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.
The best PC multiplayer games
War Thunder is a free-to-play multiplayer game all about military vehicles knocking seven bells out of one another, whether that’s in aerial dog fights, sprawling tank battles, or naval skirmishes. That pitch might sound familiar, but no free MMO has achieved what War Thunder has in terms of quality, balancing, and the sheer scope of vehicles waiting to be unlocked. While the multiplayer game started out with a humble suite of aircraft and ground vehicles you’ll recognise from WW2 games, its myriad tech trees now encompass the military histories – past and present – of several nations, from global superpowers to smaller nations famed for punching above their weight.
WORLD OF TANKS
Even though World of Tanks was released over ten years ago, this free-to-play PvP vehicular combat game just keeps growing and evolving into one of the best multiplayer PC games. With its bustling servers and international playerbase, you’ll never struggle to find a team whenever you get that urge to hop into a tank and blow stuff up.
Whether you favour brute force battling, or a more strategic approach, the easy-to-grasp game mechanics lend themselves well to different playstyles. Destroy all of the enemy tanks with powerful artillery fire right off the bat, or, if you’d rather take the subtle approach, you can triumph by finding a way into your opponent’s base and capturing it from within.
The more you play, the more vehicles you unlock, with over 600 of the best tanks from around the world to discover and exclusive rewards for those who want to participate in clan battles. It’s a very moreish game which may seem straightforward at first, but the more you play, the better you’ll get and the more you’ll discover. Trust us – you’ll be in a world of thanks once you’re hooked.
Have you ever found yourself playing Portal and thinking about how fun it would be to see the Portal gun mechanics implemented in a competitive FPS game? Well, the developers at 1047 Games had the very same thought, and thus Splitgate: Arena Warfare was born.
Though it’s still technically in open beta, the game has proved so popular that the devs have had to delay the full launch. The ability to make portals adds a whole new layer of strategy to the FPS formula. You can create your own vantage point so that you’ve got a good shot at players in a certain area. You can create special escape routes if you find yourself getting cornered. You can find creative new ways to sneak up on your foes. With so many shooter games available to play right now, it’s refreshing to come across this innovative new spin on the genre.
Although Halo Infinite’s multiplayer mode was met by players with a few grumbles, mainly due to its convoluted ranking system and grindy battle pass – it features crisp, satisfying FPS combat and as described in our Halo Infinite review – it’s like little else on the market.
Separating itself from fast-paced shooters, Halo Infinite’s in-game weapon spawns, sprawling maps, and time-to-kill makes this a worthy nostalgia trip and classic arena-shooter experience.
Dropped into Viking purgatory in nothing but a loincloth, it’s up to you and nine other friends to survive the Norse wilderness by crafting, building, and ultimately, surviving. You and your Viking pals start out in the meadow, but must slowly progress through different biomes by defeating enemies and discovering crafting materials to build up your armour and weapons.
Valheim’s world grows increasingly sinister as skeletons from the swamp attack your base, wolves tail you across mountains, and greydwarves fling rocks at you in the dark forest. Valheim is a glorious multiplayer and you’ll find something for all the party from scavenging for materials, epic battles with Valheim bosses, or building a sturdy base that can withstand the swing of a troll club.
Riot’s ultra-slick tactical team-based shooter is coming for CS:GO’s crown, and it has a lot of shiny new features to set it apart. The gameplay will be familiar to CS:GO players: teams of five players begin the match either attacking or defending, and swap halfway through; players must also purchase weapons at the beginning of each round, earning currency based on their performance in the previous round. Crucially, though, in Valorant players choose from a roster of agents, each with unique abilities which they can purchase each round (and one they get for free). Each Valorant character has their own strategic strengths and weaknesses; some are experts at defending sites, while others set up pushes or secure kills.
If you haven’t heard of Among Us by now, that’s pretty sus. The social deduction game skyrocketed in popularity last year, as its classic formula of multicoloured beans stabbing each other in corridors became a veritable phenomenon. In each lobby, a handful of players are designated Imposters, whose job it is to sabotage and murder the innocent Crewmates without being discovered.
The game ends when Imposters outnumber Crewmates, or when Crewmates successfully figure out the Imposters’ identities and vote them off during emergency meetings. This can be initiated by discovering a body or smacking a big red button in the meeting room.
Whether you want to squad up for gargantuan PvE raids, duke it out against others in PvP, or even combine elements of both in PvPvE, Destiny 2 ticks all of the boxes when it comes to the best multiplayer games. A few years since launch and Destiny 2 is better than ever, with the Forsaken expansion addressing plenty of foibles and a free-to-play launch on Steam bringing the game to new audiences.
Loot ties all of the multiplayer arms together, so no matter how you’re playing Destiny 2, your goal is always to acquire powerful new weapons and armour like Destiny 2 Exotics. Every mission completed, miniboss slain, and PvP match won contributes by rewarding you with mightier gear, creating an ongoing, near endless power fantasy.
From hyper-mobile gameplay that lends itself to flanking manoeuvres to respawn beacons that bring your mates back into the fight after death, Respawn’s nimble shooter boasts all the usual trimmings of the best multiplayer games.
Where it truly excels, however, is its ability to bring everyone into the fold with its ping system. Should you feel uncomfortable talking to strangers with your microphone or simply don’t want to, you can still contribute by pinging enemies, locations of interest, and even the best Apex Legends weapons you want or think others may find useful.
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.
DOTA 2/LEAGUE OF LEGENDS
Now before you baulk at the aggregation of these two rival beasts of the MOBA genre into a single entry, we’re intending to recommend one or the other, not both – and let’s face it, while the mechanics, items, lanes, and League of Legends Champions/Dota 2 Heroes offer different gameplay experiences, the multiplayer aspect of both these games is largely the same. Gather four friends and discover how you each cope with blame and failure, or be assigned a team of four strangers who all somehow manage to be much worse than you at the game, even though statistically they are likely to be very close to you in rank.
The competitive scene around both of these games is gargantuan – almost four million people watched the LoL Worlds Semifinals simultaneously in November 2019, and back in August 2019 the prize pool for Dota’s The International reached over $34 million, the biggest prize pool in esports history.
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.
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.
You can play Minecraft for free on your web browser by heading to classic.minecraft.net, with no need to download or install anything.
Fortnite is the free, always evolving, multiplayer game where you and your friends battle to be the last one standing or collaborate to create your dream Fortnite world. Play both Battle Royale and Fortnite Creative for FREE. Download now and jump into the action.
Originally Answered: Is CSGO fully free-to-play? Yes! CS:GO is entirely free to play.
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