So you want to know about the best multiplayer games? Intricate gameplay and glistening visuals only go so far; it’s humans that provide the surprises, the schemes that transform even the most average game into an unforgetable experience you’ll be talking about until the end of time.
Fast and frantic or tense and calculated, the best multiplayer games come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s vying for control of the payload in an FPS game or fighting for survival in a co-op game with your friends, these experiences wouldn’t be the same without a bunch of real people running around killing, maiming or, occasionally, helping each other.
The best PC multiplayer games are:
War Thunder is a free-to-play multiplayer game all about military vehicles knocking seven bells out of one another, whether that’s in aerial dog fights, sprawling tank battles, or naval skirmishes. That pitch might sound familiar, but no free MMO has achieved what War Thunder has in terms of quality, balancing, and the sheer scope of vehicles waiting to be unlocked. While the multiplayer game started out with a humble suite of aircraft and ground vehicles you’ll recognise from WW2 games, its myriad tech trees now encompass the military histories – past and present – of several nations, from global superpowers to smaller nations famed for punching above their weight.
What separates this war game from its competitors are its incredibly detailed ballistics modelling and simulation game modes. A 1v1 between two tanks can be affected by countless factors, as armour thickness, armour angle, material, shell size and type, and distance from target can be the difference between a shot ricocheting and dealing no damage, or piercing and wiping out the entire enemy crew. The more you play the more you learn to spot different types of vehicles so you can exploit their weak points and win the fight with a single well-placed shot. It’s an endlessly satisfying loop, and with hundreds of vehicles to earn, it will be a long time before you run out of new content.
Play War Thunder for free
World of Tanks
Even though World of Tanks was released over ten years ago, this free-to-play PvP vehicular combat game just keeps growing and evolving into one of the best multiplayer PC games. With its bustling servers and international player base, you’ll never struggle to find a team whenever you get that urge to hop into a tank and blow stuff up.
Whether you favour brute force battling, or a more strategic approach, the easy-to-grasp game mechanics lend themselves well to different playstyles. Destroy all of the enemy tanks with powerful artillery fire right off the bat, or, if you’d rather take the subtle approach, you can triumph by finding a way into your opponent’s base and capturing it from within.
The more you play, the more vehicles you unlock, with over 600 of the best tanks from around the world to discover and exclusive rewards for those who want to participate in clan battles. It’s a very moreish game which may seem straightforward at first, but the more you play, the better you’ll get and the more you’ll discover. Trust us – you’ll be in a world of thanks once you’re hooked.
Play World of Tanks for free.
Fancy hopping in a mech suit so you can blow people up? Well, give Mech Arena a try. From Plarium, the developer behind Raid: Shadow Legends, this is by no means a high-concept game, but it’s one of those simple games that are ideal for unwinding with. You’ll no doubt plan to fill a few minutes with a quick game but then end up saying “just one more match” so often that before you know it, a whole hour has gone by.
If you’re worried it won’t have enough substance for you, don’t be. There’s actually quite a lot of nuance when you get down into it, with so many different mechs to unlock and so many customisation options as well. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you’ve honed your mech to suit your preferred battle strategy perfectly – and with every other player doing the same thing, you’ll find great diversity in battle.
Play Mech Arena for free.
Dropped into Viking purgatory in nothing but a loincloth, it’s up to you and nine other friends to survive the Norse wilderness by crafting, building, and ultimately, surviving. You and your Viking pals start out in the meadow but must slowly progress through different biomes by defeating enemies and discovering crafting materials to build up your armour and weapons.
Valheim’s world grows increasingly sinister as skeletons from the swamp attack your base, wolves tail you across mountains, and greydwarves fling rocks at you in the dark forest. Valheim is a glorious multiplayer, and you’ll find something for all the party by scavenging for materials, epic battles with Valheim bosses, or building a sturdy base that can withstand the swing of a troll club.
Riot’s ultra-slick tactical team-based shooter is coming for CS:GO’s crown, and it has many shiny new features to set it apart. The gameplay will be familiar to CS:GO players: teams of five players begin the match either attacking or defending, and swap halfway through; players must also purchase weapons at the beginning of each round, earning currency based on their performance in the previous round.
Crucially, though, in Valorant players choose from a roster of agents, each with unique abilities, which they can purchase each round (and one they get for free). Each Valorant character has their own strategic strengths and weaknesses; some are experts at defending sites, while others set up pushes or secure kills.
