Top Ten Tuesday 46

My Top Ten Games I Play with Friends


Disclaimer: There are many top ten lists but this one is mine, if you think a game is missing here, I either didn't play it, didn't have any interest in it, or I just hate you.

Pre-List Notes

In the US we celebrate Thanksgiving, a time for family, great meals, and insane shopping. It serves as a springboard for the great holiday season and reminds us to be thankful for what we have. Writing a list of Games I'm Thankful for seemed weird, as just about every game I've put in my lists I'm very thankful for. But more importantly, I'm thankful for my friends, many of whom I've stayed friends with for over twenty years, even as we now live in different cities and states. Online gaming couldn't have entered my life at a better time - right when we all began splitting apart to go to various colleges. Playing games together have allowed us to stay in touch despite only physically seeing each other like once or twice a year. During Summer breaks we hung out all the time and had massive LAN parties and co-operative all-nighters.

After college we eventually started our own official game group - the Black Light Club, and to this day we still get together online with our current game of choice on Sunday evenings to hang out and kill things together. I'm incredibly thankful for video games that have robust and enjoyable multiplayer and friends that enjoy playing them just as much as I do. Here are my Top Ten Black Light Club games (ranked by Time Played with Friends, and How Many Friends Played)!


Related Top Ten lists:

My Top Ten Cooperative Games

Our Top Games Games We Play Together (The games I play with my #1 Co-op partner, my wife!)


Top Ten BLC Games



10) Mass Effect 3 (PC)

Say what you will about ME3 (actually...don't) but I'll be the first to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the horde-like multiplayer component. The random card-based loot drops were insanely addictive and kept us wanting to unlock more stuff, and to Bioware's credit they did a great job adding new maps and classes just when we started to grow tired. After finishing the single player I ended up sinking another 100+ hours into the multiplayer keeping the world safe from Reapers and Cerberus with friends into the wee hours of the morning.



9) Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (XBLA)

I've expounded on the greatness of basically just adding co-operative multiplayer to standard Castlevania levels in several lists previously, and it's safe to say that I never had to go it alone as all my friends that had an Xbox were quick to jump in with me. We had a blast running through the well-designed levels, grabbing rare loot drops, and finding joy in classic 2D gameplay that we could explore together.



8) Diablo 3 (PC)

Diablo 3 has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, and has had just a rough of a launch as it seemingly had production. Even a year later it's still a bit of a mess as Blizzard admits their horrible misstep with an in-game auction house. But, and this is important, it's still a really fun game. I haven't played many Action-RPGs that I didn't like and one of the strengths of the genre is seamless and awesome co-operative multiplayer, which Diablo 3 delivered on (provided you don't mind only playing on their servers). Dozens of hours, several characters played with different combinations of friends, and many difficulties and new game pluses later and I can safely admit that despite all its woes, I still very much enjoyed my time with Diablo 3, and look forward to the expansion to get me back into it.



7) Dungeon Defenders (PC)

Combine a 3rd person action tower defense game with the level progression and random loot drops of an Action-RPG and you get an incredibly fun mash-up of gameplay mechanics that works surprisingly well in Dungeon Defenders. Multiple characters with different towers and abilities, dozens of maps, several difficulties and game modes, and enough post-game DLC to make your head spin, Dungeon Defenders gave you a ridiculous amount of content for its low asking price, and we had a lot of fun going through the campaign and mixing our various abilities for optimal results. Cooperative action tower defense games are a big hit with my group (we also loved Iron Brigade/Trenched, Sanctum 2, and Orcs Must Die 2), but Dungeon Defenders was by far the most intriguing and long lasting.



6) Battlefield Bad Company 2 (PC)

I'll always have a special place in my gamer heart for the Battlefield series; though I almost never play them on launch. Typically I discover the latest entry a year or so afterward, grab it for cheap and have a blast playing and convincing my friends to join in. I'd say this system peaked with Battlefield Bad Company 2, which we all played and enjoyed. There's just something comforting about jumping into a server and playing an epic back and forth match full of great individual moments and staging grounds, even if the BC series was designed for consoles and stunted from the main series. Unfortunately, we didn't have the timing to get very far into BF3, and not sure if we'll ever get around to Battlefield 4 with Titanfall right around the corner....



5) Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)

RDR was really the first major console game that my friends and I played together in the BLC era, and it's a pretty damn great title to hold that decree. On top of its amazing single player, Rockstar gave us our first ever chance to explore one of their open worlds with friends, and we had just as much fun running gang hideouts as we did just screwing around. Racking up a huge wanted level and then hiding out in a small Mexican village while we fight off the army remains one my favorite multiplayer memories with friends. Just when it started to drop off for us after several months, Rockstar added in several fantastic co-op missions with multiple objectives and we were drawn right back in. Red Dead is one of my all time favorite games of the past couple years, and a big reason for that is the amazing time I had playing multiplayer with friends.



