Sometimes it’s not the game that shines, but the players. Intricate gameplay and glistening visuals only go so far in making a standout multiplayer title; its humans that can provide surprises and schemes that transform the average first-person shooter or puzzler into a gladiatorial showdown or co-op crusade. That’s the secret to the best multiplayer games on PC.
Fast and frantic or tense and calculated, the best PvP games come in all shapes and sizes. But they’re all connected by the simple pleasure of interacting with other humans. Whether it’s a healer and a DPS attempting to solve a finicky flanking manoeuvre in Overwatch, or a tense head-to-head battle tackling terrorists in Rainbow Six Siege, these games wouldn’t be the same without a bunch of people running around killing, maiming, or, occasionally helping each other.
So banish those bots, break out your friends list, put on your most sociable face, and prepare to embrace the best multiplayer games on PC.
The best PC multiplayer games are:
Epic’s shooter first emerged as an intriguing mix of building, sandbox, and survival elements. The original Fortnite: Save the World mode – in which you construct fortresses to combat a severe zombie threat – has long been eclipsed by the world-conquering Fortnite Battle Royale. Thanks to some phenomenal Fortnite player numbers, and the fact it’s a good deal more polished than PUBG, Epic’s last man standing extravaganza is one of the best multiplayer games on PC.
Where you stand on the great Fortnite vs. PUBG debate depends on personal preference. Both are strong battle royale games with devoted communities, but Fortnite’s eye-catching Pixar sheen, accessibility – helped considerably by being free-to-play – and Fortnite building mechanics give it the edge for some over the detailed, deep military sim sensibilities of PUBG. We’re in no doubt, however, that Epic’s cosmetics game is far stronger: the sheer number of Fortnite skins and Fortnite Wraps (weapon and vehicle skins) is mind-boggling.
League of Legends
League of Legends gives you everything you could want from a MOBA. You can go in solo to prove your superiority over others, try to master the best LOL champions, or hone your skills in whatever role you prefer. Or you could make it your regular multiplayer home with friends, either in the standard 5v5 modes or in one of several custom games available. Whether you want to be the best in the world or just bash about in well-designed systems, there is something here.
For hardcore players League of Legends is a lifestyle choice, and thanks to constant updates, the game is always improving. Massive industries, professional scenes, and huge tournaments have sprung up around it, with millions on the line for the very best. League’s community has built entire ecosystems of player support, team management, spectating, and shoutcasting around these games. And, if you want to, you’ll always find something new to discuss, try, or improve. Some will readily extol the virtues of its Valve rival, Dota 2, but, for us, League of Legends’ player base and better-defined roles and rules make it not only the best MOBA, but one of the best multiplayer games on PC.
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 lead to the biggest Team Fortress 2 player count drop ever.
Beautifully blending Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends, Overwatch remains a phenomenon and easily one of the best multiplayer games ever made. A class-based multiplayer shooter that owes much to TF2’s art style, payload maps, and asymmetrical combat, Overwatch also owes plenty to LoL’s diverse roster and essential teamplay. As our Overwatch PC review attests, its tantalising recipe for multiplayer grandeur is a mixture of popular styles, ripe with possibilities, which has captured the imaginations and evenings of the masses. That much is apparent from even a cursory visit to the fantastically busy Overwatch reddit, where you will certainly never go hungry for GIFs.
Blizzard are continually updating the game and adding to their impressively diverse and colourful roster with new Overwatch heroes, too. Want to master the best Overwatch characters? 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.
Brendan ‘PlayerUnknown’ is the father of the battle royale genre and, as you might have guessed, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is his baby. In PUBG the genre’s premise is presented with just the bare essentials: 100 players drop into a giant map with a shrinking safe zone, scouring the map for guns and gear to ensure they are the only one left alive. Outlasting everyone as the sole survivor is mighty tough, of course, so you best read our PUBG tips on how to win.
The game launched after nine months in Early Access, and it’s all the better for it. The arsenal of PUBG weapons you can fire feels spot on, an extensive wardrobe of cosmetics courtesy of PUBG crates will help you look the part, and the refreshed UI and minimap are much clearer. Plus, more massive PUBG new maps are coming all the time to stop things getting staler than a corpse outside the circle. The fact that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is one of the best multiplayer games, but not necessarily the best battle royale game – Fortnite fans might have something to say about that – shows how gargantuan this genre has become.
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.
An exceptionally moreish online game, Rocket League’s true home is 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, punctuated by an obligatory elbow-to-the-ribs to prevent an inevitable goal.
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 ones 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 its 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.
