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20 Fun Online Games to Play With Friends From Afar

Connect from the comfort of your home with these internet activities.

If the past few years have taught us anything, it's that we don't need to get together in person to spend quality time with friends. Of course, the online gaming community has been in on that secret for much longer than the rest of it. Maybe that's why it keeps growing. Over the past seven years, the number of gamers worldwide has increased by over a billion. And if you're not already one of them, maybe you should be—especially if you're looking for ways to stay connected to pals who live far away.

There are countless online games out there that you can play with people you already know or even as a way to make new friends online. There are also plenty of free options available to those who aren't ready to invest in the pastime just yet. If you're not quite sure how to get started, then keep reading. Below, we've put together a list of the absolute best online games to play with friends.

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Benefits of Online Gaming

Before we get into that list, we'll outline a few of the benefits online gaming provides. According to a study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, the gaming universe offers one of the most accommodating environments for socially inhibited, shy, and anxious individuals. Not only does the space allow players to overcome traditional hurdles in forming new friends, but it also allows them to strengthen the ones they already have.

Another study found that, in addition to helping to solidify relationships, online gaming can also satisfy the need for "personal growth," and even improve academic performance among students. According to the authors, gaming helps promote specific cognitive skills that may be harder to nurture in the "real world."

In this study, compared to non-gamers, the gaming crowd "show[ed]faster and more accurate attention allocation and higher spatial resolution," giving gaming a leg up to traditional learning environments.

20 Online Games to Play With Friends

Below, you'll find our original list of fun games to play online with your friends. See which ones seem like a fit for your interests, and let the epic battles begin!

1. Gartic Phone

promo image from the free multiplayer online game Gartic Phone

Did you ever play the "Telephone Game" as a kid? Well, Gartic Phone is a play on that classic, with a little bit of Pictionary sprinkled in. Invite your friends to play by asking them to join a voice call using Discord or Zoom. Once everyone's settled, ask the other players to volunteer a few silly prompts. Choose one, and draw it on the platform. No one else will know what you've selected, so you'll have a blast seeing what kinds of guesses the other players come up with. Oh, and did we mention it's free to play?

2. Apex Legends

still from the free online game Apex Legends

In Apex Legends, players get to choose from a lineup of outlaws, soldiers, misfits, and misanthropes to use when fighting it out on the battlefield. Each character comes with its own set of skills and unique abilities that give them an advantage over the others. The longer you survive in the game, the closer you get to becoming a "Legend" yourself.

3. Codenames

four friends connecting over Zoom
Ground Picture/Shutterstock

To play Codenames, start out by connecting to other players using your preferred audio or video chat platform. From there, the group can divide up into two teams, each led by their selected "spymaster." These individuals will deliver a series of one-word clues to help their teammates identify all the "secret agents" on the team. The agents can go by any one of 25 possible codenames, so you want to stick to clues that will help you piece together multiple words.

4. Yahtzee! Wild

two red dice on top of a keyboard
Casper1774 Studio/Shutterstock

Yahtzee! Wild may be categorized as an online game, but it stays true to the offline classic. The dice game allows you to compete against up to 11 players over 13 rounds. There is one special feature, however, and it comes in the form of "Wild Dice," which players can use to substitute any dice in the round, thereby completing specific hands and maximizing points. Whoever has made the most progress on their score sheet by the end of the game, wins!

5. No Man's Sky

image from multiplayer online game No Man's Sky
Hello Games

The exploration and survival game No Man's Sky contains over 30 hours of story to uncover. You're free to play solo, but you can also play alongside up to 32 other players by joining the game's social hub. It's also available in virtual reality for a more immersive experience.

Once in, players are free to explore uncharted solar systems, planets, and oceans. But beware: Each area is filled with unique dangers, leaving you vulnerable and at risk. To survive, you'll need to collect precious resources on the surfaces of planets and trade them for the ships, suits, and other equipment your fellow players may have available.

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6. Rocket League

image from the free online game Rocket League

Cars playing soccer? Why not? The sports game Rocket League breathes new life into both racing and arcade-style soccer games. Players can choose from all the drift cars available before facing off on the field. Each pick comes with different features that not only look cool, but can also help you best your competitiors.

7. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

image from Super Smash Bros: Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is another new take on an old favorite. In this game, players face off with the option of 74 familiar fighters across over 100 stages. The new version also includes more than 800 music tracks for you to enjoy during your fights.

8. Decrypto

Random alphabets with letters of "ENCRYPTION" on top.

This fun game debuted online during the lockdown and found a fanbase. To play, you first need to break into two teams of two or four. From there, you'll be tasked with transmitting certain messages to your teammates by creating different kinds of codes. They'll need to be clear enough for the team to understand, but vague enough so that your opponents can't intercept them. Whichever team turns out the better Codemasters, wins.

9. Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection

image from online game Street Fighter II: 30th Anniversary Edition

This anniversary collection consists of 12 titles, including Street Fighter I, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter III, and Street Fighter Alpha Series. The online multiplayer mode allows players to test their skills against new challengers from around the world.

10. Skribbl

person drawing on their tablet against a white background

Think Pictionary, but make it digital. To play, take turns drawing pictures to represent certain words and phrases, while your fellow players try to guess the clue. Groups of up to 12 can have their own Skribbl sessions in a private room. The more guesses someone gets right, the more points they acquire. And the player with the most points wins.

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11. Town of Salem

Screenshot from Town of Salem game

This strategy game revolves around "murder, deception, lying, and mob hysteria." If that's not enough to hook you on Town of Salem, then the opportunity to play 48 different roles should. The "host" will determine which role you'll play during the game. You'll learn more about your character's abilities and alignments after receiving your in-game role card. The end goal is to determine who is a town member (the good guys), and who is a villain. The game can accommodate anywhere from seven to 15 players, and the browser version is 100 percent free to play online.

12. Stardew Valley

still from multiplayer online game Stardew Valley

Picture this: You've inherited your grandfather's old farm. You've also got a collection of hand-me-down tools and some money to help you begin your new life. You'll learn to live off the land, get involved with the local community, and even find someone special to date. All this and more is possible inside the world of Stardew Valley.

Also, if you're looking for a little action, you can always explore the caves around town. These dangerous tunnels house both monsters and valuable treasure, so you'll have to decide what's worth the risk. You even invite a few friends along for the ride using the game's newly launched online multiplayer mode.

13. Boggle

Boggle Board Game on laptop keyboard

If you need a break from the fictional word, then kick back with an easy word search game like virtual Boggle. You can play on your own or with friends using either a 4×4, 5×5, or 6×6 grid. Try to find as many words as you can within the time allotted. Whoever has the biggest tally by the end of the game, wins.

14. Sky: Children Of Light

image from the online game Sky: Children of Light

If you're looking to make new friends online, Sky: Children of Light is the place to do it. Players can explore this beautifully animated, fantastical world while teaming up with others to restore the light and solve mysteries.

15. Sea Of Thieves

detailed image from the online multiplayer game Sea of Thieves

Live out your wildest pirate fantasies with this multiplayer adventure game. In Sea of Thieves, players can work together to fight off dangerous sea creatures or poke around for hauls of hidden treasure. You'll also have the option of setting sail with pirate legends like Blackbeard and Captain Jack Sparrow. Cement your own pirate legacy by exercising the strategy and skills needed to unlock new voyages throughout the game.

RELATED: 200 "Would You Rather" Questions That Are Impossible to Answer.

16. Halo Infinite

image from Halo Infinite
343 Industries

This new and improved take on popular favorite Halo allows players to experience combat like never before. The first-person shooter game now supports cross-play and cross-platform progression between the Windows and Xbox versions. The game contains tons of new playable multiplayer maps, which you can navigate alongside people you know and people you don't. Plus, it's free to play.

17. Fortnite

still from Fortnite
Epic Games

Whether you want to go to battle, hang out and watch concerts, or explore different worlds containing beautifully detailed, elaborate structures, it's up to you in Fortnite. This family-friendly Battle Royale game offers players a variety of experiences, and they're all designed to help improve both your gaming and social skills.

18. Ticket to Ride

image of board game Ticket to Ride
Mitch Hutchinson/Shutterstock

In Ticket to Ride, players are encouraged to use different tactics to block their competitors' lines and take over routes before someone else beats them to it. The goal is to become the quickest to link up your cities and reach your destinations (you can travel anywhere in the world, from Europe to India). This popular board game is free to play online on Board Game Arena—all you have to do is register.

19. RISK: Global Domination

kid playing free online games on smartphone

You're in luck, because there's now a free online version of the Hasbro's classic RISK, a popular strategy board game focused on diplomacy and worldwide domination. You can battle up to five friends as you deploy troops and conquer territories. There are also multiple game modes available, so if you want to move forward as a single player, you can.

20. Among Us

image from the Among Us online game
Innersloth, Schell Games, and Robot Teddy

At first glance, Among Us appears to be a simple strategy game, challenging you and your friends to repair a spaceship. But play gets more complicated once you find out that the game randomly selects certain players as imposters, tasked with killing everyone else on board. While it's is typically used by players who want to connect to their friends from afar, you can also join new Among Us crews easily online. Either way, the end goal remains the same: To stay alive.

Wrapping Up

That's it for our list of the best games to play online with friends! Be sure to check back with us soon for other friendship hacks. You can also sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss out on what's next!

Carrie Weisman
Carrie Weisman oversees all SEO efforts at Best Life. She specializes in content optimization and editorial marketing. Read more
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