What Makes the Best Party Video Games That Are Actually Fun
Games everyone will enjoy together!
Holiday season is approaching! Whether you're having a party for Halloween, Christmas, New Years, or maybe just your birthday, video games can be a great thing to have to get the room having some fun. When you're hosting a party a lot of video games might seem like a good idea when it comes to getting the room excited and entertained, but are they really the best choice? Not everyone coming is going to be the same kind of gamer you are, games that might seem simple to you would be super confusing to others, and even if they're great games they might not be that great for those who aren't playing and just watching (remember, you only have so many controllers).
What Makes a Good Party Video Game?
That's an image from Overcooked 2, which is a perfect choice for a party video game, but it'll be helpful knowing what to look for in one and some examples of what NOT to play at a party. To narrow our search for great party games, here are the 6 elements that I think make a good one:
The new Spiderman game is pretty fun right? Everyone loves Spiderman too! Not everyone is going to love watching you play it by yourself though. Your party isn't your Twitch channel, you have to get at least two people playing a game otherwise it'll be hard getting a room of people into it. So NOT Spiderman or God of War!
You need to boot up games that don't take 60+ hours to play. Games should have short matches that don't last long allowing people to switch up who's playing or stop any time to get a drink. If you open up Stardew Valley, it'll take hours to make significant progress. So NOT Stardew Valley or Factorio!
3. Fun & Funny for Others Watching
No matter how many people can be playing at the same time, if your party has over 4 people it's likely not everyone is going to be able to play at the same time. This means that those standing behind the couch need to be able to watch the screen, cheer people on, and get sucked into the game too. So NOT Divinity: Original Sin or ARMA!
4. Easy for Non-gamers to Understand & Get Into
If you can't explain the game in a single sentence, it's probably too confusing a game. You need to be able to tell people who not only haven't heard of that game before but maybe don't play ANY video games. If understanding the story, setting, or characters is absolutely essential to enjoying the game, it's not a good choice. So NOT Portal 2 or Dark Souls!
5. Not So Serious or 'Hardcore'
Few things are worse than gathering a bunch of friends together and wanting to show off a cool new game and you boot up something like A Way Out. That's an amazing co-op game but a total buzzkill for a party and you can bet most people in the room would tune out. It's a party, not serious emotional feelings time. So NOT A Way Out or Unravel Two!
A great way to make sure a game will engage your party members is to choose games that have at least a slight competitive element to them. This will allow people to try and best each other for top spot and people watching can root for those playing. So NOT Terraria or Don't Starve Together!
4 Games That Fit The Bill
So for every game you consider for your party, think of the 6 criteria and see if it's a good choice. Let's have a look at 4 games I think rank well:
1. Rocket League (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch)
Straightforward, short, and extra flashy with fast cars and rocket boosting! Total support for local split screen co-op and VS modes make this a flexible choice too depending on how many people want to play and how they want to play. Even if you're not a football fan, turning players into cars seems to remove the 'seriousness' of the sport and make it an entertaining match for everyone (even if they're bad at driving virtual cars).
Multiplayer? - 2-4 split screen local multiplayer
Short? - Each round is only a few minutes
Fun for Watchers? - Fast, exciting, and flashy
Easy to Understand? - "It's football with cars"
Not serious? - It's football with cars!
Competitive? - Winner scores the most goals
2. Mario Kart 8 (Switch, Wii U)
A staple to any 'party video games' list and for good reason. It gets a lot of people together to race, crash, and mess with the others in some good lighthearted fun. You don't need to know all the characters to like them either, but it's almost guaranteed that everyone will know the 'mains'.
Multiplayer? - Up to 4 player local co-op
Short? - A race doesn't last too long
Fun for Watchers? - It's flashy and you can cheer people on
Easy to Understand? - "Characters race around a track and there are obstacles and powerups"
Not serious? - All good fun here
Competitive? - Only one person can get first place
3. Mortal Kombat X (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Okay, MAYBE a little violent and gruesome for some people, but you'd be surprised how many people will enjoy fighting and watching Mortal Kombat. The level of violence in an MK game is straight up cartoony and watching two friends rip each other's limbs off can be pretty funny... don't quote me out of context on that.
Multiplayer? - 2 players can fight each other
Short? - A match would rarely go over a couple minutes
Fun for Watchers? - Super flashy and over the top, plus they can root for their favourite player or character
Easy to Understand? - "Two characters fight to the death"
Not serious? - Although violent, there aren't really any serious feelings attached
Competitive? - Only one person can win a match
4. Overcooked (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch)
What I personally consider to be one of, if not THE BEST, party video game. Four of you can play on the same screen all trying to work together while things fall apart. Even non-gamers can get into this immediately and will be screaming and laughing at the fires breaking out, orders being missed, and onions not being chopped.
Multiplayer? - Up to 4 players on the same screen
Short? - A round is only a couple minutes
Fun for Watchers? - Stressful and funny watching a kitchen fall apart
Easy to Understand? - "You prepare and serve food in a restaurant"
Not serious? - Cute characters save the world by making burritos
Competitive? - Everyone's on the same team but you're all trying to get the highest score
More Games to Choose From
Want more recommendations? Here are a bunch more video games you can check out that might just be great for your party! Mount Your Friends, Broforce, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Nidhogg, and of course any party video games article has to mention the ever popular Jackbox Party Pack 4.