For as long as humans have existed, games served a crucial function, as a teaching tool, exercised disguised as fun, and a way to tighten social bonds. And then video game lobbies and voice chats came about, and everything went to… redefine what games are.
Jokes aside, multiplayer games are a staple of the video gaming environment, and many games thrive on MP alone. So let’s take a look as some of the best multiplayer games you can play on PC. Obviously, we couldn’t put all of them in the article, so we stuck mostly with non-serialised, big and medium-sized games, a few of which have a good premise or a cool gimmick. So no local coop party games like Overcooked or Worms, although we have some articles about them The best couch co-op & split screen games on PC and no Call of Duty or Battlefield games, which while good and intensely popular, there’s a new one every year.
Now, the list. Arranged alphabetically, because it’s not about rankings, it’s about finding something that sounds interesting.
PC Multiplayer games worth taking a look at
|Game||Release year||Genre||Developer||Multiplayer type||Check price below|
|Apex Legends||2019||Battle royale, first-person shooter||Respawn Entertainment||Team PvP||Buy now!|
|Counter-Strike: Global Offensive||2012||First-person shooter||Hidden Path Entertainment, Valve Corporation||Team PvP||Buy now!|
|Destiny 2||2017||First-person shooter||Bungie||MMO PvE, PvP||Buy now!|
|Elite Dangerous||2014||Space trading and combat||Frontier Developments||MMO||Buy now!|
|Fortnite||2017||Survival, battle royale||Epic Games||PvE (Save the World), PvP, team PvP (Battle Royale)||Buy now!|
|Grand Theft Auto V||2013||Action-adventure||Rockstar North||MMO PvE||Buy now!|
|Monster Hunter: World||2018||Action role-playing||Capcom||PvE, co-op PvE||Buy now!|
|Mordhau||2019||Hack’n’slash||Triternion||PvP, team PvP||Buy now!|
|Overwatch||2016||First-person shooter||Blizzard Entertainment||Team PvP||Buy now!|
|PUBG||2017||Battle royale||PUBG Corporation||PvP, team PvP||Buy now!|
|Rainbow Six: Siege||2015||Tactical shooter||Ubisoft Montreal||Team PvP||Buy now!|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||2018||Action-adventure||Rockstar Studios||MMO||Buy now!|
|Rocket League||2015||Sports||Psyonix||Competitive||Buy now!|
|Titanfall 2||2016||First-person shooter||Respawn Entertainment||PvP, Team PvP||Buy now!|
|Warframe||2013||Action role-playing||Digital Extremes||Co-op PvE||Buy now!|
|World of Warcraft||2004||MMORPG||Blizzard Entertainment||MMO||Buy now!|
|Genre:||Battle royale, first-person shooter|
|Multiplayer type:||Team PvP|
Set in the same universe as the Titanfall games (discussed later), Apex Legend released a lot of fanfare and glowing reviews. With good reason, too, since at day 1 Apex Legends had good gunplay, great mobility lifted from Titanfall, and a fantastic, useful, and simple to get the hang of ping system, letting you alert your team of virtually anything without losing a beat.
On the whole, AL is a mix between a hero shooter and a battle royale game. The players can choose from a number of contenders, each with their own unique abilities and role on the field. Players compete in teams of three, dropping onto the map, scavenging weapons, and trying to be the last ones standing. It doesn’t have Titanfall’s mechs, but it has enough features to make up for it.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
|Developer:||Hidden Path Entertainment, Valve Corporation|
|Multiplayer type:||Team PvP|
Without a doubt, Counter-Strike is one of the most popular multiplayer series on PC. Originated as a mod for Half-Life, it quickly turned into a standalone series. After several iterations, the current version is Counter -Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO, and it’s seven years old at the time of writing. The absence of a new version after so long proves its strengths.
The core gameplay of CS:GO revolves around team-based PvP, in which one team acts as Terrorists, and the other as Anti-Terrorists, with opposing goals to accomplish, such as disarming a bomb, or preventing a rescue of hostage. After each round, the players get an amount of money (dependent on their effectiveness) to spend on tools and weapons for subsequent rounds.
|Multiplayer type:||MMO PvE, PvP|
Destiny 2 came three years after the launch of the original game, with a new, more pronounced storyline, a new weapon classification system, and new subclasses. It’s an all-new Destiny through and through. And barring the most recent expansions that you’ll still need to buy, the game is free to play, including the earliest expansions.
