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Does Baldur’s Gate 3 have split-screen local co-op?

Check out all the BG3 split-screen details to find out how to play local couch co-op with your friends on PS5, Xbox, and PC in Larian's sprawling RPG.

BG3 split-screen: An image split in half diagonally, with Shadowheart on the left and Gale on the right, both against a blurred background of gameplay.

Baldur’s Gate 3 split-screen is a feature that many hoped would be in Larian’s enormous, critically acclaimed RPG so that they could jump into local couch co-op to explore the vivid world with friends. After all, D&D is designed to be played with others. But does BG3 have split-screen local co-op? And if so, is it supported on all platforms? Well, we’ve got all the answers on BG3 split-screen right here.

Baldur’s Gate 3 split-screen would be the perfect opportunity to explore one of the best RPG games alongside your friends or family. With 12 Baldur’s Gate 3 classes and even more subclasses, there’s lots of variety in terms of playstyles and roles, letting you and your group make the best (or worst) party composition possible. However, there’s been a lot of chatter and controversy around BG3 split-screen when it comes to certain platforms, so here’s all the info you need.

Does Baldur’s Gate 3 have split-screen?

Baldur’s Gate 3 split-screen is available on PC and PS5. When BG3 comes to Xbox Series X|S, split-screen will only be available on the Series X, so those with the less-powerful Series S will not have access to split-screen and couch co-op.

Baldur’s Gate 3 split-screen allows up to two players to play the entire game together in local couch co-op multiplayer. The remaining two party members will be filled by companions. However, both players must be using a controller.

BG3 split-screen: Gameplay of split-screen Baldur's Gate 3, showing one player exploring on the left and the other looking at their action menu on the right.

While online multiplayer supports up to four players at once (without restricting the screen, like the image below), which makes for a full party – BG3 split-screen local co-op only allows for up to two players on the same device. This is likely due to technical limitations, but given how many complex systems are at play, having a single screen divided into up to four parts would make the experience quite difficult.

BG3 split-screen: Gale the Wizard about to cast a spell on an enemy on a beach.

With that said, you can play BG3 split-screen with two local players on the same device and two online players. Therefore, you can still have a full party of four when playing split-screen co-op, even if two players are connected through online play.

Nevertheless, split-screen local co-op has long been an important feature for Larian Studios, which also included split-screen support in Divinity Original Sin 2. We’re glad to see that even in the larger and more ambitious BG3, split-screen and local co-op is a top priority.

In fact, one of the reasons why the Baldur’s Gate 3 Xbox release date is arriving later than PC and PS5 is due to Larian having issues with split-screen working on the Series S. This was confirmed in an official blog post which details that the team “need to ensure that the game is performing without compromise across the entire Xbox X|S ecosystem, in multiplayer and with split-screen”. Microsoft expects developers that release games on the Xbox platform to have complete parity when it comes to modes and features between the Series S and X, with the exception of things like graphics, of course.

Baldurs Gate 3 split screen: A screenshot of a tweet announcing the news of split-screen for BG3 on Xbox Series X

However, at Gamescom 2023, a deal was struck between Larian and Xbox that would allow BG3 to hit Xbox consoles before the end of 2023 with split-screen only being available on the Series X. This was confirmed in the above post by Larian founder and CEO, Swen Vincke.

The most important detail is that the entire game can be played in split-screen co-op, so there’s no need to change your plans just because you’re playing with your friend. From taking on side and main quests, or just exploring the diverse and intricate Baldur’s Gate 3 map, there’s a lot of fun to be found in the multiplayer experience.

Players are also given complete freedom to do what they please, so you don’t have to both stick to the same tasks. For example, one player could be talking to NPCs and handing in quests while the other is messing around, exploring, or even in combat. This sense of freedom is one of the best aspects of BG3 split-screen co-op, though it’s likely the cause of general performance issues – more on this later.

As for combat, action is also displayed in a split-screen view. Both players have a side of the screen to control, letting you pan the camera, attack, and so on individually. However, combat is still turn-based. Though you both have individual cameras, menus, and more, you can’t move or perform actions outside of your turn.

