What are the best online games to play with friends?

The lockdown is changing the shape of how people work and socialise around the world. Just like our professional lives, our social calendars have had to adapt to this remote setup too.

Many of us have turned to video conferencing programmes and apps to ensure we’re still making face-to-face commitments with friends and family. While the likes of Zoom and Skype have helped many of us scratch that social itch, it’s good to know that there are other ways to stay sociable where talking isn’t the main activity.

With that in mind, here are some of the best games you can play online with loved ones over a variety of media.

It’s worth noting that we have chosen games which you can play with friends rather than those you can play with strangers online.

Gaming for free

If you’re a word fanatic and like to play games that test your grey matter, then the likes of Scrabble GO and Words with Friends might be a good substitute for their real-world equivalents. Both are available to download on the Google Play and Apple App Stores. If you fancy games with a bit more of a pub quiz vibe, then it’s worth taking a look at the QuizUp app.

For those of us missing watching and playing sport in these socially distant times, then Golf Battle might help fill a hole. Play solo, one-on-one or jam with up to six people together – pick up the game on Android and Apple devices.

For fans of classic board games, Scattergories is also available to play on smartphones. This engrossing game rewards quick-thinking and ingenuity, so is ideal for groups of friends looking to while away the time in quarantine.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll surely have heard of the runaway success of Fortnite. Now might be the right time to give this free-to-play blockbuster hit a whirl. Even better, you can host a password-protected private match with friends – find out how to do so here.

Pay to play

The extremely popular card game Exploding Kittens has made its way online and now features a slew of fun graphics. Available on both the App Store and Google Play for less than £2 (around $2 in the US), this fast-paced family-friendly game will keep you occupied for hours.

Offering a nice spin on the classic Pictionary, Drawful is one of a number of Jackbox Games that has really taken off in these socially distant times. It is undoubtedly wacky and has huge replay value. It is also available in a range of formats – from Xbox and mobile to Nintendo Switch.

If you’re up for something a little more sinister and absolutely not family-friendly, then asymmetric multiplayer horror game Dead By Daylight might be the one for you. The game now has multiple chapters on offer where you can play through a range of different scenarios and characters, including Nightmare on Elm Street, Stranger Things and Saw.

On the other end of the scale is recently-released hit Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It’s a little pricier than the other options on this list – clocking in at around £50 (c. $60) – but the investment might be worth it if you have time to spare during the lockdown. Plus, you can invite up to eight friends to hang out on your own personal island.

While these are good games to play with friends and family, it is worth keeping an eye on your little ones’ screen time to make sure they aren’t spending all day on their devices. There are some tips here on how to make sure they are striking the right balance.

For more tips on how to make the most of the lockdown, you might be interested in the following articles: