screen multiplayer is not the main selling point, it has helped show that the concept is not dead yet. There are countless hours of RPG fun to be had here, and it can all be experienced from the comfort of the couch. Its inclusion feels like a blast from the past and goes a long way in showing why more games need to include it. The industry needs to focus its attention on couch co-op again, and hopefully Baldur’s Gate 3 can help kickstart that.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is available now on PC, with a PS5 release on September 6 and an Xbox launch to follow.

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