The 15 Best Multiplayer Games to Play While Social Distancing

These are rough times. We miss our friends and family, and while it’s essential, social distancing is hard on everyone.

Still, it doesn’t mean you can’t see your friends online. While it seems like the majority of multiplayer games are competitive, there are tons that can be used to foster that all-important human interaction. Co-op titles can act as virtual hangouts and help bring us together, at a time when it’s more important than ever. Here are 15 games (in no particular order) you should pick up from if you just want to game with your friends.

1. The Jackbox Party Pack (PS4, Xbox One, PC/Mac, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV)

Miss playing party games with your friends? Any of the Jackbox Party Packs will guarantee that you still get some time in. All you need for a remote party is a phone or computer for each participant, and probably some alcohol.

So far there are six party packs, each of which includes around five different games. There’s generally a trivia game, a drawing game, and few more wacky ones, everything from a rap battle game to a monster dating game. You really can’t go wrong with any of the packs, although Fibbage tends to be the best of the bunch. Best of all is that you can stream the game online and allow anyone to join in from their devices, allowing you to easily get a big group of folks together to laugh along at this party game goodness.

2. Fortnite/Call of Duty:Warzone /Apex Legends/PUBG

Sure, the very conept of a battle royale game is to socially isolate yourself through murder, but when’s the next time you’ll be able to safely attend any gathering of 100 people? So picking one up is a no-brainer, but the only question is which one to get, since there’s so many vying for your attention (and microtransaction money). Want to go more realistic? Go PUBG. Appreciate a faster pace and unique characters? Go Apex Legends. Call of Duty: Warzone is of course the latest and greatest hotness, while Fortnite is never a bad choice, because there’s always something to do. While you can play most of these solo they really shine in multiplayer, and there’s just nothing like getting a squad and fighting off dozens of others in order to become the winners.

3. Overcooked 2 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC/Mac/Linux)

Some might look at screens of Overcooked and dismiss it as a cutesy casual game, so it’s important to note that the first game starts with you frantically trying to satiate a Lovecraftian spaghetti and meatball monstrosity called the Ever Peckish before it devours the world. This flash-forward sets the stage for a game that sees you trying to run a kitchen with your friends against an increasingly ridiculous set of challenges- moving trucks, on slippery frozen rivers, and even in space.

Everyone has to be on point in order to get those orders out so you will spend a lot of time yelling at friends and laughing with glee as you inevitably mess things up and start fires. Overcooked 2 ramps up the challenge and allowed for online play, which is probably better, because you can’t be physically hit by a friend for incorrectly plating a dinner.

4. Roblox (Xbox One, PC/Mac, iOS, Android)

Chances are all the kids you know are already playing this. Adults just need to know this- Roblox is actually a gaming platform that features thousands upon thousands of games to play, in every conceivable genre. Sure, there’s a lot of trash to sift through, but there’s a reason some of the titles have been played over a BILLION times. If you find yourself looking for a game that doesn’t exist you can choose just to make it your own using the Roblox Studio, and even make money off of it.

The robust chat system allows players to stay in touch across the platform, allowing you to jump in and out of games as you please and hang out with your friends for hours and hours.

5. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

The Dark Pictures Anthology is the latest venture from Supermassive Games, the folks behind 2015’s brilliant Until Dawn, which is effectively a playable horror movie. This series promises smaller, one-session size games that each will tackle a different horror subgenre, with Man of Medan being a take on “ghost ship” horror. It builds off what the developers learned from watching gamers play Until Dawn--namely, that they loved playing it together with friends.

Not only is a there a couch multiplayer mode that allows everyone to choose a character to try and keep alive, there’s an online version that actually makes for a faster and superior experience. That’s because the game will frequently split you up and mess with your head. Sometimes you’ll hear and see things that your friend won’t--or will you? Jump scares will scare you both, because you’ll never know what your friend is screaming at. Commnication is key if you want to get off this ship alive, and even then it’s not guaranteed...

6. Destiny 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Stadia)

If you’ve somehow avoided picking up Destiny 2, there’s no better time for it. Not only is it now free-to-play, there’s an absolute ton of stuff to do. Dozens of hours of quests and challenges await, and as most people know it’s so much better with some friends. The Crucible offers intense competitive multiplayer but co-op is where it’s at, even if it’s just completing story missions or going on a few Strikes. Plus, there are few more thrilling gaming experiences than completing a Raid with five other friends, so don’t miss out.

7. Sea of Thieves (Xbox One, PC)

Stuck indoors, dreaming about the high seas? Why not pick up the best pirate simulator around? More people seem to use Sea of Thieves as a virtual hangout than an actual game, which it’s the perfect antidote to these times. While there’s plenty to do in the game--explore shipwrecks, fight sea monsters, sink foes and plunder their ships, form alliances with other teams--you don’t actually need to do anything. Why not join a pirate crew and sail around, making up your own story?

