The Best Games For Hanging Out With Friends Online
You might not be able to hang with friends, but you can play these games with them online!
As the coronavirus pandemic situation continues to develop, you're hopefully doing your civic duty by not going out in public much--which, unfortunately, includes spending time with your best buds. While you may not be able to have fun hitting up your frequent stomping grounds in person, there are still ways to hang out even when you're stuck at home. Yes, that's right, I'm talking online multiplayer video games--y'know the kind!
You might have a usual pack of games you're turning to during these unusual times, but maybe you're looking for something new to play. We've got you covered; below the GameSpot staff highlights some of their favorite multiplayer games to play for hanging out online. Though, you're welcome to share your recommendations in the comments section. After all, we're all in the same boat!
If you're looking for fantastic single-player games to play while you wait for all this to blow over, then be sure to check out our feature highlighting the best single player games to play while you're self-isolating. Otherwise, read on below!
Titanfall 2 -- Jordan Ramée, Associate Editor
I still think that when it comes to first-person shooters, Titanfall 2 is the game to beat. Respawn's sophomore effort has phenomenal multiplayer and a well-paced single-player campaign chalk full of memorable levels that take advantage of the game's satisfyingly smooth parkour mechanics.
Granted, the campaign isn't all that long. You could probably beat it in a single day if you set your mind to it. I highly recommend you try to play it on Master--it will encourage you to take advantage of wallrunning, sliding, and double-jumping to out maneuver your slower, but more powerful, adversaries. Not only does it make the campaign far more enjoyable, but it will do wonders for preparing you for the multiplayer.
And what a multiplayer. Sadly, not all of Titanfall 2's many enjoyable multiplayer modes attract enough of a playerbase--you may have to wait in long queue lines to find a match in Last Titan Standing, for instance. You can still find plenty of players in Attrition and Amped Hardpoint though, and my personal favorite, Bounty Hunt, has seen a resurgence of players in recent months. If you've always thought that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's Gunfight could benefit from the addition of freerunning mechanics, check out the Coliseum, and Live Fire offers a team-based variation of the frantically fun, one life per person multiplayer mode.
Titanfall 2 even has a horde mode called Frontier Defense, so you and your friends can take on waves of computer-controlled enemies if y'all aren't big on facing off against other players. It's a wonderfully fun way to spend a few hours if you're cooped up at home. | Twitter: @JMRamee
Forza Horizon 4 -- Chris Pereira, Engagement Editor
Forza Horizon 4 is a delightful game even when played solo, but it also shines as a multiplayer experience. And as a place to just hang out with friends, it doesn't get much more ideal--you can lounge around in its world, driving around and engaging in shenanigans either together or at opposite ends of the map.
From there, you can jump into races and other event types to participate in competitive or cooperative events. And because the game is more concerned with you simply participating and having fun than coming in first, everyone can generally play and have a good time. My favorite aspect of this is how, in cooperative events, you'll get an AI opponent with a vehicle that's roughly on par with your own, so not everyone is forced into driving those within the same class.
It's a very flexible experience overall, and one that you can take as seriously or casually as you want. With the ever-changing seasons, a wide variety of things to do, and a huge lineup of vehicles, it's a great place to hang out with friends--and, if you all have Xbox Game Pass, you don't even need to buy it to jump in. | Twitter: @TheSmokingManX
Overcooked 2 -- Steven Petite, Associate Editor, Commerce
Relentlessly silly and endlessly chaotic, Overcooked 2 can be stressful, but it's always a good time. A party game centered around preparing food and serving it to demanding (unseen) customers, Team17's absurd cooking sim is arguably best played locally with up to four players, but the online component works well both for the campaign mode and competitive multiplayer matches.
Overcooked 2 is incredibly simple to pick up. I played through the entirety of Overcooked 2's campaign with my wife--who doesn't play video games at all. The act of running around kitchens for ingredients while navigating conveyor belts and moving platforms can create some tense moments, but one of the best aspects of Overcooked 2 is how it encourages good communication. This isn't a game you can passively play with friends without talking much; you have to discuss your plans and coordinate your movements in real-time. So, even if your buddies aren't in the same room with you while playing, you'll feel like you have company, which makes it a really great game to play online while cooped up at home.
Overcooked 2 is available on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC. The Switch and PC versions require third-party chat like Discord or Skype, though. If you like what you play, a furniture-moving spin on Overcooked called Moving Out releases April 28. | Twitter: @steven_petite
Sea Of Thieves -- Phil Hornshaw, Editor
I've been meaning to get back into Sea of Thieves ever since its big anniversary update last year. By all accounts, most of my issues with the game have been solved, and it sounds like there's plenty to do that'll keep an enterprising privateer busy. But really, everything I liked about Sea of Thieves was in the game at launch. What I'm really itching to do is crew a ship with some pals.
Though my big issue with Sea of Thieves at launch was a dearth of content, I always had a blast gathering some friends, setting sail, and getting into trouble. It's a great game for just chilling out and talking as you brave the waves, hunt treasure, and scan the horizon for other ships to plunder (or evade, as the case may be). There's a lot of enjoyment to be found just in doing a good job of keeping your ship going by adjusting the sheets and gauging the wind. In times when I wasn't feeling up to the stress of a competitive game, Sea of Thieves was a perfect answer.
