CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

The Best Online Games to Play With Friends

These online games keep us coming back week after week.

Adam Benjamin Managing Editor
Adam Benjamin has helped people navigate complex problems for the past decade. The former digital services editor for Reviews.com, Adam now leads CNET's services and software team and contributes to its game coverage.
Expertise Operating Systems | Streaming Services | Mobile Apps | First-Person Shooters Credentials
  • Adam has been covering streaming services since 2013 and wants to help people navigate the subscription creep in their lives.
Adam Benjamin
4 min read

The heyday of couch co-op gaming is a bit behind us, but the trade-off is that we now get the opportunity to play games with friends and family virtually anywhere. Whether you're teaming up with someone down the road or across the globe, lots of games offer online multiplayer these days. I've picked out a couple of the online games I've been playing for years and have asked some of my CNET colleagues what they're playing these days.


I play many online games, but this is the one I always come back to — I've been playing Overwatch for seven years and cannot stop. Every Tuesday, I log on and queue up with a buddy of mine to get a hit of this fast-paced, class-based shooter, zipping around and fighting over objectives. Every other online shooter just feels slow now. The game has had some serious ups and downs, but the switch to Overwatch 2's free-to-play model brought a steady stream of new heroes, maps and cosmetics. And now that heroes are no longer locked behind battle passes, one of the biggest downsides since the Overwatch 2 launch is gone. If you like fast, twitchy gameplay, bright and colorful environments — or any combination of cowboys, robots and superintelligent animals from the moon — give it a try.

—Adam Benjamin, Managing Editor

Screenshot by CNET

At first glance, Helldivers 2 seems like another Left 4 Dead clone in a sea of co-op third-person shooters. I wouldn't even drag you for not having played the first one, which was a completely different genre — an isometric dual-joystick shooter. What Helldivers 2 gets so right is a commitment to improv-like comedy that comes out of playing with others and being given the right tools for that humor. Even though your main goal might be having to fight off a wave of horrifying giant alien bugs, or bulletproof robots, the real joy is calling down massive attack after attack that might actually result in getting yourself or your teammates killed unexpectedly. Helldivers 2 capitalizes on this by making reviving and use of these tools plentiful. It's this repeatedly unscripted chaos, tied to a comically fascist interstellar war, that makes goofing around with friends while fighting for your lives so enjoyable. Add in the low entry price of the game ($40) and the worthwhile free battle pass of unlockables (there's also a $10 premium battle pass if you want additional unlocks to strive for), and there's a lot to love here. 

—Sean Booker, Producer

Larian Studios

Unlike most online games, Baldur's Gate 3 is a completely standalone offering. No battle passes, microtransactions or anything else to get in the way of you and up to three friends saving the world. Baldur's Gate 3 is a turn-based RPG set in the Dungeons & Dragons world of Faerun and uses the D&D fifth edition rules to great effect. It's as close to playing Dungeons & Dragons without actually playing as you can get — with dice rolls, skill checks and everything else you love about the game.

—James Bricknell, Senior Editor

Gearbox Software

Borderlands 3 is a fun looter shooter. I've had a standing Borderlands 3 game night with a friend on and off for a few years now. Buoyed by gorgeous visuals, an expansive game world and one of the most gratifying loot experiences in any title, it's a delightful romp with friends. In-game items are unique to each player, meaning there's no vying for goodies — but you can still trade to a buddy in co-op mode, so it's the best of both worlds. There's a ton to explore on each planet, and though you can experience the entire story in single-player mode, hopping in with friends makes it much more enjoyable. 

—Moe Long, Senior Editor

Square Enix

I've played only a handful of Final Fantasy games, but I've spent nine-and-a-half days of real-world time roaming Eorzea with friends. There's something undefinably comfy about this game, especially compared with other MMOs, which never really jibed with me. But Final Fantasy XIV makes it fun to romp through any of its beautiful landscapes and dungeons. The biggest downside is that you'll end up roaming around a lot, especially trekking back and forth between the same familiar points in the early game. Friends make that tedium much more tolerable, and the game is at its best if you have a group of four to puzzle your way through dungeons together, because you can take things at your own pace instead of chasing an overly ambitious tank on a speed-run. The base game and first two expansions are free to play up to level 70, making it easy for any group to try it out.

—Adam Benjamin, Managing Editor

Watch this: PlayStation 5 Pro Leaked: Everything We Know