What Are the Best Games to Play with Friends Online?

By Christen NicholsLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 7:19:14 PM ET
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@GameSpot/Twitter

Although there's nothing quite like an in-person gathering with your closest friends and your favorite games, that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to improvise when you can’t be together. Online games make a terrific alternative when you can't or don't want to leave your home. These games come in a variety of genres, making it easy for you to find an option your whole crew will love.

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Ready to take family game night into the 21st century? Start by checking out some of the best online games you can play with your friends.

Words with Friends 2

Remember when Words with Friends was the game to play with all your pals? Well, now Words with Friends 2 puts a modern, interactive twist on the digital game of Scrabble. Just like the traditional favorite, you build words using the available letters with a goal to create words that give you the highest number of points.

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@Words2_withf/Twitter

Play one-on-one with a friend to see who can build the most point-worthy words. You can search for your friends by their username, or you can sync your social media profile and search for friends that way. Once you get all your friends added, be sure to start multiple matches at once, so you have better odds of always having someone to play with when you’re online.

Feel like your friends are constantly beating — maybe even humiliating — you? Try the Solo Challenge. This single-player mode allows you to play and practice against a bot as you progress through increasingly difficult levels. When you’re ready to get back in there and play a match with more than one friend, the Lightning Round requires two teams of five players. Each team tries to be the first to reach the round's predetermined point total. Download the Words with Friends 2 app on a compatible Android or Apple device to get started.

Rocket League

Rocket League combines elements of soccer with vehicular gameplay. It sounds strange, but the premise is simple — and very, very addictive: You use your vehicle to move a massive soccer ball down the field to score a goal. Like soccer, the point is to help your team score, but you also need to keep the other team from gaining control of the ball and scoring. Before your match, you can customize your vehicle to make sure it offers superior performance — or at least looks really cool. As you play, you unlock new vehicle skins, match arenas and customization options.

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@RocketLeague/Twitter

When you’re ready to play, you can join a team with up to three of your friends. Try out a casual match to get in the groove or go straight for the big leagues by competing in a ranked game for Rocket League domination. No mobile device is necessary to enjoy Rocket League. You can also download the game to your PC or use your PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam or Nintendo Switch. Rocket League is budget-friendly and easy to play, making it a hit with gamers of all ages.

Fortnite

If you haven’t heard of Fortnite, you have been seriously missing out. This free game can be downloaded to your PC, mobile device or gaming console. Once you get the hang of it, you can purchase the Fortnite Battle Pass for the game's current season. The Battle Pass isn't mandatory to play, but it allows you to unlock more in-game content, like character skins and experiences.

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@FortniteINTEL/Twitter

Don't let the $0 price tag fool you into thinking the game can’t be worth much. Fortnite offers hours of gaming entertainment with your friends. The Battle Royale mode pits 100 players against each other. You can play by yourself, as a duo or in a squad with up to four other friends. The goal is to be the last player or group standing. To survive, you have to scavenge for weapons, vehicles and other resources.

Not in a competitive mood? Give the Fortnite Creative mode a try. In this version of play, you have your own private island where you add buildings and other objects. You can even construct obstacle courses or race tracks. Be sure to take a moment to visit a friend's island and maybe even let them edit your island.

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Another mode called Save the World is available for an additional fee. The Save the World option lets you play with up to four friends. You all work together to conquer the campaign portion of the game. Your crew will have to fight off zombie-like creatures, gather resources and find other survivors to restore the world after most of the population has disappeared.

Note: Fortnite does include shooting elements and the use of weapons throughout its various modes.

Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is a popular in-person game, but you can use the game's mobile app to play online with your friends as well. The creators of Exploding Kittens compare it to UNO, but we think a better comparison would be Twisted UNO.

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@gameofkittens/Twitter

You virtually draw cards that are facedown. If you draw an exploding kitten, you have a limited amount of time to diffuse it or you're out of the game. Other cards include reverse, shuffle, steal a card and peak at a card. Matches are short (usually between five and 10 minutes), and the last player standing is the winner.