This generation has seen the controversial rise of “games as a service” (GaaS), “live service games”; whatever you want to call them. While there certainly are more than enough single-player games out there to satisfy solitary gamers, the big publishers are moving their attention towards multiplayer experiences.
Ubisoft are arguably the biggest proponent of this ethos, going as far as declaring that they were “done with finite experiences” in early 2018 after the success of games like Rainbow Six Siege, even though Assassin’s Creed Odyssey very much stuck to the same single-player principles as other games in the franchise.
With the emphasis on online experiences only growing stronger from the big dogs as the years go by, it’s time to look at the best PS4 multiplayer games. Whichever unusual and questionable places the industry goes in the future, here are some suggestions for them to learn from to create games that last the distance.
A couple of quick qualifiers: we are only including one game per franchise and we’re also listing this in no particular order, just because we don’t fancy being oiled and tarred over numbers. With that being said, here are our picks for the best multiplayer games on the PlayStation 4, whether that’s local multiplayer or online.
1. GTA Online
Developer: Rockstar Games Publisher: Take-Two Local/Online: Online
While there are some aspects of GTA Online that really shouldn’t be emulated, it’s been a popular mainstay for five years for a simple reason: it’s just damn fun. At this point in time with the community already well in place for the game, there might be quite the grind ahead for you to compete against others, but if you just want a game to mess around in with friends, it’s probably the perfect pick.
There are many things you can get up to in GTA Online, including the inevitable bit of murder. However, if you want a far more relaxed time of it in San Andreas, turn on Passive Mode and take a cruise around, throw some darts, get yourself an awkward lap dance, or embarrass yourself with some golf as you pass the time until they announce a new Top Spin.
2. Battlefield 1
Developer: DICE Publisher: EA Local/Online: Online
The jury’s still out on whether Battlefield V will deliver when it lands at the backend of 2018, but you can always depend on Battlefield 1 for some FPS insanity, whether it’s by land or air. Disregard it disregard basic history of The Great War and dip into speeding at people while on horseback with a cutlass in your hand.
Deep in content with a fairly relaxed learning curve, Battlefield 1 earned rave reviews at launch and has maintained a solid playerbase in the two years since. Depending on your preference, Battlefield 4 may actually suit you better as a more modern shooter, but does the fourth entry have burning zeppelins crashing to the ground? You already know the answer to that.
“Not just one of the best FPS games of the year, but one of the best overall. DICE have taken a step backwards with Battlefield 1 but taken many forward at the same time. For once, a game where you can believe the hype.”
3. Titanfall 2
Developer: Respawn Publisher: EA Local/Online: Online
Beloved by those who know, Titanfall 2 released during an awkward window right between Battlefield 1 and whichever Call of Duty was being released that year (we forget, something about space?). While it may not have sold quite as many copies as its quality deserved, Titanfall 2 is still solidly played to this day.
Refinements over the first game are aplenty, as well as maintaining the irrefutable pace that makes it so electrifying to play. It’s easy to pick up but difficult to master and with many different Titans to unleash some large-scale murder with, you will keep coming back for more. As a bonus, it has one of the best single-players campaigns of any FPS, even if it is a little on the short side.
“A passionately produced FPS that shows 99% of the opposition how it should be done, Titanfall 2 deserves to rank alongside the year’s very best.”
Developer: Epic Games Publisher: Epic Games Local/Online: Online
We’re talking specifically about the Battle Royale portion of Epic’s monolith, though with some patience and friends you may be able to get a lot out of the convoluted Save the World as well. But it’s Battle Royale that everyone knows Fortnite for, thanks to its intricate blend of shooting and building that makes it stand apart from its peers.
Whether you’re playing solo or with friends, no match in Fortnite is ever the same. The learning curve is fairly steep and the other players are ruthless to beginners, but once it all clicks and you feel somewhat competent at building ramps and then slam dunking on top of someone with a shotgun blast, it’s easy to see why so many love it. We have some tips for newbies, just in case you haven’t tried it out yet.
Developer: Digital Extremes Publisher: Digital Extremes Local/Online: Online
Who could have predicted that Warframe, a game about being a fashionable robot ninja lad, would last the distance as emphatically as it has to become one of the best PS4 multiplayer games? That’s all down to Digital Extremes’ perseverance to turn it from a rough diamond into something expansive and wonderful.
As a free PS4 game, the grind is real with Warframe until you can gather enough loot to not make you look like a peasant. However, with an open world this pretty and a dedication to the community this stout, it’s worth at least checking out if you haven’t yet. It can be a little bewildering to begin with, so be sure to take things slow and also don’t take out another mortgage for microtransactions.