Now that my friends are all staying inside, I'm thinking it's time to pick up the pirate's life again. It's possible we might explore the game's islands and see all the new things it has to offer--but I think it's much more likely that we'll just chill out on the deck of our galleon, playing our accordions, talking, and waiting for some chaos to strike. | Twitter: @philhornshaw
Dark Souls 2 -- Dave Klein, Video Producer
Dark Souls 2 is the underdog of the Souls franchise in many ways. It was the only game of the series not directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, and, in my personal opinion, the weakest entry into the franchise, especially in regards to level and world design.
But I won't spend time criticizing the game for its faults! Dark Souls 2 does succeed on some fronts, one of which is its multiplayer. The game is possibly the most robust in the series in terms of customization, meaning there’s a plethora of ways to play the game with friends online both competitively and cooperatively. For me, the co-op is what especially stands out, as Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin edition allows for even more online players at once compared to the vanilla edition.
Not only that, but this month marks the 6 year anniversary of Dark Souls 2. So, now seems like the perfect time to slap on some headphones, get your buddies together (online), and return to Drangleic! And if you’re new to the franchise, co-op is an easy tool for beginners to learn the mechanics of Dark Souls by notably dropping the difficulty. So if the franchise has always intimidated you, grab some buddies for some jolly co-op, and you’ll find yourself sucked into the franchise in no time. | Twitter: @TheDaveKlein
Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate -- Kevin Knezevic, Associate Editor
Monster Hunter World may not have been released on Switch, but Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate is a good alternative, particularly if you have some friends to share the experience with--and are willing to overlook some of its faults. Given that the game was originally developed for 3DS, Generations Ultimate certainly isn't the prettiest Switch title, and it lacks the gameplay refinements that made World so accessible. Even so, the game is incredibly addictive and one of the most fun multiplayer experiences I've had on Nintendo's hybrid system.
While Generations Ultimate offers a ton of single-player quests to complete, the series' appeal has always stemmed from its multiplayer quests, and these remain the true highlights of the package. The game is at its best when you're hunting monsters alongside two or three friends, laughing and screaming at each other as you get tossed into the air by a Glavenus or flattened by a Deviljho. Of course, you have the option to hunt with strangers as well, but questing alongside friends makes the experience much more personal and fun, and it helps mitigate the grind of having to repeat quests just to get that one rare carve you need to complete your pants.
Moreover, there's a staggering amount of content in Generations Ultimate. The game features the widest range of monsters in the series to date, not to mention the most weapons and armor to craft, making it easy to see why players can sink hundreds of hours into the game. Generations Ultimate can admittedly be a bit overwhelming if you're not already familiar with the series, but if you have some adventurous friends willing to give it a shot with you, it's well worth diving into.
Destiny 2 -- Phil Hornshaw, Editor
Yeah, I know--I always write about Destiny 2 whenever I contribute to one of these articles that polls the GameSpot crew. I play a lot of Destiny to keep up on it for coverage, but just as much, I enjoy its game world. Destiny 2 is also a game that's chill enough that I work through a lot of its weekly content at a pretty relaxed pace, without devoting a ton of attention to it, especially when I've got friends in the game with me. Playing Destiny is like popping on a movie I've seen 100 times when some friends come over; it's nice to have something to do, but if we have a conversation through a couple scenes, I'm not going to lose track of what's going on.
The thing about Destiny 2 these days is that there's a ton of things to do, and I always have a backlog of things to check off. Apart from the gear grind to get my characters up to full strength for activities like the Trials of Osiris, there are old Triumphs (Destiny achievements) and Seals (titles you get to apply to your character that show how badass you are, as well as how much time you spend playing the game) I can earn from the last two years of the game. None of it is especially difficult, especially because it's old content, but it's fun to do and it's always waiting for me.
I always like playing Destiny, but it's best enjoyed with friends. It's also a game that facilitates a good hangout by allowing you to be as involved as you want to be. It can be a high-level challenge, a competitive game, or an easygoing virtual space where you can hang out with other people. So you can bet I'll be popping in for some Trials of Osiris this weekend--and maybe to just hang around the Tower, too. | Twitter: @philhornshaw
Borderlands 3 -- Alessandro Fillari, Editor
As I mentioned in GameSpot's recurring series Now Playing, the fun that's in the Borderlands series can be something of an acquired taste. Though Borderlands 3 often feels like it should have come out about three years ago, it still possesses some stellar shooting mechanics and a vibrant aesthetic. With over 100 hours in the game's looter-shooter loop, I can say that it offers some of the most bizarre, and dumb fun I've had in an FPS in a long time. Though there's a lot of complexity in customizing your vault hunter with new skills and weapons, what really makes the game so satisfying is tearing through legions of bandits and other mobs with your ludicrously overpowered guns--and that enjoyment is magnified when you're teaming up with friends.
I mostly play Borderlands 3 solo, but every once in a while, I like to team up with friends. What's great about Borderlands 3 is the amount of chaos you can create with friends when working together effectively. Some of my favorite moments during my time in co-op were when my version of Zane and my friend's Fl4k unleash our unique skills while unloading on enemies with legendary weapons like the Cutsman and Dictator. We tend to play on Mayhem 3, which keeps it challenging, but not so overwhelming, and it's always satisfying seeing high-level enemies melt when our attacks land.
While the story and character arcs of the Borderlands series have often focused on low-brow humor that feels incredibly dated, I tend to tune that out in favor of the action, which it always excels at. I'm still finding a lot of fun in Borderlands 3, especially when playing with friends. Currently, I'm working on leveling up my fourth character, Fl4k, and it's really surprising to see how much the game can change when playing as a different vault hunter. With a lot more new updates and DLC coming this year, I can see myself even more time with the game, and I'm not too bothered by that prospect. | Twitter: @afillari