Given the split-screen view restricts your field of view, BG3 split-screen gameplay is a little harder, especially in combat where you’ll have to flick through menus and survey the battlefield. It’s still more than playable (it’s amazing that it’s even possible in such a sprawling RPG), but it is undeniably less convenient overall.

Likewise, playing with others – whether in split-screen local co-op or online multiplayer – can also impact the Baldur’s Gate 3 length, so it’s worth thinking about. No doubt that playing with your friends adds onto the time, not just because you all have to be free at the same time, but it’s much easier to get distracted and fool around. That’s all part of the fun in our opinion though.

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With so much potential for character synergy and party composition, BG3 split-screen is a great addition. While players will assemble a team of companions in single-player, multiplayer allows players to create synergies with each other, such as one player serving as the tank and another as a damage dealer or support. Like Divinity Original Sin 2, the inclusion of BG3 split-screen is one of the best features of the game, bringing your crew together for great team gameplay and RPG action reminiscent of its DnD inspiration.

Make sure to take a look at the DnD races to help decide which is the best fit for each of your team’s characters. This also comes in handy during exploration and questing, such as the Rogue and Bard which can open locked areas and chests, or Charisma scaling characters like the Paladin who are good in conversations. Yes, that means you can even create the best Baldur’s Gate 3 party with your friends.

If you regularly play DnD with your friends, you can even take inspiration from your DnD classes and DnD character builds to recreate them in-game. It’s a great way to experience the traditional game in the sprawling world Larian has faithfully built.

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How to play co-op split-screen in Baldur’s Gate 3

To play co-op BG3 split-screen, connect two controllers to the same device during gameplay, whether on PS5 or PC. Most importantly, both players must use a controller input device. Split-screen does not currently function with mouse and keyboard.

Many players have run into issues setting up co-op split-screen in BG3, and this is most likely due to the fact that it is unavailable with a mouse and keyboard. Luckily, Baldur’s Gate 3 controller support is quite robust.

Another confusing detail is that this doesn’t need to be selected from a menu; split-screen co-op is not a separate mode. Rather, it can be activated anytime during gameplay simply by setting up two controllers on the same device. It really is as simple as it sounds, though perhaps too simple that it’s almost hidden from players.

Once in split-screen, the camera view will automatically be split down the middle. Unfortunately, due to each player needing their own menus and complex HUD, you can’t change the camera function. The screen will always be split, meaning two players can’t share the scene seamlessly as you might hope for, akin to the Lego games. While it’s annoying that the screen is divided even when standing next to your partner, it’s a limitation that had to be made due to the complex nature of the game.

How well does BG3 split-screen run on PS5?

Split-screen on PS5 in Baldur’s Gate 3 has a number of serious issues according to reports. These include a significant drop in frame rate to below 30 frames per second and other big performance hurdles when two players are in different areas or parts of a city.

These reports come from IGN who tested the game in their performance review.

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This is definitely disappointing to see as split-screen is one of the tentpole features of the RPG. It isn’t seen much these days and it’s great to see it here, although these issues may cause you to have second thoughts about playing it with a friend or partner.

There are performance issues with split-screen on every platform, however, especially in Act 3. So, this isn’t just exclusive to PS5. But it is disappointing to know the game can’t always stick to 30 frames-per-second on console. On PC, you’re able to better customize your graphics settings to hit different performance targets, though console players don’t get this luxury.

That’s all you need to know about Baldur’s Gate 3 split-screen and local co-op. When you’re assembling your party, it’s a good idea to take a look at the best Baldur’s Gate 3 class before you do so. Now team up and get ready to explore what could be one of the best games of all time.

As you prepare your party for adventure, make sure you and your BG3 split-screen comrade are properly geared for the journey ahead by ensuring you have one of the best PS5 controllers or best Xbox controllers for the job. They’re not quite as effective for monster-slaying as an axe or bow, but they’ll certainly be helpful tools for controlling those who wield the best Baldur’s Gate 3 spells. Happy RP’ing!