The new subclasses are Arcstrider for Hunters, Dawnblade for Warlocks, and Sentinel for Titans, each with a new Super, of course. As is usual with Bungie’s games, the moment to moment gunplay is excellent, and there’s a large diversity of guns, from revolvers to sniper rifles, and some heavier pieces, too. Go on and give it a try.
|Genre:||Space trading and combat|
Elite Dangerous is a sprawling space sim, letting you become the captain of your own space ship, explore the massive galaxy, and ply your chosen trade alone or with other players. Since launch it has evolved, of course, and the player base has been very active through roleplaying, trade, combat, and especially exploration, since there are still some under-explored regions.
Although you can go solo, or at least without seeing other players, ED is much better if you treat is as a multiplayer game it was made to be. Trading is going to make much more sense then, certainly, and exploring the far reaches of space is easier and more fun as a part of a huge expedition force, even if only for protection and a steady duel supply.
|Genre:||Survival, battle royale|
|Multiplayer type:||PvE (Save the World), PvP, team PvP (Battle Royale)|
For all the things that can be said about Fortnite, it’s still one of the most popular multiplayer games out there, and it being free-to-play in its Battle Royale segment accounts for a portion of its popularity. It has an easily identifiable aesthetic, generally lighthearted atmosphere, and a fairly interesting gimmick in the form of building structures on the fly.
Although it gets lost in the buzz around Fortnite Battle Royale, there’s also a PvE segment, which was the original form of the game, before the BR craze. Save the World is all about defeating zombies and building a defensible fort. If co-op is more your style than BR PvP, then you should check it out some time, especially if you have some friends willing to play along.
Grand Theft Auto V
|Multiplayer type:||MMO PvE|
Or, more specifically, its Grand Theft Auto Online part, coming together with the base game at no additional price. In the multiplayer segment you get free reign of the city you already probably know from the singleplayer, except now you can mess around with over two dozen other players per server. After a rocky launch, it grew to be extremely popular, with a diverse set of activities.
In addition to various more or less competitive modes, GTAO is also open to roleplaying servers, and it’s quite easy to find them. If you are too old and tired to play cops and robbers in the real world, jump into GTA Online, find an RP server and go to town. You can even establish your own crew of up to 5 people and go cause mischief or enforce order together.
Monster Hunter: World
|Multiplayer type:||PvE, co-op PvE|
Monster Hunter: World is quite playable when you go solo, at least most of the time. But it’s not until you team up with other players that you start to get a good feel for the hunt. With four people having four different weapons, most damage types can be covered, including something for a nice stun, and something to cut off pieces of the monsters.
The monsters are also harder if you don’t play alone, which may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on where you’re standing. Either way, running a good team composition on a hunt can be very satisfying. Although getting hit by a wild swing of a fellow player’s can be frustrating, at worst interrupts something you were doing.
|Multiplayer type:||PvP, team PvP|
If you’ve never recovered from sorrow after Chivalry: Medieval Warfare’s numbers dwindled, Mordhau might just be the thing you needed, until Chivalry 2 comes out, at the very least. Mordhau quickly gathered popularity big enough to surprise even its creators, and with good reason, as it is a pretty crunchy and realistic (within reason) medieval combat simulator.
The game features an extensive armoury, with many different types of weapon, and plenty of armour pieces, from which you can assemble your own loadout. Many weapons also have an alternative attack, such as the eponymous Mordhau (murderstroke), and there are some close-quarters combat options, too.
|Multiplayer type:||Team PvP|
Launched in 2016 Overwatch quickly became a hit. Overwatch has vivid, almost Pixar-like character designs, an ongoing storyline expressed through comics and cinematics, and well-designed mechanics aiming for tight teamplay. Given that it’s Blizzard’s first FPS, Overwatch did a lot of things well right away, and was committed to making regular updates and releasing new heroes.
Overwatch is almost entirely PvP-based, with only an occasional dip into the PvE territory, now reserved mostly for the Overwatch 2 sequelo-expansion. At the time of writing there 31 different heroes split into three broad classes: Tank, Damage, and Support, and a typical match is a 6v6, usually with objectives beyond just killing the other team.
|Multiplayer type:||PvP, team PvP|
PUBG is the game that started the Battle Royale craze, although it was “just” a standalone version of mods Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene made for other games, such as Arma 2. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds consistently ranks in the top 5 of Steam’s most played games and although it doesn’t have the numbers it once had, they are still in hundreds of thousands.
