Best free multiplayer games for 2022

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Image of three characters conversing in Genshin Impact.

Are you a gamer who loves diving into the latest and greatest titles with your friends in tow? If so you're in luck, because we've got a list of the best free multiplayer games to keep you and your teammates occupied. From sprawling MMOs to competitive sports games, there's enough variety here to keep all friend groups satisfied, no matter your interests.

To start with we'll go over ten hit multiplayer games that you can play without spending a penny. We'll break down what they are and the different gameplay opportunities available - though the chances are you'll be familiar with a lot of these ultra-popular games already. There are some hidden gems sprinkled throughout too, so gear up for a new multiplayer obsession as well!

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Elsewhere, feel free to check out our list of the best free RPG games, if you fancy a more narrative-driven experience. We've also got breakdowns of the best free shooting games and the best free war games, if you're eager to flex your muscles on the battlefield.

Here are the best free multiplayer games

Genshin Impact

Image of a character in the Teyat landscape in Genshin Impact.

First on our list is one of the most popular JRPGs on the market. Genshin Impact took the world by storm upon its release in 2020, mixing the vast open world of Breath of the Wild with classic gacha elements. With an astoundingly large open world to explore and countless quests to complete, it lends itself perfectly to the social element of gaming.

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Up to four players can form a party in Genshin Impact, either exploring the open world of Teyvat or participating in Domains. These are fixed battle scenarios designed for players to grind through in exchange for precious in-game resources. While the rest of the boss battles and story missions may be limited to solo encounters, Domains are a great way to try out new team members, while also duelling alongside friends. That's on top of exploring the lush map, which makes Genshin Impact a must-play.

Smite

Image of two mythical characters fighting in Smite.

Next on our list is more for the hardcore crowd, because Smite doesn't go easy on newcomers. This MOBA from Hi Rez Studios is based on Norse mythology, with familiar faces like Loki and Thor available as playable characters. In terms of gameplay, it'll be easy for hardened MOBA players to gel with, though it stands out due to the various PVP modes in the rotation.

From traditional three-lane deathmatches in Conquest mode to the more streamlined Joust mode, the options are extensive when it comes to PVP in Smite. Combined with a bunch of high-profile licensing deals with the likes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and there's plenty of opportunity both for serious competition as well as laidback laughs in Smite. Just make sure you don't pick the most competitive lane!

Enlisted

Image of a soldier running from a burning tank in Enlisted.

If you and your friend group are more into tactical shooters, but perhaps are ready to move on from something like Warzone, then Enlisted is for you. Set during the key battles of World War II, you and a squad of up to nine players take on vast skirmishes where you capture objectives, eliminate enemy bases, and dominate the opposition.

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More akin to hardcore shooters like Hell Let Loose, Enlisted is much more realistic than your average shooter. You choose your class before a match, and can only use weapons assigned to it, with less scope for customising your loadout or picking up random guns. There are also weapons to command if you can win the fight to control them, as well as an extensive callout system. Even better, if you can't get nine people on at once to play, then you can fill the spare spaces in your squad with AI teammates, so you can always dive into a match of Enlisted.

Star Conflict

Image of a starship freighter in Space Conflict.

For the sci-fi fans out there, Star Conflict is here to scratch that itch. Billed as a "space simulation game", the aim of the game is crafting and fighting with the very best spaceship you can muster up. That can be a collaborative process however, due to the clan system that lets you link up with friends to perfect your own starfighters together.

In terms of gameplay, Star Conflict has all the classic modes you'd expect. Look out for PVE grind levels, PVP arenas, as well as a conquest mode that lets you invade enemy territory and slowly but surely mark your stamp on the galaxy. Expect huge sprawling maps, intense vehicular combat, and all the sci-fi goodness you could ask for.

Star Trek Online

Image of the U.S.S. Discovery in Star Trek Online.

Next on our list is another sci-fi title, based on the hit franchise of the same name. Available for all major consoles free of charge, the game takes place several decades after the Star Trek: Nemesis TV show, with links to the recent movies as well. You play as the captain of a brand new Starship Enterprises mission, both controlling the ship through the cosmos as well as beaming down to planets to explore.