8. Monster Hunter: World (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

This is one of the most addictive series ever made. The most recent installment allows you to team up with four players and hunt down massive creatures for their parts, which allow you to upgrade your weapons and armor and hunt down even larger and more dangerous creatures. You can choose from a variety of weapons that will completely change your playstyle. There's a reason people sink hundreds of hours into these games, and the Iceborneexpansion added a staggering amount of content to the game to guarantee you'll never stop playing.

9. Divinity: Original Sin 2 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC/Mac)

RPGs are generally single player experiences, but Divinity changed that up with a co-op mode. Its brilliance is that its dialogue system takes into consideration everyone’s thoughts, ensuring that no one is solely in chage of the story  If you are ever torn on a decision, a rock-paper-scissors game decides for you. Not only is its sequel one of the greatest RPGs of all time, it supports four players online for the campaign, allowing you to play through the entire massive story.

Even bettter for those missing friends is the Game Master mode, which is effectively a D&D campaign maker. The Game Master will craft an adventure for up to four players, everything from quests, NPC dialogue, rewards, and maps. There are no real limits to this mode, and since tabletop games are hard to get nowadays this is your next best bet!

10. Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo Switch)

In trying times it’s important to have strong bonds with neighbors, even if those neighbors are straight-up animals.

From the staggering sales it’s likely that you own this already and are well familiar with how calming and relaxing it is, even if Tom Nook is a dirty landlord that’s just after all of your hard-earned bells. Friends can hang out with each other and send each other gifts, and you’ll waste away hours just fishing and going on bug hunts. The problem is that there’s not much to do while at a friend’s island besides sell turnips and walk around, and the in-game chat system is fairly garbage. But it’s soothing in a way we all need right now, and hey, maybe you’ll run into Elijah Wood out there.

11. A Way Out (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

A Way Out is the only game on this list that's only playable in co-op. Developed by the folks behind the brilliant Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, it tells the story of two convicts that have to break out of prison, and stay out. The only way to do that is to work with your friend. The nature of the game means that you’ll sometimes be doing completely different tasks, allowing you to have a unique experience depending on which character you choose.  

Add in some emotionally satisying and has some truly inspired action sequences, including a scene set in a hosptial that’s the most thrilling once since John Woo’s Hard Boiled, and you’ve got a game that begs to be experienced.

12. Warhammer: Vermintide 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

If you’re worried about the waves of rats descending on our homes and shuttered businesses, maybe it’s time to meet up with some friends and dismember thousands of giant vermin.

Valve doesn’t seem interested in giving us Left 4 Dead 3, but at least we have the Vermintide series. The original surprised gamers by with its intense, melee-based combat, which makes you truly feel every blow as you hack and slash your way through hordes. The sequel ups the ante by offering more enemies (incuding the human Chaos faction), weapons, and an improved leveling system. It’s tough to overstate how intense and replayable these games are. Grab three friends and fight off the hordes all night.

13. Portal 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC/Mac/Linux)

Sure, it may be nine (!) years old but there still hasn’t been a game that required as much solid cooperation as Portal 2’s co-op mode. Only a truly good friend can help you get through this campaign without your friendship breaking apart entirely. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a hilarious game with some truly fiending puzzles, and that this mode basically works as a sequel to the single-player campaign. Dust this one off and you’ll see how well it holds up. Plus, if you’ve never played the free Peer Review DLC, what are you waiting for?

14. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (PS4/PSVR, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC/Mac/Linux, iOS, Android, Oculus)

Stop me if this has happened to you before- you’re trapped in a room with a time bomb and only have a couple of minutes to defuse it. You’re on the phone with some experts but they have no idea what kind of bomb you’re dealing with, so you’ll have to carefully describe it to them as you watch the seconds counting down to your immintent demise.

No? Well, it’s a lot more fun than it sounds. In this game the players helping out the defuser won’t be able to see the bomb and will have to frantically flip through the bomb defusal manual as they describe what they’re looking at, all while knowing that if you tell them the wrong thing they’ll end up dead because of it. A lot of times it descends into yelling and laughing as things go south. All you need is one copy of the game, too! Open up a video chat, send friends a link to the manual, and try not to get blown up.

15. Grand Theft Auto Online (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

If you want to just hang out with your friends, there are worse places to do it than in Los Santos. Sure, you can play cops and robbers all you want, but you can also just drive around and explore the world, or work on improving your safehouse and filling your garage with vehicles. Better still you can bring three friends along on Heists, which are the highlights of the entire game. Each of them involve set-up missions before you execute the final plot, which might involve robbing banks, freeing a friend from prison, or hitting drug dealer stashes. There's nothing more thrilling than successfully working with your crew and completing a Heist successfully, but sometimes when it goes sideways and turns into Heat it's just as much fun. Be safe out there.

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