Gaming is a hobby that can easily be enjoyed solo or alongside other players. Whether you’re facing off against your pals in friendly competition or working alongside them for some jolly cooperation, gaming can bring us together just as easily as it can help us to test our skills. Some of the best multiplayer games out there facilitate fierce competition between us, bringing out the best in us (and sometimes the worst). Here are the 20 best games for competitive multiplayer out there right now.
1. League of Legends
It’s hard to imagine a better game for competitive multiplayer than League of Legends. It combines teamwork with fierce competition; you’ll choose from a list of over 140 champions and do battle in teams of five, hoping your team composition and strategic play is good enough to award you the victory over your opponents. League may be a touch unbalanced and its community might be a bit toxic, but it’s still great fun.
2. Apex Legends
Lots of games with “legends” in the title, eh? Apex Legends is a battle royale-come-hero shooter that takes inspiration equally from Overwatch and Fortnite. From the former, it takes a range of diverse heroes with their own abilities, and from the latter, it takes the classic 100-player concept (although other games have explored that as well, of course). Every game of Apex is exciting and varied.
3. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
While Halo Infinite’s multiplayer is solid, it’s a little too bogged down by grind for us to heartily recommend it. If you want the full competitive multiplayer experience, you’re probably better off playing The Master Chief Collection, which supports online play across its titles and also lets you play in split-screen with your friends in classic Halo style. Don’t miss out on this one for some nostalgic thrills.
4. Super Smash Bros Ultimate
What would a list of competitive multiplayer games be without Nintendo’s iconic fighter? Debates have raged over whether Smash is a conventional fighting game or not, but one thing’s absolutely for sure: it’s a huge amount of fun. Boasting a huge roster of Nintendo characters and third-party fighters, as well as deep, skill-based gameplay, Super Smash Bros is a great argument-ender (and argument-starter).
5. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
When Mario Kart 8 first launched on the Wii U in 2014, it sold just fine, but since Nintendo struggled to get Wii U consoles into gamers’ houses, it perhaps didn’t perform as well as it should have done. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has fixed all that; it’s wildly successful, and it boasts the biggest track selection in Mario Kart history. Give it a look if you want simple, uncomplicated competitive fun.
6. Gang Beasts
Gang Beasts is what happens when you strip the multiplayer experience down to its basest possible components. It’s a ridiculous game in which wobbling around and trying to hit your enemies is just as fun as “getting good”, whatever that looks like. If you want a game that’s going to act as a great leveller and help you and your friends to feel like you’re on the same page skill-wise, Gang Beasts is your game.
7. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
The original Crash Team Racing on PlayStation is still one of the greatest kart racers of all time, and this remake is pretty faithful, so if you’ve never experienced CTR’s frantic multiplayer, this is a great way to do so. It boasts extra tracks from the PS2 Crash kart era, too, so you likely won’t run out of tracks on which to race each other anytime soon. It’s an altogether more skill-based affair than Mario Kart is.
8. Guilty Gear Strive
Once you’ve experienced the smooth world of rollback netcode, it’s extremely hard to go back to an online fighter that doesn’t use it, and Guilty Gear Strive is the perfect example of that. This beautifully-animated, highly technical game will test your skills to their absolute limits, but you’ll almost never be able to blame a bad connection on a loss, so it’s time to sharpen your wits and your fighting game acumen.
Earlier, we talked about battle royale games, and Fortnite is arguably the king of them all right now. It’s one of the most lucrative and well-loved games in the world; we’re not rating it higher because it can get a little simplistic at times, but it’s still an excellent game that is best enjoyed alongside a couple of friends. Eventually, Fortnite looks like it’ll transition into more of a social experience than just a game.
10. Splatoon 3
Splatoon 3 is technically not a non-violent game, but it is perfect for anyone who isn’t particularly great at the twitch mechanics of shooters. Even if you don’t get a lot of kills in Splatoon, you can contribute to your team’s victory just by making sure to ink as much of the map as you possibly can; you’ll facilitate traversal for your team and add to the total, which could score you the victory.
11. Overwatch 2
Battle pass qualms aside, Overwatch 2 is one of the best competitive multiplayer experiences available right now. It’s a hero shooter with a remarkably well-balanced cast, as well as several maps full of verticality and nooks and crannies from which to ambush your opponents. With constant updates and support, Overwatch 2 isn’t going away anytime soon, so now might be the time to grab some friends and pick it up.
12. Rocket League
It’s football in cars! That’s a description that undersells what Rocket League actually is, which is perhaps best described as a physics game with a massively high skill ceiling. Some of the shots that pros pull off in Rocket League must be seen to be believed, but don’t worry; there’s just as much fun to be had here by flailing around and trying desperately to hit the ball whenever you can.
13. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
It’s the ultimate competitive first-person shooter. Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is still one of the most popular games in the world, and when you play a round of its tight gameplay and well-crafted maps, it’s not hard to see why. The formula is simple, but the endless permutations of teammates, evolving situations, and emergent moments make Counter-Strike something truly special.
If you’d prefer CS:GO to be a little more cartoony in aesthetic and to incorporate elements of hero shooters, then Valorant is the game for you. In a nutshell, it’s CS:GO meets Overwatch; Riot’s shooter has its own cast of zany characters, each of whom has a special that could change the direction of a match at any moment. The shooting is tight, tense, and responsive, too.
15. Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0
Infinity Ward and Raven Software prove their dominance in the world of battle royale shooters once again. Warzone 2 marries the massive maps of Fortnite and Apex Legends with the incredibly tight gunplay of Call of Duty; even the pistols have a kick to them that will make you feel like a god with every kill. Throw in the innovative Gulag system, which gives players a second shot at victory, and Warzone 2.0 is something special indeed.
16. Team Fortress 2
Another Valve shooter that’s managed to last far beyond the time anyone thought it would, Team Fortress 2 thrives on its simple yet deep design and its cast of memorable and well-crafted characters. Each class offers a different gameplay experience; the Scout is for those who love speed, while the Spy is for sneaky tricksters who like to infiltrate their enemies and the Heavy is an uncompromising tank.
17. Rainbow Six Siege
Many of the shooters on this list don’t have a lot of tactical depth, but that’s where Rainbow Six Siege shines. Each round is a careful, slow dance between two teams; there’s no busting down the door and shooting until you or they respawn here. Instead, you’ll need to use tactics and strategy to emerge victorious, as well as the range of gadgets at your disposal.
18. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Fall Guys is a great battle royale game for anyone that prefers the action to be non-confrontational in nature. It’s essentially a Saturday night gameshow in battle royale form; a cluster of jellybean characters compete to see who can emerge with the crown across a series of platforming challenges, which rotate and change based on which season the game is currently in.
19. Marvel Snap
Second Dinner’s stated aim with Marvel Snap is to create a competitive card battler that strips out everything which “gets in the way of fun” in the genre. It’s hard to argue they haven’t succeeded; this is a lightning-fast card game without any of the ponderous bloat or excessive waiting that blights other games. Rounds are quick, but you’ll still need to think on your feet to succeed.
20. Escape from Tarkov
You can think of Tarkov as existing on the opposite end of the spectrum from Team Fortress 2. Where the latter is bright, cartoony, and unabashedly unrealistic, Tarkov takes a much more grounded approach to its gameplay. You’ll need to listen for your opponents and use visual cues to find them; the HUD is minimal, so you won’t get much help, and every wound could mean the difference between survival and death.