Sharing games with other people is one of the purest joys for any gamer. Putting a controller in a friend's or loved one's hands, whipping out the hottest new game at a party, hopping online to prove yourself against strangers from all over the world — it all feels good.
It only gets better as developers pour new ideas into the gaming ecosystem. The Playstation 4, which has sold more than 86 million units, is one of the biggest parts of that ecosystem right now. Competition, cooperation, accessibility — PS4 games offer all of these, and more, if you know where to look. So, let's get looking.
Credit: Electronic Arts
Titanfall 2 exists in a world already crowded with online FPS action. This title also had the misfortune of launching at the same time as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. But more than two years later, Titanfall 2 still has a rabid player base, and many of these players possess terrifying skills.
There is simply no other FPS on the market that plays like Titanfall 2. No other game lets you wall-run and grapple-swing across maps with such tight controls. And, of course, it gives you and your friends a chance to pilot giant robots as a team or against one another.
Credit: Electronic Arts
The Jackbox Party Pack Series
It used to be that if you wanted to include a nongamer in multiplayer games, the best you could do was hand them a simple controller and invite them to play a simple game. But with the Jackbox games, all a player needs is his or her smartphone, making this series great for newcomers.
Every pack has a couple of standout titles, like Quiplash, the ultimate Cards Against Humanity variant, or Tee K.O. a game that has players design their own goofy T-shirts. There are games for testing your trivia knowledge and games for challenging your wits. And anyone can play these titles, so long as they have a phone on hand — well, that and a decent charge on the thing.
When Rocket League came out on PS4, it was included in the subscription cost for PlayStation Plus members. The game's concept is simple: soccer, but with cars. But when you hop in and actually play, you see that the game requires a level of simple, straightforward skill that got a sizeable player base addicted in no time.
Rocket League is more than just car soccer now; it's also got car-hockey and car-basketball modes. All of these options are great for the competitive chaos they bring, but they're also friendly to newcomers. Remember: The original mode is called "soccar." Just about anyone would read that, laugh and pick up a controller immediately.
Credit: Psyonix Inc.
There are a few games on this list that offer both co-op and competitive modes, but Destiny 2 is unusual in that it excels at both. The game has built a community that celebrates the good, criticizes the bad, and is always ready to shoot some aliens and score some loot. There are few feelings better than defending a beacon with your buddies, then getting rewarded for it with some new battle-ready firearms. Afterward, you can take those weapons to the Crucible, where it's every Guardian for him or herself. You'll probably get killed by someone with even nicer gear — which you can then spend the next few hours trying to acquire yourself. The game's raids are also delightfully complex, requiring smart cooperation to complete.
Ultimate Chicken Horse
Remember being a kid and drawing your own Mario or Sonic levels? Ultimate Chicken Horse capitalizes on gamers' nostalgia for that pastime.
In this game, a group of players gets an array of explosive and deadly items. Then, they slap these tools onto a one-screen stage with a simple starting line and endpoint. Your goal: Make the stage harder and harder to get through, round after round, while still getting to the other side yourself.
For example: Are you at the bottom of a cliff with an exit at the top? Sounds like time for some carousels full of spikes, a machine that shoots hockey pucks, some platforms that crumble after you step on them — you know the drill.
Credit: Clever Endeavour Games
Having Fortnite on this list feels almost like cheating. It's the kind of cultural phenomenon that hits gaming only once every few years.
In case you haven't played it, here's the gist of Fortnite: The game drops 100 people onto an island to see who can survive the longest. Sure, you can make your way using a bunch of guns. But you can also build structures and get creative to a degree that you won't find on other battle-royal games.
There aren't a lot of games where you can fire at someone as he or she rapidly builds a staircase to block your shots. But, of course, Fortnite has also spawned some of the worst in-game dancing of this generation. Can't win 'em all.
Credit: Epic Games
We've all had moments in games when we've lost track of what we're meant to be doing but we still want to look cool and capable in front of our friends. Overcooked offers a great opportunity for getting through that anxiety, because if you ever lose track of your goal, it doesn't matter. You and your friends will be shouting over each other about who needs to chop some onions anyway.
Overcooked is a co-op game in which up to four players take on roles in a kitchen while churning out dishes. The roles aren't fixed, though; it's up to you and your friends to figure that out for yourselves before someone's steak burns.
Credit: Team17 Software Ltd.
Of all the military shooters out there, Battlefield 1 has something going for it that few others do: a real war on which to base its maps, weapons and details.
A lot of work went into getting those things right. Fighting in a realistic World War I could have so easily been boring, but instead, Battlefield 1 creates some of the most fast-paced, high-stakes military action you can find in a game. You'll die a lot, but you'll also get better along the way. The game asks its players to get better in the same way that soldiers in real wars often do: through sheer determination.
Credit: Electronic Arts
Overwatch is different from other, more-realistic shooters — not just in its cartoonish visuals, but also in how those visuals dictate character classes. It's a great game for picking up new skills, because each character in Overwatch is visually distinct and plays in a unique manner. This means you always know which character is hounding you when you're trying to capture a point on the map.
The game also respects players after a match ends. The Play of the Game video at the end of a battle isn't there to shame those who died but rather to celebrate the player who pulled off the best-executed ultimate ability or sneaky strategy. Ideally, that can earn a nod of approval from the whole group.
Killing Floor 2
Gamers who were active about 10 years ago will remember the Left 4 Dead games, in which four players teamed up to survive in the midst of hordes of zombies. That particular series hasn't had a new entry in a while, but gamers now have a worthwhile spiritual successor Killing Floor 2.
This game pits a team of up to six players against wave after wave of zombies: some basic and some with unusual variations, like sword arms or flame cannons. You can also break up players into teams composed of humans or zombies. Every map requires a unique strategy, and there are always chances to upgrade your gear between waves.
The game is a little less about survival and more about a constantly escalating power trip — until a zombie rips out your sternum, that is.
Credit: Tripwire Interactive