The 20 Best Online Multiplayer Video Games For Self-Isolation

Apr 10, 2020

Category: Entertainment

Lockdown. Social distancing. Self-isolation. Shelter-in-place. Quarantine. Whatever you want to call it, we’re all spending a lot more time alone nowadays. And while that’s going to be good for everyone (and the planet) in the long run, it doesn’t mean you have to suffer the effects of cabin fever unaided. In fact, if you know where to look, you can actually get a measure of socialization and, therefore, a touch of normalcy back in your life.

A lot of folks have turned to video conferencing platforms to stay in touch with their loved ones and friends. However, a static call can sometimes be a little stale. If you want to stay in contact but also introduce another element of entertainment to the process, now is the time to look into online video gaming. Regardless of your taste in video games, there’s a multiplayer title out there right now you can enjoy with your friends and/or family entirely online. We’ve rounded up our 20 favorites on the following list of the best online multiplayer games for coronavirus self-isolation. For reference: many of these titles are available for multiple platforms at different price points — including numerous that are FTP (free-to-play), but come with paid upgrade options. Just make sure you do your homework before buying.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

One of the most recent releases on this list, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has only been out for a couple of weeks and it’s already a pretty spectacular success. The fifth title in the main series, this Nintendo Switch game is relatively low-stakes, low-stress and allows players to create and manage their own island village. And while the single-player is plenty robust enough to support an entire solo campaign, one of the best parts of this almost sickeningly-adorable game is that players can actually visit the virtual islands of their real-world friends (up to eight at a time) and exchange goods and services. If you like simulation-management games like The Sims, FarmVille, or even Viva Pinata, this is not a title to pass up.

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Simulator
No. of Players: 1-8

Purchase: $60

Apex Legends

Released over a year ago in February of 2019, Apex Legends is a fairly unique take on the battle royale genre that was intended to combat Fortnite for the top spot. While it couldn’t quite topple the BR juggernaut, that’s no reason to think there isn’t plenty of value in this title (there very much is). Set in the same universe as the Titanfall games, this team-based FPS features a cast of unique characters — each with their own strengths and weaknesses on the battlefield — and matches that support up to 20 teams of three (60 players total). The goal: to take out all the other teams and claim the title of champion. It’s a fast-paced, acrobatic game that requires team synergy, versatile playstyles, and the ability to cope with the unexpected. Truly, this game has more polish than its chief competitor and, by most measures, is arguably a better all-around game.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: FPS, Battle Royale
No. of Players: Up to 60

Purchase: FTP

Call of Duty: Warzone

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a hard reboot of a 2007 title of the same name, released to quite a bit of fanfare from both critics and longtime fans of the series. Even naysayers were heard admitting that it was the best title in the franchise in years. However, while it offered plenty of content, there was one big thing missing for a lot of players: it didn’t have a battle royale game mode. That was recently rectified when a free-to-play battle royale-only version of the game, called Call of Duty: Warzone, was released. The game took many of the same mechanics as the full pay-to-play tactical military game but pared them down into a single expansive game type that supports up to 150 players per round. The concept is simple: stay on the map, stay alive, and take down your opponents. However, the variety of characters, weaponry, locales, vehicles, and more makes for enough variety to keep the game fresh just about every time you log in. There have been reports of extensive cheating, however, so be aware that there are some less-than-honest folks playing this one.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: FPS, Battle Royale
No. of Players: Up to 150

Purchase: FTP

Castle Crashers

One of the older games on our list, Castle Crashers was actually released all the way back in 2008. That being said, it’s still just as enjoyable today as it was back then — credited to its clever, cartoony stylization and hectic gameplay. While it’s entirely possible to play this game on your own, the title really shines when you manage to bring up to four players together at a time to take on the non-stop stream of baddies in this old-school beat ’em up. It’s a fun game with an easy learning curve, but still requires plenty of skill to master. What’s even better is that this game is one of the most widely available in regards to platforms. Despite its age, it’s available to play on the PS4, Xbox One, the Nintendo Switch, and more. For fans of Cuphead, Streets of Rage, and even Ninja Turtles, this is a solid online multiplayer analog.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac
Genre: Brawler
No. of Players: 1-4

