A successful party often comes down to what activities the host has to offer; whether its watching a movie, listening to music, or playing games, people want to be entertained. Video games are great way to kick back and have fun; however you’ll find certain genres fare better than others.
Often times, people at parties aren’t looking for the intense and lengthy challenge that games like Dark Souls or Sekiro provide, and you’re usually better off sticking with something more casual. Of course, this all depends on who you’re hanging out with, since your crew may jump at a chance to take turns slaying dragons in Monster Hunter or web-swing through Manhattan in Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Still, it can be hard to predict which games will work in a social setting, outside of the obvious Mario Party and Jackbox Party Packs. So here we’ve highlighted the best games to play when partying with friends or just hanging out. Make sure to check back as we’ll be updating this list with more titles in the future.
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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is an excellent choice for any get-together, as it’s easy to adjust the level of challenge based on who’s playing. You could have a go at chaotic 4-player battles with environmental hazards turned on and an abundance of game-breaking items and power-ups, or play a more competitive game of 1v1 on Final Destination and put your skills to the test.
With a roster of 76 characters, a medley of stages and music pulled from so many different video game properties it’s hard to even keep track, SSBU is a colossal fighting game with something to offer for every Nintendo fan, both old and young. A recent update added Joker from Persona 5 as a playable character as well as the option to create custom stages.
The Jackbox Party Pack 4
The Jackbox Party Pack games have quietly become a staple for social gatherings, partially because they don’t require any extra peripherals and can be played entirely with smartphones. This makes the Jackbox games not only the most accessible party game, but also ideal for non-gamers.
Each Party Pack includes five different bite-sized games for you and your friends to play, however the one we recommend you check out is Jackbox Party Pack 4, as it bundles together some of the better games in the series. You have “Survive the Internet”, which has players twisting each other’s words to make ridiculous pairings, and “Civic Doodle”, which sees two players drawing the same piece of art in real time while the other players act as judges.
Overcooked 2 is a co-op focused cooking simulator that has up to four players attempting to work together to prepare and cook food orders in ridiculously designed kitchens. Levels are filled with multiple stations designated for different tasks like chopping, frying, boiling, and plating, with tasks becoming increasingly difficult to perform as orders stack up and environmental hazards reveal themselves.
The sequel adds the ability to throw ingredients at your fellow chefs from far away, which will either be a benefit or total disaster depending on your teammates. If you’re looking for a fast-paced game that will have you and your friends yelling at each other, Overcooked 2 is the way to go.
Super Mario Party
Of course there’d be at least one Mario Party game on this list, so why not include the most recent and accessible installment in the franchise that’s known for ruining friendships. Jokes aside, Super Mario Party is a lighthearted and entertaining game that’s perfect for groups of friends, even if they’re not heavy into gaming.
This is in part due to the clever yet simple designs of a majority of mini-games, of which there are over 80 new included for Super Mario Party. While forming alliances and rivalries with friends can be a lot of fun, just make sure to stay on the lookout for the game’s true villain, those damn Bonus Stars.
Battle Chef Brigade
Battle Chef Brigade combines the action of side-scrolling brawlers with the strategy of tile-matching puzzlers in order to deliver an exciting experience that’s still fun with friends and family. Gameplay is evenly split between exploring outdoor environments and slaying monsters to use as ingredients in 1v1, split-screen chef battles between you and a friend.
During these head-to-head cook-offs, players match colored-tiles and any ingredients they’ve collected in order to create a dish that’s sure to wow the judges. The unpredictability of each battle combined with the game’s charming visuals and character designs make BCB a great addition to any social event.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
The Mario Kart series has built up a reputation for being one of the most accessible racing games and the blueprint for designing a kart racer. Whether you’ve played every game in the series or find yourself behind the wheel for the first time, Mario Kart 8 does an amazing job at bringing you up to speed.
