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Playing games with friends, or other people on the internet, has always been more satisfying than playing them on your own. Don’t get me wrong, single-player campaigns, or exclusive single-player games are still very enjoyable and sometimes you do need a break from interacting with other individuals, but games are usually more enjoyable when you play them together with someone.
Our need to play games together is not really a new concept and game developers, as well as consoles manufacturers, have always tried to include a multiplayer option. Even the earliest game consoles had at least two controllers, so we could share our experiences with somebody else.
In the early 2000s, next gen, online games have started to come out and soon became their own independent genre. In 2001, the medieval PVP oriented Dark Age of Camelot, the sci-fi oriented Anarchy Online and Ultima Online 2 games came out as the first MMORPGs (Ever Quest was the first, but these games set the stage for next gen MMORPGs). Anarchy Online had a lot of problems upon its release in June, because of its inability to handle the enormous playerbase, but only four months later, Dark Age of Camelot had a smooth launch and introduced many innovating features, including the Realm Vs Realm feature, that was later assimilated by other similar games.
The most recent generation of MMORPGs that were based on popularity, gameplay and arbitrary standards of graphics begun in 2004 with the launch of Sony Online Entertainment’s Ever Quest 2 and Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft.
Today, almost every game that comes out has a multiplayer option, like GTA V online. We also have a huge number of online exclusive games available on the market, or coming out soon, such as Tom Clancy’s the Division, and others. Some of them are free to play, others have an initial fee only, while others have an initial cost and a monthly subscription cost. There’s also a large number of games that you can play in your browser or on your smartphone. Whatever your interests might be, we will cover them all.
MMO Games (Massive Multiplayer Online Games)
There are a lot of different MMO games available today, from MOBAs, to shooters and RPGs. They are very popular and played by millions of people from around the world.
MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena)
There have been heated debates about which game was the first MOBA, but the first really successful one was DOTA 1. Defense of the Ancients was nothing more than a Warcraft 3 map, created by IceFrog and it was meant to be played with other people in your local area network, or via the internet, on battle.net.
This wasn’t the only player-generated map on Wacraft 3, but it is one of the few that gained traction. It gained such popularity, that it later, it became its own, independent game. Nearly a decade later, DOTA 2 was released.
In my humble opinion, these are the best MOBAs out there:
1. DOTA 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2)
DOTA 2 is one of the most fascinating MOBA games out there, with a very competitive and unforgiving community. The objective of the game is to destroy your opponent’s ancient, in a five versus five arena brawl.
There is a lot of skill required in order to play this game properly, so you will feel a little out of place at first. Your hero starts at level one, but by killing minions and opposing players, you will reach the maximum level of 25 in most games.
Every character has its own set of abilities and passive skills. There are 4 skills per hero and each of them scales well with abilities of other heroes, resulting in ‘combos’. Combos between heroes are taken into account during drafting phases and ensure the possibility of countering and creating a winning line-up.
DOTA 2 is one of the most played MOBA games out there, and if you are a fan of this genre, then you should definitely give it a try. You will struggle at first, but once you figure out the game’s mechanics, then you’ll have no problems at all fitting in.
Cinematic movie for the International Tournament
Dota 2 Hero Roles
There are a lot of different heroes in the game, capable to fulfill different functions. The carries, for example, are extremely weak at first, but once you level them up and equip them with expensive items, then they become a force to be reckoned with. The support on the other hand, has to fulfill a different role entirely.
Support heroes have to make sure that your team has good map visibility and must always try to assist and protect the carry. Supports are generally heroes which do well in the starting phase of the game and without items (examples: lion, Chen, Enchantress, Enigma, Crystal Maiden, Vengeful Spirit etc.).
Although all the roles are important, having good supports will mean, more often than not, that your team wins. No matter if you win or lose, Dota is still a fun and challenging game.
The game is available on Steam and it is free to play. You only have to pay real money if you want to purchase customizable item sets, which only affect the way your character looks, while the gameplay remains the same. This is a very good example of how free to play should be made.
Dota 2 Tournaments
Dota has become one of the most popular eSports of the moment. Dozens of events are being held every year and they climax with the International, a championship where the world’s best Dota teams battle for the number one spot in the world and an incredible prize-pool (last year’s prize-pool exceeded 10 million dollars).
2. LoL (League of Legends)
League of Legends is a very similar game to DOTA, but it is a bit simpler in some ways. For instance, denying creeps is not possible in LoL and you don’t have to focus on last-hitting in order to farm. The game also has a few key features that differentiates it from DOTA.
For example, you don’t get to use all the heroes in the game the first time you start it. You have to unlock them by using in-game currency that you get by simply playing the game or by using real life money to unlock them.
Another LoL feature that sets it apart from DOTA, is that you can choose two abilities to compliment your hero skills. There are a lot of abilities from which you can choose from, like heal or sprint.
League of Legends Cinematic: A New Dawn
Just like DOTA, it is a free to play game. You can use real money to unlock heroes, or to buy different skins for you character. You can browse through leagueoflegends.com and download the game, free of charge.
