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The Best Video Games To Play With a Group

The Best Video Games To Play With a Group

My friends and I are always on the lookout for alternatives to Super Smash Bros., Mario Party, and Mario Kart. We’ve played all three and greatly enjoyed our time with each, by which I mean we’ve all equaled damaged our relationships enough that most of it balances out. But variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes, and our video game social lives are no exception. So break out of the usual, get all your friends together, and shout at each other when as the games descend into blatant cheating and comical backstabbing.


Jackbox-Party-Pack

Jackbox Party Pack

Platform: TV and phone
My friends and I have had whole parties derailed by the Jackbox Party Pack. The night starts out with a plan to try a new bar or meet someone out or celebrate someone’s birthday, but all we did was keep rolling through Jackbox games. Every iteration, and it’s up to nine now, has at least two games in it that can enthrall an entire group of people. Most of the games are some variation on trivia or joke writing, but there are others where you have to lie to people who usually know you pretty well or design t-shirts around weird prompts.

The major reason for the series’ success is its format. Only one person needs to actually own the game and have it running on a screen everyone can see. All the other players just need to sign in from an internet browser on their phone. Any writing, drawing, or tapping you need to do is done on each person’s phone. The number of players varies game to game, but most have an audience function, where players who weren’t able to get in on the game on one round can still vote on good answers.

Buy Now $20+


Quiplash

Quiplash and Quiplash 2: Interlashional

Platform: TV and phone
If past experience is anything to go by, Quiplash is easily the most popular game in any of the Jackbox editions that I’ve played. I’d go so far as to say my friends and I have ignored most of the releases that didn’t have Quiplash or its sequel in it. It’s the one that’s gotten the biggest laughs, and caused the biggest upsets. The game provides players with prompts to which they’re supposed to write the most ridiculous or funny answers they can think of. Each prompt is given to two people and their answers are put head to head. Points are awarded according to votes, with bonuses for the audience favorite and unanimous winners. It was smart to release it as a standalone title. That way, you don’t have to pretend you’re going to play the other games in the party pack.

Buy Now $10


Fibbage-XL

Fibbage XL

Platform: TV and phone
Fibbage XL is another minigame from the Jackbox Party Pack that was so popular it earned its own standalone release. This one is based more in fact, where a key word or phrase has been removed from an obscure piece of trivia. As players, you’re supposed to write in something you think is a believable substitution, or at least a joke that will dupe your friends into choosing it. You score points when someone chooses your line or if you pick the answer that’s actually true, plus bonus points for when people think you’ve written a great lie. Moreso than Quiplash, it’s probably the game that lends itself best to being an icebreaker, since there isn’t a ton of pressure to be operating at the top of your wit and you don’t necessarily need to know a lot about other players to be good at it.

Buy Now $10


Fall-Guys

Fall Guys

Platform: All Platforms
Fall Guys is one of those games that came out during the fog of the pandemic, when time meant nothing, every day looked and felt like the last one, and we all had spiraled so deeply into our own minds that the very concept of a society outside our houses and apartments became alien. Thankfully, my friends made me get a game about a bunch of bouncy little beans who waddle through colorful obstacle courses getting smacked around like Wipeout contestants.

The gameplay is simple. You run and jump along the obstacle course or play simple, team-based games (like egg-stealing or keep-away type games) in order to advance to the next round. The first level starts with 60 players and whittles down from there, with most of the beans careening toward the goal and getting flung in every direction. It’s gone free-to-play since I bought it back in 2020, but as far as I know that hasn’t changed much about the gameplay. The change is likely more due to the fact that the developers realized people were happily paying for all the cosmetics they kept releasing.

Fall Guys might be the only game on this list that doesn’t let everyone play together on one console, but I’m counting it as local multiplayer for a couple reasons. It’s on current and last gen consoles and PC, and has cross-platform playability and progression. It’s also not a technically intensive game, so virtually every PC with a processor is able to run it. That means you could easily get a big group of friends together and play for hours and you yell at each other over the happy-go-lucky soundtrack.

Buy Now Free


Pummel-Party

Pummel Party

Platform: PC
Imagine if there was a game that was just the parts of Mario Party where you smack your friends around and push them off cliffs and you’re pretty close to what Pummel Party is all about. The minigames are designed to end friendships (at least for the night), similar to how every Mario party eventually has someone seething in anger and going to get another beer to walk it off. There’s also a board mode on the game where you can use different power ups and abilities to sabotage other players. Overall, it should feel very similar to Mario Party fans, with the main difference being that Pummel Party is what would happen if Mario and his friends dropped all pretense and became overtly homicidal.

Buy Now $15


Hot-Wheels-Unleashed

Hot Wheels Unleashed

Platform: All Platforms
Racing games can be a challenge to nail. Too realistic and you lose the casual crowd. Too casual and you lose the gearheads. Too much compromise between the two, you lose both and get slapped by a bunch of reviews talking about how noncommittal your game is. Hot Wheels Unleashed may have found the way to please everyone without being a burnout game.

The controls are intuitive enough that pretty much anyone can pick it up and play, but with enough depth that repeated races will have players learning the nuances of each car and taking risks with stunts and shortcuts. The tracks, though limited in number, are the kind of wild, creative rides so many of us wove through our houses when we were kids and it really feels like you’re cruising around in your childhood toys. Speaking of, the renderings of the in-game models are so faithful to the toys that even the most cynical purist will be able to wax poetic for hours about their favorite cars. There’s even a surprisingly deep custom track builder for those of us who really want to capture that Hot Wheels magic.

As a group game, I like to think of it as a racing game that has the broad appeal of a Mario Kart without Nintendo’s occasionally off-putting sickly-sweet tendencies. Not that I hate Nintendo, just that sometimes I want to play party games with less cartoonish qualities.

Buy Now $50


Streets-of-Rage-4

Streets of Rage 4

Platform: All Platforms
My first gaming experience was playing Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and Streets of Rage 2 on my dad’s Sega Genesis. The first was excellent but the latter is so deeply ingrained in my soul that I still hear the health pickup noises anytime I eat a turkey. The fourth release in the series was another pandemic casualty where I’m really not sure how popular it was because I didn’t actually get to talk to anyone or work on many of these kinds of articles for months.

As far as I can tell, Streets of Rage 4 avoided the worst pitfalls of modern releases of retro franchises. The spirit of the game is very much intact, with waves of weak thugs to delightfully chew through and boss fights that’ll have you ready to snap your controller in half. The soundtrack has been updated for modern sound systems, but it’s still the same electronic retro-near-future dystopian pump up music we all love. The only major change seems to be the art style, though who’s to say the Genesis Rages would have looked exactly the same if they’d had the technology.

And if you’re really nostalgic, Streets of Rage 4 also comes loaded with all that 90s glory.

Buy Now $25


Halo-The-Master-Chief-Collection

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Platform: PC and Xbox
I don’t think I really need to explain Halo to any of you considering most of us probably come from the time period when our teenage selves were carting Xboxs to each other’s houses for LAN parties. The only danger here is really that some of us might have missed the release of The Master Chief Collection, considering I don’t remember a whole lot of noise being made about it. It has every game up to Halo 4 and it plays exactly how you remember it, down to the split-screen and LAN party potential.

Buy Now $40
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