What’s up, gamers? This week, the Gamer Horizon crew decided to put together our lists of The Top 5: online multiplayer games. We’re gonna list the very best in all genres and all platforms, so let’s get cooperatively competitive! Warning though: Chris’ list is a little… unorthodox.
5. Burnout Paradise – The first game to ever really make full use of telemetry in video games, Burnout Paradise also featured a whole year of free DLC. This included tweaks to the handling of cars, the inclusion of motorcycles, and a brand new title screen. It also helped that the online was both seamless and addicting! Never in my entire life have I enjoyed crashing my car into another so much–and I don’t even have to worry about insurance!
4. Journey – While it doesn’t allow for voice chat or many of the bells and whistles that other online games have, Journey delivered a unique and emotional experience without words. While very minimalist in its presentation it truly delivered the details where it counts. Going through Journey for the first time was one of the highlights of online multiplayer in this generation.
3. Dragon’s Crown – I’ll be the first to note that a lot of my peers here at Gamer Horizon were not fans of this game when we tried playing this a couple of Saturdays ago. But what was so empowering about the multiplayer in Dragon’s Crown was its ability to pull in people from all over the world into this huge quest that everyone was a part of, just by using a classic video game genre: beat ‘em ups. If you’ve read my review, you’ll know that I had a few minor gripes about the game that added up, but ultimately, it’s a good game to play–especially if you’re pining for a good RPG, some great character building, and an easy way to drop in and play the game anywhere and anytime.
2. Mortal Kombat (2011) – While the online wasn’t perfect for the first few months, I eventually enjoyed bashing people’s skulls in with my Mileena and catching my first in a series of achievements and trophies (I double dipped!) in this latest iteration of the franchise. It’s not really difficult to make an online fighting game’s multiplayer modes interesting, but the simplistic approach Netherrealm Studios took to ensure that whatever they had worked, even if it did take a few months later, is a clear indication that they’re quite loyal to the franchise’s fan base. It also helps that the Mortal Kombat fighting game community is both passionate and helpful to newcomers. With that said, I can’t wait for the next Mortal Kombat!
1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – It’s been 8 years since the start of this generation, but nothing else has matched the adrenaline pumping and instant pick up and play gameplay of the Call of Duty series. With the many refinements that came with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Infinity Ward made sure that online gaming was truly a viable proposition on consoles and further popularized Microsoft’s quickly growing Xbox Live Gold service. Indeed, this one game was so pivotal in helping Microsoft win the console wars early this generation that plenty of other shooters have followed its lead, attempting and, for a lot of them, failing to capture what makes the multiplayer in the series great. No other multiplayer game is as generation and genre defining as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was. None.
5. EverQuest earns its place on this list for being the game that really established the MMORPG genre. The game had a variety of flaws, not the least of which was how absolutely punishing it was to players attempting to level up their characters. Experience loss upon death was absolutely devastating, especially during “hell levels,” or levels that require more experience than usual to reach (usually levels that were a multiple of 5 or 10). But despite that, EverQuest managed to become one of the most addicting games I ever played.
4. Dark Age of Camelot followed in the footsteps of EverQuest in many ways, but innovated in others. Most notably, the game was divided into three separate Realms—Midgard, Hibernia and Albion—which were not unlike the divisive factions of Azeroth in World of Warcraft. Each Realm had its own unique races and classes, so it was almost like 3 MMORPGs in one! The three Realms were at war, and could battle each other in amazing Realm vs. Realm skirmishes in which two of the factions attempted to take over a keep in the center of the battlefield. Of course, they had to battle each other too. It was bloody, it was fun, and it was just a small part of the even grander Realm vs. Realm experience that awaited high level characters. To this day, I’ve never enjoyed PvP more in an MMORPG than in Dark Age of Camelot.
3. Counterstrike could have very easily topped this list. To me, it is still to this day one of the best team-based online multiplayer first person shooters ever created, and a lot of that is thanks to a specific map. Pretty much every Counterstrike player is intimately familiar with de_dust, and it has been included in every version of Counterstrike since the original. I can’t really explain why this map is so much fun to play, but I could and did spend countless hours playing this map over and over again. In any case, Counterstrike is one of those games that always cycles back into my active library of games from time to time. I just wish I could play as well I used to.
2. World of Warcraft is probably the single game I have played more hours of than any other game. It is remarkable for a number of reasons. First, it was the MMORPG that made the genre accessible to a much larger variety of gamers than the hardcore market earlier games catered to. Second, it is undoubtedly the most popular MMORPG of all time, and the one to have the greatest number of simultaneous subscribers. Finally, it’s actually a pretty great game. There are aspects of both EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot that I enjoyed more than World of Warcraft, but as a whole, I think it deserves its success. And though the fans of the game will argue about the quality of the various expansion packs, I feel as though Blizzard has raised the bar with each update. Though after all these years, the game does feel stale, I still enjoy the expansions. It is possible that no MMORPG will ever be as successful as World of Warcraft, but I am looking forward to whatever MMORPG Blizzard releases next.
1. StarCraft II gets the #1 spot on my list for a few reasons. First, it’s my favorite Real Time Strategy game. Second, I’m absolutely amazed by how much room there is for a player’s growth while learning the intricacies of the game. Third, the community that has been built up around the game is a lot of fun to participate with. I can enjoy the multiplayer aspects of StarCraft II whether or not I am playing! If a friend has a great game, they can send me the replay. If there is an thrilling professional tournament, I can watch it live with familiar commentators like Day-9 describing the action and giving pointing out strategies. And after I’m done with that, I can jump into a game and practice some of what I’ve learned from the pros. There is a reason StarCraft II is an e-sport. It’s exciting to play, it’s exciting to learn, and it’s exciting to watch.
