It’s almost time for all the fresh-faced college kids to embark on life’s next journey. Graduation time is near, which means that there’ll soon be another wave of younglings ready to hit the working world. Adjusting to the so-called ‘real world’ can be exciting, disheartening, stressful and rewarding all at once, but one thing it shouldn’t be is all-consuming. Taking a break from the job hunt will keep grads sane.
While Dad may be out golfing and the rest of the family may parked in the living room, one great way for grads to cool down is by playing a good game. And an even better way is to do that is to play it with some friends. So to help grads decide which recent cooperative or competitive titles might be best suited for them, TG has put together this quick top five list of the best multiplayer titles. Let\’s a-go.
Best Multiplayer Game for the Fun-Loving Grad: Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
Borderlands 2 is goofy, loud, stupid and a damn good time. With its colorful cel-shaded art style, range of completely cartoony yet (mostly) well-written characters and ungodly amount of quests, guns and collectible loot, this shooter-RPG hybrid provides enough sheer content to keep up to four pals busy, and amused, for weeks. There\’s a lot of stuff here.
But \”more\” doesn\’t equal \”good\” on its own, so it\’s a good thing that Borderlands 2 largely refines the already enjoyable shoot-and-loot template of its predecessor. Wielding weaponry feels as smooth as ever, there\’s a plot that\’s actually somewhat engaging this time out, new classes (robotic ninja!) have been added, and everything looks a bit better too. For grads who want to just kick back and let loose with some friends for a while, Borderlands 2 is as purely fun as co-op games get.
Best Multiplayer Game for the Competitive Grad: Halo 4 (Xbox 360)
This category is a bit tricky. To be perfectly honest, competitive multiplayer games have taken something of a downturn in recent years, with more and more games opting for mass appeal rather than a more hardcore focus. TG would recommend PC games like Dota 2, League of Legends and Starcraft II for those with the itchiest of competitive itches, but this is a console-based site, and so Halo 4 is the pick.
That\’s not to say Halo 4 is a subpar competitive game, though. Not at all. It\’s still Halo, so most players know what to expect here, but the longstanding FPS series\’ fourth core installment adds such customization upgrades as perks, weapon loadouts and a deeper skill upgrade system. Combine that with Halo 4\’s wide variety of diverse maps, balanced weapons, air and ground vehicles, nifty competitive matchmaking options and, of course, that always tight gunplay, and players are left with perhaps the most fine-tuned multiplayer shooting machine out there.
Best Multiplayer Game for the Aggressive Grad: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC)
Like Halo, everyone knows about Call of Duty by now. The fast-paced gunplay, the big list of varying game modes, the customizable weaponry, the perks and the killstreaks — these things have been in Call of Duty for years now, and they’re still in Black Ops 2. And that’s fine, because it all works well. Players know what they’re getting with a CoD game: Guns, good times, and a massive, active user base.
It’s that last point that makes Black Ops 2 the game for all the intense grads out there. See, Call of Duty players are known for their … animation on the mic. They curse and yell and taunt and trash talk, usually well beyond the point of annoyance. TG recommends that most players mute their multiplayer lobbies from the get-go, but for those intense, energy drink-chugging competitors who have to slay everyone in their path, perhaps no user base is more fun to shut up than Call of Duty’s. For the right mind, there’s something perversely satisfying about making a 14-year-old homophobe quit his game out of sheer rage. Moving on now.
Best Multiplayer Game for the Grad on the Go: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (Vita)
Now, a quick disclaimer for this: When TG says \”on the go\” up there, it\’s referring to games for the two \”core\” handheld consoles. There are a handful of great multiplayer games for mobile devices, but those looking for something a little meatier have no choice but to turn to their Nintendo 3DS or PlayStation Vita. The multiplayer pickings on those consoles are unfortunately a tad slim, but that just makes PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale\’s four-player competitive experience stand out all the more.
PASBR for the Vita essentially transplants the PS3 version of the fighting game into the palms of users\’ hands, and lets Vita owners duke it out with each other and their PS3-based brethren with remarkably little lag. The way it connects those on the couch and those on the run is a technical achievement, for sure, but all that is made better by Battle Royale\’s cast of recognizable PlayStation characters and accessible, Super Smash Bros.-inspired brawling action. Plus, it\’s the only place where players can see Nathan Drake from Uncharted square off against a Big Daddy from BioShock. That\’s just neat.
Best Multiplayer Game for the Contemplative Grad: Journey (PS3)
Contrary to many unfortunate opinions, modern video games aren’t always about shooting and punching things in the face. Sometimes an experience will come along that transcends the usual slate of bloodshed and machismo and delivers something thought-provoking and spiritual. Journey is one of those games, and its wordless and combat-less trip through unknown desert, cavern and mountain landscapes is beautiful.
Journey isn’t a traditional multiplayer game, if only because it isn’t a traditional game period. There’s no competition at play here, players only communicate through musical chirps, and there’s no way to tell who it is that’s jumping into one’s game. But that’s the magic of it. By giving less, Journey makes players feel more. Those who give in to Journey’s systems and aesthetic will feel a stronger sense of kinship with their unnamed partners than they would in any typical multiplayer title.
The physical and emotional scope of Journey is huge, and when two people complete it together, they’ll feel as if they have just done something bigger than themselves. Seriously. More games need to promote love over aggression in online play. Journey’s a good start.
And for more tips from the TG team, be sure to check out TechnologyGuide\’s complete Moms, Dads and Grads buying guide.