Best multiplayer games to enjoy with your fellow gamers

(Image credit: Team 17)

"But isn't gaming just a bit… antisocial?" goes The Question. It's usually delivered through curved lips by an elderly relative over a plate of something beige and green, as the sound of cutlery protesting faintly against cold ceramic plates grows louder. Well, next time you hear The Question, swallow your mouthful, clear your throat, and go through this list item by item. Here are the best multiplayer games that'll change Uncle Arnold's mind forever.

1. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Android, and iOS

From VR to Nintendo Switch, it's not surprising that Steel Crate Games' bomb defusal puzzler is available on nearly every platform you can think of. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is universal in its appeal because of its simple premise: One player is the designated bomb defuser, while the rest of the team must flip through a downloadable manual to talk them through the process as a countdown clock ticks. The controls make sense to even non-gamer friends and family because they expertly mirror the sensation of manipulating a physical object with your own hands, making this ideal for parties. Clever, unique and heart-racingly fun, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a must-play multiplayer game. 

2. Overcooked

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC

Like Monopoly, Overcooked tests friendships. Your task is to cook food and deliver orders in increasingly outlandish kitchens. Soup from stoves in the middle of a zebra crossing; burgers out the back of a moving van; fish and chips from a slippery iceberg. Focused silence won’t do you any favours here because entire sections of the kitchens are often separated, meaning you’re going to need to call orders, pass ingredients and work in tandem. With a two BAFTAs to its name, Overcooked is a truly brilliant test of how well you work as a team - and when you get it right, it's euphoric. (Plus, there's also Overcooked 2 to check out aftwards.) 

3. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Available on: Nintendo Switch

It's a truth universally acknowledged that a single gamer in possession of a good Switch must be in want of Mario Kart. Nintendo's favourite racer is a staple of house parties the world over, with its simple controls, creative tracks, and enigmatic rules for how to get ahead. It's the epitome of "easy to pick up, hard to master" with early players often baffled by how their opponents manage to speed boost ahead apropos of nothing. Mario Kart is a central brick inside the foundations of the gaming canon, and a vital addition to any multiplayer gaming library. 

4. Rocket League

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC

The green pitches of FIFA might have easily made this list, were it not for Rocket League. This zippy team-based sports game takes football and transforms it into a frenzied skirmish where remote controlled cars zoom around futuristic arenas chasing a ball the size of that boulder in Indiana Jones. It's great fun, and totally bonkers in the best way. Winning simply requires scoring more goals than your opponents and working together closely enough with your team to do so. Rocket League is a game for those bored of the likes of PES, or anyone wanting to trick a pal who doesn't like FIFA into playing a football game. 

5. Fortnite

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Android, and iOS

To be fair, any battle royale could have made this list. The genre sees usually around 100 players airdrop onto a map that gradually shrinks, forcing opponents into firefights until only one is left standing. Fortnite is the one that’s taking over the world by storm (literally) though. With its colourful characters, constantly evolving map, surprisingly deep overarching storyline, great competitions and more, it’s pretty much got everything. Even if you don’t go on to check out other battle royale titles like Apex Legends or PUBG, Fortnite has a lot to give and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.

6. Overwatch

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch (on October 15)

No shooter in recent years has had as much heart as Overwatch. Blizzard packs bags of personality into its heroes, alongside unique abilities and backstories. Each map has either one or a mix of two objectives: one team holds a control point while the other tries to capture it, and then one team pushes a vehicle called a payload while the other tries to stop it moving forward. The objectives' simplicity belies the sharp game design: Every ultimate ability can turn the tide of a skirmish; maps have carefully placed chokepoints that require careful coordination to hold or overcome; heroes constantly receive beautiful new skins. The attention to detail in Overwatch is awesome in the truest sense of the word, and there's enough going on to satisfy your online play with pals for months. 

7. Minecraft

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Android, and iOS

On paper, Minecraft shouldn’t work. It has no story, no particular genre, and graphics that wouldn’t look out of place on the PlayStation 1 - and yet it’s a global phenomenon. A big part of its success is thanks to the trust it puts in its players to be creative. You really can build anything in Minecraft - castle, a yellow submarine, an explorable replica of Hogwarts castle - and you can do it with friends. Minecraft comes alive in multiplayer mode, where you can build and explore with pals for hours, sharing resources and ideas. Sure, building on your own is fun but remember that old saying: many hands make light work. 

