Multiplayer games to play when COVID

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Have you ever experienced that disappointing feeling when you’ve finally cleared your schedule, finished planning some long-awaited meetups with friends, and then—suddenly—something comes up and throws off all your plans? Say, getting COVID-19? I sure hope you haven’t, but sadly, I have. As I lay in bed, head and throat hurting and generally feeling sorry for myself, I thought, what better way to beat the COVID-19 blues than by dragging my friends onto Discord and playing video games with them? While I couldn’t meet them in person, at least I could still video call them and pass the quarantine hours playing games with them. So, here I am to share a list of multiplayer games on PC to play together with friends when you’re stuck at home beating the COVID-19 blues, and of course, taking into account COVID-19 symptoms like sore throat, coughing, and the occasional brain fog. Here’s hoping you won’t have to worry about that though!

As I lay in bed, head and throat hurting and generally feeling sorry for myself, I thought, what better way to beat the COVID-19 blues than by dragging my friends onto Discord and playing video games with them?

All the following games have been listed in no particular order with their respective number of players, prices, and an estimate of the total completion time.

We Were Here 

Total players: 2

Price: Free

Completion time: 2 hours

We Were Here is an asymmetric co-op game, which means that its players do not experience the same gameplay and environments. This sets it apart from other games on this list, since it separates you and your partner within the setting of a castle, in which you won’t really meet or interact directly with the other player. Instead, the game challenges you to rely heavily on puzzle-solving and communication, with one player taking on the role of librarian and another taking on the role of explorer. The explorer navigates the castle to find a way to escape, while the librarian guides them through the puzzles they encounter with the books they have. Both players will have to use teamwork and communication to discuss how to solve various puzzles in order to progress the game, for example, describing symbols to each other to help the librarian determine which symbols match their solution. 

On my playthrough with a friend, I took on the role of the explorer. This isn’t a horror game, but at times the castle was still creepy and tense, especially when there was a lethal timer counting down. There’s just something gripping about being scared by the creepy atmosphere while your friend has no idea what’s going on and is calmly looking at books.

Another unique part that I think helps immerse you in the game is that there’s an in-game walkie-talkie which only lets one player speak at a time, so players won’t need an external app like Discord to communicate. This game is similar to escape room games in that you have to use various environmental clues to solve puzzles, but since you and your partner will be looking at completely different scenes, there is a heavier reliance on communication to exchange information. 

I finished this game quite quickly in one sitting, so it’s a nice game if you and a friend are bored and have some free time. If this game isn’t enough, there are other entries in the We Were Here series, however, they aren’t free. Yet, if you enjoy this game, it’s definitely worth the price.

Portal 2

Total players: 1–2

Price: S$10

Completion time: 5 hours (Co-op campaign), 10 hours (single player)

Apart from being an amazing single-player puzzle game with about a whopping 10 hours of content, Portal 2 also has a co-op campaign which is just as fun as the single-player version. In Portal 2, the only weapon you have is a portal gun, which allows you to shoot two portals that you can use to teleport between and traverse around the map, or to move objects that you can use to solve the puzzles. The goal of each level is to find a way to activate a door to progress to the next area. While it sounds simple on paper, the puzzles of Portal 2 are anything but. They’re challenging yet intuitive, and there were a number of times my friend and I were stuck staring at the screen not knowing what to do next. Nevertheless, that just makes it all the more satisfying when we finally figured out the solution. This innovative gameplay mechanic of using portals to solve puzzles is something no other game has done before, which is one of the reasons this is the top-rated game on Steam. The well-written humour and excellent soundtrack also make Portal 2 one of my favourite puzzle games.

If your sore throat from Covid is making it too hard to speak, there are also some functions in the game such as a countdown timer and pointers to let the other player know where to place portals or what to interact with, making voice chat almost unnecessary. Additionally, there’s a function that allows you to see what the other player is seeing, which really helps with puzzles where both players are split up. 

Although the co-op campaign is shorter compared to the single-player campaign, there are still community-made levels that can be downloaded and played, some of which are really challenging and satisfying to solve. Plus, it regularly goes on sale for up to 90% off during the holiday seasons, so getting it then would be a steal. If you like this game, also consider getting Portal, which is the 1st game in the Portal series. While it doesn’t have a co-op mode, it’s still a great game on its own.

Stardew Valley

Total players: 1–4 players 

Price: S$15

Completion time: Endless

Stardew Valley is one of my favourite games, so this entry may be a bit biased. In this game, you inherit a farm from your grandfather and live your life as a farmer planting crops, finishing, mining and interacting with other villagers. Specifically, in the co-op mode, one player hosts a farm for the other players to play together on, and everyone works together to earn money and maintain the farm. It’s such a calming yet addictive game. 

While other entries on this list may be more exciting or brain-teasing, Stardew Valley is a more lowkey experience that can be played on and off for quite a long time—You and your friends have a free Saturday night? Anyone can just log in and pick up from where they left off from the last gaming session, although the host has to be present. Even though the farm is shared among players, there are options for other things such as money or resources to be kept individually, giving players some autonomy on a shared farm. Therefore, each player can mostly do their own thing, so there’s no need for a lot of discussions if that’s too difficult with a sore throat. 

In addition, I feel like the co-op mode offers a different kind of experience where you can cooperate and split up tasks, working together to build up your farm, as opposed to the single-player mode where it sometimes feels overwhelming to have to keep track of and complete so with how many tasks there are to keep track of and to complete on your own. 

