The holiday season often brings friends and families together. If you’re hoping to keep gaming while spending time with them, here are some great selections for you all to enjoy.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
The new entry in the beloved crossover fighting franchise retains the series’ stellar local multiplayer. With more than 70 characters and 100 maps, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to its name by delivering more content than any other entry in series history. With robust custom ruleset options, you can set up matches just the way you like them. However, if you want to show off the massive roster to your friends and family, you might want to play a lot beforehand; you only start with eight characters and unlocking the rest can take several hours. Even though World of Light is a fun single-player mode, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is best enjoyed with others.
Platform PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
The follow up to the surprise 2016 hit, Overcooked 2 refines the formula and adds new scenarios to make for a frantic multiplayer experience. Whether you’re trying to make burgers on floating platforms high above the ground or assemble tacos across two rafts heading downriver, you should expect the unexpected when it comes to Overcooked 2’s situations. Not only is this kitchen game funny and exciting, but the simple controls allow nearly anyone to understand how to play in less than the time it takes to cook a pizza. This sequel adds the ability to toss food across the kitchen alongside online play options to dive into once everyone else in the house is asleep.
SNES Classic Edition
Whether you want to relive those childhood gaming memories with your parents or introduce your favorite games of all time to a younger sibling, Nintendo’s SNES Classic Edition is one of the best and most convenient ways to experience some of the greatest video games from the ’90s. From cooperative games like Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario World to competitive titles like Street Fighter II and Super Mario Kart, there are plenty of awesome multiplayer gems to sift through. In addition, you can sort the menu to find which games have multiplayer, helping to speed up the process. We recommend picking up some SNES Classic-compatible wireless gamepads or cable extenders to alleviate the short cables of the pack-in controllers.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Platform PS4, Xbox One, PC
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is all about playing together. Not only does it get rid of the series’ traditional single-player campaign, but its three main modes are about cooperation or competition. The tense and blazing hot Blackout mode is among the best battle royale experiences out there, while Treyarch’s take on cooperative play in zombies continues to be the gold standard for that style of modes. Black Ops 4 also features the standard Call of Duty competitive multiplayer suite. While you can play all of these modes online through matchmaking, you can also head into war together through local splitscreen multiplayer.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Few franchises appeal to everyone quite like Mario Kart, and the latest entry is the best, as Nintendo took the terrific Wii U entry and improved upon it for Switch. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe features all the characters, tracks, and DLC from the Wii U version, as well as the ability to hold two items at once, a revamped version of the fan-favorite Battle mode, and several new characters. This definitive version of the beloved game can host four players on one system, and the stable of recognizable characters makes it the perfect game to fire up at gatherings with family or friends.
Turn off all the lights and get a group of horror-loving friends together for one of the best choice-driven narrative adventure games of the past few years. Starring recognizable faces like Hayden Panettiere and Rami Malek, Until Dawn fits perfectly into the teen slasher genre as a group of high school friends find themselves in the middle of a horrifying mystery in an isolated mountaintop cabin. Throughout the game, you make literal life-and-death choices that impact the story in ways you may not be able to predict. While Until Dawn is technically a single-player game, watching the events unfold and coaching the player on their decisions effortlessly transitions to a group setting.
A Way Out
Platform PS4, Xbox One, PC
Telling the story of two men escaping from prison and living a life on the run, A Way Out is unique in that it must be played cooperatively; there is no single-player option. In a novel concept, the story tells the tale of these two characters simultaneously, with both players on screen at the same time, even if they aren’t together. With plenty of action sequences and a compelling story to get immersed in, A Way Out is a fun adventure to experience together. In addition, it can easily be completed over a couple of play sessions, so you don’t need to worry about heading back home with an incomplete story; even if you do, you can pick up where you left off through online play.
Platform PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac
Dungeon crawling has never been better or more accessible than it is in Diablo III. The recent Eternal Collection not only features the Reaper of Souls and Rise of the Necromancer expansions, but brings it to the Nintendo Switch, making it the most portable version of Diablo III to date. Don’t let any lingering negative thoughts from the game’s rocky 2012 launch scare you away; this is one of the greatest dungeon-crawling games ever released. All these years later, fighting demons with friends in local co-op is still a blast.
