The best Xbox games for a local holiday party

Tom West - December 25th 2021

Sure, playing games online with your friends and family is fun and all, but nothing captures the essence of camaraderie quite like sitting next to each other on the sofa. With huge screen sizes now sitting at affordable prices, a vast array of games supporting the feature, and many of the greatest titles readily available with an Xbox Game Pass subscription, now really is the best time to experience games this way. We've concocted a mix of great local multiplayer experiences right here, which includes 3D adventures, extreme sporting activities, brutal combat, and everything in between. Grab a friend, your grandma, or your friend's grandma, because there is a little bit of something for everyone here...

Minecraft Dungeons

We're going to kick off this list with one of the biggest franchises available on almost every platform, and certainly the biggest under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella — well, the extremely popular spin-off at least, Minecraft Dungeons. While the game sits with a 3.8/5 user rating here on TA, we gave it a solid 8/10 in our official review, calling it "a superb and surprisingly challenging dungeon crawler." It offers both online and split-screen play, taking you on a classic dungeon-crawling adventure to take down the evil Arch-Illager. Minecraft Dungeons' whole existence is aimed at killing mobs and gaining loot, while you traverse various biomes alone or with some friends. The latter is always more fun.
Minecraft Dungeons

Fight your way through an all-new action-adventure game, inspired by classic dungeon crawlers and set in the Minecraft universe! Up to four friends can play together, or you can brave the dungeons alone. Battle new-and-nasty mobs across action-packed, treasure-stuffed, wildly varied levels, all in an epic quest to defeat the evil Arch-Illager!

It Takes Two

It Takes Two was recently crowned Game of the Year at The Game Awards, so it kinda had to make an appearance on this list — luckily, it's a pretty darn good game and would have made the cut either way. You fine folk of the TA community have given it a 4.6/5 rating, so it seems you'd agree with the game's ability to be an entertaining romp. You and your friend (grandma) of choice will fill the shoes of Cody and May, a couple who're experiencing marital problems and have found themselves in the unlikely position of being turned into dolls through a magical spell. You'll need to work together to escape the fantasy world and fix your broken relationship.
It Takes Two

It Takes Two uses Smart Delivery technology - buy the game once and play it on either Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S.

Embark on the craziest journey of your life in It Takes Two, a genre-bending co-op adventure. Invite a friend to join for free with Friend’s Pass* across an abundance of gleefully disruptive gameplay challenges with a heartfelt story

Rock Band 3

Replace this with whatever your group's preferred band game of choice is, depending on what kit you have and what track lists you like — the specific game isn't the important part here. That would be the act of getting a full pretend band on the go in your own home, with friends and family members belting out vocals, going full Animal behind the kit, and nailing guitar solos from on top of a fridge in perfect harmony. Rock Band is one of the all-time great local co-op experiences, and there's nothing quite like that buzz of a finely-tuned group all following the drummer's lead with that slick fill into the chorus by popping Overdrive at the same time to max out the multiplayer and send your score rocketing. At the other end of the spectrum, though, put a bunch of non-gamers behind those lovely plastic instruments, stick it on No Fail mode, and just watch them have a great time being terrible — something that is oh-so-rare in gaming. If you've got the kit, bust it out. You'll never have a bad time.
Rock Band 3

(Online Interactions and Music Downloads Not Rated by the ESRB). The Games on Demand version supports English, French, Italian, German, Spanish. PLEASE NOTE: At least one Rock Band™ 3 compatible peripheral (USB microphone, guitar, keyboard, or drums) is required to play the game. Live out your rock 'n' roll fantasy with the most cutting-edge music game ever!

Crawl

This is a bit of an odd one, but hear us out because if your group goes for this, it ain't getting switched off until someone passes out. Crawl is an asymmetric multiplayer game that opens with a dispute between heroes. A sort of lethal dispute. Whoever is left standing at the end of the scrap begins the game as your classic action-RPG hero, swinging swords and dodging danger as they level up by taking on the deadly denizens of the dungeons. Here's the twist, though — said denizens are all controlled by the hero's wronged allies. As phantoms, everyone else gets to possess the traps and monsters that lurk in the dark, looking to exact revenge. Fell the hero and you become the hero, meaning it's your turn to try and gear up to outlast your friends and eventually reach one of the massive bosses, slaying which is your ticket to victory. One more twist, though... everyone else gets to team up and control the boss together, coordinating slamming fists, laser beams, toxic sprays and more to try and stop the hero in their tracks. With progression between rounds letting everyone enhance and upgrade their monstrous potential, this is a fast-paced blend of skill and pack tactics that will likely draw you and yours in for that famous 'just one more game.'
Crawl

Crawl is the dungeon crawler where you control the monsters! As a malicious spirit, you haunt a hero as he explores the dungeons, possessing cruel traps and horrid beasts in an effort to slay him. Succeed and you re-gain your mortal form... now you are the hero, and now it's your turn to Crawl! Bring some friends to add local-multiplayer mayhem to the mix as you race to gain enough XP and loot to face them all, as they possess the limbs of the hulking final boss!

