Once upon a time, playing games with friends meant having them over to visit. And while we can’t deny the appeal of couch co-op, it’s just not feasible for everyone. Thankfully, by taking advantage of the internet, we’re no longer constrained by physical distance – we can play with friends and strangers from across the world. But what to play? Well, we’ve got a countdown of the 5 best online games to help you decide.
“Online game” can be kind of a nebulous phrase, so here are some ground rules: First, the game must have online connectivity as a major feature. For example, while Uncharted 4 does feature an online multiplayer mode, it’s not significant enough to warrant inclusion here. Second, the number of players can vary, but we are specifically excluding the best MMORPGs, as we’ve already got a separate list for those. With those disclaimers out of the way, please enjoy our list of the 5 best online games to play right now.
The first new intellectual property from Blizzard in nearly two decades, Overwatch was a drastic shake-up of the competitive shooter scene. As a ‘hero shooter,’ it features a wide variety of distinct characters – a gorilla with cybernetic enhancements, a mecha and its pilot, a deranged pyromaniac, a possibly-undead soldier, a freaking hamster inside a battle tank, and many more – each with their own abilities and role to play. Teamwork is key, as the game is never about simply eliminating the opposition, but rather securing objectives. It’s also made great strides in the esports arena, with tournaments even being broadcast on ESPN.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Look, there’s a reason there have been 20 (yes, twenty) games in this series: they’re good. Dang good. By eschewing single-player (a first for the series), Black Ops 4 flexes all of its considerable muscle in its online multiplayer suite. The gameplay is fast, smooth, and satisfying, and if you ever want to take a break from the kill-or-be-killed mania of competitive team play, you can check out the cooperative Zombies, a 4-player horde mode with its own extensive lore and gameplay mechanics. And new this year, the Call of Duty take on battle royale, Blackout, which – surprise! – is actually tons of fun.
League of Legends
At one point the most popular game in the world, League of Legends helped kick off the MOBA craze, and continues to excel within its genre by constantly testing and experimenting with new ideas. Though there is the standard 5v5, three-lane map any MOBA player would know, there’s also a two-lane 3v3 map, a single-lane map where players are randomly assigned champions, and special limited-time events that mix things up even more. The characters are enticing and just plain fun to look at, and with more than 130 to choose from, you’re sure to find one that suits your playstyle.
Warframe started as a relatively simple online hack-‘n’-slash game, but has since blossomed into a galaxy-spanning action-adventure with an embarrassment of riches for players to dig into and enjoy. You play as a Tenno – basically, halfway between a Guyver and a Jedi, or a space-ninja-wizard if you don’t know what those things are – and it’s your mission to rid the universe of an oppressive regime of bad guys. While that may sound very ‘been there, done that,’ it’s the smooth-as-butter combat and exciting visual flourishes that help Warframe stand out. Developer Digital Extremes is also very good at communicating with its fans, which has led to an extremely pleased and supportive playerbase.
Fortnite. Is. Everywhere. It’s everything. You think that’s air you’re breathing? That’s Fortnite, brother. You think that’s water you’re drinking? Nuh-uh, sister. Fortnite. It can seem a bit overwhelming and even annoying how much the world loves Fortnite right now, but there’s good reason. Namely, it’s really fun. Yes, it’s a battle royale game with all the trappings that you’d expect: 100 players dropped into a large map, an ever-shrinking safe zone, one player left standing. But Fortnite is also a crafting game, where the best players aren’t just those who can shoot accurately, but those who can build mega-structures and fortresses in the blink of an eye. Fortnite also mixes things up with its seasonal structure, adding exciting new mechanics every few months, giving players added incentive to come back and check things out. The game is also extremely accessible, as it’s free to play and available on pretty much everything. So yeah, Fortnite is everywhere, including the top of this list. It deserves to be.