What makes playing video games even better? Playing with our friends.

Saving the world, defusing bombs, saving the world from an invasion is for a lot of people more fun with friends fighting alongside them.

But not every game that comes along will be popular enough or have the longevity to hold a meaningful player count. It is an unfortunate reality that a lot of huge triple-A titles that are hyped up with massive marketing blitz turn out to be vapid and vacuous grind fests.

For this list, I will only list games that are already released and will do my best to select Triple-A titles and indie games across different genres.

Mobile games will also be excluded from this list and so will hugely popular games such as Fortnite, PUBG, Dota 2 and other titles.


Overwatch

overwatch tracy
Image Credit: AC De Leon | Unsplash

Yes, I realize Overwatch has balance issues and Hanzo’s hitbox is absurd. But despite nagging issues, Overwatch is still a popular game with a large player base.

There is a lot of to like about Overwatch from their level design, map objectives although just like in Team Fortress 2, no one ever pushes the payload and unique character designs.

The unique characters and skills which result in an asymmetric team and gameplay will always inspire passionate discussion and debate about balance and your teammates always raging at that one guy who instalocks Widowmaker or Genji in every damn match.

But it is a breath of fresh air from the plodding near future shooters that we constantly get and as a player with nearly a thousand hours in Team Fortress 2, Overwatch has and continues to be a fun game to play with my friends.

Rainbow Six Siege

Rainbow Six Siege started out as a troubled game with the “Ubisoft” problem that plagued their releases several years ago. What is the “Ubisoft” problem you ask? They would show off a super slick, incredibly polished trailer that people would get excited over. But when the game released, the game would look and in some cases play nothing like what the trailer shows.

The game would start out on wobbly legs and the criticisms leveled at the game such as the bugs, balance issues were justified.

Similar to the Division 1 however, Ubisoft stoically made frequent updates and contrary to the trend where most games lose their player base over the months after launch, Rainbow Six Siege actually had its player base increase year after year.

A constant barrage of updates, balancing, bug fixes, and constant communication quickly turned things around for the game and suddenly, I was plagued with constant requests from my friends to join them.

Now, it is hailed as one of the biggest comebacks in gaming history, has a huge fanbase and even made a successful transition to e-sports. This is proof that the “games as a service” model actually works when they treat players with respect and utilize reasoned, sensible monetization methods rather than the heavy-handed, aggressive approach that many other publishers take.

In case you have no idea what the game is about, perhaps the trailer above will give you an idea of what the game is like.

For those who are unable to watch the video, the quick and dirty version is as follows:

It is a tactical shooter where one team attacks and one team defends. The objectives are similar to Counter-Strike such as hostage rescue, defusing a bomb or it can be an outright deathmatch.

Each team can select “operators” with unique skills such as heartbeat sensors, cluster grenades and more. Mastery of the game comes to learning the maps and the quirks, weapons, and skills of the different operators.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

counterstrike global offensive

This game needs no introduction. Counter-Strike was given life as a mod to the genre-defining “Half-Life”.  Since then, it has gone through several iterations and was eventually picked up by Valve to be developed as a full standalone title in its own right.

Boasting a player count of hundreds of thousands each day, a thriving e-sports scene, the venerable title has proven to have a hardcore base of fans that have stubbornly stuck with Counter-Strike through thick and thin.

Be warned though, if you are new to this game, it is brutally unforgiving and can be frustrating as the learning curve is steep. Basically, be prepared to die. A lot.

Payday 2

Payday 2
Image Credit: Overkill Software

Ever dreamed of pulling off elaborate heists and being swarmed by endless waves of armoured police ala Left 4 Dead style? Payday 2 is FIVE years old and still boasts 10,000 daily players. Payday 2 is so compelling because each map can be played differently.

Some missions allow great flexibility in allowing you and your crew different ways to approach a mission. For example, you can break into a warehouse, sneak in, dodge patrolling guards, kill the CCTV operator and steal as much loot as possible. Before silently exfiltrating. Or, you can simply don the heaviest armour you have, kick down the front door and shoot everything in sight. Both ways are equally viable.

The body count that you rack up is absolutely hilarious. Assuming you go loud, the police assault begins and they just throw endless waves of bodies at you in an attempt to overwhelm you. What is equally hilarious is how lethal the four of you are and within minutes, you can barely see the floor through a carpet of armoured bodies.

Higher difficulties require you to run specific builds and each major balance patch has seen the rise and fall of certain builds. This is one of the biggest pains of the game.

You need to research and put together a specific type of build because on the higher difficulties, mobs have so much health, armour, and damage that you become pigeonholed into running very specific builds. If you happen to enjoy those builds, excellent. If you don’t well tough.

Either way, it is a highly entertaining game and even features characters such as John Wick as part of a collaboration. The game is frequently on sale so keep an eye out on Steam before shelling out the cash.

The Division 2

The Division 2
Image Credit: Ubisoft

The Divison 2 is a relatively new game which launched at a really fortuitous time. Developed by Massive Entertainment, it is the sequel to — you guessed it — The Division 1 which suffered its own fair share of developmental problems.

Similar to Rainbow Six Siege, Massive plugged away at it and managed to become a really good game at the end of it all. The recently released sequel showed that Massive has taken quite a few of the lessons they’ve learned from the first game and it shows.

PvE is, for the most part, fantastic. The mission set pieces are incredible, varied and the missions can be challenging if you stop respecting the enemies. There is plenty of end game content that keeps players engaged long after clearing the campaign and constant updates so far have kept things fresh.

PvP however, is a mess and if you care about that you should look into whether the state of PvP is acceptable to you.


Online Multiplayer Games Can Be a Hit or Miss

multiplayer game in front of tv
Image Credits: Jeshoots.com | Unsplash

An example of a “miss” is the Anthem, a game made by a beloved studio that turned out to be a near total disaster. Many modern games are coming out as a “live-service” model and roadmaps which is a worrying trend in gaming.

Developers suffer grueling hours and having stress breakdowns at work only to face public backlash from gamers who feel they have been cheated who bought into the hype and received a completely different game than what was shown in a demo.

Some other games such as Natural Selection 2 have a passionate development team who care greatly about the game that they have made. But despite all their efforts, their game sadly simply does not get the growth and attention it deserves.

But no matter which online multiplayer game you and your friends decide to delve into, the most important thing is that you have fun together.