Online multiplayer games might be the norm nowadays, but nothing beats being able to yell at your friends sitting across the room from you during a heated team deathmatch. And for the longest time, LAN parties were the only way for friends to play games like Unreal Tournament and Quake together.
But for many who don't mind lugging their computers or game consoles over to their friend's houses - or some who simply lack stable enough internet to make online play viable - LAN parties remain the best way to play certain games in a social setting. So whatever reason you might have for wanting to put one together, here are some of the best games to consider adding to the roster.
Updated November 24, 2021 by Michael Abayomi: We've updated this list to include two additional entries. Both games were only just recently released but still deserve to be on any LAN party games roster.
12 Mario Party Superstars
If there were any Mario games that seemed tailored-made for a party setting, then it is the ones in the Mario Party series. It's right there in the title after all, with each game offering a good number of minigames for up to 4 players to take part in.
The latest entry is Mario Party Superstars on the Nintendo Switch. The game is effectively a remake of the original Mario Party game on N64, featuring a total of 5 boards from that title. It also features 100 mini-games pulled from previous games, and as such, should serve as a greatest hits collection of sorts while providing many hours of fun.
11 Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite is finally here, following a one-year delay that saw the eagerly-anticipated title not released alongside the Xbox Series X as originally planned. Developed by 343 Studios, the game is already being considered a return to form for many fans, harkening back to the fondly-remembers days of Halo 3 on the Xbox 360.
Not only does the game allow players to set up local multiplayer matches, but it also runs on a wide range of PCs and Xboxes, going all the way back to the original Xbox One. The best thing about it though is the fact that it is free-to-play (the multiplayer portion at least), ensuring that long-time fans and newbies alike can jump in with no barrier to entry.
10 Left 4 Dead 2
The source engine had proven its scalability when the original Left 4 Dead was released in 2008, allowing up to four players to team up against an overwhelming number of "infected" in the survival horror game. The game's formula had proven so popular that a sequel was quickly released the following year, improving upon the first in nearly every way.
And with Back 4 Blood launching on Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox, and Xbox Series X/S, fans of these types of co-operative first-person shooters have a lot to look forward to. Pending when that happens though, they can still rely on Left 4 Dead 2 to bring the thrills and tension they've grown fond of.
Minecraft is another game that has gotten a lot of love at LAN parties over the years. After all, not every type of gamer is into the first-person shooter fare that typically dominates such gatherings. There are those who'd rather take part in some first-person building and adventuring instead.
For such people, having an alternative like Minecraft to fall back on is a must. Thankfully, it is relatively easy to host a LAN game and just as easy for all your friends to join you in your blocky sandbox paradise. Just make sure you are all on the same page before they set off undoing all of your hard work.
8 Rocket League
When Rocket League was first released on Windows and PS4 in 2015, its cross between racing and soccer had taken the esport world by storm. It eventually found its way onto the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, as well as get versions for Linux and macOS.
It is one of those games where skill and luck collide to create something that is unmistakeably fun to play, which explains why it had grown to over 40 million players at the height of its popularity. And with the game having gone fully free-to-play, more people now have access to its frantic gameplay, so there is simply no reason why it shouldn't be included in your list of available LAN gaming options.
7 Team Fortress 2
Long before hero shooters grew into a subgenre of their own, there was Team Fortress 2 - a class-based first-person shooter that pretty much served as a template for that other genre.
In the game, two teams of players battle against one another in one of several modes, with each player choosing a specific class with unique skills and abilities. Released in 2007, the Valve-developed game had been met with near-universal acclaim, building off the strengths of its predecessor to create something truly special.
6 Unreal Tournament
Today, Unreal is better known as a series of game engines developed by Epic Games. But back in the day, it had gotten that name from the series of first-person shooters it was originally built to power.
This included the original Unreal Tournament all the way back in 1999, a game that might look crude by today's standards, but still offers just as much fun today as it did back then. The game remains a cornerstone of the first-person shooter genre and certainly deserves a spot on any LAN Party Games list.
5 Quake 3 Arena
Speaking of classic first-person shooters from 1999, we would be remiss if we didn't also include Quake 3 Arena. It was the first game in the Quake series to ditch a single-player campaign entirely, in favor of several multiplayer modes that included the popular deathmatch.
The game was developed by id Software as a direct competitor to Unreal Tournament, and collectively, both games had given rise to the arena shooter subgenre. The subgenre itself might have waned in mainstream popularity over the years, but Quake 3 Arena is still looked upon fondly by those old enough to remember it.
4 League of Legends
Considered the most played game at esports arenas, League of Legends is a MOBA that was released in 2009. And its popularity extends to smaller-scale gatherings.
Some of that is due to its use of the freemium model, making the game easy to get into by those who might not necessarily be into MOBAs. And while an internet connection is technically still required to access the game's servers online, its core gameplay and focus on teamwork still work very well in a LAN Party setting.
Your idea of a fun time might not include running around a kitchen trying to whip up meals for a progressively rowdier crowd of restaurant patrons, but that is precisely what Overcooked is about.
Released in 2016 for Windows, PS4, and Xbox One, the game is renowned for pushing friendships and marriages to their limits with its fun but chaotic multiplayer gameplay. A sequel was released in 2018, as well as a remaster of both games for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, but either of the two games should be enough to liven up any gaming-focused social gathering.
2 Halo: The Master Chief Collection
The multiplayer modes in the Halo games have always proven popular with fans of the series, ever since Halo: Combat Evolved made console LAN parties a thing in 2001. But since there are now seven games to choose from, settling on which one to play is a process in and of itself. Thankfully, we now have most of those games as part of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
So rather than try to decide which of the classic games to play, having all of them in a single package makes it that much easier to hop from one game to the next. And while the game had originally launched with some severe matchmaking issues, it currently remains the best way to experience a quick round of Halo multiplayer with friends.
1 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
The beauty of the Nintendo Switch lies in its portability. Gone are the days when players would have to worry about bringing over their GameCubes to a friend's place - even though its nifty handle would suggest it shouldn't be that much of a hassle - just to play a few rounds of Double Dash. And out of all the games currently available in the hybrid console's ever-growing library, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the one that lends itself to a LAN party setting the most.
Using the Nintendo Switch's built-in Wireless Play feature, it is possible to set up a match for up to eight players in a matter of seconds. In fact, your guests don't even have to worry about bringing their docks or finding a spare TV, since they can just as easily keep up with the action on their individual screens. So if you are lucky enough to have a few friends with Mario Kart on their Nintendo Switches, then there is no excuse for not playing a few rounds during your next gathering.
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