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The Best Multiplayer Games Of 2021

While things seem to be going slowly back to normal in 2021, public safety measures such as social distancing remain an essential part of life in many parts of the world. The days of heading over to a friend's place to play video games seem like a distant memory for many, an unfortunate side effect of continued efforts to stay safe during a pandemic.

Of course, if there is one thing that the internet does well, it's connecting friends and strangers for safe and socially distanced interactions. Anyone with a solid internet connection and a headset is ready to team up with other gamers and play some of the year's highest-profile releases either with friends or against them. While many videogames thrive in a competitive arena, online co-op experiences have become very common, even appearing in games that many might expect to be single-player only.

While conversations about online gaming are often dominated by long-running, seasonally-updated games such as Fortnite, this year has also seen some excellent new multiplayer titles arrive. Here are the best multiplayer games of 2021.

Play with friends in Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

While Super Mario 3D World, a Wii U title first released in 2013, may not have established the same sort of iconic status that earlier Super Mario games did, the game was a well-reviewed entry into Nintendo's most famous franchise. If you missed this game the first time around or are looking to give it another run, the remastered Switch edition comes with improved graphics and an all-new adventure, Bowser Fury.

Besides providing an entertaining Mario single-player run, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury is one of the best multiplayer games of 2021. The multiplayer component mixes a bit of competition into its co-op, forcing players to work together to push through a stage but crowning a winner based on point accumulation throughout the level. This dynamic leads to an engaging back and forth as players team up to survive difficult challenges but then double-cross one another to secure big points. The results can be chaotic, but the well-paced gameplay and excellent map designs make it all work.

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury supports up to four players for online multiplayer and is available on Nintendo Switch.

Head out on a retro adventure with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game - Complete Edition

It's been over a decade since Scott Pilgrim vs. the World arrived in theaters and the tie-in beat-em-up game of the same name came out for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game received strong reviews, but had one major problem, according to a 2010 IGN critique: a lack of online co-op. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition solves that problem once and for all, with the satisfying inclusion of the online component that the game deserves.

Up to four players can band together to fight across an 8-bit Toronto on a mission to defeat Ramona Flower's Seven Evil Exes. The game looks and plays like classics of the beat-em-up genre, such as River City Ransom, but with modern controls and seamless online networking that helps you put together a full team of four players at any time.

Having a whole team is helpful, because the game has a reputation for being a challenging ride. The Digital Fix even called it "downright brutally difficult," unless you can tackle it with friends. Anyone looking to face that challenge online can pick up Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and Stadia.

Fight for survival in Rogue Hero: Ruins of Tasos

While the rogue-like genre remains popular, with newer entries like Loop Hero showing how the style has evolved, the format remains intimidating. After all, roguelikes depend on unforgiving principles, such as permadeath, and their procedurally generated worlds often lend themselves to solo experiences, making help hard to find.

Team17's Rogue Hero: Ruins of Tasos makes the genre a little more accessible by softening the edges of the roguelike experience. While players can still expect to encounter death frequently while exploring Rogue Hero: Ruins of Tasos, Game Informer experience points are saved upon player death. This mechanic, which was appreciated by publications like Game Informer, means that players can continually improve their character every time they die, gradually making survival and progression more manageable.

Also, up to four players can band together to maximize their chances of survival in Rogue Hero: Ruins of Tasos. Adding at least one other player to the party allows team members to resurrect one another, meaning that one overwhelming encounter won't necessarily end the run. In addition, fallen players can continue to experience the game as a ghost, tripping traps and manipulating the world while waiting for their teammates to bring them back. Rogue Hero: Ruins of Tasos is available on PC and Switch.

Racing sim enthusiasts will find plenty to explore in Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 4

Anyone looking for a competitive challenge against real opponents should check out Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 4, also known as Supercross 4.

Supercross 4 may not be a perfect game, but IGN praised the game's realistic physics and improved career mode. The game's demanding learning curve, which requires skill and dedication from players, was noted as both a positive and a negative.

Up to 12 opponents can join a single race to face off in Supercross 4. The multiplayer component, PC Gamer notes, is no less forgiving than the single-player experience, which means that in order to win races, gamers need to invest some serious time into mastering their motocross rides. Falling off your bike even once might mean the end of your chances of winning the race. Gamers can play Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 4 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox X|S.

Get into an out of control brawl in Destruction AllStars

As Rocket League has demonstrated, a racing game does not need to be a realistic simulation to find a dedicated audience. Lucid Games' Destruction AllStars understands this and borrows from Rocket League's style and aesthetics, alongside concepts from popular competitive shooters such as Overwatch and Fortnite, to put together one of the most unique multiplayer experiences of 2021.

Destruction AllStars is, at its core, a destruction derby game that is reminiscent of classics like Burnout. However, Destruction AllStars has a significant twist in that players can exit their vehicles and continue to fight on foot. The game features tons of cars to choose from and over a dozen playable characters, each with their own unique abilities and powers. The highlight multiplayer mode is called Mayhem, which features 16 players either on teams or in a free for all match where players earn points by dealing damage.

While critics felt Destruction AllStars still had room to grow, the game is a live service product with regular updates planned. Anyone looking for one of the best-looking and most intense new multiplayer experiences of 2021 should consider grabbing Destruction AllStars, available exclusively on the PlayStation 5.