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The best online games to play with friends that will make you feel less trapped in 2021

The pandemic and social distancing recommendations likely changed your usual socializing plans with family and friends this winter. But you can still play online games together, even from far away.

Whether you’re looking for old-school favorites, party games, escape rooms or exciting board games, there is probably a virtual option, as more people turn to tech for creative social connections during social distancing. Watching movies and shows together through extensions such as Netflix party (now called Teleparty), Amazon Prime Video Watch Party, Disney Plus Group Watch, Hulu Watch Party and Airtime for YouTube has also become a popular way to hang out virtually.

Here are some of the best online games you can play with friends, no matter what kind of experience you̵

7;re looking for. We will update this list regularly as we find new games you may like.

Read more: The 30 Best iPad Games to Play Right Now


Jackbox Games is the holy grail of remote social gaming for me: the multiplayer party games are easy to learn but still very entertaining to play and it’s also easy to stream or stream games from one device to a group. to share for a virtual game. night. Everyone plays through a web browser on their phone, so no apps or consoles are needed. You can even mirror your Android or iOS device to your TV.

This is how the Jackbox Party Pack works: one person must purchase one of six Jackbox Party Packs or one or more individual games on Steam (for PC, Mac and Linux). The packs include five games and usually cost $ 25 each, but are currently on sale for $ 12. The packs are also available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and other devices.

After purchase you can start a video chat via a Zoom call, Skype, Google Hangouts or wherever you want for a video call, launch the game on your laptop and use the screen sharing option so that all other players can join the conversation too see the screen. As mentioned, everyone plays on their mobile device by using a browser and going to Jackbox.tv, where you will be asked to enter a room code.

Other options include using Steam Remote Play Together, Discord screen sharing, sharing through your game console, or simply installing a webcam for your TV. Jackbox also provides information on how to stream its games.

Each pack contains a variety of different games that can ask you to answer trivial questions, draw weird scribbles or write the best joke. The games are light, humorous and have clear instructions so that the most novice players can learn them easily.

Read more: 11 things to do in quarantine if you’ve already made 3 loaves of banana bread


If you’re a fan of games like Mafia or Werewolf, you’ll love Among Us, a social deduction online multiplayer game from developer InnerSloth. Play as a crew member aboard a spaceship, sky headquarters or planet base, try to keep your ship together and return to Earth with a group of four to ten people (either those you know IRL or strangers online). But one crew member has been replaced by a parasitic shape-shifting alien who wants to take out the rest of the crew before the ship gets home. The problem is, the rogue looks just like everyone else, and will sabotage the ship, sneak through vents, cheat fellow players, and try to trick others, all in an attempt to go unnoticed and kill the rest of the crew.

Meanwhile, the non-alien crew members have to perform tasks to refurbish the ship and are unable to speak unless a death is reported. Then, via chat, the surviving crew can openly debate who they think the imposter is, and guess who they should vote the ship for. If the imposter is voted out, the crew wins. But if the group accidentally matches a crew member, everyone goes back to the maintenance of the ship until another body is found, and they vote again.

Among Us is free to play on iOS and Android devices (you can download it from the App Store or Google Play Store). Or it costs $ 5 to play on a PC (you can download it on Steam or itch.io). A big advantage is that you can play seamlessly with people on different platforms.

Be warned, the free mobile version does have ads. After downloading and opening the game on your device, you will see a popup describing AdMob usage and data collection. If you’d like to turn off ads and data collection, you can buy the ad-free version of the app for $ 2 by tapping Remove Ads and following the prompts to select your payment method.

Although this game came out two years ago, Twitch streamers have picked it up in recent months and it has now been downloaded more than 86 million times.


If you want to play games together virtually but don’t want the hassle of setting up a separate Zoom or chat, you can try Backyard, a free platform that combines games, video and chat all in one. It was released to the general public on Friday.

Log in with your Google or Apple account and create a Space. You will be given a code to share with others (similar to Jackbox Games) so that they can join your private space. Then choose a game to play. Backyard has slightly modified versions of popular games such as Letter Tile (Scrabble), Codewords (Codenames) and Wordplay: Cards Against Humans (Cards Against Humanity). You can play on your device directly from your web browser – no app download required.

Games range in size from one to 12 players. Backyard is free to use until 2021.

The escape game

Put your puzzle-solving skills to the test with a virtual escape room. Try to solve all the puzzles and follow the clues to escape the computer room before time runs out, as you would when playing the real-world version.

An option for children 12 and older is TEG Unlocked: The Heist from The Escape Game. In the two-part game for one to four players, you work as a secret agent trying to thwart a suspected art thief. Each item costs $ 10, or $ 18 for a bundle of two, and $ 26 for a bundle of three.

If you’re looking for a more kid-friendly choice, there’s a free Harry Potter themed escape room created by Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pennsylvania, using Google Docs.

Read more: Dating during the coronavirus: 7 ideas for virtual dates while distancing yourself socially

Tabletopia / Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome / CNET

If you want to play traditional board games online, head over to Tabletopia, which calls itself an “online arena” for playing over 900 board games in the same way as in real life. You can play on a desktop browser for Mac or Windows, or download the platform from Steam, the App Store or the Google Play Store.

You’ll find fun classics like chess and Texas Hold ‘Em, or more in-depth options like Scythe and Clans of Caledonia to play. Start your own game with friends or join a game in progress with open seats.

You can play some fun game options for free with the Bronze package, or upgrade to the Silver ($ 5 per month) or Gold ($ 10 per month) package to access premium games.

Another similar option is Tabletop Simulator, which includes classic game options such as chess, poker, dominoes, mahjong and jigsaw puzzles. Create your own original games on the platform, and also play games created by others.

You will see some well-known titles here, but keep in mind that most of them are made by other users, unlike real game developers. You can buy Tabletop Simulator on Steam for Windows and Mac for $ 20 and then share your screen to play with friends.

Angela Lang / CNET

Houseparty is a video chat app from Fortnite developer Epic Games that lets you play popular games like Trivia, Heads Up and Uno with friends online. The app is free to use. Up to eight people can join a video chat room and play games together at the same time.

Just a word of warning, rumors have it that the app has enabled Netflix account hacks with loose security protocols. However, the company said it had not been breached or that no data was exposed and offered a $ 1 million reward as evidence of the problem, claiming that it is more likely connected to the reuse of credentials and passwords.

Houseparty is available for iOS, Android, MacOS and Chrome.

Epic games

You may already be familiar with popular mobile games that you can play with friends at any time. Fortnite, Words with Friends 2, Scrabble GO, Uno & Friends, and Draw Something are all great options for simple games that will keep you in touch and sneak in when you have all day.

If you mainly play solo, you may want to check out a mobile game subscription service. Apple Arcade has a library of over 130 original games, including nostalgic favorites Pac-Man Party Royale and Frogger in Toytown, along with new hits such as Crossy Road Castle and Ultimate Rivals: The Rink. For $ 5 per month you can play on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Mac and Apple TV devices.

For Android users, Google Play Pass offers access to more than 350 games, including Monument Valley, Risk and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, also for $ 5 per month.

Read more: Best Subscription Services for Games: Here’s How to Choose

There is always the option to play as old-fashioned as possible in your virtual games: you can find free online versions of some classics like Battleship. You can also work on a crossword puzzle with friends through The Washington Post. The Tabletop Simulator mentioned above also includes games such as chess, poker, dominoes, and jigsaw puzzles that you can play with friends if you both buy the platform.

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