There have been plenty of cracking multiplayer titles to get stuck into this holiday season, and there's still life in playing games with friends locally yet. Here are just a handful of the best multiplayer titles that 2014 has had to offer.
What we said: A star filled, explosion-packed blockbuster smash of a campaign mode with a set of stellar multiplayer modes where Kill Confirmed and the new ball-based sport, Uplink, are set to become new favourites. Both the campaign and multiplayer owe a huge debt to the exoskeleton, which has proven to be the ultimate catalyst in pushing Call of Duty back to the top this year. Your move, Far Cry 4.
What we said: Destiny's issues are rather obvious, and Bungie probably should have known better considering their pedigree, but this is all overshadowed by how fun and additive the game is once you get going. The feeling of wanting to do one more mission, to kill one more pack, on the off-chance I get some better loot, is the icing on the cake that is made up of satisfying FPS combat. Sure, the baking time is longer than other gaming cakes out there, and it isn’t the most exotic or original recipe in terms of its ingredients, but that doesn’t stop it from tasting so moorish that I want another piece right now.
What we said: Loadout lets you create the ridiculous bespoke boomstick of your wildest dreams, but is far from a one-trick pony. Manic old-school shooting, tight map design and a superb in-house engine make for a seriously impressive F2P effort that surpasses any number of full-priced downloads.
What we said: Mario Kart 8 is a great example of how to keep a 20-odd year old franchise relevant. It isn't shy to give you what you've already had before with it's predictable racing fun. But conversely it also offers up so much more with this latest installment thanks to brilliant track design, item tweaking, customisation and a strong online offering to keep you coming back for more for months to come.
What we said: Super Smash Bros. For Wii U brings brilliant brawling back to the big screen. Though Smash Tour and the lack of a true story mode are disappointing, the exceptional character roster, great stage design, handsome visuals, addictive extra modes and timeless fun factor make for a guaranteed good time. Just add mates, whether online or on the couch. Smash Bros has come home. A fitting end to a great year for the Wii U.
What we said: Titanfall doesn't do anything truly revolutionary, but Respawn's rollicking shooter delivers a welcome shot of adrenaline directly into the heart of the genre, packaging familiar components in a truly satisfying and accessible way. More importantly, though, it's fantastic fun, regardless of whether you're a hardcore FPS gamer or just want to blow off some steam. Every match feels like an epic battle, from first charge to desperate extraction, set throughout some of the best maps that we've rampaged through in years.
Winner: Mario Kart 8
Nintendo have managed to screw up pretty much every single bit of messaging around the Wii U this year, but they got it bang on with Mario Kart 8. MK8 was simply fantastic, and probably the best iteration we've seen since the SNES/N64 instalments (delete depending on childhood favourite).
Nintendo have done a great job with Mario Kart 8. They've managed to capture the familiarity of the Mario Kart franchise but throw in plenty of new tricks to keep things fresh. The anti-gravity mechanic, multiple routes and tactics, plentiful unlockable customisations, new items, MKTV, online customisation and tournaments and additional gamepad functionality build on an already solid base. What results is a game that is fun and familiar on one hand, but so new and deep on the other, that you'd be crazy if you didn't grab it with both.