Purchase: $3+

Don’t Starve Together

Interestingly, this game is actually a multiplayer expansion to a single-player game called simply Don’t Starve. However, Don’t Starve Together functions entirely as a standalone title and does not require you to have even played the original version. Stylized like pages ripped right out of Tim Burton’s childhood notebook, the 3rd-person online multiplayer game calls on up to four players at a time to survive in a dark and hostile forest by gathering resources, building structures, and fighting off all manner of strange creatures. It also has a wealth of DLC (downloadable content) if you want to expand your experience and take on new challenges once you’ve finished the initial game.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac
Genre: Survival
No. of Players: 1-4

Purchase: $15

Doom Eternal

Another ultra-recent release, Doom Eternal is the follow-up to the 2016 reboot of the legendary FPS franchise. Again, this is one that features a fully-fledged single-player campaign that many folks will be happy with on its own. However, if you want to get a bit of social interaction, it also offers a multiplayer experience that, while limited in regards to the number of available players, offers a unique take on the first-person-shooter genre. You see, this game has two primary multiplayer modes. The first is a two-versus-one, in which two players play as human marines and face off against the third player in the form of a powerful demon. The second actually hasn’t been unfurled yet, but Bethesda (the developer) is promising a release in the near future. In this game type, called ‘Invasion Mode,’ up to two players can actually enter the campaign levels of a third player and face off against them in the context of the normally-single-player game mode. Whatever game type you prefer, this title promises loads of demon-slaying goodness.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Google Stadia
Genre: FPS
No. of Players: 1-3

Purchase: $60+

Elder Scrolls Online

Console-based MMORPGs are pretty hard to come by. But when they’re done right, they’re absolutely superb. Unfortunately, that’s even rarer than console MMOs themselves. Thankfully, there is a bright shining light on that landscape in the form of Elder Scrolls Online. Set in the same rich world as Oblivion and Skyrim, this fantasy-focused title is expansive, beautiful, and lets you play alongside any of the 15 million people that also own the game and have a subscription. It wasn’t always all roses, however — the game got off to a bit of a rocky start. That being said, the game now has plenty of polish, tons of content, and a deep mythos that should interest people in the same manner as the single-player games of the beloved franchise.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Google Stadia
Genre: MMORPG
No. of Players: 1+

Purchase: $3+

Fortnite

Of all the games on this list, the one that probably needs no introduction is Fortnite. Interestingly, the original version of this game was a pay-to-play and centered around a hybrid of third-person-shooter and tower defense gameplay. However, what turned out to be its greatest strength was its free-to-play battle royale mode — the very game type that most people recognize as Fortnite in the present day. At its peak, the game had as many as 78.3 million players — in August of 2018 — but still retains a healthy player base to this day. And Epic Games (the developer) is still introducing new content — primarily cosmetics — to this day. It’s not particularly innovative at this point, but if you’re looking for online socialization, you can’t really go wrong with Fortnite.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Mobile
Genre: TPS, Battle Royale
No. of Players: Up to 100

Purchase: FTP

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Most of the games on our list are console and/or PC titles only — meaning you’re out of luck if you only play video games on your mobile device, tablet, or whatever else. This game, however, is available on both consoles and mobile and offers some pretty unique gameplay. You see, the premise behind this two-player (or more if you’re quarantined with others) game is this: the players must work together to diffuse an active explosive device. However, there’s a pretty significant catch: one player can see the bomb and the other can only see the instructions outlining how to diffuse it. That means players have to be able to manage time, be descriptive, and manage their stress — lest they let the bomb explode. It’s clever and simple but the stress element adds quite a bit to its replayability. And it might be the most unique multiplayer online video game we’ve ever come across.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Swtich, PC, Mac, Mobile
Genre: Puzzle
No. of Players: 2

Purchase: $10

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Dating back as far as 1992, the Mario Kart franchise has been letting people race and battle against their friends in the guise of their favorite characters from the greater Mario universe. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was actually originally released for the widely-panned Wii U console but made its port over to the Nintendo Switch, where it saw even greater success. Like the titles before it, the basic concept and even much of the game mechanics are the same — all the way down to the iconic and frustrating blue shell. But it’s a winning formula that has yet to disappoint and there’s enough that’s new to keep even longtime franchise fans interested and coming back for more. Plus, you can play online against up to 11 of your friends or strangers for even more replay value.

