The best online games give you a unique opportunity to get lost in worlds and experiences that are constantly evolving and expanding. As much as offline experiences can scratch a very different type of itch, there’s no denying the thrill that comes from joining millions of other players in a living, breathing world.
So you don’t miss out on any of these fantastic experiences, we’ve compiled this list of the best online games. We’ve opened with a few free PC games (because who doesn’t love falling in love with a free game?), and then given a healthy mixture of MMO games, plus some FPS games, and overall we’ve got a healthy mixture of games that should tickle your interests, no matter what your taste in games.
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1. Raid: Shadow Legends
We’re sure that you’ve encountered Raid: Shadow Legends before, because the online marketing campaign is pretty relentless – but for those who don’t know, this is a game that’s all about building up a team of champions to make your way through a number of turn-based RPG battles. All these champions have their own unique abilities and are better suited to different types of situations, meaning you’ll need a strategic mind if you want to accurately determine which ones to use against which foes.
The game is updated regularly with new champions, and now there is a selection that encompasses everything from an edgy warrior Santa Claus, through to real-life professional wrestler, Ronda Rousey. Once you’ve built up the ultimate team, you can dive into the PvP arenas and prove yourself against the millions of active players.
2. Hero Wars
In some ways, Hero Wars is quite similar to Raid: Shadow Legends – but in other ways, it’s very different. The similarities stem from the fact that it’s all about building a team of heroes and then using them to tear down teams of enemies, but other than that, it’s quite different. While Raid opts for a slightly-edgier pseudo-realistic art style, Hero Wars has a cutesy, almost chibi direction, and its selection of characters incorporates those who have both fantasy and sci-fi-inspired designs.
One of the most well-known elements of Hero Wars is its sliding door puzzles. Most Hero Wars adverts feature a hero in a predicament where one door opens to lava, one opens to a monster, and another to gold. These pop up from time to time within the game and give you a different kind of challenge that will unlock some valuable in-game resources.
3. War Thunder
There are loads of online war games, but War Thunder is quite unique. If you like the sound of battling on land, on sea, and in the air, then this is one you’ll definitely want to try. Some battles have you taking control of warships out on the sparkling ocean, other times you’ll be pulling off all kinds of clever maneuvers in dogfights, and there’s still room for trundling along and blowing up things in tanks.
By focusing on these three distinct types of battle, War Thunder manages to provide more variety than you typically find in war games. Plus, with vehicles drawn from various eras of history, you’ll be able to focus on the time periods that are the most interesting to you. If you want a classic WW2 tank, that’s great, but if you want to fly around in modern aircraft, you can do that too.
4. Halo Infinite
The Halo series has been captivating gamers for over 20 years (and providing top-notch online experiences for almost as long). The latest installment of the series doesn’t even require you to buy the game if you’re not interested in the single-player mode, because the multiplayer is available as a free download.
Halo Infinite offers a fantastic online experience, with beautiful maps that have been well-designed to accommodate 12 v 12 battles. Meanwhile, you can mix up the gameplay with the different weapons that are available, including classics like the energy sword and the needler. If you have fond memories of playing Halo 3 back in the day, or just fancy a new FPS experience, this one is well worth your time.
6. Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves is the end result of the renowned developer, Rare, making a perfect recipe of fantastic gameplay, endless charm, beautiful worlds, and intricate world-building. For those who have yet to step into this epic pirate journey, it’s a game that sees you make your way out on the sea (sailing alongside players from around the world), hunting skeletons, battling the Kraken, finding lost treasure, and essentially doing whatever you want.
You can either build a crew of friends and go on endless adventures together, or you can embark on a smaller ship on your own. Either way, you’ll have a hard time staying away from Sea of Thieves, because when you’re out on your ship, and you’re tearing across the sea, listening to the splashing waves and looking up at the twinkling stars above, there’s a beautiful feeling quite unlike any other. It’s a world that it’s just fun to exist in, and there aren’t many games that you can say that about.
At the end of the day, people love games where they go around shooting down other players, and Fortnite is a classic example of that. Somewhere along the line, it became the crossover to end all crossovers, so now you can even shoot it out as your favorite characters. Whether you’re a fan of Marve, DC, Star Wars, Halo, Stranger Things, My Hero Academia, Assassins’ Creed, or almost any other media franchise, you’ll find it represented in some way.
Of course, the crossovers are just one part of the appeal. This was one of the games that put the battle royale genre on the map. You’re dropped off in an arena with 100 other players, with a deadly storm narrowing the playing field all the time, then you just need to make sure that you’re the one who survives. Find weapons, find resources to harvest and build with, and do whatever it takes to eliminate all your other opponents. While it’s a little controversial, some fans absolutely adore the building mechanic, which is vaguely reminiscent of Minecraft. Speaking of…
We could hardly have a list of online games without talking about Minecraft. From its humble indie origins over a decade ago, through to the behemoth that it has now become, this is a game that has provided players with a wealth of experiences. Whether you prefer the classic gameplay of surviving out in the wilderness or like to build fantastic creations with your friends, this is a game with no shortage of things to do.
Indeed, it’s fair to say that with so much user-generated content available to enjoy, Minecraft will never run out of new experiences for its players (so long as it remains live, anyway). Also, like Fortnite, it has that crossover appeal. Where else will you find Donkey Kong and a Dalek helping each other to build a sand castle?
So those are our picks for the best online games – if there are any of them that you’ve not played, we recommend that you go ahead and take them for a spin. For more gaming recommendations, check out the best PC games list on our sister site, PCGamesN.