Although skills play an important role, Valorant still maintains a heavy emphasis on gunplay and balance to ensure it stands up as an excellent game for high-level play – as evidenced by its thriving esports scene
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Sometimes, all you need is a relatively mindless game that everyone can play, and what better than an arcade-style brawler starring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Shredder’s Revenge is a spiritual sequel of Turtles in Time, one of the best Super Nintendo and arcade games from the early 1990s, managing to surpass it in every way.
Not only is the animation top-notch, capturing the essence of the classic 80s cartoon, but every character feels unique to play as. The PC version is the best one as well, as it allows up to six playable characters at once, taking on hordes of Foot Soldiers and mutants, with each stage culminating in a slugfest against one of the many characters from the show. It may be short, but it gives you a nostalgic experience that will stay with you for years.
Whether you want to squad up for gargantuan PvE raids, duke it out against others in PvP, or even combine elements of both in PvPvE, Destiny 2 ticks all of the boxes when it comes to the best multiplayer games. A few years since launch and Destiny 2 is better than ever, with the Forsaken expansion addressing plenty of foibles and a free-to-play launch on Steam bringing the game to new audiences.
Loot ties all of the multiplayer arms together, so no matter how you’re playing Destiny 2, your goal is always to acquire powerful new weapons and armour like Destiny 2 Exotics. Every mission completed, miniboss slain, and PvP match won contributes by rewarding you with mightier gear, creating an ongoing, near-endless power fantasy.
From hyper-mobile gameplay that lends itself to flanking manoeuvres to respawn beacons that bring your mates back into the fight after death, Respawn’s nimble shooter boasts all the usual trimmings of the best multiplayer games.
Where it truly excels, however, is its ability to bring everyone into the fold with its ping system. Should you feel uncomfortable talking to strangers with your microphone or simply don’t want to, you can still contribute by pinging enemies, locations of interest, and even the best Apex Legends weapons you want or think others may find useful.
The post-apocalyptic shooter is also early in its life cycle, meaning that now is an excellent time to jump in and try our Apex Legends tips. There will also be a steady stream of Apex Legends new Legends for players to sink their teeth into, which promises to freshen up the battle royale’s meta every few months. There’s also a very good chance you’ll bump into someone from this office. Be gentle, please.
If you have ever watched game shows such as Takeshi’s Castle or Total Wipeout and felt that you could do it, then you should give this party game a try. Your goal is not to get wiped out by the obstacles or occasionally by other bean people. You will either work on your own or cooperate with other players in several events, leading up to a finale where the winner grabs the victory crown.
Since becoming a free game, Fall Guys has taken on a more seasonal approach to its updates, including challenges and battle passes, in a similar way to Fortnite. By switching its events constantly, it always feels fresh, and if you join with friends, you can compete to see which of you is the ultimate survivor.
Dota 2/League of Legends
Now before you baulk at the aggregation of these two rival beasts of the MOBA genre into a single entry, we’re intending to recommend one or the other, not both – and let’s face it, while the mechanics, items, lanes, and League of Legends Champions/Dota 2 Heroes offer different gameplay experiences, the multiplayer aspect of both these games is largely the same. Gather four friends and discover how you each cope with blame and failure, or be assigned a team of four strangers who all somehow manage to be much worse than you at the game, even though statistically they are likely to be very close to you in rank.
The competitive scene around both of these games is gargantuan – almost four million people watched the LoL Worlds Semifinals simultaneously in November 2019, and back in August 2019 the prize pool for Dota’s The International reached over $34 million, the biggest pool in esports history.
League of Legends is Twitch’s most watched game of 2019, and with about eight million concurrent players a day to Dota’s average of 400,000, it’s clear to see which of the two is the most popular. That doesn’t mean LoL is necessarily the better game, but the figures do make sense when you consider how Riot churn out absolute bangers to promote their MOBA.
We recommend you try a couple of matches in both games before you decide on the best MOBA for you, but if you’re looking for a game that is a totally different experience every match depending on your draft vs the opponents’ draft, meaning you and your team can enjoy a new challenge night after night – we advise getting into LoL or Dota 2.
