There’s no shortage of excellent-but-obscure PC games out there, but many of them are single-player only. Fortunately, there’s also no shortage of fantastic multiplayer PC games either, though they can be a bit harder to find outside the usual suspects. Some require other players, but servers have gone dry over the years. Others just get overshadowed by their bigger, better-funded brethren. Never fear, all ye who seek PC gaming fun with friends. We’ve got nine of the best multiplayer PC games you’ve never heard of right here.
Holdfast: Nations at War
It’s impossible to talk about multiplayer PC games and not mention MMOs of some variety. Final Fantasy XIV and The Elder Scrolls Online hog most of the MMO attention (outside of WoW), but there’s a neat little gem of a game that does things rather differently: Holdfast, Nations At War. It’s a historical strategy MMO that lets you experience the fierce warfare of the Napoleonic Era, when the most powerful nations in Europe went head-to-head for decades. You’re not necessarily in charge, though. You’ll join ranks of the Army, Navy, or Coast Guard and be one among many fellow enlisted personnel.
You’ll rise through the ranks and can work towards becoming an officer, but the emphasis is on coordinating your efforts with everyone else’s to try and achieve victory. It’s a unique setup with something for history buffs and strategy fans alike, or anyone just looking to experience one of the best multiplayer games on PC that strays outside the norm.
Of course, asking a bunch of people to cooperate towards a shared goal is sometimes asking for trouble. There’s been trouble in the past with trolling, like you’d get in any MMO. On whole, though, Holdfast has very positive reviews, and even the less glowing ones put in hundreds of hours. More importantly, Holdfast’s player base has remained stable over the past few years, with a very active Discord group. There are a few dips here and there, but never where the servers don’t have enough people for a game.
Shipped is one of the more deceptive titles on the list and deserves its title of best multiplayer PC game for different reasons than others. On the surface, it looks very simple. Control your ship, and push your foes off the screen. The controls are simple, too. Actually controlling your ship, navigating the course obstacles, and maintaining a good offensive and defensive balance is another matter entirely. What makes it especially challenging is that you can’t actually stop your ship. It’s full steam ahead, all the time.
It’s a classic case where a no-frills setup has a big payoff. That’s even more applicable the more people you have playing, and Shipped lets up to eight people play together. The game’s reviews agree with this almost unanimously, all mentioning how competitive the game gets — and quickly. There’s a single-player mode and five gameplay modes to choose from total as well, so you shouldn’t be starved for things to do with Shipped.
Imagine something like Fortnite, and then imagine that with ducks as the main characters. If you do that, you’ll come close to the frenetic insanity that is Duck Game. It’s even more wild than your average battle royale because the action unfolds in a more contained environment. Stages range in size, but they’re mostly enclosed, 2D areas that force players together into combat. It goes a long way to avoid gaps in action while players hunt each other down, and it also means each match goes by fairly quickly.
You can squeeze in quite a few matches in a short span this way, but it doesn’t mean Duck Game’s fights are shallow either. There are over 50 stages to choose from and more than 50 weapon types as well. These range from Net Guns and Shotguns to the deadliest weapon of all — saxophones.
Should the existing stages lose their luster, you can take advantage of the level editor and make your own. It’s fun for 2-4 players, but Duck Game has a single-player challenge mode as well, for times when you’re on your own.
Screeps has to be one of the most unique games around, as well as being one of the best multiplayer games on PC. It’s also an MMO, but that’s where similarities to anything you’ve heard before probably end. Screeps is all about programming — as in, you program everything your little blip character does and accomplish all your actions through Java programming language. It probably goes without saying that you’ll need some Java knowledge to get the most out of Screeps.
Your goal in Screeps is building, maintaining, and defending your own little empire of… well, of something. Blips, lights, electrical pathways, and things like that, but it’s your territory. You can trade, develop, and invade as you see fit, or you can be nice and actually try to get along with others if that’s more your thing.
Like most MMOs, Screeps has you buy a subscription. Unlike other MMOs, the subscription allots you CPU and other benefits. You’ll use these to upgrade your Screep and get access to other essentials for maintaining your Screep-pire. It’s annoying, but fortunately, it isn’t pay to win. Everyone gets access to the same things for the same subscription fee, and the only ones who don’t are the people playing Screeps in single-player mode.
Blood and Bacon
Sometimes, you don’t want to do anything serious. On those days, you just want to escape deadly pig zombies in a blazing mass of gunfire and blood. Well okay, we kinda doubt very many people have wanted something that specific. But if it sounds like something you’d be down for, Blood and Bacon is definitely one to check out.
You and up to six others are dropped in a barnyard of doom and must survive day and night against the onslaught of monsters clamoring for your blood. And we mean “onslaught.” You can potentially face up to a staggering 500 enemies at once. These include mini-bosses that appear after so many days and rather terrifying-looking scarecrows. All this is spread out over more than 100 levels, so you’ll probably need those additional players to help you survive.