6. Rocket League
Developer: Psyonix Publisher: Psyonix Local/Online: Both
When Rocket League was released as a free PlayStation Plus game, few could have predicted that the barmy but massively addictive hybrid would still be going strong to this day. A simple twist on football and racing that could have been nothing but a neat distraction for many has turned into a phenomenon, one of the most popular games not only on Twitch but also in the world.
An idea so deviously straightforward that it’s a wonder nobody else tried it before Psyonix, Rocket League is an upgrade on the PS3’s underrated (but understandably under-marketed) Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars that sees you playing as a car and trying to score goals. It’s nothing more, nothing less, and it’s absolutely wonderful. As with all multiplayer games that have been around for years, expect an upwards climb before you can consider yourself good.
Not quite at the peak of its powers these days but still a great time, Overwatch is the originator of the “hero shooter”, which also owes a debt of gratitude to Team Fortress 2. Fundamentally, they’re very similar games with teamwork being key and different members of the team being better suited for certain tasks.
However, it’s in Overwatch’s approach to lore that it shines through with each of its heroes having distinct personalities and backstories. There’s a character for everyone (except for Hanzo, who should belong to nobody) and with plenty of different ways to play with friends and train, it could be your next weekend consumer.
Really, Monster Hunter: World isn’t a million miles away from the earlier games in the series, never, for one or reason or other, truly resonated with Western audiences. Plenty of broken sales records and a dedicated community and World is perfect evidence that you only need to change wheels and not reinvent them to be a success.
Loot is the aim of the game with World, so the hunt is on for you and some friends to track down the biggest, baddest beasts and only feel slightly bad over cutting them down at their most majestic. It’s a tough game, but certainly the most inviting of any in the Monster Hunter franchise. There’s also a lot of barmy crossovers with Capcom properties to keep things fresh.
“Monster Hunter: World isn’t for everyone. The focus on loot and grinding ensures that, but everything it does is superlative, making it an essential purchase for any RPG fans looking for something new. As for the established fans, it’s everything you loved about the old games, but prettier. A win/win, all round.”
9. The Last of Us Remastered
Developer: Naughty Dog Publisher: SIE Local/Online: Online
Yep, arguably the greatest single-player property in PlayStation history also has multiplayer. And it’s pretty damn great, so much so that it’s still played by plenty of fans to this day. It might lack the frenetic pace and constant updates of other games on this list, but it’s the perfect way to pass the time until TLOU 2 — apart from playing the first game on Grounded for the nth time.
There are plenty of different modes in The Last of Us’ multiplayer, though what’s most interesting is its approach to wrapping it all up in a narrative. Depending on how well you do, the survivors can either flourish or faulter, so there’s no pressure on you at all to perform in deathmatches.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is notoriously toxic on PC, but with most of its PS4 playerbase allergic to microphones, you are going to be just fine. Sure, that doesn’t stop team-killing in Casual, but it’s certainly a damn sight better than children screeching at you when you’re the last one alive.
For the competitive of you reading this, Ranked is where the wheat is separated from the chaff and Siege is at its best. Every action needs to be deliberate and planned out, so it means you really need to squad up with friends if you want to stand a chance and climb up the rankings. No matter what, though, there will always be some dingo who uses Fuze during a hostage situation.
11. Injustice 2
Developer: NetherRealm Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Local/Online: Both
NetherRealm have been on a tear over the past few years after being reformed from the ashes of Midway with Injustice 2 arguably representing them at their finest. While changes from the first game aren’t wholesale, a focus on delivering a depth of content offline and online has made it one of the PS4’s most sought after fighting games.
Boasting a story that most of its peers would be jealous of, Injustice 2 has sumptuous, cinematic visuals and a layer of strategy that goes deeper and deeper the higher up the competitive ladder you climb. If that’s not what you’re after, just grab some friends and watch as Batman kicks seven shades of Krypton out of Superman without a deus ex Martha in sight.
“With its content-rich Multiverse mode and the boundless possibilities of the gear system, the thrilling Story experience, and the superlative game mechanics under the hood, Injustice 2 proves why NetherRealm are setting the pace for all fighting game developers.”
Really, it’s neck and neck between this and Friday the 13th for the crown of the best isometric slasher multiplayer game. There’s not a huge difference between them in terms of the good and the bad, but with the legal issues surrounding the Friday the 13th franchise having an knock-on effect for the game, Dead By Daylight may be the smart pick.
While Dead By Daylight isn’t a game you can play constantly, it’s perfect for nights in with friends, taking it in turns to evade the killer and turn on generators. The community is solid for the game and with all manner of iconic murderers available as DLC, you’re sure to be able to bring a slice of slasher history to your PlayStation 4 and scream like a banshee while doing so.