Overcooked 2

We called Overcooked 2 a "Michelin star game" in our official review, and gave it a rock (cake) solid 9/10 score. It's a sentiment shared by many players, apparently, due to it holding a 4.2-star rating here on TA. Offering both couch co-op and online play, Overcooked 2 has you travelling to the Onion Kingdom for some frantic cooking fun, so good that it'll make your eyes water. Saving the world from The Unbread is great fun, and is a perfect game for some family time with players of all ages. As a bonus, you can play it as part of an Xbox Game Pass subscription, right now.
Overcooked! 2

Overcooked returns with a brand-new helping of chaotic cooking action! Journey back to the Onion Kingdom and assemble your team of chefs in classic couch co-op or online play for up to four players. Hold onto your aprons … it’s time to save the world (again!)

Towerfall Ascension

Towerfall is just so damn good! In essence, this is a 2D archery platformer in which you have to kill foes on a one-screen arena. Shooting an arrow is as simple as aiming and pressing a button, but the real complexity is in how you dash around the stage and use special arrows to your advantage. It is hands-down the best combination of co-op and competitive play on this list, perfect for a diverse session of local co-op. Two players can take on the main campaign, in which you defeat a variety of enemies in increasingly difficult stages in a series of rounds. Then you have a four-player co-op that presents bigger bosses, more enemies, and a revive mechanic. Then, at the heart of the whole Towerfall experience, you have up to four-player competitive games. You shoot arrows at one another until one player is left standing, or one of you has more kills than the rest. It gets very competitive, very quickly, thanks to the easy pick-up-and-play controls with the depth to keep it viable for years. Seriously, we love Towerfall!
TowerFall Ascension

TowerFall Ascension is the definitive version of the hit archery combat game. Inspired by classics from the golden age of couch multiplayer, it's a 4-player local party game centering around hilarious, intense versus matches. The core mechanics are simple and accessible, but hard to master and combat is fierce.

LEGO Jurassic World

Let's be honest, we could have put almost any of the Lego games in this spot, but who doesn't like dinosaurs? Well, aside from the people in the movies being eaten by said dinosaurs, of course. Lego Jurassic World is the blocky reimagining of the titular movie, as well as the original trilogy, and it's a blast from start to finish. We had a great time when reviewing the game, giving it a hard-hitting 8/10 and noting that the "nostalgic quality means that both Lego fans and film fans will be able to enjoy the game." But don't just listen to us, because the TA community has given it a 4/5 rating as well. Mixing the humorous gameplay of the Lego series and the awesome structure of the movies, Lego Jurassic World gives you plenty to play through, bolstered by the fact that it has drop-in, drop-out local co-op. Not into dinos? Don't tell Heidi, for one thing, but you can always swap this out for pretty much any Lego game based on an IP you do like and have just as good a time.
LEGO® Jurassic World™

Following the epic storylines of Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, as well as the highly anticipated Jurassic World, LEGO Jurassic World™ is the first videogame where players will be able to relive and experience all four Jurassic films.

Battletoads

Hand-drawn, ridiculous brawling action, and plenty of humorous lines all feature in this fresh take on classic scrolling fighter, Battletoads. The gameplay is absolutely all over the place (in a good way), but if you enjoyed the original games then this new entry will be sure to make you croak with excitement. It holds a solid 3.6/5-star community rating here on TA, and we gave it an 8/10 in our official review. While it was noted that the game's main setback is the fact that online play isn't supported, the three-player couch co-op makes it a perfect addition to this list. Swings and roundabouts, and all that. If you're looking for fast-paced frantic action sequences, a classic gameplay experience, and a game to give you and some friends a few chuckles, then Battletoads might be just what you need.
Battletoads

The wait is over! Rash, Zitz and Pimple are returning at last to smash-hit their way through an all-new action-packed adventure of choreographed chaos, and couch co-op may never be the same again.

1-3 players will take control of the Battletoads and team up to storm through wild and unpredictable stages with only one rule – expect the unexpected. Teamwork makes the dream work in a drop-in, drop-out gameplay blast, filled with over-the-top gameplay moments that anyone can enjoy, but only a True ‘Toad’ can master.

Mortal Kombat 11

What's a good list without something that mixes it all up a little bit? Everything above is mostly family-friendly, but if you've had quite enough of being shown up in the kitchen, robbed of loot, or playing with a family member that's not pulling their weight in a co-op game, may we suggest that you sit down for some Mortal Kombat 11 and rip out their spine? The TA community has given the game a solid 4.4/5 rating, and we offered up a respectable 7/10 score in our official review. It's Mortal Kombat, so expect plenty of blood, brutal fatalities, an absurdly fun story, and the return of the series' fabled towers. FIGHT!
Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat is back and better than ever in the next evolution of the iconic franchise.

There are, of course, many, many more local multiplayer games available on Xbox. If your favourite isn't mentioned here, you can head to the game's page to rate it, write a review about it, or tell us about it in the comments section below! We'd certainly love to hear your thoughts, and enjoy your multiplayer mayhem!