If you’ve played and enjoyed other farming sim games such as Harvest Moon before, then there’s a high chance you’ll enjoy this game too. Even at its full price of S$15, it’s worth it for an almost endless gameplay experience.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Total players: 2–4

Price: S$15

Completion time: 8 hours

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a game meant for two sides of players, where the goal is to defuse a bomb while a timer slowly ticks down. One side provides instructions from a bomb defusing manual, which can be downloaded online and printed, and the other side follows these instructions to interact with the bomb in-game to defuse it. Thus, only one copy of the game is needed, unless you’d like to switch the roles of the players. The levels are also potentially endless, as there are community-made levels available to play. I find this game slightly similar to We Were Here, in that this is another asymmetric co-op game which relies heavily on communication, where one person has to describe what is on their screen, and the other guides them through the solution while not knowing what’s on the other’s screen. However, that’s where the similarities end. While We Were Here is more intellectually challenging with its logical puzzles, this game is much more tense and exciting due to the timer ticking down on every level.

A word of advice: this game should be played when you don’t have a sore throat anymore, as it requires a lot of talking (and sometimes panicked screaming if time is running out) for the descriptions. All in all, this is a game that really keeps you on the edge of your seat by giving you the thrill and relief of defusing a bomb, especially when you do it with only 1 second to spare.

A Way Out

Total players: 2

Price: S$34.90

Completion time: 6 hours

A Way Out is a game where two players work together to break out of prison. Each player controls one of the two main characters, and both players will go through the game in split-screen mode, where both players’ perspectives are shown on screen. I liked how I could see the other player’s point of view on my own screen and see what they were doing. An added perk is that only one player needs to own the game, and the other player can just join their session. Apart from the main story, there are also several minigames and other activities to try out with your partner, which provides a nice break from the story. This is a nice game to play when you don’t want to think so hard and just want to enjoy the story—something you may find relatable if you’re suffering from the much-dreaded COVID-19 brain fog. 

If you like this game, you might also enjoy It Takes Two, another game that was made by the same developers and so shares some similarities in gameplay. Personally, I haven’t played It Takes Two yet, but I’ve heard only good things about it. While the price is a bit steeper, I would recommend getting EA Play, which is a monthly game pass for games by Electronic Arts (EA), to have access to both these games and other multiplayer games, as it’s more worth it if you plan to try out more games.


Total players: 2–4

Price: S$14

Completion time: 20 hours currently (still in early access)

Ever wanted to be a ghost hunter? With Phasmophobia, you can now fulfil all your dreams (or nightmares) of becoming a ghost hunter. You and your friends can enter various haunted locations, armed only with ghost-hunting devices, to investigate and find out what kind of supernatural being is haunting the locations. 

Of course, this game is not for the faint of heart. The ghosts are able to kill the players, and you have nothing to defend yourself against them. I myself have screamed a lot of times while playing with my friends, so this may not be the best game to play with a sore throat. You’d think you would feel safer playing with friends, but the moments when you’ve separated from them, or when the ghost is hunting only you, are absolutely terrifying. Or, maybe it’s just because I’m a coward. 

One part I like about Phasmophobia is that the ghosts will react to your voice if you talk using your microphone, which adds another layer of immersion. One point to take note of is that the game is still in early access, which means that there is still more content to be added to the game. Still, it’s a fun, scary game to try out even at this point in development. After all, what better way to bond with friends than by getting scared and screaming together?

Escape Simulator

Total players: 1+ (3 recommended for base levels, up to 10 for community-made levels)

Price: S$14.50

Completion time: 7 hours

If you and your friends love racking your brains and doing escape rooms together, then this is the game for you. Escape Simulator is just as it sounds—it’s an Escape Room Simulator. You and your friends will be able to traverse different rooms to examine clues and use them to solve puzzles and escape. One way in which this game is different from physical escape rooms is that you can break objects in the room to solve the puzzles (without worrying about getting kicked out). On the other hand, the physics engine might become your worst enemy, as it’s a bit frustrating at times when you’re not sure exactly what object to break to get a hidden clue. Nevertheless, you can still get the satisfaction of finally having a solution click after staring at seemingly unrelated clues for what seems like forever, just as you would in real life. Plus, it’s cheaper than real-life escape rooms! While it takes about 7 hours to finish the base content, there are many amazing player-created levels that can be downloaded to try out, making the playtime potentially endless. This is a great game to get if you’re itching to go to an escape room, but want to save money or are restricted to the confines of quarantine.

While these are just a few of my personal favourites, there are many other multiplayer games out there, such as survival games, strategy games, and horror games. One notable mention among these genres would be the Jackbox party games, which are more suitable for larger groups of people. Whether you’re stuck in your room due to COVID-19, or just want a chill night with friends without going out, I recommend giving online multiplayer games a go! Even though they can’t compare to meeting friends in real life, they’re still a fun way to connect with friends when you can’t meet them in person. No matter what interests you and your friends have, you’re bound to find one that everyone enjoys.

Whether you’re stuck in your room due to COVID-19, or just want a chill night with friends without going out, I recommend giving online multiplayer games a go! Even though they can’t compare to meeting friends in real life, they’re still a fun way to connect with friends when you can’t meet them in person.