Best LAN Party Games in 2019

We had our LAN party and it was grand. Online play can only replicate so much of the experience of gaming together. There are still plenty of good LAN games, here’s what we played:

Alien Swarm – A great 4 player co-op game from the Left 4 Dead team, we had 2 games going. It’s free and it’s old enough that will run on a potato, so there’s no excuses. There’s plenty of depth, too with lots of levels, unlocks, and multiple classes. Plus, it’s a sleeper so most people will get to discover it together.

CS: GO – Danger Zone – love love loved this. Counter-Strike is also free now and they added a Battle Royale mode and map designed for 16 players. We had half that but it was still a lot of fun. The game moves at a great pace. The only downsides were that starting a private server is a bit wonky, and we couldn’t spectate after we died. Luckily, it’s a LAN party so we could walk over and spectate IRL.

Rocket League – 4v4 private matches were great. It would be interesting to have people bring a Switch to play as well.

Xonotic – FOSS Quake 3 clone. As it turns out, the Quake 3 engine still has some good gameplay left in it. I was surprised at how well this worked, although the levels felt a bit small in this day and age.

LAN Party Game Suggestions?

What are the best PC games for LAN parties right now?

I am #blessed to have a group of friends that gets together for a yearly LAN. There is a magical synergy that occurs when everyone is playing the same game together, with no splinter factions. I would love to get any suggestions on cheap/free games that are fairly easy to pick up.

Below are some of the games we’ve played in the past, but please please please comment with some new suggestions

Team Fortress 2 was a solid choice for many years. Free-to-play, easy to hop in and blast people, but also a lot of depth. You can run a local server, meaning that you don’t run into problems with lag or bandwidth saturation. Did I mention free-to-play? Herding cats into buying a game for a once-a-year LAN is an uphill battle, so free is nice in coalescing around a game.

The Mann vs Machine mode in TF2 was a nice cooperative game too, but unfortunately capped at 6 people. There’s a lot of fun to be had teaming an entire LAN party up together.

Xonotic was a fun surprise last year. It’s basically Quake 3 with new maps, but Free (as in beer and as in speech). It turns out that I still have a lot of muscle memory from Quake 3.

As an aside – in the year 2000 I found myself with Quake 3 on my Dreamcast with a keyboard, mouse, and Ethernet adapter. Reader: that combination was basically cheating when playing against people on dial-up with their clawed hands wrapped around a Dreamcast controller.

Don’t Starve Together was solid when my friends and I last gave it a try. It has a local, dedicated server option. It looks like it only supports 6 players though.

Rocket League is great, but pretty much requires a controller, maxes out at 6 players. I don’t think it has a local server option either.

Town of Salem is basically Werewolf so let’s just play Secret Hitler or Resistance instead of lugging our computers over.

Left 4 Dead 2 has some solid co-op and vs modes, and has a local server. The humans-vs-super zombies mode can be fun, or just getting 4 people in the same room against the hoard. The downsides are that game sizes are either exactly 4 or 8 people and not everyone appreciates jump scares.

Counterstrike: GO works locally with bots to fill out the teams. The only complaint I heard was the realism – quick deaths, no respawns, and wild bullet patterns make the game less accessible for people who don’t play much.

“Up and running”

Xbox Live has a funny definition of “Up and running.” As of 7:00pm on Dec 29, 2007 their status message read:

Status: Up and running
Users may experience issues performing transactions dependent on Windows Live ID availability including but not limited to Xbox 360 and Zune account creation, renewal, recovery, all DMP transactions, and logging into or creating Windows Live ID accounts. Users will experience intermittent issues including but not limited to: Tournaments, Storage Downloads, Gamer Tile, Statistics through Arbitration, Match Making, and Messaging. Additionally, Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 users may experience issues joining matches or posting statistics. Customer Support may also experience issues referencing customer data. We are aware of the issue and are currently working to resolve it. We apologize for any inconvenience.

My Xbox 360’s dashboard isn’t coming up and I can’t get into Halo 3 matchmaking, so the only entertainment I’m left with is pedantically reviewing Microsoft error messages.

Lester Bangs, Chuck Klosterman and Video Games

Sex, Drugs and Cocoa PuffsWhen I saw Chuck Klosterman’s Esquire piece The Lester Bangs of Video Games on various linkblogs, I ignored it for two reasons. The first is that I assumed it probably didn’t have anything to say that The New Games Journalism didn’t say a year ago; the second is that I didn’t realize Chuck Klosterman wrote it.

In Lester Bangs, Klosterman writes “video games in 2006 are the culture equivalent of rock music in 1967. … We all assume that these games have meaning, and that they reflect the worldviews and sensibilities of their audience, right?” He is treating video games as, to use his word, consequential. I’m glad that he’s encouraging people to take video games seriously, and I hope people are listening.

What caught me off guard about the authorship of the article was that in his book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, Klosterman wrote a chapter about The Sims that completely dismissed what he he now refers to as “an art form.” Compare that with this paragraph:

I realize there is a whole generation of adults born in the seventies who currently play Sega and Nintendo as much as they banged away on their Atari 5200 and their George Plimpton-endorsed Intellivision in 1982. I am not one of them. I agree with Media Virus author Douglas Rushkoff’s theory that home video game consolers were the reason kids raised in the 1980s so naturally embraced the virtual mentality–we never thought it seemed strange to be able to manually manipulate what we saw on a video screen–but I’ll never accept pixels killing other pixels as an art form (or a sport, or even a pastime). A homeless man once told me that dancing to rap music is the cultural equivalent of masturbating, and I’d sort of feel the same way about playing John Madden Football immediately after filing my income tax: It’s fun, but–somehow–vaguely pathetic.

The chapter goes on to talk about how great Will Wright is (he is, and holy crap I just found out I share a birthday with him!) for introducing existential angst and non-zero-sum mechanics to video games, but the tone he takes completely ruined that part of the book for me. The rest of the book was fun though, and I still recommend it if you like the idea of reading a cultural critique of Saved by the Bell or what a Guns N’ Roses cover band does off stage.

I don’t want to harangue Klosterman over his flipping and/or flopping. Instead, I want to provide the context to a widely linked story about why his voice is important. I suspect that The Sims opened him up to possibilities, maybe that the violence isn’t why Grand Theft Auto 3 was popular or that Metal Gear Solid 2 was a post-modern triumph. He came to video games thinking they were useless, albeit fun, diversions and discovered an art form.