Although gaming is traditionally about the stories you tell, the other half is about goading that competitive nature in each of us to be the very best. Yes, that’s right, we’re talking about multiplayer.
2016’s been a great year for competitive games, with titles like Overwatch and Rocket League dominating online conversations and overtaking entire weekends.
But there’s more too. We’ve rounded up our top 10 multiplayer games of the year – in no particular order – so you can prepare to dominate your foes.
Of course this list contains Overwatch. How could it not? No competitive game this year has held our attention more steadfastly than Blizzard’s team-based shooter.
Each of the game’s 23 classes is a joy to handle, and though the game currently only features four main game modes, the updates and extra content have come thick and fast.
Lucioball added Rocket League-esque soccer hilarity during the game’s Rio event, and Blizzard has completely replaced the game’s lacklustre Weekly Brawls with far more compelling arcade modes. The addition of new heroes Ana Amari and Sombra have given us even more reasons to come back too, with the promise of even more additions to the roster in 2017.
The same care has been taken with the game’s competitive mode, which has been carefully enhanced over the past six months to provide a smoother, fairer experience for all. We’ve had a blast with Overwatch in 2016, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for budding heroes next year.
Who would have thought that a game about making soup could be such a competitive success? Overcooked’s head-to-head mode is as delightful as its cooperative play. As teams of chefs struggle to create the most burgers, stew, salad, or whatever happens to be on the menu in the game’s ludicrous kitchens, the pressure (cooker) is always high.
What makes Overcooked so worthy of praise is simple design which offers complex player choice. The basic mechanics are simple. You’ll chop, you’ll boil, and you’ll serve, but there are a hundred ways to organise your labour. This one gets a Michelin Star from us.
- Rocket League
It’s been a great year for Rocket League. As if a game about nitro-fuelled cars playing football wasn’t exciting enough, the game has seen the consistent addition of new cars and arenas, as well as the deliciously hectic Rumble mode which added a slew of hilarious power ups to the arena, enlivening the experience once more.
The base game is fantastic, and the community-first approach of Psyonix has brought us back again and again.
- Titanfall 2
Battlefield 1, Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2. 2016’s ‘Big Three’ all brought something unique to the table, but for us, Titanfall 2 is the clear winner. Respawn Entertainment knocked this one out of the park, crafting a sequel which built on the best elements of the original.
The pace of Titanfall 2’s multiplayer is wondrous, and the new Titans offer a tactical variety that keeps the experience fresh. Each map is carefully designed to allow each pilot, and their trusty mech, to shine in skirmishes which enjoy a refreshing combination of daring wall-runs and seamless transition between man and machine.
If you’re an FPS fanatic then it’s time to buy the game, buckle up, and brace for impact.
MOBAs aren’t for everyone. The process of farming creeps, slowly levelling, and jaunting across an expansive map over hour-long matches can lead to sighs and finger twiddling in some.
Battlerite’s innovation is to trim the fat and reduce the MOBA formula to its most exciting element: teamfights. The game’s 2 vs 2 and 3 vs 3 battles cut straight to the chase, providing a deep, competitive experience whilst asking for a shorter commitment of time.
- League of Legends
The king of eSports still, as far as we’re concerned, offers the most dynamic, polished MOBA you can play online. League of Legends is now seven years old and still going strong.
This year, Riot has introduced another batch of top-notch champions whilst reworking older ones at the same time. The new dynamic queue system, whilst unpopular with some, has changed the process of entering games for the better.
If somehow you’re not one of the 100 million unique users the game sees on the Fields of Justice every month, it’s still a great time to get stuck in.
- The Culling
The Culling can be described in three simple words: The Hunger Games. The concept is near-identical. A group of contestants are challenged to slaughter one another in a battle royale. As the round commences, players are dropped in a variety of locations across a massive map, hoping to be the first to acquire supplies like weapons or medicine.
The numbers slowly dwindle as players are caught in traps, speared from afar, or killed in any of number of horrendous ways. It was the unique encounters that made The Culling a standout experience in 2016: watching opponents murder one another then entering the fray to finish off the weakened survivor, or duping unsuspecting prey into an army of barbed traps.
Changes to the game over the past few months have proven unpopular, and the game’s audience has shrunk catastrophically. But while it lasted, The Culling was a bloody flavour of first-person gaming we hadn’t experienced before.
The makers of Pokémon Go, Niantic Labs, are also the producers of a far deeper, more competitive mobile experience. Ingress is a never-ending war between two factions which contains multifaceted, complex systems that go far beyond Pokémon Go’s Gyms.
The summer’s Pokémon frenzy has bolstered the game’s numbers, and as it approaches its fourth year, Ingress is looking stronger than any other mass-participation mobile game. Huge events known as anomalies have seen thousands of players wrestling for control of cities across the globe, and not a Snorlax in sight.
- Gears of War 4
Most people usually come into Gears of War for the single-player, with all its beefy, emotional, chainsaw-gun wielding soldiers. But what they’ll stay for is the multiplayer.
Gears of War 4’s multiplayer is the best in the entire Gears series, with either Horde Mode 3.0 or Versus Mode taking your fancy.
Horde Mode 3.0 pits four players against increasingly aggressive waves of enemies, on a variety of maps. You’ll collect energy points that let you build up your defences as you work your way from dull robots to a formidable Swarm uprising.
Versus Mode is classic Gears, where you get a range of hard-hitting weapons, quick-draw game modes and intensively competitive, tightly designed maps.
- Battlefield 1
Battlefield is truly on form this year, with both an amazing, emotional single-player campaign, chunked into personal War Stories, and an impressive and addictive multiplayer.
There are two new modes on top of the classics, spread across vast maps that honour the battlegrounds of the First World War.
The multiplayer is amplified by the new Behemoth vehicles like armoured trains, airships and more, whilst other vehicles you get include horses, tanks and planes. It all combines to make some incredibly compelling gameplay full of moments you’ll want to share with everyone.
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