Mario Kart 8 screenshot showing Mario and Luigi racing around a colorful course
Nintendo

Best Multiplayer Games Ever Made

Everyone loves sharing games with their friends. Today, we're counting down the best multiplayer games ever made. Did your favorite make the cut?
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Video games are more fun when you can share them with friends–and rivals. Of course, everyone loves an epic RPG or a sweeping single-player game with a gripping narrative. However, there’s something special about sharing games with friends. A good multiplayer mode can take a game from “cool’ to “timeless”.

Splatoon 3
Nintendo

Today, we’re breaking down some of the very best multiplayer games ever made. Some of these are local multiplayer all-stars, while others are renowned for their online multiplayer components. In any case, they’re all top-notch games with multiplayer modes that give them nearly unlimited replayability. 

Whether you’re a fan of couch co-op, competitive arena-based combat, or white-knuckle brawls, we’ve got you covered today. No matter what kind of multiplayer games you play, today’s list will have something you’ll love. As a quick note, we’re only covering one entry from each series represented here. If we didn’t, titles like Splatoon and Mario Party would appear far too many times!

Splatoon

Nintendo doesn’t rock the boat that often. The company is best known for its long-running franchises like Mario and Zelda. In 2015, the developer shook things up and released a brand-new IP, Splatoon, populated entirely by original characters. This fast-paced multiplayer arena game quickly became a fan favorite, with its bright colors and addictive gameplay standing out in the crowd of bland FPS games that dominated the industry in 2015.

When Nintendo released Splatoon 2 in 2017 on the Switch, it reached a wider audience and became one of the best-selling games on the system. The intense, three-minute Turf War mode, where players battle to cover more of the arena in their team’s ink, make for a perfect bite-sized chunk of competitive multiplayer action. Splatoon expertly blends the reflex-based action of FPS-style games with the family-friendly and approachable gameplay that made Nintendo a household name.

The most recent entry in the series, Splatoon 3, is more iterative than revolutionary. However, it’s still a fantastic addition to the Switch’s library and deserves a spot in any hardcore multiplayer fan’s game rotation. Check it out if you’re in the mood to get soaked in ink and show off your skills!

Halo: Reach

You could replace Reach with nearly any entry in the long-running Halo series and few hardcore players would disagree with you. The series has consistently delivered some of the best competitive FPS gameplay of any franchise on any system. When the first Halo game hit the scene back in 2001, it put the nascent Xbox on the map and essentially created its own genre of console first-person competitive titles. 

With a wide array of multiplayer maps, weapons, vehicles, and gameplay modes, Halo’s competitive scene is surprisingly deep and varied. Each new entry has introduced new wrinkles for returning and new players to sink their teeth into. Fans will debate endlessly about whether Halo: Reach or Halo 3 is the series’ high-water mark (it’s definitely Reach), so both merit mention here.

Halo has always rewarded a combination of savvy map knowledge with raw twitch skills. It’s not just about how well you can aim; it’s about how well you can move and react in an ever-shifting sandbox full of dangerous weapons and fast-moving enemies. If you’re in the mood for a Halo match, there’s really nothing else out there to scratch that itch.

Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart has been the go-to multiplayer party game for college dorm rooms and children’s birthday parties since the 1990s. And there’s a good reason for that: it’s approachable, bright, and a real blast to play. The latest iteration, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is among the best video games ever made and one of the best-selling titles on the red-hot Nintendo Switch system.

The latest Mario Kart features a huge roster of characters, gorgeous graphics, and a robust online multiplayer component. It’s breathtakingly easy to get into a competitive race with people from around the world. You can quickly determine if your cart-racing skills are actually impressive or if you’re just an ace in your friend group. 

Interestingly enough, MK8 has sold so well now that Nintendo seems unwilling to create a sequel for it. Instead, the company has rolled out a new DLC expansion, adding a huge swath of new tracks to the game to keep players engaged for the foreseeable future. The new courses, many of which are updated versions of tracks from previous entries, are robust enough to make players wonder if this is what Nintendo is making instead of Mario Kart 9

League of Legends

Few games capture the sheer arena-centered intensity that you can find in League of Legends. The game belongs to a niche genre called MOBAs–Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas. They’re derived from an old fan-favorite mod for the real-time strategy game Warcraft III. It’s all quite complicated, but the bottom line is that League of Legends is one of the most recognizable entries in the passionate but ultimately small MOBA community.

League tasks players with controlling a hero in a tense five-against-five match. Players battle for control of one of three lanes on a broad map, seeking to punch through their opponent’s defenses and destroy a crystal in their base. It sounds simple, but each hero has a suite of powers and unique abilities that can make each match play out differently. 

If there’s any complaint about League, it’s that the extremely precise gameplay and half-hour-or-more matches can be stressful. It’s painful to make a single mistake early in the game that snowballs into an insurmountable lead for your opponents–and a crushing defeat for your frustrated teammates. Still, the promise of dominating the battlefield and impressing everyone with your prowess is enough to make League one of the premier MOBAs on the market and one of the best multiplayer games ever made.

Fortnite

There were games with battle royale elements before Fortnite, but they weren’t the full-scale phenomenon that they became after Epic’s free-to-play all-against-all third-person game hit the scene. Fortnite promises mayhem, chaos, and emergent gameplay around every corner, and it’s kept the game atop the charts for years. 

In Fortnite, players are on their own against the world. Matches consist of 100 players air-dropping down to an abandoned island full of wacky architecture and comic-book-style landscapes. Players have no equipment when they land and need to scavenge the landscape below to find ways to defend themselves. Since you’re completely on your own, you’re free to forge your own path toward victory.

Maybe you prefer a stealthy approach, keeping out of sight and waiting until only a few people are left standing before diving into the mix. Or, perhaps you’d rather go loud and use intimidation tactics to scare your opponents away from critical positions. The best part about Fortnite is that you get to own your victories, as they belong to only you. Of course, on the other hand, you also have to own your losses, as you’ve got only yourself to blame if you slip up in a fight.

Mario Party

Nintendo really has this whole “party game” thing figured out. The Mario Party series has been around since the Nintendo 64 days, and it’s still one of the most popular local multiplayer games on the market. The most recent entries, Mario Party: Superstars and Super Mario Party, have introduced a new generation of fans to the turn-based board game and fast-paced minigames that define the series.

If you’re looking for a game to take up an evening and get everyone yelling at the screen, Mario Party is the game for you. It creates fun stories between friends as everyone scrambles to get enough coins to buy a Star. Alliances are forged and broken, minigames test friendships, and only one player can be crowned the Super Star. It’s like Macbeth, but with less poison.

The best thing about Mario Party is that it doesn’t really test your skill that much, but it’s also not entirely luck-dependent. It’s got the right mix of wacky fun mixed with player engagement to keep everyone happy, making it the ideal party game. 

Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Smash Bros has always been the king of local multiplayer. The game can be as casual as you want, with huge maps and ridiculous items that can make every match a complete vortex of mayhem. It can also be played in a competitive setting, with smaller maps and stricter rule sets allowing for tournament-style one-on-one matches. 

That flexibility makes Super Smash Bros Ultimate the, well, ultimate multiplayer game. You can hop online for some intense duels with the best opponents from around the world. You can also just invite your buddies over, crack open some drinks, and laugh while you throw items at each other. Few games have that kind of range, and it makes Smash Bros something special.

Beyond this, the series has always been a love letter to all things gaming. The roster is drawn from a wide variety of video games, including Nintendo’s own first-party titles and beloved third-party icons like Sora and Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s essentially “Video Games: The Video Game,” and that makes it something special.