Team Fortress 2
If you were not there when Team Fortress 2 launched, it is difficult to convey what a delirious and unexpected pleasure it was in 2007. In development longer than Pangaea, TF2 blindsided everyone when it finally arrived in its cheery and lustrous Pixar sheen. Instead of the anticipated amalgamations of biceps and military garb we expected, its cast is a brigade of slapstick comedians whose interplay provoked frequent, spirited, and genuine lols.
Each had skills and abilities that interweaved beautifully. Heavy mows down Soldier. Engineer builds sentry to mow down Heavy. Spy saps sentry. Pyro incinerates Spy. Sniper takes out Pyro. Scout bonks Sniper on his noggin and runs off. Demo obliterates Scout with his sticky bombs, then resumes flashing people. No, not like that. Medic watches that Uber gauge, and licks his lips.
It’s a very different game today, now absolutely baffling to lapsed players. Still, the rich visual design, the sheer strength of its cast, and the interplay between classes preserve it as one of the best multiplayer games around. An enduring classic… even if the emergence of Fortnite has led to the biggest Team Fortress 2 player count drop ever.
The more things change, the more they stay the same – but as far as Overwatch 2 is concerned, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Overwatch is a cultural phenomenon, and its colourful cast of characters has successfully captured the hearts of many, from the most casual to the most hardcore of players. The class-based hero shooter owes much to Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends, fostering essential teamplay across payload maps featuring asymmetrical combat. It’s a tantalising mixture of popular styles, ripe with possibilities, which has captured the imaginations and evenings of the masses.
As our Overwatch 2 review points out, the sequel is more a continuation than a rebirth. Blizzard introduces a number of quality-of-life improvements to extend the legacy of the game’s predecessor, including a 5v5 format adjustment, minor hero changes, and replacing the game’s controversial lootbox system with a seasonal battle pass. It’s also free-to-play, making it easier than ever to jump into quick play with your pals. Overwatch 2 introduces new maps and gameplay modes, and expands the impressively diverse and colourful roster, too. Want to master the best Overwatch 2 heroes? Prepare to commit months to the colourful blaster. Somehow, Overwatch gets even better while maintaining a careful competitive balance.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has an underwhelming origin story. A refresh of Valve’s previous refresh of a Half-Life 1 mod, CS:GO was conceived as nothing more ambitious than a console port; an experiment to see if PlayStation and Xbox gamers would engage with the Counter-Strike name. And, if PC players fancied a go, what’s the harm? As it turns out, we got one of the best multiplayer games on PC.
Thanks to regular CS:GO updates, the shooter sensation is consistently one of the most played games on Steam. Its weapon skins support an entire cottage industry of trading sites. It is an ultra-competitive, high prize pool esport. You cannot move on Twitch for CS:GO streams.
Its popularity is self-evident, but its quality requires a deeper understanding of its appeal both as a nostalgia trip and a well-supported, pacey shooter with state-of-the-art spectator tools. Valve’s masterpiece is ripe for tactical exploitation, meaning you should check out our CS:GO tips if you want to succeed. Bristling with razor-sharp weapon feedback, this FPS is more comforting than mama’s homemade apple pie.
The sequel to Call of Duty’s battle royale game already has a huge player base, dropping into the Al Mazrah Warzone 2 map to get that sweet victory. While this free PC game is initially part of Modern Warfare 2’s game client, it’s clear that it will see the same level of support as the original Warzone, which got updates when Black Ops: Cold War and Vanguard came out. It also receives regular big updates, too, resulting in an ever-changing meta.
Compared to other games in the genre, Warzone 2 is blisteringly fast-paced and aggressive, with players respawning if they happen to win the now-changed Warzone 2 Gulag. You can also set up the best Warzone 2 loadout, before buying them from shops during a match, allowing you to customise the best Warzone 2 guns with assorted unlockable attachments, unlocked by exploring the redesigned Warzone 2 battle pass. It feels like a necessary upgrade and one that gives plenty of reasons to come back after a brief hiatus.
The moment someone at Psyonix said “how about football… but with cars?” one of the best multiplayer games on PC was born. Despite the failed first attempt, Rocket League’s success is down to its streamlined design: you just push a ball across a pitch with a car. It is hardly something only hardcore petrolheads can understand.