If it sounds a bit overwhelming, you get some help from a handy meat grinder. It disposes of your enemies and dispenses random items like ammo and rockets to help you on the way. It’s… well, it’s actually really gross and a bit interesting at the same time, if we’re being honest. That’s Blood and Bacon in a nutshell too. It’s certainly not for the fainthearted or those who love pigs. But if you’re looking for some wild firearm fun, this is one of the best multiplayer games on PC to pick from.
Popularity for roguelikes skyrocketed in recent years, but many of the best are single-player experiences only. Not so for Metaverse Keeper. This space-themed roguelike offers a solo and co-op experience for up to four players at a time and brings countless customization options to keep things interesting.
Each of the four playable characters has unique strengths and attributes, from Brooke the destructive rock-star to the nimble teleporting astronaut Howard. However, you’ll come across Chips during your travels, mysterious objects you can use for various things. Chips grant special passive abilities for use in combat. However, you can also use them to augment your weapons and attacks to create a completely different build than you started out with.
There’s a story involved in Metaverse Keeper too, about Bosses and crazy space stuff. It’s the crazy space stuff that takes center stage. Some of the enemies you’ll face during your journey include massive blue vultures, a slime wearing a crown, and a reindeer driving a motorcycle through one of the dungeons. Yeah, it’s a thing, apparently.
Either way, between the randomly generated dungeons and expansive customization options, Metaverse Keeper easily earns its spot on our best multiplayer PC games list.
Use Your Words
Jackbox and Ultimate Chicken Horse usually dominate the conversation around multiplayer PC party games. However, Use Your Words (3-6 players) from Smiling Buddha Games is a strong contender for the crown of zany fun in its own right. It’s all built around words and meant to provide hundreds of unique, hilarious situations that change depending on who’s playing. Each scenario is crafted specifically for the game as well. The dev team hired a group of comedy writers to ensure every situation and potential outcome was as outrageous and on-point as possible.
Sub-Title is the most popular mini-game. A clip from a foreign film plays, and it’s up to you to determine what’s being said in the scene. Others include a traditional caption the moment game and a fill in the blank-style game where you can either wait until you have an appropriate card or just fill in the blank with whatever comes to mind first.
Speaking of appropriate, there’s a mode that filters out situations which could be less than desirable for the more sensitive and impressionable audiences. That opens up a lot more people you can play with and time slots for playing as well.
Secrets of Grindea
Secrets of Grindea is an interesting game. On the surface, it sounds like it’d be one of those dime-a-dozen JRPG knockoffs, with pixel graphics as the main draw. (That’s intentional, since it both honors and pokes fun at SNES games of yore.) In reality, it’s also an ambitious action-RPG that puts players in complete control of their characters’ progression. You can mix and match any class with any skill to create countless unique character combinations, which is an awesome feature more games should copy.
You’ll do the usual things in Secrets of Grindea: explore dungeons, gather loot, travel around, and fight monsters in a sweeping story. Being part parody means Grindea can break away from the serious epic and inject humor in the main narrative and its many (many) sidequests as well. Then there’s the presentation, which is almost as if you made Stardew Valley a fantasy RPG. It’s really lovely and a nice variation on the usual fire, jungle, ice themes in classic RPGs.
Of course, Secrets of Grindea is multiplayer as well, else we wouldn’t be talking about it here. It handles multiplayer smartly, too. You can journey together with up to three other people and take on quests and even the main storyline. Or, you can recruit pets in the game, play alone, and they’ll act as your partners, which is perfect for times when your friends are busy or you just need some you time.
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is a true blast from the past. It’s a compilation of two old Capcom arcade titles, Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara. Among other upgrades and enhancements, the two-in-one package now offers easy drop in and drop out for up to four players at a time. That’s handy indeed for a game trying to be one of the best multiplayer PC games.
It’s quite the nifty mashup as well. On the one hand, it’s very much your standard Capcom fighting arcade game, but with a generous D&D twist. There’s magic, mayhem, monsters, outlandish heroes and heroines straight outta the ’80s, and a huge range of mystical locations to explore. On top of all that, Iron Galaxy Studios added a new layer of RPG mechanics. There’s a challenge mode that lets you take on challenges (obviously) to earn coins and increase your level. You can use these in the Vault to purchase in-game items and equippables you can then use in your main adventure.
And if that isn’t enough, you and your friends can make your own rules to govern the game. Tired of stuff breaking? Make everything unbreakable! Feel up for a challenge? Make each level a timed boss rush! It’s a genuinely impressive overhaul for these classics and offers plenty of content for you and your friends to delve into.
It’s easy to get caught up in the same games and not branch out, especially if your friends aren’t keen on trying something new. These nine multiplayer PC games have something for almost everyone, though. Whether you want MMOs or barnyard chaos, they’re most definitely worth looking into the next time you and yours have a hankering for some online fun.
Have you tried any of these already? Or do you have other favorite multiplayer games we didn’t list?