Friend zone: the 15 best multiplayer games for console and PC gamers

Our pick of the best multiplayer games in the world, whatever your platform

15 March 2018
by Stuff Staff

Spent a whole weekend on single-player action and craving some social interaction? Rather than bothering to go outside or launching Facebook, you could just get your hands on a multiplayer game.

You don’t have to settle for the obvious Call of Duty or Fifa candidates either. Thanks to the couch co-op resurgence and the emerging epic-scale battle royale genre, there’s a bigger-than-ever range of multiplayer games for you and your pals to dive into.

But which titles are worth your time? We’ve picked out some of our favourite multiplayer games for every major platform, so whatever your console or taste there should be something in this 15-game list for you and your friends to obsessed over.



Local co-op (2-4 players)

Any chef will tell you that working in a restaurant is the ultimate test of teamwork. So just imagine what it’d be like if the kitchen floor was covered in slippery ice or separated by two moving lorries. Gordon Ramsay may not have to deal with such challenges, but you and your friends will in Overcooked.

With tensions bubbling and failure only one burnt burger away, it’s essential that you communicate with your friends to get all the meal orders fulfilled before your customers get restless. Is it stressful? Sure. But it’s also riotously hysterical, especially when your friend is spinning around screaming after his chef’s hat catches fire.


A chaotic, yet scrumptious menu of creative co-op challenges


Online multiplayer

This colourful, cutesy version of battle royale started life as a free-to-play update to a mostly unnoticed game, but has morphed it into the most popular take on the genre.

The idea is the same as ever: be the last person, duo or squad of four standing, using whatever weapons you manage to scavenge to hunt down up to 100 other players – all while staying in the ever-decreasing ‘safe zone’.

Although with rocket launchers, sniper rifles, traps and some minecraft-inspired building, that name is most definitely deceptive.


The best introduction to the battle royale genre is as fun and friendly as it is tense and tricky to master


Local multiplayer (2-4 players)

One of the newest members to PlayStation’s Play-Link family, you don’t need a DualShock to play Frantics – you use your smartphone instead. While this does result in rather clunky touchscreen-controls it also makes the game more approachable to the entire family, so even grandpa or your seven-year old has a chance of victory.

From go-kart racing to bomb-hurling warfare, Frantics is made up of of 15 mini games where you compete for crowns to give you the advantage in the grand finale. This is probably the closest thing you’ll get to Mario Party on the PS4, but thanks to its own wacky cast of characters and its creative backstabbing challenges it never once feels like a cheap imitation. It could do with more content given the price though, as after a few rounds things start to get repetitive.


A zany party game that’s perfect for family get-togethers. Clunky controls and a lack of content hold it back though


Local versus and co-op (2-4 players)

Turns out all you need to have fun with a group of friends is a full quiver, a bow and a good shot. This 2D arrow-blitzing battle royale may look simple on the surface – especially with its retro graphics – but the capability to catch arrows mid-air or use items to create explosive or prickly traps adds a challenging layer of depth.

But even if you’re here just for a laugh, there’s enough on-screen carnage to keep you returning time and time again. After all, nothing beats pinning your best friend’s character to a wall with a long-distance shot from the other side of the map. Here’s to hoping an online mode will eventually release…


One of the best competitive couch-multiplayers you’re likely to find




Local co-op (2 players)

Don’t let that cutesy artwork fool you – Cuphead is tough. Unfortunately, having a friend join you in your soul-collecting quest doesn’t make those brutal bosses any easier, as they get a double-helping of health in return, while you frequently get distracted trying to rescue your friend from the jaws of death.

Playing this 2D side-scrolling run and gun with your mate still improves the experience though. By spurring each other on you’ll be less likely to throw in the towel, and once you do overcome a particular gruelling brute, you’ll have someone to celebrate with. High-fives all-round!


This insanely difficult side-scroller is all the better with a partner in crime


Online multiplayer

Team-based shooters with personality were few and far between before Blizzard gave it a go. Overwatch is the result: a hectic and fiercely competitive 6v6 battle for supremacy where no two characters play the same.

Because each hero has a unique set of abilities and attacks (and you can only have one of each hero per team) you’ve got to balance your own skills with the needs of the group. Teamwork is key to victory, making this a great pick to play with friends. Voice chat is most definitely advised.


A frantic shooter that puts fun and friends ahead of sheer solo skill


Online co-op (2-4 players)

Getting bored of headshotting your mate on Call of Duty every weekend? Monster Hunter allows you to work together instead with online co-op available for every main and side quest. Here you’ll be taking down all sorts of fearsome beasts that range from a fire-breathing wyvern to a thunder-powered unicorn.

While you could take down these critters by yourself, fighting in a group of friend is much more fun, alleviating the repetitiveness of slaying a certain critter for the umpteenth time.

There’s no need to worry that bringing a friend to the hunt will take away the challenge either, as monsters get a health boost for every ally you have fighting alongside you. Plus there’s a never-ending supply of difficult challenges and events, even after you complete the 90-hour story.


