Epic’s shooter first emerged as an intriguing mix of building, sandbox, and survival elements. The original Fortnite: Save the World mode – in which you construct fortresses to combat a severe zombie threat – has long been eclipsed by the world-conquering Fortnite Battle Royale. Thanks to some phenomenal Fortnite player numbers, and the fact it’s a good deal more polished than PUBG, Epic’s last man standing extravaganza is one of the best multiplayer games on PC.
Where you stand on the great Fortnite vs. PUBG debate depends on personal preference. Both are strong battle royale games with devoted communities, but Fortnite’s eye-catching Pixar sheen, accessibility – helped considerably by being free-to-play – and Fortnite buildingmechanics give it the edge for some over the detailed, deep military sim sensibilities of PUBG. We’re in no doubt, however, that Epic’s cosmetics game is far stronger: the sheer number of Fortnite skins and Fortnite Wraps (weapon and vehicle skins) is mind-boggling.
LEAGUE OF LEGENDS
League of Legends gives you everything you could want from a MOBA. You can go in solo to prove your superiority over others, try to master the best LOL champions, or hone your skills in whatever role you prefer. Or you could make it your regular multiplayer home with friends, either in the standard 5v5 modes or in one of several custom games available. Whether you want to be the best in the world or just bash about in well-designed systems, there is something here.
For hardcore players League of Legends is a lifestyle choice, and thanks to constant updates, the game is always improving. Massive industries, professional scenes, and huge tournaments have sprung up around it, with millions on the line for the very best. League’s community has built entire ecosystems of player support, team management, spectating, and shoutcasting around these games. And, if you want to, you’ll always find something new to discuss, try, or improve. Some will readily extol the virtues of its Valve rival, Dota 2, but, for us, League of Legends’ player base and better-defined roles and rules make it not only the best MOBA, but one of the best multiplayer games on PC.
TEAM FORTRESS 2
If you were not there when Team Fortress 2 launched, it is difficult to convey what a delirious and unexpected pleasure it was in 2007. In development longer than Pangaea, TF2 blindsided everyone when it finally arrived in its cheery and lustrous Pixar sheen. Instead of the anticipated amalgamations of biceps and military garb we expected, its cast is a brigade of slapstick comedians whose interplay provoked frequent, spirited, and genuine lols.
Each had skills and abilities that interweaved beautifully. Heavy mows down Soldier. Engineer builds sentry to mow down Heavy. Spy saps sentry. Pyro incinerates Spy. Sniper takes out Pyro. Scout bonks Sniper on his noggin and runs off. Demo obliterates Scout with his sticky bombs, then resumes flashing people. No, not like that. Medic watches that Uber gauge, and licks his lips.
It’s a very different game today, now absolutely baffling to lapsed players. Still, the rich visual design, the sheer strength of its cast, and the interplay between classes preserve it as one of the best multiplayer games around. An enduring classic… even if the emergence of Fortnite has lead to the biggest Team Fortress 2 player count drop ever.
Beautifully blending Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends, Overwatch remains a phenomenon and easily one of the best multiplayer games ever made. A class-based multiplayer shooter that owes much to TF2’s art style, payload maps, and asymmetrical combat, Overwatch also owes plenty to LoL’s diverse roster and essential teamplay. As our Overwatch PC reviewattests, its tantalising recipe for multiplayer grandeur is a mixture of popular styles, ripe with possibilities, which has captured the imaginations and evenings of the masses. That much is apparent from even a cursory visit to the fantastically busy Overwatch reddit, where you will certainly never go hungry for GIFs.
Blizzard are continually updating the game and adding to their impressively diverse and colourful roster with new Overwatch heroes, too. Want to master the best Overwatch characters? Prepare to commit months to the colourful blaster. Somehow, Overwatch gets even better while maintaining a careful competitive balance.