If you don’t fancy Fortnite’s cartoonish aesthetic and light-hearted vibe, you may find PUBG’s mostly realistic style more palatable. Probably the most outrageous element of the game is its, at this point iconic pan, but otherwise it’s pretty down to earth. With a fairly steady player base you don’t run the risk of not having anyone to play with (or against) anytime soon.
Rainbow Six: Siege
|Multiplayer type:||Team PvP|
The Rainbow Six series is fairly old, and it always put emphasis on tactics and teamwork, even in singleplayer campaigns. R6: Siege is a multiplayer-first, objective-based asymmetrical PvP pitting teams of specialised operators against each other. And not that it’s in any way relevant to the actual gameplay, but it had a trailer with Idris Elba in it, standing amid the destruction.
The destruction IS important, because it’s a crucial part of the overall gameplay. You can breach walls to create new paths to eliminating the opposing team, and you can patch these breaches to prevent getting outflank. Each operator is either an Attacker or a Defender, and has tools and reflecting that classification. It’s effectively a hero shooter by way of tactical PvP.
Red Dead Redemption 2
After a nostalgic hit that the first Red Dead Redemption was, a sequel was inevitable, even if it took Rockstar a long time to make it. And it turned out that the game is great! But Rockstar also learned their lesson from GTA5’s multiplayer, and gave RDR2 an Online segment as well, and wouldn’t you know, it’s fun as well.
The events of Red Dead Online take place several years before the singleplayer experience, and despite it having some story tied to it, like in GTAO you are free to just roam the map, join or form a roving gang of bandits, and roleplay to your hearts contents. There’s no better Wild West-themed multiplayer experience anywhere, and now it’s available on PC!
Although it is a spiritual sequel to Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars, a game with arguably the best title in video game history, Rocket League’s name isn’t quite as descriptive, nor does it have as much rhythm. Nevertheless it’s a fantastic sportsball game in which leg-powered ground-bound humans are replaced by rocket-powered acrobatic cars.
Although the ceiling over the arena is within driving distance (you can ride up the walls easily), the skill ceiling of the game is very high up. Experienced players can performs stunning manoeuvres in the air using their cars’ jets, and score a goal from improbable positions. If you know the French animated series Galactik Football, it’s sort of like that, but with cars.
|Multiplayer type:||PvP, Team PvP|
Titanfall 2 has a pretty damn good singleplayer campaign, taking the player on a wild adventure of discovery and bonding with your Titan after a field promotion to Pilot. But great though it is, the core of the game rests in the multiplayer. After all why stick to the campaign’s single Titan, if in MP you could take your pick from several very different models?
You Pilot is a fantastically agile avatar, able to run on walls like it’s perfectly normal, and zip from cover to cover or enemy to enemy. And when a special meter fills out, you can call in your customised Titan, possibly crushing some opponents lounging in the landing zone. And when it fills again, you’ll be able to use your titan’s special ability defined by their Core.
|Multiplayer type:||Co-op PvE|
Warframe has grown enough to make simple descriptions harder to come by, but the essence, “ninjas in space” remains quite accurate. But there are also biotechnological viruses, warlike degenerate clones, money-worshipping technocrats, and extremely dangerous rebellious AI. Warframe is a hodge podge of science-fiction tropes, and is never ashamed of it.
The game is co-op oriented, with teams of up to four Tenno (player characters) taking on a number of mission types, ranging from typical horde-mode survivals and defences to more stealth-oriented spy missions. The warframes themselves, effectively “heroes” or “classes” can be freely switched between missions and cater to a lot of different playstyles.
World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft was far from the first MMORPG, but it sure quickly became the biggest one thanks to capitalising on the Warcraft brand, at the time stronger than ever thanks to a solid expansion for WarCraft III. Launched in 2004, WoW isn’t slowing down fifteen years later, and the release of WoW Classic saw some older fans surge back to revive their nostalgia.
Close to ten expansions in, WoW still consistently boasts well over a million players around the world, significantly more after each new batch of content arrives. Are there more populated MMOs out there? Sure, but WoW has a lot of history, and enough players to make you feel like you’re in a really populated world with an adventure and a new friend of foe around the corner.
[buy,World of Warcraft: Shadowlands]
The game begins in 3…2…1…
That concludes our list, but as you’ll see by browsing the “Multiplayer” category on any store you use, the world of multiplayer games is huge and covers many genre and playstyles. Even if our suggestions don’t speak to you, you’re bound to eventually find a multiplayer game just right for you.