8. Sea of Thieves

Available on: Xbox One, and PC

Anyone who’s watched five minutes of Pirates of the Caribbean knows that the heartbeat of any good sea story is the wonder of what lies beyond the horizon. Sea of Thieves nails that pull perfectly and provides endless opportunities for adventure. Head towards a strange shaped rock and you might find a message in a bottle, which in turn leads to a map, which leads to buried treasure. Everything can be explored, and every member of your party has a role in sailing the ship. While some multiplayer games funnel you through pre-determined storylines, Sea of Thieves puts power firmly in the hands of your crew - what you do with it is down to you.

9. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Available on: Nintendo Switch

Only Smash Bros can pit a Splatoon 2 Inkling against Ryu on a battlefield from Final Fantasy and no one will bat an eyelid. Super Smash Bros Ultimate is the latest entry in a series that borrows so many characters from so many different franchises, there truly is something for everyone. Up to 8 players can brawl on its frenetic stages, with the aim being to push opponents off of platforms until all their lives are extinguished. The more damage you do, the more likely your opponent won’t be able to recover. Smash Bros has a huge online competitive following too, and a deep meta, so there are lots of juicy technical flourishes to learn from the pros. 

10. A Way Out

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, and PC

You can tell that Josef Fares has a background in films. The creator behind A Way Out expertly manages to make gameplay feel cinematic in this 1970s prison-break adventure. You play with a pal, where one of you takes the role of convict Vincent, and another his cell-neighbour Leo, as both attempt to escape captivity. If you think the whole mandatory co-op narrative thing is a gimmick, think again. From the mundane to the dramatic, the tasks you have to complete in tandem are brilliantly designed. It's hard to think of other games that do what A Way Out manages, and with a seven-hour narrative, there's lots to get your teeth into. 

11. Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC

Decent local multiplayer games are precious and must be protected at all costs, so it's a delight that Stikbold exists. This raucous team party game is a bit like dodgeball in that individuals, pairs or trios face off in circular arenas. Players throw balls at each other, and if you're struck, you're out. Last team standing wins. These simple rules make for white knuckle rounds that require equal parts skill and foul play. The icing on the cake is Stikbold's quirky art style, which blends just the right amounts of humour and charm. The maps become increasingly outlandish too, so be prepared for some eyebrow-raising moments.

12. Friday the 13th

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC

When Friday the 13th first launched, it was buggier than a bed bug infested mattress. Two years later, it's ironed out most of the kinks - and thank goodness, because it's a fantastic premise. This asymmetrical multiplayer game puts one player in the role of Jason, and up to seven others as teenage camp counsellors. It's Jason's job to hunt them down and, well, do his gruesome-Jason-thing, and it’s the counsellors' job to escape. The result is an anxious game of cat and mouse where the counsellors must communicate their plans to, say, fix up a car they can use to escape while Jason searches the garage containing the engine with supernatural senses. It's fun to play both roles, and a genuinely tense multiplayer experience. 

13. Snipperclips

Available on: Nintendo Switch

Puzzles don't always have to mean maths. Snipperclips is smart and delightfully charming proof that physical brain teasers are just as satisfying. Each level presents a spatial puzzle where the main characters - two colourful bits of paper - must snip and clip each other into exact shapes to bounce, jump, or squeeze themselves to an objective. Snipperclips was made by a tiny team but is filled with  so many thoughtful details you’d think a much bigger studio crafted it. The characters’ farcical facial expressions, for instance, are delightful and add humour to puzzles as they wince under the weight of a block, or gasp in horror when a pal snips a chunk out of them. 

14. Towerfall Ascension 

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC

Before he made indie platforming sensation Celeste, developer Matt Makes Games made Towerfall. Players take on the role of four fantasy characters who battle it out in vertical arenas filled with platforms to hide behind and drop from. Arrows and the traditional head-bop are the weapons of choice here, aided by power ups that can turn the tide of battle. A shield, for instance, or the ability to fly. Towerfall Acension is video games’ answer to the modern day board game, soundtracked by the sorts of raucous cheers and pained epithets that signify memories are being created and friendships dissolved. At least until the next round.  

15. Destiny 2

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, and PC

There is so much to do in Destiny 2. Aside from its single player story modes, there's a multiplayer battle arena called the Crucible where players can compete in familiar modes like control and team deathmatch. But Destiny 2 really shines with its sprawling raids that require careful coordination with six other players in gauntlets that can take up to 18 hours to complete. Many multiplayer objectives can often be overcome by sheer brute force or one player carrying the team, but here you truly have to communicate. Destiny's raids are one of the few times I've truly felt like I'm working together with teammates in the same physical space, and the best part? They reward you with incredible loot. 

Freelance Writer