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Racing
No. of Players: 1-12

Purchase: $60

Monster Hunter: World

Not everybody likes to face off against their friends or even other players online. Some prefer a more collaborative approach, where everyone is friendly and the success of the team requires that everyone work together. If that’s the kind of online multiplayer gaming experience you’re interested in, then you should certainly consider picking up a copy of Monster Hunter: World. As the name suggests, this game pits up to four players against gargantuan legendary beasts. There’s also a massive vibrant world to explore — including a more recent DLC expansion — as well as plenty of character customization, both cosmetic and functional, and so much more. Plus, if you play this game, it could get you more excited about the upcoming live-action movie set in the same universe as the game and starring the likes of Tony Jaa and Mila Jovovich.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: Action-RPG
No. of Players: 1-4

Purchase: $10+

Overcooked! 2

Not all multiplayer online video games are gunslinging action titles. In fact, one of the best ones available now is actually about cooking. Overcooked! 2 has a fairly straightforward concept: you, along with up to three friends, must manage cooking meals together. However, that straightforward concept gives way to a lot of hectic gameplay as the difficulty goes up — as more elements are added to the levels that require you and your team to develop time management skills lest you find yourselves running frantically around like a chicken with its head cut off. Whether you’re playing along with people who are maybe more casual or you’re in a clan of hardcore gamers, this game is still a treat to play that scales well for all levels of experience. Not to mention it has a cheeky story revolving around the Onion King reading from the ‘Necronomnomicon’ and inadvertently awakening food zombies known as ‘the unbread.’

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac
Genre: Simulator
No. of Players: 1-4

Purchase: $25

Portal 2

This one is a little bit of a reach but bear with us. Portal 2 actually debuted back in 2011 — making it one of the oldest games on our list. In fact, it was originally made available to play on the PS3 and Xbox 360. You can still play it on those systems… if you still own them. But for our purposes, we’re going to call this one a PC title, as you can still download and play it via Steam. And that’s a very good thing because Portal 2 might actually be the absolute best puzzle-platformer ever created. In fact, it has a fully-fledged single-player campaign, along with a two-player cooperative mode that’s just as challenging and deep. Apart from its predecessor, which was actually a bonus addition to Valve’s Orange Box bundle, there hasn’t ever really been a game like this one, even today. Better still, despite its age, the gameplay and graphics hold up surprisingly well.

Platform(s): PC, Mac
Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
No. of Players: 1-2

Purchase: $10

Red Dead Online

This title is a little bit odd because, technically, it’s free-to-play. The thing is, you have to own a copy of Red Dead Redemption 2, the western blockbuster video game, in order to play it — which has still retained much of its value from back when it was released in 2018. Still, if you can get a secondhand copy or you don’t mind shelling out $40, there’s enough content here to keep you busy — both online and off — for hours and hours and hours. In fact, you could argue that playing the main campaign of RDR2 is good practice for when you head into the fray online. Of course, if you’d rather just get right to gunslinging, there’s a shockingly gargantuan amount of content for you to get into in the online-only version of the game. Of course, that’s aided by the fact that you’ll enter the online world alongside up to 32 other real flesh-and-blood players, with whom you can tangle, team-up, or simply bypass entirely.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC, Google Stadia
Genre: Action-Adventure
No. of Players: Up to 32

Purchase: $40+

Rocket League

When it came out, there hadn’t really been any game quite like Rocket League — which combined the sport of soccer with the vehicular elements found in games like Twisted Metal — and there hasn’t really been anything quite like it since. And that makes it ideal for returning to in these times of self-isolation and quarantine, as the fast-paced vehicular sports game is still just as approachable and fun as it was back when it was released in 2015. In fact, now with plenty of new content — like new cosmetic options, maps, etc. — it might even seem like an entirely new game to those who have been absent for a while. Whether you want to play online with up to 7 of your friends or you want to test your mettle against randoms, this fast-paced game is great for quick matches that don’t require a lot of time invested to make the most of it.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac
Genre: Sports
No. of Players: 1-8

