Depending on your perspective of horror as a genre, it’s either the worst genre for multiplayer or the absolute best. Some people prefer to experience horror stories on their own, and that’s understandable; it’s kind of hard to lose yourself in the atmosphere of a spooky setting when your friend is shrieking like a spider monkey in your ear. That said, for others, it’s that precise spider monkey-esque shrieking that really makes a horror setting fun and memorable. After all, most of the horror classics aren’t about a single dude, they’re about a handful of dudes and ladies in a scary situation, usually getting picked off one at a time. Unless you count Evil Dead, I guess, that one’s pretty much just about a single dude.
Modern multiplayer game developers have tackled the notion of multiplayer horror from a myriad of angles. Multiplayer horror is a relatively young genre of games, only really coming into its own in the last decade and change. But the connectivity that’s arisen in that timeframe, from improved online play to the rise of streamers, has given those developers no shortage of avenues to pursue, and today, we’re not spoiling for choices when it comes to multiplayer horror. If you’re looking to experience some frights with your friends (or in some cases, be the fright), then here are some of the best multiplayer horror games.
Nothing forms fast and tight bonds like being placed into an utterly inhospitable situation against your will. In GTFO, four prisoners are dumped into an underground ruin rife with valuable artifacts and, perhaps more importantly, the ravenous monsters that guard them. This is a game you’ll absolutely want a headset for, as coordination is key. Firepower and tools are limited, and creatures hide around every corner, so your team will need to pool resources and watch each other’s backs.
Chances are good that Phasmophobia has entered your peripheral vision at least once since it launched in Early Access last year. Just about every streamer, let’s player, and VTuber I follow has played it at least once, and it’s easy to understand why. Phasmophobia places you and your friends in the role of paranormal hunters following up on reports of spooky goings-on.
Using a variety of ghost-hunting equipment, you’ll need to gather clues about what the spirit wants and how to get rid of it. While you can play the game with a mouse and keyboard, it also features full VR support, as well as microphone support. You can interact with spirits using your own voice when conducting seances with Ouija Boards, just to give you one example. Don’t expect this to be funny like Ghostbusters, though; these specters don’t play nice.
Dead By Daylight
Most classic horror franchises can be boiled down to a few particular elements: one evil murderous dude, a handful of normal dudes, a nebulous means of escape, and a lot of murder. Dead By Daylight turns that simple formula into a deadly game of cat and mouse.
Four Survivor players need to carefully make their way around an enclosed map in search of generators, the repair of which will open the way to freedom. Meanwhile, the Killer player needs to hunt down the Survivors, capture them, and offer them up on sacrificial meathooks for the otherworldly entity that governs these endless trials. Unlockable perks and items for Survivors, and the various Killer powers create a surprisingly dense meta to learn and master. DBD is a must-have on any best multiplayer horror games list.
Killing Floor 2
When the world is overrun by bloodthirsty mutant monsters, who are you gonna call? Six dudes with a lot of guns! Killing Floor 2 is the modern classic multiplayer wave battler. A team of up to six players take up arms against the Zeds, mutant monstrosities that have ravaged the European Union.
Gun down waves of beasties, each with unique and frightening powers, and use the profits to buy bigger and better weaponry. Compared to the first game, Killing Floor 2 features a greater emphasis on melee combat with weapons like swords and hammers, as well as a versus mode where a team of players can take control of the Zeds themselves and work to wipe out the humans.
SCP: Secret Laboratory
If you’ve ever spent an evening perusing the SCP wiki, you’ll know that the organization it’s based around is a dangerous and unpleasant place even in the best of times. In SCP: Secret Laboratory, you can experience a day in the life of the world’s worst workplace. When anomalous entities break out of containment, players can assume a variety of roles in the chaos.
The Foundation scientists and security need to either re-contain or eliminate any escaped entities using security clearance and guns, respectively. The D-Class personnel need to sneak out of the facility without being caught and killed by security or the entities. The Chaos Insurgency needs to kill all of the security and science personnel, securing the entities for themselves. And of course, there are the SCP entities, who seek only to destroy all humans, regardless of affiliation, and escape their confinement. The sheer number of potential roles make every match a story in itself.
I’m reasonably certain that if I were to ever find myself in an endless forest, relieved of any technological assistance, I’d probably just roll over and die immediately. If you think you’d do better, give it a try in The Forest. After your plane crashes in the aforementioned forests, you and your fellow survivors will need to scrounge around to create something resembling a life for yourselves.
It’s a bona-fide survival experience; keep yourself fed and healthy as you construct your shelter during the day. At night, hunker down and watch the shadows, because a society of cannibalistic mutants would just love to have you over for dinner. Hope you’re a light sleeper.
The Blackout Club
It’s a very real kind of fear to be a kid that sees something frightening, but nobody around you believes you. If movies like the original IT have taught us anything, it’s that sometimes, kids can’t wait for adults to bail them out, especially when the adults are part of the problem.
In The Blackout Club, a team of kids will need to use stealth and ingenuity to investigate the town of Redacre. Not only do all of the adults start sleepwalking at night, but a strange entity has kidnapped one of your friends. You’ll need to play your search close to the vest, because if you draw too much attention to yourself, you’ll summon The Shape, a nebulous monster that you can only see when you close your eyes.