13. FIFA 18/19
Developer: EA Sports Publisher: EA Local/Online: Both
In all honesty, you could probably swap 18 out for any FIFA entry over the last five years. You’re only seeing incremental upgrades and roster changes if you invest annually in the franchise — FIFA 19 is out right now, for instance. FIFA 15 is still going to be a lot of fun with some friends and drinks around.
FIFA 18, though, is where your eyes should be drawn to if you want to pick up one of the best PS4 multiplayer games and also try your skills out online against other players. There’s a tiny skill gap in FIFA 18 compared to other entries, so expect scorelines of 7-6 fairly regularly and also for you to score an absolute thunderbastard with Steven Naismith quite regularly.
14. Tekken 7
Developer: Bandai Namco Publisher: Bandai Namco Local/Online: Both
Injustice 2 too deep and layered for you? Tekken 7 is the way to go, the latest entry in a franchise known for being the choice of button mashers everywhere. Its simple gameplay and iconic characters make it the ideal shout if you just want to show your friends who’s the best Eddy Gordo. Spoilers: it’s nobody, because Eddy is cheesing incarnate.
A little light on content compared to its fighting game peers, Tekken 7 is the seventh entry in the franchise for a good reason: it’s brand of fisting (ahem) is no frills but packed with plenty of thrills. Once you’re done pasting other players online, try to make sense of the game’s bizarro storyline if you can.
“The meagre selection of modes and underwhelming story in Tekken 7 might put off the lonesome player, but if you’ve got two controllers and a friend/sibling/partner to play with, Tekken 7 will keep you occupied forever. Besides, where else are you going to see a bear smack seven shades out of a vampire wearing a Bullet Club t-shirt?”
15. A Way Out
Developer: Hazelight Publisher: EA Originals Local/Online: Both
Everything about Josef Fares’ A Way Out is a marvel. Well, apart from some extremely hammy dialogue. With a friend in tow (who doesn’t even have to own a copy of the game to play online with you), you can explore the misadventures of Leo and Vincent as they look to escape from prison and take revenge.
Engaging and simple enough for even non-gamers to enjoy, A Way Out is a heartfelt ride that you can probably get through in a single evening. Its short runtime makes sense as it’s more of a cinematic game over a moment-to-moment experience, but when A Way Out wants to immerse you, it will.
“Even with some sloppy writing and a hackneyed story, A Way Out’s gameplay is so infectious and its heart so sincere that it’s almost impossible to resist. Long live couch co-op.”
16. The Forest
Developer: Endnight Games Publisher: Endnight Games Local/Online: Online
What could make your son being kidnapped by a bunch of primal cannibals a bit less depressing? Sharing the experience with three more lonely dads, of course. The Forest allows you to team up with your buddies to save your shared son or to just mess around and build a zipline that serves zero purpose.
You can play with randoms, but you really ought to team up with your friends if you can. A trauma is no trauma at all if it isn’t shared between friends, which you will find out for yourself when you take a trup down into the island’s many pitch black caves. Quick tip: use fire and use it well.
“A smart port of a PC cult favourite, The Forest on PS4 is simply one of the best survival experiences you will find on a console.”
17. Apex Legends
Developer: Respawn Entertainment Publisher: EA Local/Online: Online
A team based battle royale that came out of nowhere to steal Fortnite’s thunder, Apex Legends has been a revelation since it was release with it going on to reach millions of players in such a short space of time. It also looks like going the distance with plenty of updates still to come to keep things fresh.
A mixture of many different genres and games, Apex Legends is one of the finest multiplayer games on PS4 as it promotes teamwork unlike many other games. Thanks to its intuitive pinging system, deep mechanics, and quicker pace compared to its peers, Apex Legends is already looking like the biggest surprise hit of 2019.
“Even the most jaded of battle royale fans will find their interest rejuvenated by Apex Legends thanks to Respawn’s attention to detail, superior gunplay, and fantastic innovations, though the loot boxes and progression system certainly need addressing.”
Those in a certain age range (who may also be worrying about the unavoidable nature of death, realising how old this is now) will no doubt have fond memories of the original Crash Team Racing on the original PlayStation. While the N64 had Mario Kart, the PlayStation had Crash Team Racing, a wackier and arguably cooler alternative that punctuated many drunken nights out.
With its 2019 remake, Beenox have done the source material proud, though it must be said that it’s not quite a game that you can just jump into like before and cheese your way into first. There’s a learning curve that you may at first struggle with, but once you have some track knowledge and mastery of the slide boost, Nitro-Fueled will have you decrying all of your loved ones for betraying you in no time.
“While its initially harsh difficulty may ruin your happy memories of the original in a hurry, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is kart racing nirvana with an abundance of content to dive into that makes it more than just an exercise in nostalgia.”