The Deluxe version on Switch includes all DLC characters and tracks from the original Wii U game, making for amazing deal that looks and plays even better than before. Aside from the Switch’s joycons, MK8 supports pro controllers and can be played with friends in handheld mode, making it easier to pick-up and play.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
Just like its lengthy title, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe has a lot going on. Levels have you and your friends trying to reach a flag at the end of each stage while avoiding enemies, environmental hazards, and sometimes even your own teammates since the game allows you to pick up other players and throw them off ledges.
The game is a rerelease of the Wii U titles but features a bunch of extra content as well as improved visuals thanks to the Switch’s better hardware. Included is the New Super Luigi U expansion in addition to Toadette as a new playable character.
Headsnatchers is a quirky indie multiplayer game that has up to four players competing in chaotic brawls where the goal is to snatch your friends’ heads and come out victorious. This broad win condition is further specified by which map you’re currently playing on, of which there are currently 25 ranging from a basketball court to a medieval castle.
What’s more the game allows you and your friends to customize your character’s heads with over 100 different styles, making it feel that much more personal when your childhood friend decapitates you. The Early Access title currently has four different game modes and fully supports game controllers on PC.
Pummel Party is a lot like Mario Party on steroids, featuring bloody violence and absurd items that won’t just ruin your friendships, but actually destroy them. The four-player party game has players navigating through dangerous game boards as they acquire an arsenal of deadly weapons and items that prove useful in blowing away the competition.
When you’re not attacking your friends on the game board, you’re facing off in a wide array of mini-games partially inspired by the likes of Mario Party along with some new concepts. Additionally, Pummel Party includes a mini-game mode that skips all the board game sections and puts you right in the action.
Puyo Puyo Tetris
Puyo Puyo Tetris takes the best parts of both popular puzzle franchises and puts them all together in one package. The game includes five different modes that have up to four players looking to outlast each other while alternating between Puyo Puyo and Tetris-style puzzle-matching.
If custom rules are more your thing, Puyo Puyo Tetris includes the option to create ‘Free Play’ matches with unique win conditions and settings tailored for you. One of the best aspects of casual puzzlers like Puyo Puyo Tetris is how accessible they are, even for people who don’t typically play video games.
Stikbold! is an intense sports game with frenetic dodge ball combat. In it, up to four players compete in over-the-top dodge ball matches set across a wide-selection of maps with different environmental hazards that affect player and ball movement.
The game allows you to dive deep into your friendly rivalries and assign teams or just play free-for-all and watch the chaos unfold. Stikbold! is a callback to classic arcade sports games that’s brimming with hilarious characters, levels, and mini-games to explore.
Mortal Kombat 11
Fighting games can sometimes be a divisive choice for entertaining guests, especially if you’re surrounded by less competitive or inexperienced gamers. That being said, we’re still recommending Mortal Kombat 11 simply because it’s a franchise that has been around for so long that at some point or another, pretty much everyone’s seen at least one of its iterations.
There’s also the fact that MK11 features some of the goriest, most ridiculous fatalities of any game in the series. Even if you can’t get everyone at the party to pick up a controller and play, you’re sure to make onlookers’ jaws drop when they see you rip out a dude’s heart before forcing him to eat it.
Speedrunners is a one-of-a-kind, highly addictive multiplayer game for up to four players. In it, you and your friends race across stages on foot, using a variety of items, a trusty grappling hook, and pure speed to knock each other off screen and take home the victory.
Matches can be over in just a few minutes, or go on forever if you have players that are skilled enough to keep it together as the boundaries of the screen become increasingly smaller. The game allows you design and play unique user-created stages, adding some replayability and ensuring your group never grows tired of playing on the same maps.
As one of the older titles on this list, Castle Crashers is still an enjoyable beat-em-up that plays great in 2019. The 2D arcade adventure game has you and your friends hacking and slashing your way to the top as you save a princess, defend your kingdom, and as the name suggests, crash some castles.
The most recent “Barbarian Makeover” update added a host of quality-of-life improvements as well as a new mini-game. Aside from a co-op campaign, Castle Crashers features PvP-based free-for-all and team matches, giving you a chance to use your friends as target practice for the game’s 40+ different weapons.