Gaming has come a long way since the days of early Nintendo and, for the most part, its evolution has been splendid. Better graphics; huge maps; compelling storylines – you don’t have to shop far to find hundreds of games that trump their predecessors.
But gaming has arguably started to fall short in one important area – the social aspect.
The early console days were defined by multiplayer titles like Mario Kart, Quake and Mortal Kombat.
The latest blockbusters, broadly speaking, tend to fall into one of two categories – they are either intense single player campaigns that transport you to another realm, or online multiplayer titles that connect thousands of players online.
The latter brings back the social elements, but at a cost. Playing with strangers from around the world can be rewarding, but it’s a far cry from plugging controllers into four ports and sitting around a bowl of tortilla chips in the same room.
We miss those days. So, we’re bringing them back. Here are three cutting edge modern titles that offer multiplayer gaming for you and your friends.
A Way Out
A Way Out is a rare gem because it cannot be played solo. Coop multiplayer is the only option – either online or, as recommended by the developers, in couch coop with a friend. Unfortunately, cross platform play is not supported, so you’ll need the same console (or to both use a PC) if you’re going to play online.
The game follows two criminals who are attempting to escape from prison. One is older and wiser, thinking before he acts. The other is a brute force, fist-first youngster who is always ready for a scrap. Each player takes up the role of one of the prisoners, and both must work together to find a way out.
It is precisely because A Way Out is made exclusively for multiplayer that it works so well. Nothing feels tacked on or out of place. Every element of cooperative play is well thought out and necessary to the flow of the game – whether it’s working together to distract a guard or sitting down for a session of Connect 4.
The makers of this game also brought us It Takes Two, another of the greatest two player coop experiences on the market.
Poker Home Games
Poker has always been an intensely competitive multiplayer game, whether at the casino or online. The advantage online is that there’s always a game available. Players can jump straight into a tournament with people from around the world. This has made poker more accessible than ever before.
If you want a break from the public lobbies, PokerStars has the option to set up and play Home Games – private clubs where you can invite friends and schedule your own tournaments.
You can invite up to 501 members to your club but, if you prefer to keep it homely, you can stick to eight or nine of your closest mates.
Home Game clubs offer sociable features like video chat and throwable objects to encourage interaction during play. You can connect online, or use your own mobile devices to play in the same room during film night.
Divinity: Original Sin II
Divinity is one of the greatest, deepest, and toughest RPGs ever made. It features witty and humorous scriptwriting, an excellent storyline, and battle mechanics to die for. It’s also huge. The campaign potentially takes around 80 hours to complete.
A game of this genre shouldn’t be so good in multiplayer mode, but Divinity somehow pulls it off. Gameplay is only enhanced by the chaos of bringing along a friend.
Divinity: Original Sin II features a two player coop “couch mode” for local play. Yes, you can sit in the same room and slog through this epic title – one of you as a lizard, the other a mage.
You can also link up with two other companions online for a four player experience, or start an online multiplayer tabletop game in which one person is the dungeon master and others must navigate their realm.
The multiplayer campaign is the same as solo, so, no matter how many friends you bring along, you’ll always get the full experience.