Platform Xbox One, PC, Mac
While some of the other games on this list are accessible games that anyone can join in and have fun with, Cuphead is the game you bring if you have another hardcore gamer in your presence. Anyone can appreciate the 1930s-inspired art style, but you need some serious skills to make any progress in this 2D action game from Studio MDHR. Even if your friends and family aren’t quite up to your skill level, the controls are easy to understand and there’s plenty of maddening fun awaiting you in the always-daunting and often-complex boss battles.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Platform PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
The Dragon Ball series has seen its share of video game adaptations, but Dragon Ball FighterZ is the flashiest and most mechanically sound game the beloved anime has ever seen. In addition to a long single-player story, Dragon Ball FighterZ helps you settle any family differences by letting you go Super Saiyan and (digitally) beat the tar out of each other. Featuring a wide range of recognizable Dragon Ball characters, ranging from mainstays like Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo to deeper cuts like Captain Ginyu and Android 16, Dragon Ball FigherZ has something for die-hard and casual fans alike. Add to that the fact that it’s one of the best fighters from the last few years and you have a sure bet for a good time.
Platform PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac, Linux
“You’re playing soccer with rocket cars” is perhaps an oversimplification of what Rocket League is and what makes it so great, but at the end of the day, you’re playing soccer with rocket cars. Tearing around a big field, chasing a giant ball in cars that can boost, flip, and even drive up walls is fun from the opening horn. The pick-up-and-play controls make it a breeze for anyone to get up and running. Scoring a goal in the middle of the frantic action is another thing all together, but as they say, “practice makes perfect.” It takes some work to become good at Rocket League, but once you’re able to line up a shot and volley it in, it’s one of the more rewarding and fun team multiplayer games out there.
The Jackbox Party Pack 5
Platform PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac, Linux, iOS
The Jackbox games have been crowd pleasers ever since the first entry of You Don’t Know Jack debuted in 2011. The fifth Jackbox Party Pack brings an all-new version of You Don’t Know Jack, as well as four other riotously funny games. Whether you’re competing in that signature trivia game or spitting verses back and forth in freestyle rap battles with Mad Verse City, you’re all but guaranteed to have a smile on your face. Split The Room and Patently Stupid are also winners in this pack, as you try to come up with difficult decisions that will give you the most polarizing responses or create hilarious fill-in-the-blank scenarios. The best part about Jackbox Party Pack games is you don’t need a bunch of controllers to get everyone involved; all you need is a smartphone and you’re good to go.
Super Mario Party
With so many chance elements at play, Super Mario Party may not be the best showcase of skill, but that’s kind of what helps make it such a great game for gamers of all ages and skill levels. With 80 all-new, mostly fun minigames, this is the perfect way to get everyone gaming. Super Mario Party gives you multiple ways to consume its centerpiece minigames, from the cooperative River Survival mode to the quick-hit, rhythm-based Sound Stage mode. When all else fails, jumping into a standard board-game Mario Party match is fun for anyone, or you can cut straight to the meat of the experience with several dedicated minigame modes.
Lego DC Super-Villains
Platform PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
TT Games’ Lego titles are usually entertaining to platform through with a friend, but the new Lego DC Super-Villains is one of the best games the series has ever seen. After creating your own villain, you explore the world alongside various iconic villains from DC Comics like Joker, Harley Quinn, and Lex Luthor. Full of cute, hilarious, and fun moments, Lego DC Super-Villains is a journey better experienced with a friend who will laugh along with you. Add to that the fact that this is TT Games’ most refined and improved adventure in a long time and it’s a safe bet you’ll have fun in this entry.
This article appears in the January 2019 issue of Game Informer. Matt Miller contributed to the “Together at the Table” sidebar of this feature. Minor updates have been made to reflect the latest information.