4) Starcraft II (PC)

Oh Starcraft, how I love thee. The original game was one of the multiplayer titles I played with friends back in those early High School days, well before the official BLC group was ever formed. I was a wee bit excited for this incredibly long-in-the-making sequel, and it didn't disappoint. Blizzard smartly didn't fix what wasn't broken and offered just about the perfect experience I was aching for in a modern Starcraft game. With several of my friends we even got into the ladder ranking of multiplayer, eventually going as far as Diamond League in 3v3 over the course of several months. Still the stress and emotions for that level of PVP just aren't really my thing, and tend to make it more a frustrating and stressful time than an enjoyable one. When Heart of the Swarm came out, we hardly played PVP at all, sticking instead to co-operative matches against the AI and trying out the myriad of custom maps and game modes. My beloved RTS genre is sadly a rarity these days, so I'm extra thankful we have a fantastic one in Starcraft II.



3) Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360)

Obviously the most recent game on this list, I hesitated when adding it to this list of games - but only for a second. GTAV has brought all of our game nights over to the console in a way no game has since Red Dead Redemption - even one of my Xbox-less friends acquired one just to play GTA Online with us! GTA Online had a rough launch, but for the price of admission (in which you got a fantastic 50+ hour single player game) Rockstar once again gave us their awesome world that we could explore with friends. In addition to numerous competitive modes we can hunt bounties, search for gang attacks, and engage in the many co-operative jobs available. One time I crashed my plane into a pair of wanted players' helicopter, earning their bounty and their ire. When they came after me, my friends rolled up and we all had a massive shootout in Blaine County. It's been a great game to play together, and hopefully Rockstar will keep the updates going so we can keep logging on to the chaos of GTA Online.

Oh, and of course we formed our own BLC Crew!



2) Left 4 Dead 2 (PC)

The original Left 4 Dead blew us all away with the emphasis on co-operative play, staying together, and staying alive. The sequel came soon after (remember that controversy?) and firmly had us in its undead clutches. The addition of melee weapons, better maps, more special zombies, and new game modes made L4D2 the definitive multiplayer zombie survival game. Playing through the campaign levels were always enjoyable (and we even managed to do the first one on expert!), survival mode proved an interesting puzzle to work out, but it was scavenger that kept us playing the most. This mode tasked survivors with gathering gas cans spread out around an area, and the zombies had to stop them. It was the first time we actually enjoyed the PVP element of L4D, though frustration could certainly rear its head. L4D2 offered everything we could want in a cooperative action game and kept us playing for months. If only Valve could count to three....



1) Team Fortress 2 (PC)

Here we are, the genesis of the modern era of the Black Light Club. In the years after college I realized our LAN parties were quickly becoming ancient history as we went our separate ways permanently. In early 2008 a friend recommended TF2 as a fun, light-hearted but well balanced team based PVP game, one that we could maybe all play together. That recommendation turned into a full blown hit as we'd all fall in love with this title that I also credit for getting me started on the wonderful world that is Steam. We'd settle on Sundays as our main game day, but during random times throughout the week you'd find at least one of us online playing just with random groups, and we'd all jump in and out as we had time. For keeping us together and playing, it worked beautifully, and we all got pretty damn good in whichever server we happened to be on. New game modes, maps, weapons, and major updates kept us playing, and after over a solid year or so of off and on playing (finally broken up by L4D2 in late 2009) we finally moved on, as the meta game had started getting a little crazy with the addition of hats and alternate loadouts. Now it's like a whole different beast (free to play!) and we haven't had any desire to go back, though it's very impressive it's still as popular as it is. Still, that doesn't take away from the great time we had with it, and the impact it had on us as a gaming group. TF2, enjoy your honorable position at the top of the heap, your earned it.


BONUS! My Top Ten Games I Played With Friends From pre-BLC Days (late 90s to 2007)

Just for fun, and because I felt they deserved a mention, here are the Top Ten games from those earlier days of multiplayer gaming - the days of dial-up modems, LAN parties, and splitscreen couch co-op. Basically covers our High School and College years!

10) Diablo 2

9) GoldenEye 007/Perfect Dark

8) Guitar Hero II

7) Warcraft III

6) Super Smash Bros. Melee

5) City of Heroes

4) Starcraft

3) World of Warcraft

2) Alien vs Predator 2

1) Neverwinter Nights



Wrap Up

Seven of the ten games on this list we played on PC, which makes sense given that we are primarily PC gamers. But our love of games in general supersedes any sense of PC elitism, and we've enjoyed a lot of big console games as well as those on the smaller XBLA market. We've played dozens of games over the years and just about every co-operative game you've heard of. Sometimes we'll have fun playing through a campaign but quickly move on afterward (Dead Island), other times I'll play a game to death, play it even more with my wife but not end up playing too much with friends (Borderlands 2, Torchlight 2), and of course there's those rare games that most of my friends enjoy and love playing but that I personally despise (DoTA 2). Whatever the case, I'm very thankful that there are so many great multiplayer games out there - both co-operative and versus that there's always a great game to play, and even more to look forward to. Here's to all our friends and loved ones that help making gaming a fun social experience!