Game of the Year 2023 – Best Multiplayer Game

GOTY 2023 Best Multiplayer header

Multiplayer gaming feels pretty much inescapable these days. Sure, we’ve left the days of “tacked on” multiplayer modes behind us, but now we have so many games that are all about online gaming, live service models, and a constant drip feed of things to lure you back in to play.

That can all be great, but 2023 stood out for games taking new or refined approaches for multiplayer. Whether it was focusing on making a hardcore genre more accessible, or making what is often a rather solitary affair eminently playable with friends, or just embracing goofy online fun, we had a great time heading online without falling back on those daily gaming mainstays.

GOTY 2023 Best Multiplayer award

Where fighting games often have a smaller scene when looking at the online and multiplayer side of things, Street Fighter 6 is a game that feels like it’s for everyone. Multiplayer is at fundamental for fighting games these days, and when you can end up facing off against the world, your is going to be a culmination of practice, hard work and dedication – I’ve put hundreds of hours into it since release and show no signs of slowing down. But there’s also a much friendlier, more communal side to this game.

Meeting up in pretend online arcades to give that classic vibe of challenging the person next to you. It’s so well done and really offers a fantastic hub to hang around with your mates, beat seven bells out of them and go home laughing afterwards about what a great time you had.

– Nick P

Baldur’s Gate 3 – Runner Up

As special as it is as a single player game and experience, filled with companions and excellent writing to sink yourself into for hours on end, Baldur’s Gate 3 is also a fantastic example of how to make an RPG for co-op multiplayer.

Larian Studios clearly designed the game with this in mind, featuring both split-screen and online multiplayer, and giving players the freedom to wander off on their own and strike up conversations separately, rummage for items in the environment, and generally have a degree of independence. However, there’s also niceties of being able to listen in on the conversation that someone else is leading, giving suggestions for dialogue options as you go. And when it comes to combat, the pace is kept up by letting people take simultaneous turns if adjacent in the turn order, and sharing out control of any non-player companions in the party. It captures the essence of a tabletop D&D adventure in many ways.

– Stefan L

Lethal Company – Runner Up

Imagine going to a haunted house with your friends, and all the shenanigans that can happen there – now imagine the haunted house is on an alien planet, and those aliens are definitely not just actors. Lethal Company provides a light-hearted playground for endlessly hilarious emergent co-op fun – like a Scary Movie parody of Phasmophobia – where the stakes are high but the tension is always undercut by such a sense of goofiness. It’s hard not to laugh immediately after a giant space spider jump-scares you, or your buddy absentmindedly slips off the side of a bridge.

Lethal Company goes beyond genre definitions and provides a simple yet super satisfying sandbox of fun for you and your pals to lose endless hours to.

– Miguel M

Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

What multiplayer games really stood out for you this past year? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned for more awards through the end of the year.