Options for gaming with friends and family

As the coronavirus continues to make any public interaction dangerous, our only way of connecting with our friends is through the internet. Video games are an easy way not only to get together with friends but to have something fun to do with them. Whether you’re cooperating to gain victory or competing for it, these accessible multiplayer games are cheap, widely available, and a very fun time.

Portal 2

ESRB Rating: E10+

Price: $9.99

Available on: PC

Portal 2, the standout sequel to the innovative classic Portal, is a good enough game on the merits of its short but very fun single player campaign. What makes it a great game is the addition of the creative multiplayer puzzles. As with the single player, the goal is to exit the test chambers by using portals to move yourself and objects to where they need to be. Two players makes for twice the portals to solve these test chambers with, which not only lets you bring a friend along but lets these puzzles be creative in new ways. A number of great communication features make it easy to point out possible solutions and sync up simultaneous or precisely-timed actions, and the puzzles are designed in ways that always make sure both players have plenty to do. As with any puzzle game, the base game’s test chambers can lose some appeal once you’ve already figured them out, but Portal 2 is fortunate enough to include a community level creator as well. Once you and your friends make your way through the standard single player, it can be fun to jump into the community maps. They won’t all be winners, but chances are you’ll find some creative stuff. 

Duck Game

ESRB Rating: E10+

Price: $12.99

Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4

If you’d rather compete against your friends than work with them, then Duck Game is a fun way to do it. The premise is simple; you’re all ducks who get thrown into a randomly-selected 2D battle arena, and the last one standing gets a point. There’s a selection of items like guns, land mines, swords, nice shoes, and others which anyone can pick up, and one hit from any weapon will kill. Success comes from quickly reaching the weapon you want and knowing how to use it. For example, the net gun will trap players, but they won’t die unless you throw them into a pit or other hazard. While quickly adapting to the random maps and rushing to get what you want is fun on its own, Duck Game also packs itself with personality that makes it so fun to play with friends. There’s a button dedicated to making your duck quack; this is functionally useless, but it works great as a taunt or a funny noise for the situation. The game has plenty of funny hats to wear, ranging from traditional things like an old-fashioned aviator’s helmet and sunglasses to crazy hats like a log that covers your entire face or spiky anime hair. It’s these goofy touches and the simple-yet-skillful gameplay which make it an excellent way to burn an hour or two with friends. Just make sure you’re all chatting with each other while you play.

Jackbox Games

ESRB Rating: T

Price: Varies

Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Apple TV/iPad, Amazon Fire TV, Comcast Xfinity, Android TV

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen games quite like Jackbox Games’ unique games. Every Jackbox game is designed around getting the group you’re playing it with to laugh, whether it be through pitching business ideas with small drawings, making quips based off of prompts, or any number of other ideas. Because the results of many of the games are determined by player choice, it’s all about being entertaining. Of course, such games aren’t really fun without a large group, but Jackbox solves this problem by making its games unprecedentedly accessible. Only one person needs to buy a game to play it with others wherever they may be, as any Jackbox game can be joined through a website using a code given to the host. Of course, the games are pretty simple as a result of needing to run on a browser, but that’s really the point of these games. The tech benchmark is pretty low and the concepts are simple, so it’s all about just having a good time with your friends. Although I’ve never played a Jackbox game myself, watching others do it always seems like great fun. If you enjoy spending time with your friends, chances are you’ll enjoy this game.

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