Portal 2 update adds split-screen multiplayer

Valve seems intent on making PC gaming a better fit for the living room. Steam’s Big Picture mode is part of that effort, and the super-sized UI works very well from across the room… until you need to install one of those DirectX runtimes before playing a new game. The installer tends to pop up an old-school Steam window, interrupting the Big Picture experience. Games that offer official Big Picture support appear to address that issue, and Portal 2 is now among them. The latest Portal 2 update adds Big Picture support in addition to a complementary treat: split-screen multiplayer.

Screen-sharing multiplayer modes are common in console games but rarely seen on the PC side. Of the games I’ve played recently, only Serious Sam: BFE has accommodated two players on the same screen. There appears to be a way to hack split-screen functionality for Borderlands 2, but limitations are attached and additional software is required.

Those three games are very different, but they all feature cooperative multiplayer modes that are especially well-suited to screen sharing. Adversarial deathmatches are less ideal, since you can easily glance at your opponent’s portion of the screen. Split-screen combative play can still be a lot of fun, though; just look at the four-way GoldenEye 007 multiplayer on the Nintendo 64.

Split-screen gaming isn’t perfect, of course. Your window on the world becomes smaller, and it usually feels too narrow or too wide depending on whether the screen is split vertically or horizontally. Still, allowing multiplayer players to share the same screen—and the same system—is an important feature if PCs are to challenge consoles in the living room. I’d rather multiple players bring their own PCs for a proper LAN party, but that’s not always convenient. Thanks to Joystiq for the tip.

Comments closed
    • C-A_99
    • 7 years ago

    It is funny how a feature associated with consoles would work much, much better on PC’s.
    – More powerful CPU/GPU/RAM/everything to handle the additional load.
    – Multiple monitors and sound channels can be utilized accordingly.
    – Higher resolution on each monitor, 1080p (as opposed to consoles <= 720p upscaled resolution), ideal for when a single screen is shared. If CoD on PC had split screen to 4 players on a single 1080p screen, each player could get a similar experience to what a single player on an Xbox 360 or PS3 gets: same resolution and probably similar performance depending on the PC.

    Of course, the stagnation of PC gaming, and the fact that it isn’t terribly mainstream, has prevented it from getting split screen features.

    • tdsevern
    • 7 years ago

    How about dual screen mode for PC users? Hud/Map/Chat on one screen, gaming on the other. Probably one of the best features of World in Conflict. I wish more games would have this option.

      • no51
      • 7 years ago

      I think SupCom also had this feature.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    I think splitscreen support is important if developers want to take the PC to the living room. Surprisingly, a lot of console games have moved away from this so they can get more money for more copies of a game. Yet consoles are made specifically for more social interaction as they end up as a hub in your livingroom. While its still possible to find split screen coop, four player coop has all but disappeared outside of the Wii. That was like one of the attracting factors of consoles. Being able to play with your friends.

    It’s sorta funny how the typical console gamer now days just reminds me of another geek sitting alone in his basement, only he’s sitting in his living room. When you take the social aspect out of consoles, they end up a lot worse in my eyes then a PC does. I really hope this is just the beginning of Valve stepping up it’s game as far as living room PCs go…

    I also hope this doesn’t lead to a stupid ‘Valve Box’. That would be a terrible, terrible idea for moving the PC genre forward. Although it definitely would make Valve a pretty big bundle till people realize the Valve Box is just another console.

    • phileasfogg
    • 7 years ago

    It’s about time. Game publishers are shrewd to realize that the time is now ripe to capitalize on the rapidly increasing graphics capabilities of HTPCs and also mainstream notebooks, coupled with the very affordable prices on 40″ – 55″ TVs. For instance, we can buy an ASUS AMD A8-4500 Trinity notebook for under $400 ($380 yesterday @ BestBuy). Connect its HDMI output to your TV and you have a machine that offers a more-than-acceptable fps experience in a split-screen multi-player game. If you have the dough to spring for a notebook with a dGPU, all the better. This is a new market opportunity – let’s hope more and more publishers will carpe diem and revive their (in many cases, flagging) fortunes.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      But didn’t you hear? No one buys PCs or laptops any more! TABLETSTABLETSTABLETS!

        • phileasfogg
        • 7 years ago

        Yup, saw that story *after* I read this one 😉

        Tablets are primarily ‘heads down’ displays. Notebooks, HTPCs and games consoles are all ‘heads up’ displays. I’ll take heads-up any day, thank you 😉

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Goldeneye flashbacks with four gamepad cables getting increasingly tangled in the middle of the living room.

    I’d just discovered alcohol back then too, which made it all much better for nostalgic reasons!

    • Shambles
    • 7 years ago

    Awesome job Valve, now integrate native split screen support in L4D as well. We’re tired of having to dick around in a console that may or may not work properly just to get the same functionality you put in your console ports.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    Now what they need is for two identical monitors to be able to do 2-player multi on the same screen. Can’t be that hard, right? Might even be doable if your monitors are configured in the multi-monitor software as being on top of each other.

      • Ryhadar
      • 7 years ago

      As in, one monitor has one player’s screen and another has the second player’s screen?

      I betcha you could do that with Eyefinity…which now that I think of it would be pretty effin’ sweet!

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah that’s what I mean. And if you can, that would be totally fackin orsum.

    • PixelArmy
    • 7 years ago

    I think the title is there… you just need to use Big Picture mode on a 60″ screen…

    • geekl33tgamer
    • 7 years ago

    <TITLE>INSERT TITLE HERE</TITLE>

      • geekl33tgamer
      • 7 years ago

      Stealth news article now fixed. Boring!

    • superjawes
    • 7 years ago

    I kind of like this method of surprise content 😀

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    OMG MYSTERY ARTICLE! There is no title, so on the frontpage it shows up blank haha.

    Steam’s 10 foot GUI is nice for HTPC-gaming use.

    For posterity’s sake: [url=http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n256/Jem_1/My%20PC%20Stuff/permanent/TR_BlankArticle.jpg<]pic[/url<]

      • Sargent Duck
      • 7 years ago

      I missed the stealth article. Thanks for the pic!

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      yeah, cause it looks exactly like metro!

    • internetsandman
    • 7 years ago

    Best title for an article I’ve ever seen

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      Titles? TITLES? We don’t NEED no stinking TITLES!

      • boing
      • 7 years ago

      Am I the only one totally missing the joke?

        • superjawes
        • 7 years ago

        [url<]https://techreport.com/news/23942/portal-2-update-adds-split-screen-multiplayer?post=688438#688438[/url<]

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