5. Counterstrike – All I ever heard was how good Counterstrike was. The first time I played it, I wasn’t impressed at all. I’m not the biggest multiplayer fan out there but I will pick it up and play. It was nothing like Modern Warfare and I just couldn’t get into it. I gave it a chance and didn’t like it. It was just so bland looking. I can’t understand why so many people like this particular game.
4. Team Fortress 2 – I liked Team Fortress 2 a hell of a lot more than I liked Counterstrike. Team Fortress 2 looks a lot better, the characters aren’t just a bunch of bland soldiers and the game practically has its own story. I really liked playing with the soldier who runs around with the giant rocket launcher destroying everything from afar. I saw people doing the rocket jump and tried it myself. I never got the hang of it and ended up killing myself.
3. Halo – When I first started playing Halo online, I didn’t like it at all. The single player was fine so I continued to buy every Halo game that came out. The biggest thing I hated about Halo multiplayer was the fact that players had to take down someone’s shields then take down their health. It took way too much to kill someone and I always managed to die right before I killed someone. I kept trying the multiplayer hoping that I would find that silver lining and surprising enough Halo 4 kept my attention. The multiplayer didn’t change all that much but did change enough to keep me involved and wanting more.
2. Gears of War – The first time I played Gears of War and cut a Locust into little chunks with the Lancer I wanted to try doing the same thing in multiplayer. I managed to chainsaw some people in half and immediately died. The Gears characters are all damage sponges so you have to get up close and personal to kill them. That led to players using the tuck and roll technique along with the double barrel shotgun to rack up the kills. With Gears of War 3, Epic introduced the retro Lancer which allowed players to charge towards each other to impale them on the gun. I loved this ability and tried to impale as many Locust and players as I could.
1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – I’m not the biggest multiplayer fan and would never have tried it out if Modern Warfare hadn’t come out. Modern Warfare is the game that got me into trying out multiplayer. It’s still tough and I don’t play enough to be very good at it, but I will play a multiplayer match on it. I’m actually good enough to hold my own for a few minutes during a match.
5. Borderlands – Crawmerax the Invincible. ‘Nuff said.
4. Left 4 Dead – Valve. Co-op. Zombies. I could leave it at that but one of the most harrowing games I have ever played was during an online Versus game. We were playing Dead Air as the Survivors and we were in the airport. It was down to two of us, myself and my friend Buz. I had just gotten the hell kicked out of me in a horde and was limping along, my screen gray because I couldn’t take one more hit. Hobbling down the final stretch to the safe room, an enemy player as a Hunter, pounced on me. Thankfully Buz was right behind me with a shotgun and he blew the Hunter away before he could do any damage. Together we entered the final safe room, ending the round. Words can’t express the palpable sense of dread and adrenaline that coursed through me playing that match.
3. Rainbow Six: Vegas – RS:V was my first ever online multiplayer experience and it was magical. Everyone had a mic, communicated and coordinated. I feel like those concepts are a vestige of time long forgotten and it was only 7 years ago! I met a lot of my online buddies during sessions of this game playing Attack and Defend on Calypso Casino over and over. My favorite experience has to be when I breached the windows just outside the Kino room spawn and hid behind a craps table. There as a defender who was pressed against the wall watching the hallway so he couldn’t see me. I shot him, threw a brick of C4 on the side of the table I was leaning on and ran and took cover behind another table. When the player I shot respawned, he ran right to the spot I killed him in and I blew the C4 sending his dead body flying. I have no idea if I made it down to the package but I didn’t care. I was too busy laughing.
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – MW2 did everything that Call of Duty 4 did and shoved a heaping dose of steroids into it. Killstreaks were bigger, more devastating and this time they stacked! My buddies and I were unstoppable with our stream of Harriers and Pavelows. MW2 was also the game where I actually become good at Search and Destroy. Hours upon hours were spent playing this game.
1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – While my first online experience in a team based game was Rainbow Six: Vegas, it was Call of Duty 4 that really made me into a serious online multiplayer guy. Every single night my buddies and I would kiss our significant others good night and spend hours in Domination… a practice that has carried over into every single Call of Duty game since.
5: Capcom VS SNK 2 – Yeah, it was laggy. Yeah, it was unbalanced. But Capcom VS SNK 2 was the first natively online fighting game on consoles, and for that alone, it gets a spot on my top 5.
4: Mario Kart DS – You mean this handheld game is playing online against other people right now? And it’s not that bad of an experience, relatively? Coooooooool. Friend codes and weird disconnectors aside, along with snaking galore, this was the first online game for the DS, and it was just fine.
3: Halo 2 – Halo 2 changed the way we look at matchmaking for online games. Server browsers were thrown to the wayside in favor of a more random experience that got you into games faster. People howled bloody murder at the time, but now it is the de facto standard of multiplayer.
2: League of Legends – This is the first free to play game that I sat up and took notice of, and changed the way I perceive free to play games: As potential AAA experiences, instead of disposable, interchangeable cash grabs. Even though there’s still plenty of those, my experiences with League of Legends makes them easier to spot. This is a free to play game that I have spent like, infinity dollars on.
1: Warcraft 2 – As a Mac owner, my options for computer gaming were limited. Warcraft 2 was an amazing amount of fun during the times that I played. I even subscribed to kali.net (which is somehow STILL THERE) to play online, easily.
There are so many games I know I would have loved to mention, but such are the rules that I laid forth. Once again, let us know what you think of our lists and what you consider the top 5 online multiplayer games are in the comments!