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Gaming: the five best online games to play in 2024

Team up with mates or take on strangers in these multiplayer maestros

best online games hero image
  1. GTA online body copy

    Singleplayer gaming? Come on gramps, get with the times. It’s all about the best online games now. This new internet thing is alright, because it lets you join up with your friends online and play games there. In fact, there are quite a lot of games that let you do that. A dizzying, decision-paralysing number.  

    Let us simplify modern life by picking five out of the ether. These are the richest online worlds, the best multiplayer games for depth, features, and sheer, anecdote-generating post-work-laughs appeal.

    Clear your evening, change your wifi password so no-one else in your house is slowing down your speeds, and get stuck into TG’s picks for the five best online games.

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  2. Helldivers II

    Helldivers II

    A galaxy under threat. A military that calls itself the ‘Super Earth Armed Forces’ without a shred of irony. On the surface Helldivers II could be any old shooter, and you don’t have to look very far to find a game that’ll let you shoot things. But the way this game folds its meaty third-person gunplay up in a bigger experience within a shared online world is a bit different.

    Heading out in co-op squads, you complete missions and then watch your efforts have a real effect on a vast planet-wide war. A tiny effect, admittedly, like signing an online petition, but it’s more than most online shooters do to simulate a wider conflict.

    You need to consider your loadouts here and delegate who’s on explosives, who’ll be pinging off snipes like a pro, who’s on cleanup duty as medic, and so on. Big story events have a way of springing themselves on you while you’re in a mission, focused on another objective, and after every play session there’s that magical sense of ‘hang on, what just happened to us?’ It’s available on PC and PS5, with crossplay between those platforms, so there’s very little excuse not to join up with the Super Earth Armed Forces. Other than its name, obviously.

  3. GTA Online

    GTA Online

    It’s been around since, as best historians can guess, roughly the same time as the formation of Pangea. And yet GTA Online still manages to thrill on a nightly basis, offering high-stakes cinematic heists and a nice chilled round of golf with equal polish and mechanical depth.

    You live an entire double-life in here, as a criminal with your own apartment, fleet of cars, and a rap sheet longer than the Magna Carta. But more than just a multiplayer version of GTA V, it’s more accurate to think of this as a platform in which other experiences sit. It’s a racing game with countless courses, a tennis sim and a massive open world to muck about in and dream up your own objectives.

    Race from north coast to south on pushbikes, anyone?

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  4. Counter-Strike 2

    Counter-Strike 2

    Another veteran of the multiplayer scene, Counter-Strike’s earliest incarnation invaded our lives via 2000’s finest 56K modems and we still haven’t shaken off our addiction to defusing bombs or rescuing hostages a quarter-century later.

    Five terrorists (different times) line up against five counter-terrorists on a map from the expertly designed roster, and go at it with an arsenal of firearms and grenades until either everyone’s dead, a bomb goes off, hostages are extracted, or the explosive’s defused. There’s an ocean of tactical depth here, one deepened by a weapon economy system that has you paying for your loadout before the round starts with funds acquired from your last round’s performance.

    The recent release of Counter-Stike 2 in 2023 brings a visual lick of paint, but the fundamentals are intact: fast, high-skill, tactical encounters with an infinitely high skill ceiling.

  5. Forza Horizon 5

    Forza Horizon 5

    As if we were going to last this whole list without mentioning cars. At the hardcore end of the spectrum, racing sims like Assetto Corsa Competizione and iRacing let you live out a fully-fledged career as a virtual competitor, but for instant thrills and a mouthwatering car collection, the nod has to go to Forza Horizon 5.

    The cars here handle in that sweet spot between realism and old-school arcade gratification – it’s like they want to razz round the corner looking as cool as possible just as much as you do. They look absolutely gorgeous under the Mexican sun, too. You won’t find better visuals than this in the whole genre.

    As for the online bit, the entire world map’s basically a playground for you and your co-op mates. Drive around for the sake of it, show off your cars and liveries, enter PvP and PvE races, and then get serious in ranked races.
     

  6. Fall Guys

    Fall Guys

    A screen full of jelly beans in wolf masks, lolloping about over obstacle courses that’d have a Total Wipeout health and safety officer crying into their hands, trying not to be the last across the line. There are no other games like Fall Guys. This is it. The genre begins and ends here.

    A blend of battle royale and Squid Game-style elimination game show, it blew up during lockdown, when we needed it most. With beer gardens and cosy cafe spots off-limits, gathering in this kids’ TV-coloured haven was the be-all and end-all of our social time. Since then its roster of games has exploded – more assault courses, more team games, more varieties of final.

    And don’t get us started on all the outfit options now. Some of these little beans are better dressed than a Hoxton fashion blogger.
     

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