COUNTER-STRIKE: GLOBAL OFFENSIVE
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has an underwhelming origin story. A refresh of Valve’s previous refresh of a Half-Life 1 mod, CS:GO was conceived as nothing more ambitious than a console port; an experiment to see if PlayStation and Xbox gamers would engage with the Counter-Strike name. And, if PC players fancied a go, what’s the harm? As it turns out, we got one of the best multiplayer games on PC.
Thanks to regular CS:GO updates, the shooter sensation is consistently one of the most played games on Steam. Its weapon skins support an entire cottage industry of trading sites. It is an ultra-competitive, high prize pool esport. You cannot move on Twitch for CS:GO streams.
Its popularity is self-evident, but its quality requires a deeper understanding of its appeal both as a nostalgia trip and a well-supported, pacey shooter with state-of-the-art spectator tools. Valve’s masterpiece is ripe for tactical exploitation, meaning you should check out our CS:GO tipsif you want to succeed. Bristling with razor-sharp weapon feedback, this FPS is more comforting than mama’s homemade apple pie.
Brendan ‘PlayerUnknown’ is the father of the battle royale genre and, as you might have guessed, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is his baby. In PUBG the genre’s premise is presented with just the bare essentials: 100 players drop into a giant map with a shrinking safe zone, scouring the map for guns and gear to ensure they are the only one left alive. Outlasting everyone as the sole survivor is mighty tough, of course, so you best read our PUBG tips on how to win.
The game launched after nine months in Early Access, and it’s all the better for it. The arsenal of PUBG weapons you can fire feels spot on, an extensive wardrobe of cosmetics courtesy of PUBG crates will help you look the part, and the refreshed UI and minimap are much clearer. Plus, more massive PUBG new maps are coming all the time to stop things getting staler than a corpse outside the circle. The fact that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is one of the best multiplayer games, but not necessarily the best battle royale game – Fortnite fans might have something to say about that – shows how gargantuan this genre has become.
The moment someone at Psyonix said “how about football… but with cars?” one of the best multiplayer games on PC was born. Despite the failed first attempt, Rocket League’s success is down to its streamlined design: you just push a ball across a pitch with a car. It is hardly something only hardcore petrolheads can understand.
Do not mistake simplicity for a lack of depth, however. As we point out in our Rocket League PC review, mastering all the key Rocket League tipsand successfully passing, shooting, and scoring is a thrilling learning curve. It leads to a career – not just for new musical talent – of a thousand near-misses and ‘almost!’ moments, your body inching forward in your seat as the tension builds. Headshots in shooters are ten-a-penny, but a goal in Rocket League is something special.
An exceptionally moreish online game, Rocket League’s true home is in local split-screen multiplayer. Everyone in the room will be ooh-ing and aahh-ing as the ball zooms from one end of the pitch to the other, punctuated by an obligatory elbow-to-the-ribs to prevent an inevitable goal.
RAINBOW SIX SIEGE
Despite surface-level similarities to FPS darling CS:GO, Ubisoft have made reinforcing a wall or laying barbed wire as heroic as no-scoping an enemy from two rooftops away. Perhaps more than even the best multiplayer games, Rainbow Six Siege is about planning, communication, and execution of a team-based strategy.
Rainbow Six made its name by taking a quieter, more considered approach than the bombastic shooters against which it debuted in the late nineties, and in doing so it made you feel like a highly-trained, goggle-wearing, silenced MP5-toting specialist. The latest series entry evokes that same feeling despite the meta changes presented by a barrage of Rainbow Six Siege operators with more new ones coming in regular post-launch updates. If that sounds intimidating, Ubi do offer a Rainbow Six Siege Starter Edition so you can try it at a lower price.
Although, of course, there is destruction. Great big chunks of it that can kick up fine concrete dust every round. Just make sure you don’t get it all over your posh new cosmetics. Part of being ‘good’ at Siege is knowing each map intimately, and co-ordinating your team accordingly. The depth, nail-biting tension, and tactical potential of Rainbow Six Siege makes for a memorable cat-and-mouse multiplayer experience. No wonder the future of Siege is bright. As an esport its going global, while still allowing inexperienced high school minnows the chance to attain the glory of a major tournament place.