Titanfall 2 boasts one of the best single-player FPS stories in recent memory. However, as if that wasn’t enough, Respawn’s majestic, mech-based shooter is one of the best multiplayer games around, too – make sure to read our Titanfall 2 class guide so you can meet your future robot buddies.
Titanfall 2’s intoxicating multiplayer component is all about interplay. Think David versus Goliath, except it can be Goliath against Goliath. Then, sometimes, David is inside Golia… actually, never mind.
The opening stages of an online match are redolent of Call of Duty: you start as one of five nimble pilots, using your grappling hook and other gadgets to get the jump on the opposition and rack up kills. Then, everything changes: Massive 20-foot titans with various weapons and abilities rain down and devastate the battlefield. Trading agile, dynamic traversal as a pilot to take control of the slower, but much more powerful titan imbues multiplayer rounds with an endlessly satisfying rhythm that refines the promising core of the original. If you missed Titanfall 2, rectify that now with Origin Access.
Unreal Tournament has made a huge contribution to the online FPS scene. Chasing power-ups, armour shards, and super-weapons may have fallen out of favour since 1999, but the pace, game modes and map designs ensure Unreal Tournament remains one of the best multiplayer games you can play.
Not that anyone cared at the time, of course. We were too busy headshotting each other, cowering in the opposing towers of CTF_Face away from the best sniper rifle games had offered to date. Or scurrying over to the Redeemer for a chance to turn the tides on a poor round’s performance. It might have lost its initial graphical sparkle, but its level layout and special weapon feedback mean that Unreal Tournament remains perfectly playable all these years on.
The best multiplayer games are all about having fun with friends – and exploding the noggins of internet randoms, of course. That said, Ghost Town Games’ Overcooked will strain even the strongest of friendships.
The true chaos of this couch co-op cooking game is not revealed immediately. Shrouded beneath a cute, colourful aesthetic, you will likely fly – or should we say fry? – through your first culinary challenges in the Onion Kingdom. Each meal you cook helps save the world from a massive meatball. After your first few kitchen adventures, though, you and your staff/erstwhile friends will be screaming at each other louder than Gordon Ramsay with lego in his shoes.
If you fail to assign clear roles and communicate effectively, beef patties will burn, dirty dishes will pile up, and customers will get cheesed off. From swaying pirate ships to lorries that split in half in the middle of the motorway, the kitchens in which you work your gastronomic magic will become increasingly treacherous as the dishes you cook grow in complexity. With new Overcooked chefs and kitchens being added since the game’s release, there’s never been a better time to try this, one of the best indie games on PC.
TowerFall Ascension is a game all about platforms – apart from the ill-fated Ouya platform on which it originally launched, that is. With competitive multiplayer for up to four, think Bomberman with the camera moved, and bows instead of explosives, TowerFall Ascension’s engaging appeal is easy to understand, as we found in our TowerFall Ascension PC review.
One of the best multiplayer games for couch co-op, the simplicity of both premise and control scheme – jump, move, shoot – ensures accessibility. You might as well play it long after your friends have gone, too: the game’s refined movement and map design reward extended practice.
It is easy to be cynical about Worms, now entering its third decade with a penchant for platform proliferation. Chop a turn-based party game from Team17 in half, myth has it, and two new groups of the slippery blighters will spring writhing from its remains. But the (apple) core ensures it remains one of the best multiplayer games on PC: 30 seconds in which you must steer your pink avatar around a pockmarked landscape with the aim of blasting, batting, and Super Sheep-ing an opponent into dust before their turn starts.
Typically played with three or four players, Worms is a slapstick spectator sport ripe for grenade gaffes, jumping misjudgements, and an assortment of other seconds-left mistakes. The nuance offered by trajectory and wind speed – not to mention elusive mastery over the ninja rope – means there is scope for high-level play, too. It may be disarmingly cute, but Worms is still one of the best strategy games on PC.
Some say that Worms Armageddon was a spiritual high point. But we recommend the subsequent Worms World Party for the potential for customisation, or the recent Worms W.M.D to see the current vehicle-infused iteration of the formula.
Read more: Here are the best racing games on PC
So there you have it, the best multiplayer games on PC. Of course, we all know playing multiplayer is only fun when you’re winning, so make sure you read our Fortnite tips for Battle Royale and check up on all the new Overwatch heroes for online success. Many of the best upcoming PC games also have exciting new multiplayer modes. It means there’s never been a better time to tap into your competitive side. Solo gaming is fine and all, but beating other gamers makes the best multiplayer modes incredibly moreish.