One of the great things about the increasing popularity of gaming is the surge of multiplayer games available to play with your friends, whether they’re across the country or in the next room. The variety and number of online multiplayer games have shot up in recent years. These days there are options for everyone: hardcore gamers searching for a challenge to tackle with their friends or siblings, novices looking for a new hobby to connect with old friends and casual gamers who want something their non-gamer friends can play.
Many of these games are also free or offer “cross-play” functionality, the ability to play the same game with a friend using a different platform. This means players on Switch, for example, can play with those on the PS4, which makes it much easier to rope friends into your shenanigans. So many options are available that it’s hard to keep track.
Thankfully, we’re here to help. Below is a list of games you can play online with your friends. We’ve marked the free ones and the ones with cross-play functionality, so you can spot ‘em with ease. You’re certain to find something you like!
Any gamer reading this article knew this one was gonna pop up.
While the hype for Among Us has died down, it’s still a good game. Among Us is a hilarious, tricksy multiplayer game available on just about any platform. Every player is an astronaut in a space station, but one of them is an imposter and is tasked with killing the others without being caught and “voted out.” The game often turns into laughter-riddled bouts of traded accusations and is easy enough for anyone to play.
Another very popular game, Valheim, is unique on this list for being a paid, PC-exclusive, devoid of cross-play entry.
Valheim is a crafting-survival game based on a Viking aesthetic and set in the Viking afterlife. You’ll build shelters, fight creatures and try to survive in an expansive world with multiple biomes. While this may sound overdone to many gamers, the fact is, Valheim took a well-trodden idea and did it well.
Outriders probably isn’t for newbies—or kids, for that matter.
It’s a gory, war-is-hell, post-apocalyptic sci-fi third-person shooter that turns you into an “altered,” one of the first waves of explorers of a hostile planet. As a result of the planet’s “Anomaly,” these explorers have special powers that change according to their class. From creating earthquakes to teleporting behind enemies and slowing time, the powers are a hell of a kick, and it feels like attention has been paid to making these powers work well together.
This fast-paced, intense shooter—held together with a good story, RPG-style growth, progression and side quests—is available on most consoles (except the Switch) and PC.
Jackbox is more a style than a single game. They’ve got dozens of titles, and each one shares a special trait: as long as one person owns the game, anyone else with a phone or computer can join in for free from anywhere. They’re built like boardgames with too much variety between them to go into here, but I recommend checking out Fibbage!
Magic: The Gathering Arena
If you want something a bit more slow-paced and strategic, check out Magic Arena. It can be played on your phone or computer, and it has a nice system that prevents it from sliding into “pay to win” territory. The tutorial is simple enough, and while the game is complex, simple trial and error will teach you what you need. Besides, collecting cards is fun!
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Magic is Tekken. I’ve gone on about Tekken at length in my article on fighting games, but here’s a quick rundown: Tekken allows you to play a wide cast of fighters and pits you in one-on-one matches with other players. The combat is simple but deep, and anyone can jump in. It’s fast paced, and I spend at least one day a weekend in a lobby with some friends, drinking and beating the hell out of each other.
Don’t Starve Together
Available on just about every platform, Don’t Starve Together is a 2D survival game with a charming gothic aesthetic. You’re dropped into an odd world and pick from a variety of characters, from a pyromaniac to a girl haunted by her sister’s ghost to a spider! Then you struggle to survive the changing weather and the odd creatures that inhabit this world. While it’s not free, it is pretty cheap, and there are always new updates.
Between these seven games, I hope you can find something to play with your friends. There’s a wide variety here, and it can’t hurt to try out each option!