Purchase: $10+

Stardew Valley

Originally released in 2016, Stardew Valley is touted as one of the best RPGs around and there are a few reasons that is still the case to this day. The premise is fairly simple: the player inherits a farm and, starting with almost nothing, must build it up into a prosperous property. Furthermore, players can explore the surrounding landscape — including dungeons/caves to collect valuable treasure — as well as plant crops, raise livestock, and interact with the local community. That’s all bolstered in the multiplayer mode, as you can work alongside up to three other players to bolster a single farm even further — with all the players sharing in both the risk and the reward. It’s a clever game that makes for some excellent online collaboration between you and your social-distancing friends.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Mobile
Genre: RPG, Simulator
No. of Players: 1-4

Purchase: $12+

Warframe

There are a lot of free-to-play games out there, but one that’s consistently one of the most popular and expansive is Warframe. A sci-fi third-person-shooter, this game takes players around a gargantuan galaxy with a huge variety of locales, character customization, and social interaction that ranges from player versus player game types to simple in-game encounters. It doesn’t have the polish of some of the pay-to-play titles, but it more than makes up for it in variety, gaming options, and a massive daily player count — 70.8 thousand on Steam alone. That’s not bad for a free game that came out in 2013.

Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac
Genre: TPS
No. of Players: 1-8+

Purchase: FTP

Words With Friends 2

While most of our games are available to play across a number of platforms, few are available on mobile. However, your smartphone is more than capable of giving you access to online gaming with a social edge. And while there are a lot of options, some better than others, there’s an argument to be made for this classic Scrabble-esque title, Words With Friends 2. Like Scrabble, players are given a number of tiles to play complete words on a gridded “board.” Whoever gets the most points wins — simple as that. It’s a timeless format that’s worked for generations now and that hasn’t changed in the digital world. It’s also easy to search your contacts for friends to play or you can play against a wide variety of random strangers. There’s even a chat function if you want to talk trash during your games.

Platform(s): Mobile
Genre: Word Game
No. of Players: 1-2

Purchase: FTP

World of Warcraft

Believe it or not, but World of Warcraft is actually a 16-year-old game at this point. At its height, it had something in the neighborhood of ten million active daily players. And while that number has declined significantly, the present figure of roughly 4.88 million subscribers is still nothing to scoff at, especially in this time of self-isolation. Technically, you don’t need a paid subscription to the game, so long as you’re comfortable with playing only up to level 20 and being unable to access some in-game locations. That being said, the free version is expansive enough to give you an idea if you’re willing to pay for more, which clocks in at $15/month. With that, you’ll unfettered access to six expansions, leveling up to 110, player vs. player multiplayer content, social features, and more. If you like fantasy worlds and in-depth RPGs, this one is worth considering in quarantine. There’s even a static classic version if you want to play what the game was like back in 2006.

Platform(s): PC, Mac
Genre: MMORPG
No. of Players: Up to 30

Purchase: FTP

Worms W.M.D.

Worms is one of those tried-and-true franchises that has been around probably longer than people remember, with the first title released all the way back in 1995. And while there has been some variation, additions to the mechanics, and plenty of quality-of-life updates, the games remain largely consistent regarding their style, playability, approachability, and more. The latest entry in the franchise, Worms W.M.D, is more of the same (a good thing in this case) for the turn-based strategy franchise and is available to play on a wide variety of platforms with multiplayer supporting up to eight players at a time. It’s cheeky, clever, cute, and violent all at the same time, seemingly paradoxically. But it works, much in the same way that Lemmings worked.

Platform(s): PC, Mac
Genre: MMORPG
No. of Players: Up to 30

Purchase: $10+

The 30 Most Anticipated Video Games Of 2020

While we’re already in April, there’s still a lot of year left. And that means a lot more video game releases to be had. Find those you’re looking forward to most on our list of the most anticipated video games of 2020.

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