Multiplayer in games seems to be simultaneously the most consistent and most changing aspect of gaming. There will always be the team deathmatch, capture point, capture the flag, etc. mainstays, but new ways to experience classic gameplay come all the time. Right now, of course, battle royale has taken over pretty much all of gaming. It feels as though it's only a matter of when a battle royale mode is coming to a competitive multiplayer game, not if. With that said, this year didn't see too many new and successful battle royale games release. In fact, only one of our four nominees has a battle royale mode in it at all.
Here's the list of nominees (and here's the list of nominees for all categories):
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (Our Review)
- Dragon Ball FighterZ (Our Review)
- Monster Hunter: World (Our Review)
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Our Review)
- Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Here’s what you, the readers, chose as the winner of the Best Multiplayer Award for exceptional multiplayer gameplay and design. Our top three follows after.
Readers' Choice - Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
For as much flak the Call of Duty series is like to get, you can't really say they haven't hit on a solid formula for fun multiplayer gameplay. While numbers have slipped some, it still remains one of the powerhouse franchises in all of gaming. With some controversy over not having a single-player campaign, it seems to have paid off, with a well-received battle royale mode in Blackout and a vast array of zombies content.
Third Place - Warhammer: Vermintide 2
By Andrew Otton
Warhammer is likely one of the most poorly used IPs in gaming. It could, and should, be a powerhouse, yet disappointment after disappointment is most of what Warhammer fans have to look forward to. Luckily, developer Fatshark has put Warhammer to good use in the Vermintide series.
With more loot, better progression system, and interesting enemy variety, Vermintide II added a lot to the original release that proved gamers were still interested in the Left 4 Dead-style gameplay. There are more classes to use to shoot, slice, and smash rats, and talent trees to customize them to your liking. Mowing down wave after wave of Skaven—rat men, basically—is more satisfying than ever.
Playing with friends, or even strangers online, is definitely the ideal way to play. People are better than bots, and triumphing over a seemingly endless horde of Skaven is much more satisfying when done with friends. Mindlessly killing hundreds of Skaven may sound simple, but Vermintide II offers challenging modifiers to missions that will necessitate the need of a friend or two as well. Coordinating around the handicap and reacting to what the mission offers is key.
No matter the case, breezing through hordes of Skaven or fighting for every inch is just as fun.
Second Place - Monster Hunter: World
By Travis Williams
Monster Hunter: World's multiplayer isn't incredible because of its ease of use. It's actually an awkward system that is hard to come to terms with for new players, especially if you are looking to play with a group of friends. Instead, it's incredible because of how it functions when you don't have any friends to play with. Everything about the gameplay and systems of Monster Hunter: World encourage cooperation, and many of the fights are downright brutal if you don't seek out help.
The beauty of the multiplayer in this game comes down to the community it fosters. It pays dividends to help out other players, because then you have a healthy, active, and friendly player base who are actively trying to help you in return. It's actually directly beneficial to you when other players succeed and their skill level grows, so the MHW community is absolutely chock-full of people who will not only help you accomplish your goals in game, but they will also actively help you get better at the game, which in turn helps out every other player that you come across. In most games, playing in a random pick up group is best avoided most of the time, whereas in MHW it's not only fun but also rewarding and encouraging as you find like-minded people who want to see you do well.
Winner - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
By Alex Santa Maria
A lot has been made of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s single-player modes. After almost dropping them entirely in Smash 4, Ultimate doubles down with a full campaign and spirit fights that give solo artists a lot to accomplish. However, everyone knows that single-player isn’t the star of the show. At its core, Smash Bros. is a raucous party game, a multiplayer brawl-em-up to play with friends. Smash Ultimate does nothing to change that opinion, providing the best modes and gameplay the series has yet to see.
You can’t overstate how important “Everyone is Here” is to Smash Ultimate’s triumph. Having every character from the franchise’s history means that no player is left out of the proceedings. Those who used to play during the Gamecube days are welcomed back into the fold, even if they only see the game at a party. Sure, a few things may have changed and you might have to explain Final Smashes, but the barrier to entry is still impressively low.
This is doubly true since the series’ signature gameplay hasn’t changed all that much. A crazy mix of items, stage hazards, and wild momentum swings guarantee a good time with friends. The in-game options let you tune the game to your liking, making either a crazy fun time or a more balanced Final Destination for tournament play. It’s all at your fingertips.
Even though the gameplay hasn’t changed, that doesn’t mean that Sakurai and his team are getting complacent. There are several new ways to challenge your friends included. The tournament mode returns, letting you host multi-match challenges straight from the console. Smashdown shows how good you are with the entire roster by locking out characters whenever someone picks them. Finally, Squad Strike gives you the chance to gather a group of characters and have a single battle with multiple layers.
No matter what mode you choose, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be a good time with friends. It’s easy to pick up, difficult to master, and has that unique Nintendo aspect of letting anyone eke out a win once and a while. It’s a masterful iteration of what makes Smash Bros. fun and should be the star attraction at gaming gatherings for months and months to come.
What would your pick be for our Best Multiplayer Award? What do you think we got right? What did we get wrong? Let us know in the comments below!