Friday, December 31, 2021

SuperPhillip Central Best of 2021 Awards - Top Five Multiplayer Games

Multiplayer games can bring us together, even when we're doing some good-natured trash-talking or ribbing of our friends and family members. This next award on the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2021 Awards is all about this very subject: multiplayer games. Whether featuring competition or focusing on cooperation, these five games were some of the best multiplayer experiences in 2021.

5) Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (NSW)

We kick off this countdown of magnificent multiplayer experiences with some Mario, specifically the Super Mario 3D World portion of Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury. Like the Wii U game, when you get more than one person in the game to run and jump around the colorful and hazard-filled courses of the game, you're in for an absolute treat. Now, with the Nintendo Switch port of the game, players don't have to limit themselves to purely an offline multiplayer experience. No, now the multiplayer mayhem can happen online, too, with up to four players. When the connection works well, it's a wonderfully fun and chaotic game, and it created some of my most cherished multiplayer moments this year.

4) Monster Hunter Rise (NSW)

Imagine, if you will, staring down the face of a behemoth Royal Ludroth, or worse an electrifying and all too terrifying Zenogre. A scary prospect when you're all alone, but unite up with three other hunters and it's an absolute blast. That's what Monster Hunter Rise bestowed onto Nintendo Switch owners earlier this year, offering some of the most mechanically sound, enjoyable multiplayer hunts in Monster Hunter series history. Part of that is due to the wirebug attachment that allowed players to shoot through the air, zooming past monster defenses and unleashing heavy damage onto them. Battles could already get heated in Monster Hunter games, but never as hot as it was in Monster Hunter Rise. Whether playing with friends or teaming up with total strangers/randoms, Monster Hunter Rise was always a good time to get a feel for the thrill of the hunt.

3) It Takes Two (Multi)

The idea of a co-op only game sort of totally falls apart if the multiplayer isn't up to snuff. Thankfully for It Takes Two, the co-op multiplayer featured here, whether done locally or online, was incorporated wonderfully to create one of gaming's most unique and enjoyable multiplayer experiences of 2021--if not ever. Two players teamed up together, supporting one another, working mostly asymmetrically with different tools and equipment to help each other through the game's wondrous worlds. New ideas popped up constantly, and better yet, they were consistently polished well. Playing It Takes Two with my older brother locally made for some of the best times the two of us have had sharing a game together in a looong while, and for that, I will very much appreciate the game. That's on top of what I already appreciated It Takes Two for: simply being an exquisite co-op based adventure.

2) Halo Infinite (XBS, XB1, PC)

Halo multiplayer is seldom a bad time, and Halo Infinite brought the series' marvelous multiplayer, its deathmatches, and its team skirmishes to an entirely new level. Whether playing online in custom-made matches or ranked play, players could compete in the ridiculously enjoyable first-person firefights that have made Halo a cornerstone in the FPS genre and as a multiplayer shooter. The ability to zip around the battlefields with the new Grappleshot (as used by Master Chief in the also-excellent campaign) opened up a whole new layer of mobility and strategy to matches. Couple all this with the ability to play offline against bots (THANK YOU, 343 Industries!), and you have one stellar multiplayer showcase for the Xbox brand. But, perhaps that's to be expected from Halo as a series after 20 years.

1) Mario Party Superstars (NSW)

Nintendo finally did it. It developed and published a Mario Party game that not only returned the series to its roots but managed to surpass past efforts in many ways. First and foremost: online play that actually works and was fully featured! It made the past hassles of poor connections, disconnections, lag, and connection errors seem like a distant memory. The ability to quit a match mid-game and return to it later whilst online was a fantastic and most welcome addition, stickers--how ever spam-able--were cute inclusions, and being able to have the CPU join in when a human player disconnects was also wonderfully added. Throw in the five boards from Mario Party 1-3 and the 100 mini-games from Mario Party 1-10, and you have one positively stellar party package with Mario Party Superstars. The amount of fun I had this year playing with offline and especially online friends (some of whom I met just this year and have grown close with) will be something I will always cherish, putting Superstars at the top of this list of Top Five Multiplayer Games in 2021.

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