Do not mistake simplicity for a lack of depth, however. As we point out in our Rocket League PC review, mastering all the key Rocket League tips and successfully passing, shooting, and scoring is a thrilling learning curve. It leads to a career – not just for new musical talent – of a thousand near-misses and ‘almost!’ moments, your body inching forward in your seat as the tension builds. Headshots in shooters are ten-a-penny, but a goal in Rocket League is something special.
Rocket League’s exceptionally moreish online games are even better in local split-screen multiplayer. Everyone in the room will be ooh-ing and aahh-ing as the ball zooms from one end of the pitch to the other.
Rainbow Six Siege
Despite surface-level similarities to FPS darling CS:GO, Ubisoft have made reinforcing a wall or laying barbed wire as heroic as no-scoping an enemy from two rooftops away. Perhaps more than even the best multiplayer games, Rainbow Six Siege is about planning, communication, and execution of a team-based strategy.
Rainbow Six made its name by taking a quieter, more considered approach than the bombastic shooters against which it debuted in the late nineties, and in doing so it made you feel like a highly-trained, goggle-wearing, silenced MP5-toting specialist. The latest series entry evokes that same feeling despite the meta changes presented by a barrage of Rainbow Six Siege operators with more new operators coming in regular post-launch updates. If that sounds intimidating, Ubi do offer a Rainbow Six Siege Starter Edition so you can try it at a lower price.
Although, of course, there is destruction. Great big chunks of it that can kick up fine concrete dust every round. Just make sure you don’t get it all over your posh new cosmetics. Part of being ‘good’ at Siege is knowing each map intimately, and co-ordinating your team accordingly. The depth, nail-biting tension, and tactical potential of Rainbow Six Siege makes for a memorable cat-and-mouse multiplayer experience. No wonder the future of Siege is bright. As an esport it’s going global, while still allowing inexperienced high school minnows the chance to attain the glory of a major tournament place.
Arma 3 is about as close to finding yourself on a real battlefield, gibbering unintelligibly as the choppers and tanks go by. The large-scale battles and ultra-realism are not the only intimidating things about Arma 3, either. Populated by a diehard community with expertise levels second to none, the game’s players know things you didn’t know you knew.
Where pretend guns are concerned, this is one of the best multiplayer games around – no wonder Arma 3 sales are into the millions. Every battle is an engrossing spectacle, peppered with complex team chat and ingenious tactical manoeuvres (if you’re on a good server). It might still be buggier than the underside of a rotten branch, but it did its bit to bring about PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Enough said.
Don’t Starve Together
Don’t Starve Together is a little different from the other games in our best multiplayer games list. It doesn’t involve taking on an opposing team, but it does require a lot of teamwork, crafting, building, and not dying.
In this survival game, you and up to four other players are dropped into a sketchy Tim Burton-esque world filled with violent horrors and terrifying nightmarish creatures. These monsters are the least of your problems as you scramble to survive, keeping fed, warm, dry, and sane. If that wasn’t tricky enough, each night creatures emerge from the shadows ready to snuff out your campfire.
In Don’t Starve Together you’ll need to research new equipment to survive the changing seasons and progress through the world, all while collecting resources and trying desperately to, well, not starve.
Forza Horizon 5
Easily the champion of multiplayer racing if you’re not looking for anything too simulation-like, Forza Horizon 5 trades the English countryside of its predecessor for various climates of a scaled-down Mexico. Invite a friend into your lobby to hurtle around Aztec ruins together in the open world, hunting for hidden garages and cars to unlock, or compete against other players online in races dotted around the landscape.
This is one of the most beautiful racing games to date, with gorgeous weather effects and a vast array of biomes and environments to explore. Boasting a vehicle list of over 600, including post-launch additions, Forza Horizon 5 is the ultimate racing experience if you just want to have a good time.
Grand Theft Auto Online
Rockstar’s open-world game is nearly eight years old – shocking, we know – but Los Santos is still a popular destination for online multiplayer. In Grand Theft Auto Online, players create their own budding criminal before connecting to a multiplayer server and teaming up with other players to complete jobs and heists.
There’s a wealth of player-created content available, too, including races and deathmatches for you to compete in. On the unofficial side of things, GTA Online roleplay servers are especially popular among content creators on Twitch and YouTube, as players make great use of Los Santos’ bustling metropolis to create wild, improvised stories of their own.
So there you have it, the best multiplayer games on PC. Many of the best upcoming PC games also have exciting new multiplayer modes, which means there’s never been a better time to tap into your competitive side.