2017 was a transcendent year for multiplayer video games. While the form has always had a place in the hearts of millions of different users, the past year felt like a coming out party for multiplayer on a global stage. While LAN parties have been gone for the better part of a decade now, the image of a group of gamers huddled around networked computer screens has nonetheless remained prevalent in association with the concept of multiplayer titles.
Now, however, multiplayer has evolved into something that even those who have never picked up a controller have a better understanding of. Games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds have captured the imagination of the world and fused victorious phrases like “winner winner, chicken dinner” into popular culture’s colloquialisms.
2017 truly was the year of the multiplayer game. With 2018 just a few days out, which titles best captured the feeling of forward momentum that the genre will hope to carry into a new calendar year? Game Rant has compiled a list of the games we feel are the best examples of just how incredible multiplayer games became in 2017.
1. Destiny 2
Perhaps the most contentious pick on this list, Destiny 2 hasn’t really been seen as a multiplayer game in the same sense as the rest of the titles in this article. Despite the PvP elements of Bungie’s follow-up effort to Destiny remaining as polarizing as ever, though, there’s no disputing that Destiny 2 is one of the most successful multiplayer games of the year.
Destiny 2‘s launch saw the game praised for mitigating some of the shortcomings of its predecessor, and few games this year did a better job of uniting communities—either in praise or in criticism—than the second run ’round the galaxy for Guardians. With more content scheduled for 2018 and a reworked game system that has made Destiny 2 even more accessible, there’s cause for optimism from Ghosts and Guardians alike headed into the new year.
2. For Honor
File this one under “could have been multiplayer game of the year just a few years ago.” Ubisoft’s For Honor takes multiplayer combat to the extreme, featuring one of the most nuanced and complicated battle systems in the genre, coupled with an eye for historical accuracy that rivals even the Assassin’s Creed series. For Honor‘s single-player campaign is worth mentioning as well, as it houses some of the best writing and level design in the multiplayer genre and should be a blueprint for those who come after it in 2018.
So why did For Honor never seem to gain much traction in 2017? It’s tough to say—a lot of games got lost in the shuffle of what has to be one of the gaming industry’s most illustrious years yet. Ubisoft has remained committed to providing new content for players, however, and anyone who missed For Honor the first time around would be remiss not to give it a look during the holiday season.
3. Friday the 13th: The Game
Dead by Daylight proved horror multiplayer games still had legs in 2016, and Friday the 13th: The Game kept the momentum going in 2017. Gun Media’s faithful preservation of the Friday the 13th horror aesthetic was met with near-universal praise, and while server issues and a choppy launch dulled the luster of Friday the 13th: The Game a little, it still made its way onto most gamers’ playlists at some point.
Part of the charm of the game is the way it balances killer and camp counselor, a tightrope act that shouldn’t be ignored. Mechanics mesh extremely well with gameplay and give players a variety of options in escaping Jason Voorhees—unless they’re lucky enough to play as him instead, a delightful experience that is equal parts frenetic and fun. Sure, parts of Friday the 13th: The Game are disappointing, but it was, for at least a few weeks, one of the most hotly-debated and thoroughly-enjoyed multiplayer titles of 2017, earning it a spot on this list.
Fortnite is something of a unique presence on this list in the sense that it was never really supposed to take the form it has now become known for. The original intent behind the game was to create a co-op sandbox survival experience, and while that form of the game has still found success, it is the existence of Fortnite Battle Royale that sees the game included as a multiplayer standout from 2017.
The standalone Fortnite Battle Royale has been praised as a creative, colorful take on survival multiplayer, a sub-genre of the medium that has absolutely exploded in 2017. While most survival multiplayer games are dreary by necessity, Fortnite Battle Royale somehow adds vibrancy and an evolving canvas of options to players while still preserving the feeling of impending doom that makes it a heart-pounding endeavor. The sky is the limit for Epic Games’ Fortnite Battle Royale in 2018.
5. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
No list of the year’s best multiplayer games would be complete without PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. It’s difficult to express just how successful the game, which started as an early access title on Steam and became a worldwide phenomenon overnight, has truly been, but we will try. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds set a new record for most concurrent Steam users earlier this year, surpassing industry staples like Dota 2, while also forming the foundation of a new eSport and online streaming sensation, with the title frequently occupying one of the top spots of metrics tracking Twitch’s viewership figures.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is incredible for the simple fact that it might be the best iteration of a survival multiplayer game the world has ever seen—balancing has been impeccable, strategies are numerous, and the difficulty of the game is just satisfying enough that many players have experienced a victory at least once while retaining enough of a challenge to keep them coming back to chase that post-victory high. The game is still a work in progress, too, so there’s every reason to believe that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is on a skyward trajectory that might not have even reached its peak as of yet—scary thinking for competitors, but for fans of the game, a promising beginning to the new year.
Given the many titles that could have been compelling additions to our Best Multiplayer Games of 2017 list, it should come as no surprise that we believe this may have been the best year in multiplayer gaming since the release of Halo: Combat Evolved. Did we miss any that you would’ve placed here? Any games you think might surpass the ones on this list in 2018? Let us know in the comments below.