Smite is a free-to-play, 3D-action, multiplayer only game, developed by Hi-Rez Studios that brings a new perspective to the MOBA genre. Although, it has some similar features to DOTA and LoL, it brings a breath of fresh air to this type of gaming.
Unlike the point and click style of other MOBA games, in Smite you get to play from a third-person perspective. This adds an element of constant panic and, at the same time, the mini-map becomes your best friend. Warding is more necessary than ever before, because, without the elevated view, you can get caught out of position very easy.
In this game, there is no passive dodge skill, so you have to do it manually, with the help of “WASD“. The same rule applies when it comes to aiming, you don’t just get to right-click on your opponent in order to make your character auto-attack. Here, you have to aim yourself, making everything, from basic-attacks to the abilities you use a “skill shot“.
Smite Cinematic Trailer
Smile Hero Roles & Game Modes
You character in Smite is in fact a god from a wide range of mythologies. From the Greek gods of Olympus to the mighty Norse gods, rulers of Valhalla, the game has it all. Just like in LoL you can buy two additional abilities for your hero, but you do that by using gold at the in-game shop.
When you first start the game, you’ll only have five heroes, so you have to use “favor” (the currency that you gain from completing matches and by leveling up your account) to unlock more. You can also use gems (the currency that you get by paying real life money) to unlock gods and to purchase new skins and voice packs. Hi-Rez Studios also offers you the option to buy the “god pack” for $29,99.
The game is free to play and available for download at hirezstudios.com.
This is one of the weirder MOBA games available on the market today. It is basically a 2D platforming, high-paced, exiting MOBA. There are two teams, composed of three men each, battling to destroy the opponent’s base.
The game offers you one of the most unique scenarios in gaming history. There is nothing that quite compares to a monkey equipped with a jetpack that has a laser mounted on it, battling with a space sheriff, a lizard ninja, or a robotic Hulk.
Awesomenauts strips the MOBA genre to its basic core and it does so in a very efficient way. The resulting product is a simpler game, easier to get into and it can also be played on consoles.
The game is available on Steam for $9,99.
5. Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm is still in beta, so it’s not a released game, but it is already worth a mention. The game is developed by Blizzard Entertainment, one of the best and most successful studios out there. They are responsible for many huge games, like the Starcraft series, the Diablo series, the Warcraft series and, of course, for World of Warcraft, a MMO RPG that originally came out in 2004, but it is still played today by a large number of people. In fact, in 2014 the latest expansion for WoW was released, named Warlords of Draenor.
Introducing Heroes of the Storm
In Heroes of the Storm you get to play as any major character, from any game that Blizzard has ever created. Although it is very similar to other MOBAs out there, HOTS takes a new approach on the genre. This time around, the focus is on team fights and not on farming your character. There is no gold in the game, no items and all you have to do is level up and choose the skills that are most useful to your team.
Unlike the other MOBAs, here you get to complete different objectives with your team-mates that will trigger various events, depending on what map you are playing. For example, on the “dragon’s shrine” map, you and your team need to control a three shrines in order to summon a powerful dragon knight to fight for your team.
The game has a lot a potential and I can definitely see it becoming an eSport in the near future, although not the most serious one.
As I’ve mentioned before, the games is still in beta, so you are going to need a beta-key in order to play it. Go to us.battle.net/heroes/en and sign up for the beta.
MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games)
There are a lot of different MMORPGs available today, but I will only cover my favorite ones.
6. World of Warcraft
This game is one of Blizzard’s masterpieces. It originally came out in 2004, but it has undergone a lot of changes since then. Here you get to group up with your friends in a fantasy world and fight off the threats of Azeroth.
In 2014, the latest expansion for WoW came out, named Warlords of Draenor and it was very well received. The hype encouraged a lot of veteran players to come back to the game. The level cap has been raised to 100 and the new World of Draenor awaits explorers.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor is available at us.battle.net/shop/en, for $49,99, but it also requires you to buy the original game and you have to pay a monthly subscription.
The Elder Scrolls series is a well-known MMORPG with thousands of players. Every game has a rich and beautiful open world that allows the player to mess around as much as he wants. So how did this traditional single player series transition to the online scene? Well, it did so rather well. As long as you view it more as an online game and less as an Elder Scrolls game, you will enjoy every minute of it.
Despite a few launch bugs and its outdated graphics, the game does manage to capture the essence of Elder Scrolls and to be frank exceeds many expectations.
It is available at Amazon.com for $52,98, with free shipping.
8. SWTOR (Star Wars the Old Republic)
I was very excited about this game when it first came out. Just imagining a MMORPG set in the Star Wars universe made my hands tremble. It was like every geek’s dream. Unfortunately the game did not have a lot of success.
SWTOR was not a terrible game, not even a bad game, it was in fact a pretty good game, with nice graphics and incredible stories for every individual character. The problem was that the game felt a lot like WoW.
It did bring a few new features to the genre, like the option to have a companion with you at all times, that interacts with you in different ways, depending on your actions and the decision making was also a great feature, making your character more three-dimensional.
