Sony’s PlayStation 3 is perhaps not quite remembered as a flop, but the Xbox 360 is considered the winner of its respective generation by many. This, however, is a misunderstanding; sales data shows us that the PS3 actually sold better than the Xbox 360, so in terms of pure numbers, the PlayStation 3 emerged victorious.
That’s at least in part thanks to a huge library of great games, not least of which were single-player masterpieces like The Last of Us and God of War 3. However, the PS3’s multiplayer lineup is not to be sniffed at either, so let’s take a look at the 20 best multiplayer games for PS3 (in no particular order, of course!).
We’re cheating slightly here, since Demon’s Souls is only tangentially a multiplayer game. For the most part, From Software’s proto-Dark Souls can be enjoyed entirely on your own, but when other players are introduced, things get interesting. The game’s rather obscure World Tendency system thrived when many players were playing at once, and Demon’s Souls also pioneered the Souls series’ invasions and cooperative play.
Since we’re including Demon’s Souls, we should probably also include Dark Souls, which expanded the multiplayer elements of its predecessor through the introduction of Covenants. This system allowed players to take one another on across a variety of different locations and conditions, and the Arena introduced in the game’s DLC added a new way to engage in PvP combat as well.
What happens when you take one of the greatest games of all time, 2007’s dryly comic puzzler Portal, and introduce a co-op campaign full of devious and fiendish two-player puzzles? Well, you get Portal 2, of course. The single-player story was excellent, but Portal 2’s co-op mode is where the really meaty puzzles can be found, so grab a friend or a partner and blast through it if you haven’t already.
It’s almost disingenuous to call Minecraft a game; it certainly doesn’t fit that definition in a traditional sense, at least in its creative mode, which appears to be where many players find the most fun. Minecraft is a creativity sandbox that lets you build pretty much anything you set your mind to, which is why it’s so much fun to grab a friend and embark on a ridiculously ambitious project together.
We’d be remiss not to mention LittleBigPlanet, Media Molecule’s excellent 2.5D platformer. The game heavily emphasises user-made content, but there are also a set of great levels constructed by Media Molecule themselves, so you can still enjoy this one offline. The platforming is great fun, too; it’s whimsical, gently competitive while still being entirely cooperative, and comforting.
Of course, the sequel to LittleBigPlanet is also well worth your time if you loved the first one. LittleBigPlanet 2 launched three years after the original game and introduced lots of new elements on the creation side of things. For players who weren’t particularly interested in playing user-made levels or crafting them themselves, however, LittleBigPlanet 2 also served as an excellent expansion pack for the first game.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
This is the game that launched a generation of gaming. While 2007 wasn’t the start of generation seven, it was certainly the flashpoint; Modern Warfare introduced an entirely new group of gamers to the concept of online multiplayer shooters, and its tight, carefully-constructed gameplay would prove to be massively influential across the next couple of decades.
The PS2 offered more than its fair share of excellent co-op hack-and-slash games, and most of them were strongly influenced by Blizzard’s Diablo series. As such, it made perfect sense when the original master returned to its throne on PS3. Diablo III offers a great time for fans of hack-and-slash looter RPGs, especially in its co-op mode, and it’s got hours of content to enjoy as well.
Insomniac’s Resistance trilogy was often seen as a flagship shooter franchise for the PlayStation, but it feels like the games perhaps aren’t as fondly remembered as they ought to be. Resistance 3 is the best of the three by far, expanding your arsenal to include lots of weird and wonderful alien weaponry and letting you take a second player along for the ride in split-screen co-op.
Grand Theft Auto V
When we say Grand Theft Auto V, we’re really referring to GTA Online, the multiplayer component of Rockstar’s flagship crime sandbox game. GTA Online finally allowed players to realise the fantasy they’d been cradling since the launch of GTA 3 back in the early 2000s; it allowed people to inhabit a GTA world together, essentially doing whatever they wanted rather than sticking to rigidly-defined missions.
Rock Band 3
The third Rock Band game might not have offered the best setlist of the three, but it refined the gameplay and polished it to a mirror sheen. Unlike its predecessors, Rock Band 3 emphasised the authenticity of its instruments, offering up a new keyboard peripheral and “pro” controllers to put you that much closer to the musical action (to varying degrees of success, it must be said).
Much like in Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, the multiplayer component of Journey is somewhat obscure. Sometimes, as you play this dialogue-free, artistic adventure, you’ll encounter other adventurers who look like you. There isn’t a chat system, so you can’t technically communicate with them; all you can do is wander together for a while until they mysteriously disappear, creating a paradoxical sense of lonely camaraderie.
The first Borderlands game is solid action fare, but it feels like a proof-of-concept for Borderlands 2, which is bigger, wackier, and more satisfying in almost every way. This looter-shooter tasks you and a friend with taking on a bunch of over-the-top quests for crazy characters, blasting enemies and grabbing hundreds of guns as you do so. Come for the world, stay for the co-op shooter gameplay.
In 2011, the Mortal Kombat series was in pretty dire need of a reboot. Enter Mortal Kombat, a game that takes the “franchise name with no numbers or extra titles” route and (rather clumsily) reboots the story into the bargain. What follows is one of the tightest, cleanest fighters you’re likely to play. Taking on your friends in the one-on-one versus mode was a joy in Netherrealm’s game.
Spoiler alert: both of Ubisoft’s excellent Rayman reboot platformers are going to make it onto this list. Rayman Origins is the purer of the two; it’s a simple, straightforward 2D platformer with a gorgeous art style and plenty of secrets to find. Playing the game alongside another player elevates the experience significantly, and the game supports up to four players in split-screen, which is nice.
Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter IV is not the fourth Street Fighter game, but if you see that numeral as more of a statement of definition rather than a strict order, then it makes sense. This truly feels like an evolution of the core Street Fighter concept; it’s a colourful, well-animated trip through some of fighting gaming’s most iconic characters, and it’s either endlessly deep or relentlessly accessible depending on what you want from it.
We told you both Rayman reboot games would end up here. Rayman Legends expands on its predecessor, adding in elements like musical stages, more environments, and even more secrets to find. Fundamentally, though, it’s the same sharp, responsive platformer as its forebear, so if you liked Origins and want to experience more of the same, here’s where you should apply.
Spelunky wasn’t the original roguelike, but it’s one of the most well-known, and for good reason. Derek Yu’s 2008 platformer was released on PS3 in 2013, giving players the world over the chance to experience its difficult delights for themselves. Bringing along another player for Spelunky’s brutal gauntlets almost feels mandatory; it challenges you to the point of hair-tearing frustration, so having someone to watch your back is a must.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
We know; we’re as surprised as you are. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is a surprisingly excellent kart racer that features Sonic, his pals, and many other characters from great Sega franchises (including forgotten gems like Skies of Arcadia). The levels are well-crafted and feature lots of unexpected twists and turns, and the single-player mode is surprisingly robust as well, although the multiplayer is likely where you’ll get your money’s worth.
Resident Evil 5
Last but not least, we have Resident Evil 5, which, for many, is the point at which the series jumps the shark. As far as we’re concerned, Resident Evil 5 still offers a bloody good time, especially for fans of Resi 4’s action horror approach. It’s not particularly scary, but its co-op mode is highly enjoyable; it removes the biggest problem with the single-player, which is the partner AI, and allows you both to experience the high-camp, high-octane thrills of the story together.