Multiplayer is an odd beast in many ways - an online activity done alone, hotseated with a friend or two, or even a party game - it has them all. Multiplayer with friends can be less about the game, and more about the experience that it is - just like any gathering with friends. Other multiplayer games though, that you play on your own with people over the internet are in many people's mind 'serious business'. Thus it tends to walk the line between casual fun time stuff with the other land of serious eSports and everywhere in between.
Well, we aren't reviewing top eSports games of 2014, though at least one you'd expect near the top of that list is going to make an appearance. The list is a mixture of games from different devices and styles - and however you have fun playing multiplayer we hope that you enjoy them too! -- Don Parsons
There may be simple mechanics at play here, but sometimes games like Towerfall: Ascension prove that simple is better. It's 4 player chaos, as each character attempts to fill their fellow players with arrows in any way necessary. While the game doesn't have online multiplayer, the game is best played with 4 people aside each other as they yell and scream at each other in hilarious combat. But the basic mechanics leads to various forms of strategy, as the ability to catch enemy arrows and to use powerups such as bomb arrows to change the environment and get the jump on your enemies head. The game is accessible to everyone and can bring the most tense moments of gameplay as the walls close in as two players duel for the last kill needed to win. Towerfall Ascension proves that sometimes, simpler is better. -- Shaun Joy
Divinity: Original Sin
Divinity: Original Sin was at the same time a nostalgia trip and a breath of fresh air. It mixes elements of old school CRPGs to new interesting mechanics like great environmental interactions. One of the most interesting features is the fact that the game allows you to roleplay two main characters at the same time. This leads to many interesting results in the single player game, but it becomes ridiculously enjoyable while playing cooperatively. Having a friend taking the role of one of the two main characters while you play the other is the starting point of one of the funniest cooperative experiences of the year and probably of the last few years. Puzzles and questing become way more interesting while you have the chance to roleplay your characters and possibly making them argue about the strategy to follow. Solving a riddle will be no easy task when you have the option of making your characters discuss about what answer is the correct one. And, of course, the already awesome combat system becomes way better when you can organize your offensive strategy with your companion. Divinity: Original Sin gives you a wonderful multiplayer experience on top of an all-around great game. -- Luigi Savinelli
Local Multiplayer is long forgotten. With only a few genres still even bothering to include it anymore, online gaming has long since become the focus for developers and gamers alike. However, 2014 showed some love for one of the best local multiplayer genres, fighting games. With Guilty Gear XRD, USFIV, Killer Instinct Season 2 and Smash Brothers, it has been a pretty solid year for one of my favorite genres. However, the crowning achievement was none of these. It was a game that carried the spirit of fighting games and streamlined it without sacrificing anything that makes the genre so enjoyable.
That game was Nidhogg.
For those of you unfamiliar with nidhogg, it is a game focused around dueling where players aim to get to one side of the stage and are then rewarded for doing so by getting eaten alive by a giant flying worm. Whilst having very simple gameplay, comprising of only 1 attack button, there is still an abundance of strategy and mind games present that make fighting games so enjoyable. It strikes a balance between noob friendly mechanics and high skill gameplay better than any other game I can think of. With only 4 stages and an almost non existent story mode, those looking for an abundance of content will not find it here. However, everything that is there has been polished to perfection.
The £11 price might put people off but if you still find yourself drawn to the idea of sitting down with a few friends to virtually beat each other up, you owe it to yourself to play Nidhogg. -- Alexander Baldwin
Mario Kart 8Mario Party has always been the great equalizer, but if you don't want to lose all of your friends in one evening then there is always Mario Kart. What is great about Mario Kart 8 is that it's accessible to all, from those who know exactly when to press accelerate on the countdown to those who don't even know what drifting is. Admittedly, I'm still a sucker for the Wii version, but this one brings in a whole host of new mechanics to try to master, and what it objectively does improve on is the exciting set of new courses and stunning graphics for you to ogle at. Mario Kart's latest installment remains set firmly as a party favorite. -- Georgina Young
Runner Up: Titanfall
Titanfall is a massively multiplayer online shooter featuring pilotable mechs and traditional first-person competitive gameplay. Titanfall is unique in that the story of the new franchise has been integrated into the multiplayer action. Depending on the skill of the players fighting for one of two factions it alters the outcome of the narrative. Prior to release this title was hyped as a mainstream competitor for Activision’s Call of Duty franchise. In the end the game swelled as a hit on multiple platforms but failed to receive the same recognition as the now legendary and controversial Call of Duty franchise.
There was so much hype surrounding the release of Titanfall that it is hard to consider the multiplayer without summarizing the game as a whole. It didn't come across as the game changer players thought it would be. It had moments of fact paced action and the mech mechanics were fairly interesting but there just wasn't enough standalone charm in the game to make this franchise the successor to Call of Duty. The environments were interesting on the surface but rather boring to play repeatedly. The story mechanics became more of a headache than an additional element of the game and the objective game modes really did not take advantage of the mechs. Titanfall was a disappointment and compared to Call of Duty doesn’t seem like it has much opportunity in the market. -- Thomas Nelson
Top Pick: Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U
I got into Super Smash Brothers around the release of Brawl. As many of us as possible would cram into a friends tiny university dorm room and take it in turns to play around a CRT, and while I wasn't very good (Disclaimer: I'm still not) the hilarity as people went flying from Pikachu's down B move was enough to keep me going. The console has moved on a generation, and the TV, room and number of characters and players per round have only expanded, but it's the very same sense of fun and nostalgia - only doubled. The all new 8 player smash is nothing short of genius. On the day of release as many friends as we could cram into our flat came over and with enough Gamecube, gamepad WiiU Pro and even the dastardly Wii controllers to go around we all gave our best trash talk. The random nature meant that even the less skilled of us had a chance at winning and there were enough characters that everyone could find their favourite. The perfect party smash. -- Georgina Young
And that's what we though of multiplayer games this year! Plenty of fun to be had with friends, and plenty to do online together with others.
Do you think we missed a game? Do you think that we rated one too high? Tell us in the comments below!