The combat, on the other hand, is extremely similar to the one in WoW, but with light sabers. Even the skill-trees are very similar, or, better said, they used to be, because Blizzard changed that when they released Mist of Pandaria.
The biggest problem I have with this game is the way they’ve implemented the free to play option. I believe that in free online games you should only pay for customization items, or packages meant to help you level up you character faster, like you do in Terra Online or in Neverwinter Online. Here you have to pay for everything that you want to do (even the additional action bars cost money) and if you want to have a decent experience with this game, then you are better off with a monthly subscription.
The game is available on Origin and it is marketed as a free online game.
9. F.E.A.R. Online
F.E.A.R. Online is a horror-based game, developed by InPlay Interactive and published by Aeria Games. Here, players will have access to various story modes that can be played in co-op, and PvP multiplayer on various maps.
There are many PvE missions, where you have to group up with other players, in order to defeat dangerous creatures and discover more about the city of Fairport. You will be given a lot of different weapons to help you on your way.
Multiplayer modes consist of free-for-all matches and the standard team deathmatch, but also brings a new mode, named Soul King. In Soul King, players can become ghosts with a wealth of new abilities where the objective is to possess others or defend yourself.
It is a free online game, so I see no reason why you should not give this at least a try. In order to download the game, go to fearonline.aeriagames.com.
10. CS GO (Counter Strike Global Offensive)
Counter Strike is one of the most famous online games of all time. It started out as nothing more than a mode for Half Life, but, just like DOTA, it became a groundbreaking name.
CS GO comes with better graphics and incredible weapons that feel very realistic. The shooting is better than ever, making the gameplay a lot more enjoyable.
You can pick up the game on Steam for $14,99 and trust me when I say it, you will not regret it. It remains one of the best online shooters and one of the best online games altogether.
11. Battlefield Hardline
The idea for this game is very simple at its core, being influenced by one of our favorite childhood games named “Cops and Robbers“. You get to play as a police officer, trying to take down the bad guys, or as a crook that just wants to get away with the loot.
There are six different modes that you can play with your friends online. Most of them are as generic as they can be, so I’ll only mention the Hotwire mode. Here, the criminals try to steal a bunch of marked cars while the police tries to stop them. This is where your driving skills as well as your shooting skills come into play.
The game is available at Amazon.com, for $59,99.
Other Online Games
12. GTA V Online ( Grand Theft Auto V Online)
GTA V is one of the best games ever made, with great graphics and awesome mechanics. It puts the player in a city, similar to Los Angeles, named Los Santos. There is basically no limit to what you can do, but the game truly shines when you play it online.
GTA V Online has been very responsive and entertaining ever since I started playing it, but I did experience the occasional lag spike or disconnect.
The things you can do are extremely diverse and very enjoyable. You can go on co-op missions with your friends (including the newly released heists), play deathmatches, or race over air, land and sea.
The online open-world feels alive and vibrant, where anything can happen at any time. The other players can surprise you with a drive-by shooting at any moment, but you can do the same to them too.
I simply loved seeing random people taking advantage of this freedom and messing around as much as they could within the game.
You can pick this game up at Amazon.com for about $60 depending on your platform. The PC version is the best and most expensive.
13. Hearthstone (Heroes of Warcraft)
This is a card game developed by Blizzard that uses all of the heroes and different characters from the Warcraft games. You can acquire cards, build your own decks and fight against other players in casual, or ranked matches. If you really want to test your skills, then you can jump into the arena and fight the best of the best. The rewards for arena games are great as well.
Hearthstone is a free online game and you can download it at us.battle.net.
Free Online Games for Your Browser and For Your Phone
There are many games available today that you can play directly in your browser, or on your smartphone. They are usually free to play and you will only have to pay microtransactions if you want to.
14. Clash of Clans
It is one of the most played games on the Android platform. It utilizes RPG elements, combined with strategy elements. Here you get to build your very own fortress, recruit powerful heroes that you can level up and equip with skills, build up your army and invade other players online.
The game is available on Google’s Play Store and it costs nothing.
15. The West
This is a game for your browser. It’s a multiplayer, cowboy, online RPG set in the Wild West. You can create your own avatar and follow the footsteps of famous heroes of the West, such as Buffalo Bill, or Billy the Kid.
There are four different classes that you can choose from, the adventurer, the worker, the dueller and the soldier. Depending on which class you choose, you will be given different quests and objectives. You can also challenge other players to a duel, or build together your very own town.
This is a free online game that you can play in your browser at
This concludes our list of online games. Granted, there are many others that you can choose from (including Disney games, board games, typing & escape games, jeopardy & cards games, zombie & adult games, kids games on browsers and more) and we will definitely cover them in more detail later, but for now we will settle for the mainstream names of our favorite genres.
We would have loved to present some virtual reality games (similar to Sword Art Online), but at the moment there are very few demos of VR games being played at a alpha level.
Do you have a favorite online game or genre? Which one is it? We would love hear about your experience with online games.