Matchmaking can be fiddly, but all is forgiven thanks to challenging combat and an incredible amount of co-op content


Local co-op (2 players), online co-op (2-4 players) and online multiplayer

Halo 5: Guardians was admittedly a bit of a letdown, and couldn’t quite live up to the series’ long-established brilliance. Not exactly the best place for Microsoft to leave Halo, but did you know you can play the first four games on Xbox One as well?

It’s true – and it’s really your best option for Halo shenanigans today. The Master Chief Collection is a veritable smorgasbord of multiplayer antics, packing in 100+ maps across the games, which are playable both online and off. True, the older games are a bit dated now, but the allure of Blood Gulch, Warthogs, and Needlers will never fade. Never.


It’s all the sci-fi shooty fun you’ll ever want (or need)



Local multiplayer (2-4 players) and online multiplayer

Got a Switch? Get Mario Kart 8: Deluxe. Already played Mario Kart 8 on Wii U? Get Mario Kart 8: Deluxe. Don’t have a Switch? C’mon now!

The Mario Kart formula has been long established, and MK8’s anti-gravity track segments aren’t as dramatically innovative as they might sound – but they’ve enabled Nintendo to create some of the series’ most brilliant courses to date.

Furthermore, Deluxe adds in the brilliant DLC that was sold separately on Wii U, and better yet, its Battle mode is miles better than the original MK8 one. Whether split-screen or online, you can play this one forever.


If you’ll play with friends, it’s nearly worth buying the Switch for


Co-op (2-4 players), versus (2-8 players)

Just as Arms reimagines fighting with a Nintendo twist, Splatoon 2 takes the realistic firearms of squad-based shooters and swaps them out for paint rollers, ink-spitting squirt guns, and all manner of other curious ways to dominate.

And in Splatoon, the primary goal isn’t to kill your enemies – it’s to paint the majority of the ground in a level, for example, or collect clams and then toss a clam-filled American football into a goal (yes, really).

Splatoon 2 is weird and cartoonish, but it’s much smarter and more strategic than you’d think, incredibly accessible and fun, and also packed with style and amazing tunes. Shame about the lack of split-screen play, though.


Splatoon 2 is the Switch’s best online team game


Local co-op (2 players), local versus (2 players)

It’s a real shame that you can’t bring a friend along to Mario’s main rabbid-thwomping quest, but at least you unlock a series of co-op focussed levels upon completion of each world.

Allowing both of the two players to assemble their own 3-man (or rabbid) team, the challenges become increasingly hard to compensate. You won’t just be fighting off standard goons, but multiple waves of boss baddies too. Go in guns blazing and you’ll likely be wiped out in minutes. You’ll need strategy and co-operation if you’re going to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom.

If that’s too much to handle for your poor noggin you can play the ‘versus mode’, where you can give the AI a rest and splat your friend into submission instead.


The surprisingly strategic Mario + Rabbids is twice the fun in co-op mode, while versus is a welcome addition


Local versus (1-4 players), online multiplayer

Remember Punch-Out!! from back in the day? Well, Nintendo’s boxing classic takes on a whole new tenor in Arms, a game that features pastel-adorned, superhero-looking fighters with spring-loaded limbs that can shoot across a room.

It’s an odd one certainly, but the Wii-like motion controls for tossing punches and throwing ‘bows makes this a fantastic multiplayer experience.

Anyone can hop online and start trading blows with real-life swings, or if you grab an extra pair of Joy-Cons, you can get a two-player brawl going in your very own flat. Just keep a little distance, and seriously, use the wrist straps, unless you want to be replacing an entire roomful of furniture.


You’ll get a serious workout – and have a blast too



We dare you to play Gang Beasts without cracking a smile, let alone a full-on, teeth-baring grin. Just one look at the game ought to tell you why: it stars spongy, Claymation-like sack fighters from a place that is unnervingly called Beef City.

You’ll brawl with up to four players along a Ferris wheel, atop moving trucks, and in other hilariously dangerous settings, as the colorful, yet dopey-looking heroes bash each other to a pulp. Whether you’re here for an all-out fight, a brawler-tinged take on football, or wave-based co-op action, Gang Beasts defines dumb fun – dumb, hilarious, button-mashing fun.


Great for a laugh and gleefully settling disputes with mates


It wasn’t the original take on Battle Royale, but it was the game that made the world sit up and take notice. Battlegrounds drops you and up to 100 other players onto a massive island, with plenty of guns, gear and vehicles just waiting to be looted.

There can only be one winner, and everyone only gets one life, so you’ve got to take out as many enemies as you can without taking a bullet yourself. A slowly shrinking safe zone forces everyone to make their way across the map towards a final climactic showdown and a coveted chicken dinner victory.


Glitchy but addictive, this more serious take on Battle Royale is best suited to hardcore players


Having logged hundreds of hours over the last couple years, take it from us: Rocket League is one of the most irresistible multiplayer experiences anywhere. And it’s super-accessible as well, being no more complicated than “cars playing football.”

Well, it’s a little more complicated, but only if you want it to be. The rocket-powered rides can vault into the air to slam in shots from above or block opposing volleys, but the three-on-three battles scale perfectly – it’s just as much fun even if you never do leave the ground. Swap over to basketball, hockey, or arcade-like variants and you’ll see why the fun never ends here.


Football-flinging four-wheelers really are as much fun as they seem



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