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As an incredibly popular MMO, co-op adventuring is the name of the game in Star Trek Online. There are different gameplay styles based on whether you're in space or on the ground, combining vehicular aerial combat and run-and-gun action, respectively. But more than that, it's a love-letter to Star Trek for fans, brimming with lore and faithfulness to the series. If you've ever wanted to live out your own Captain Kirk dreams with friends in tow, then Star Trek Online is up to the task. Beam me up!

Entropia Universe

Image of an advanced city in Entropia Universe.

The last sci-fi entry on our list is also the oldest one, as Entropia Universe has been chugging along since 2003. This PC-only MMO from MindArk somewhat pioneered the concept of an in-game economy, using real life transactions to purchase key resources like weapons and ammunition. That's all in service of building your own empire on the various interplanetary worlds you'll come across, which look better than ever now the game supports Unreal Engine.

In some ways, Entropia Universe was the NFT game to start it all, as pretty much every purchase in the game, from menial crafting items to new weapons, requires a real-life purchase. That could be make or break for those on the fence, as you won't get too far into Entropia Universe without opening your wallet. However, the ability to make money by selling resources you get, as well as easy withdrawal methods, means you only have to commit to a level you're comfortable with.

Roblox

Image of the Jailbreak game in Roblox.

While you may associate Roblox with user-generated kids' games, it's actually a lot deeper than that beneath the surface. RPG fans in particular will find a lot to love in the anime-inspired combat games that make up some of the platform's most popular titles. Hits like Slayers Unleashed and Shindo Life have a keen focus on collaborative combat to defeat bosses and earn upgrade points, enhancing your special abilities even further.

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But on top of that, you can simply name a game genre and the chances are Roblox has a multiplayer version of it. If you like survival horror but don't want to face it solo, games like Kampong bring all the dread to you and three friends. Prefer some obstacle courses? Then Escape Prison Obby lets you live out your best Michael Scofield impression with your friends playing alongside you. Think of a game, and there will be a multiplayer version somewhere on Roblox - that's the beauty of it.

Fortnite

A promo image of Fortnite season X.

When it comes to free squad-based shooters, Fortnite is likely the first one that springs to mind. Epic Games' pop culture behemoth is showing no signs of waning in appeal, especially as the new Chapter 3 events take players to a galaxy far, far away. It's the same battle royale formula that it's always been, with short match times and the undeniable thrill of a win making for some brilliant multiplayer moments.

But if you've ever been put off by the building skill gap in Fortnite, you'll be glad to learn of the new No Build mode in the game. That eliminates the ability for advanced players to conjure up a skyscraper out of nothing, making you more reliant on your shooting skill than ever. There's nothing quite like approaching a final circle skirmish with your friends alongside you, so Fortnite earns its place on this list.

Rocket League

Three cars driving away from a munching face in Rocket League.

One genre we haven't touched upon yet is sports games. They can provide some of the best thrills out there, but more often than not they don't come cheap. Rocket League is one key exception to that rule, as a driving-meets-football behemoth that you can play totally free of charge. As with Fortnite, you only spend money if you want to on cosmetics, so there's no advantage to be gleaned by opening your wallet.

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With snappy five-minute matches and a simple gameplay loop that's much trickier to master, it's easy to sink hundreds of hours into Rocket League with friends alongside you. Working as a team in the chaotic 4v4 modes is no easy feat, with plenty of boosts and enemy destructions to look out for, but it's been a huge hit for seven years for good reason. It went free-to-play in 2019, and Rocket League has never looked back.

Pokémon GO

Image of the player catching a Croagunk in Pokémon GO.

Last on our list is a very different type of game, that uses multiplayer in an incredibly inventive way. Pokémon GO was the talk of the town when it launched in 2016, and while some of the player base may have dwindled in the years since, Niantic has continued to update the game with new Pokémon and an endless stream of events.

What makes Pokémon GO stand out is how the multiplayer encourages players to link up in real life, where possible. There are few things as enjoyable as spending a few hours out roaming with friends, catching new Pokémon and claiming gyms for your team of choice. The game revolutionised how multiplayer could bring people closer together in real life, and it still does that with aplomb.

That's it for our list of the very best multiplayer games you can play free of charge. You've got hundreds of hours of co-operative action in these entries, so you should be able to find something new, even if some of your friends are picky! Feel free to also take a look at the best free Android games around, for even more games that won't break the bank.