Christmas may be over, but family and friends are still around – and I’d be willing to bet someone has a new console burning a hole through their pockets. What better activity to do with it than turn friends into enemies by beating the virtual bejeezus out of them? To facilitate this post-Christmas activity, I’ve come up with a list of the best games to play with others this holiday season:
5. Minecraft – for PS4 and Xbox One
This one’s a little more low key – if your friends and family go in for exploring more than whack downs, then Minecraft is for you. This is a game that encourages inventiveness, creativity, and curiosity, and you can spend hours building a scale replica of the Eiffel Tower or just trying to tame a wolf to become your new best friend. This is a truly expansive game, with something for everyone to try out – from crafting to farming to enchanting to breeding animals – so it’s suitable not just for your 8-year old cousin, but also for your 60-year old parents. The editions for next-gen consoles are as beautiful as you might expect, with a much larger selection of textures and skins. They also come with a pretty handy tutorial, for those who aren’t yet familiar with the greatest sandbox game ever created – so get crackin’!
4. Sports Friends – for PS4
Originally a Kickstarter, Sports Friends has taken the multiplayer game world by storm. It has four mini games: Johann Sebastian Joust, BaraBariBall, Pole Riders, and Hokra, all of which are extremely easy to pick up (they have just two or three controls) and can even be played by splitting a single controller between two people (for those of you whose parents didn’t think ahead this Christmas). My personal favorite is Pole Riders, which is a ridiculously fun game that pits two characters on poles against each other, with each trying to move a ball on a wire towards their goal. The only problem is that the poles are hilariously difficult to control, resulting in a lot of useless kicks and laughter. Sports Friends has simple graphics and simple controls that belie the hours of enjoyment ahead of you.
3. TowerFall – for PS4
This archery arena video game needs multiple controllers, but not a lot of skill – only the patience to withstand countless and blindingly fast arrow attacks and head stomps from your fellow archers. This is a speedy game (playing with four people, I’ve had games end in less than 30 seconds), but one that can be played repeatedly because it’s just that much fun – plus, the faster it goes, the funnier it is. The visuals are reminiscent of old 8-bit platformers but deceptively intricate nonetheless, and the multiple maps result in unique challenges with each new battle – sometimes you need to avoid brambles, while other maps have torches you can shoot arrows through to create flaming weapons of death and destruction. This is a game that is conducive to both button mashing and more skillful play, resulting in something that’s almost like a low-level Smash Bros. and fun for the whole family.
2. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U – for Wii U
Speaking of Smash Bros., this is the classic fighting game made more beautiful and much bigger for the Wii U. With new players – including classic faces like Pac Man and Little Mac – and new stages – there’s a (beautiful and super difficult) Kalos Pokémon League stage! – this is not only a great introduction to the series but also a new experience for more familiar players. This iteration also introduces an 8-player smash, so if you have enough controllers this is a great option for larger parties. The only problem with Smash Bros. is its difficulty; this is a game that’s a little harder to pick up for more inexperienced people (there are at least 8 different attacks for each character, and recovering from falling off the stage can be pretty impossible if it’s your first time playing) though you can certainly button mash your way through a match.
Its difficulty really only makes it more satisfying when you knock someone into oblivion, though, so power through and you’ll have a multiplayer game with amazing graphics, all the characters you’ve come to love from Nintendo titles (and characters from other publishers, as well as the option to make anyone you’d like out of a Mii character – I’ve seen everything from Ghandi to Jesus), and hours of impressive attacks, goofy missteps, and laughter.
1. Mario Kart 8 – for Wii U
I’m sure no one’s surprised that this is in the number one spot – Mario Kart has, for a long time, been the party game to end all party games. And Mario Kart 8 does not disappoint in this respect: stunning visuals, new characters, new tracks, and new mechanics makes this an exciting and extremely enjoyable iteration of the beloved series – plus, there’s now a DLC for the game that includes Link as a character and a Hyrule track (with rupees instead of coins), so just when you thought things couldn’t get better, they did.
Mario Kart is the perfect game for both newcomers and experienced players, as its relatively simple controls can be either dived into or perfected, and Mario Kart 8 includes both original tracks and tracks from older titles, so that no one can get too used to the wide variety of options available. The anti-gravity mode is also great for new players, because it doesn’t punish crashing into other karts or into obstacles – it actually rewards it with speed boosts. New items (like the awesome piranha plant, which gives you speed boosts and eats up coins, players, and items near you) and kart options combine with old items (CURSE YOU, BLUE SHELL) and classic karts to bring a total experience that, at its best, is never more than 12 karts racing around in a circle – simple, yet customizable, entertainment for everyone involved.
So what are you waiting for? Gather all your holiday guests and start breaking down relationships one blue shell at a time (Daily Geekette is not responsible for any ruined post-Christmas parties).
What’s your favorite multiplayer game? What have you and your friends discovered this holiday season? Let us know in the comments!