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.
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!

10. Competitive mayhem

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.

worms w.m.d. battle

Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries.

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.

8. When the plan comes together

Payday 2

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.

7. Logic is fun!

Portal 2

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.

6. 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.

5. A series of heroic last stands

Orcs Must Die! 2

Orcs Must Die! 2 is what happens when you try to mix Warhammer Fantasy and Home Alone as seen by Evil Dead’s Ash Williams. Yes, you could call it a thirds-person tower defense game, but that doesn’t convey just how ludicrously fun and silly this game is. What gets OMD!2 a spot here, is its co-op mode.
It lets one player play the War Mage, the other a Sorceress, and makes them work together to stop a tide of greenskin menace trying to get through.

Orcs Must Die War Mage


Notably, Orcs Must Die! doesn’t turn into a button masher. At its core it relies on traps and deadly devices to halt the enemies, your weapons and spells are better suited to picking off an occasional lucky orc.
When you’re playing with a friend you can form more complex defense strategies, but also need to trust the other person to keep their part of the map safe. Besides: the joy of slaughtering hundreds of orcs in clever ways is meant to be shared, and Orcs Must Die! 2 creates a perfect environment for that.

4. Playing for the story

Divinity: Original Sin (2)

So we’ve covered several types of teamplay, some mayhem (and there’re more to come), but let’s ignore crunch and destruction for a bit and talk about stories, instead.
In the olden days you could get with friends over LAN or TCP/IP and play Icewind Dale II, for instance, each of you controlling one or more characters of your design or choosing. But your agency died when a dialogue started, and only one player got to decide what’s going to happen. Divinity: Original Sin changed that fundamentally, and the sequel is going to be even smarter about it.
See, when a decision point comes up in D:OS1 and you choose to disagree (each of two players controls one main character) you enter a rock-paper-scissors-like game and have a contest of wit and skill over who gets the final say. It’s modified by your skills, too, so a character with Charm 6 needs fewer victories than one with Charm 3. But they can use Intimidation 7 instead…
The sequel allows FOUR-player co-op, the characters can have very conflicting goals on a side-quest level, and the game doesn’t police shenanigans. Deciding whether to roleplay your character and introduce conflict, or go along the path that leads towards profit is one of the quintessential aspects of tabletop RPGs, and it’s nice to see it captured in a video game with full support.
If you’re looking to share a story with a friend, the interactivity of Original Sin (both games) has no equals on that front.

3. There can be only you

Battle Royale games, e.g. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds

Fighting back-to-back against AI is one thing, doing so against dozens of other humans is another kind of game entirely. And one that has gained a staggering popularity in recent years.

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds/PUBG/Plunkbat is probably the best example of that, given its rapid climb up every popularity chart on Steam. Testing your patience, wit, reflexes, and some basic tactical acumen against human opponents can be taxing, but some tension goes away when you play with friends. You can play solo, or in 2-4-players squads, and the latter option is much more enticing. Not only you have fewer players to kill, but your teammates can revive you, should enemy bullets strikes true.
Grabbing a couple friends and plopping into squad-based mode feels properly dramatic, because it’s no longer just yourself that you’re playing for. Can your team survive to the very end against other squads?

2. A four-player band of heroes

Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide

Zombies are overrated, and definitely overused. Which is why Left 4 Dead doesn’t get the spot and Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide does.
In WET you form a four-player group in which every player chooses one character from a pool of five total. Each character has different motivations, and their arsenal makes them better suited for certain roles without hard divisions. Your enemies are humanoid rats, the Skaven, attempting to conquer the surface world once again.
Vermintide is great at promoting moment-to-moment cooperation and finding oneself comfortable in certain roles (which may change based on the equipment – great axe enables a different kind of playstyle than an axe and shield).
Vermintide captures the epic moments when heroes of fantasy fiction team up against all odd and cut a bloody path through monsters to protect their kin. If you are tired of modern weapons and cutting down zombies, certainly give WET a chance, your group will be surprised how satisfying it is to play.

1. Chaos/Freedom

Magicka (2)

Let’s get something clear first: Vlad is definitely not a vampire. Got that? Okay, we can move on.
Magicka is an action RPG based on combining magical elements (fire, water, arcane, shield etc.) into powerful spells. The effects are regularly very pretty, very devastating, and very chaotic. It’s a perfect environment for several players to convene in.

Magicka is at its finest when you realise that nothing warms your pals to you as fast as some friendly fire. You’ll find yourselves blasting each other on fire mines, launched into water, frozen solid, or reduced to chunky salsa, because your cat decided to walk over your keyboard and ended up casting a spell to end all spells. And then you starting crossing the magic beams like you’ve never seen Ghostbusters in your life.
But it’s all fine, good fun. And that’s because the moment you finish your tutorial you’re given a scroll describing how you can resurrect your allies at any time. Yeah, Magicka doesn’t bother with any cooldowns and timers, you can access all the magic all the time. The game is also very complex as far as magic-to-environment interactions go, so you’ll quickly start freezing the water to walk across (and heating it up when your friends try to).
If what you’re looking for is just a way to be good-natured jerks to each other and everything around you, Magicka is going to scratch that itch very well.

Match results

So here we are, the list is done, the thread subsides. While there are so many multiplayer-capable games around these days, the ones that benefit from playing with a bunch of tried-and-tested friends are few and far between. What he presented you with is just a glimpse into the beautiful world of games you could play when you and your friends end up thrown across the world and can only play online. There are plenty more, like the hack’n’slash Gauntlet, the silliness of Saints Row, or the harsh realities of Don’t Starve Together.
Whatever you chose, one thing always remains true: playing with friends beats any one-match-stand with randos.