The times are a-changing.
Once, if you wanted to play with friends, it was customary to meet at the house of whoever had the console or PC capable of running the game. You’d plug in additional controllers or play hot seats, share a bowl of delicious junk food. It was good fun, even if the game itself was a mixed bag of bad mechanics and horrendous control scheme.
But that’s in the past now, barring some glorious exceptions. The joy derived from spending time with friends physically has to be somewhat boosted by high-quality entertainment provided by the game itself. Which is why this little list exists.
Top 10 online games to play with friends:
- Payday 2,
- Portal 2,
- Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes,
- Orcs Must Die! 2,
- Divinity: Original Sin (2),
- Battle Royale games, e.g. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds,
- Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide,
- Magicka (2)
What we’re giving you is a list of ten games that, for various reasons, are an absolute blast to play with friends online. Some even support local multiplayer!
No more time to waste, so let’s get to it!
Worms (usually the most recent non-3D edition)
This is a timeless classic of there’s ever been one.
If you’re somehow unfamiliar, here’s a brief rundown. In Worms you control a team of cartoonish invertebrates (teamsize differs depending on the number of players) fighting against other squads using a huge arsenal of cartoonish weapons. The moment-to-moment gameplay is simple too: you position your currently active worm on a map, choose a weapon, then move a reticle, charge your attack and boom, something funny is sure to happen even if you miss.
Take it from someone who spent hours playing Worms 2 back in the day, solo and with friends: it is an absolute blast. Casually discarded alliances of convenience, backstabbing made bearable by hilarious squeaky worm exclamations, and the terrain getting demolished in very unrealistic ways. If you and you’re friends are looking for some very friendly fire and have a good laugh, then Worms (currently W.M.D.) is a game for you.
9. Team-based chaos management
They say that too many cooks spoil the broth, but if Overcooked is any indication, they can have good fun doing so.
This little gem is a pretty recent thing, having come out a year ago, and it quickly made its way to people’s hearts with its premise.
It has you and your pals play a up to four cooks trying to create increasingly complex dishes in an increasingly more chaotic kitchen. Tables shift, rifts divide two halves of the playing area, all around mayhem, while time’s running out.
Admittedly, Overcooked doesn’t have online multiplayer, but it’s great fun nonetheless. It has few equals when it comes to managing chaos in dynamically and chaotically changing conditions without compromising the end goal. It’s also probably going to test your friendships like nothing has since the days of Mario Kart.
When the plan comes together
Mayhem and chaos are all fun, but sometimes you just want to play something a little bit more structured. This is where the heist movie given interactive form Payday 2 comes in.
Payday 2 captures several of the best moments in any heist movie: the planning, gathering tools, busting in, and finally making your getaway. It’s this kind of experience where you depend on your teammates not to protect your back, but to do their blasted job and fix the drill/carry the bags/etc. Sure, shootouts do happen, and it’s never a good idea to get into one without a clear way out, but in the end it’s an exercise in sticking to the plan and dealing with any complications that arise along the way.
Logic is fun!
Fact 1: Portal is an amazing game. Fact 2: Portal 2 is also tons of fun. Fact 3: Logic-ing your way out of a conundrum is significantly harder when cooperation is needed.
Playing Portal 2 in co-op is like trying to beat an escape room with a single friend, only neither of you seems dedicated to solving the riddles in any sensible sequence, so you just stumble around and get in each other’s way. Alternatively: it’s like doing an escape room with a friend you’re so synchronised with that riddles become a breeze.
In the multiplayer segment of P2 you play as two robots equipped with portal guns much like Chell’s. If you know how much fun playing with portals is, imagine doing the same with a friend you can throw into an endless loop, or with whom you can orchestrate a perfect solution to the task ahead. Portal 2 co-op makes logic entertaining.
An exercise in communication skills
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
This one is interesting, in that you don’t really need several copies of it, you just need one copy for one player, while everyone else can just use a printout from a PDF. Why? I’m glad you asked.
KTaNE is a game about bomb defusal.
One person sees an explosive charge procedurally generated by the game, with all the wires, switches, buttons etc. The thing is: the player doesn’t get the instructions how to disarm any of that.
Other folks get the defusal manual, with all the technical info you’d need. There is one problem, however: they don’t see the bomb itself.
Both parties have to rely on efficient communication if they are to have any hope of succeeding. The back-and-forth can be incredible, and makes for really tense moments that make gaming so exciting. Of course there is also place for facepalming because of a silly, easy to avoid mistake, too.