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The Best Multiplayer Horror Games to Play with Friends

Playing a horror game by yourself is a terrifying task. Doing so with a friend or two can help boost your confidence and make you a little less jumpy. While the genre dates all the way back to Midway’s 1972 arcade console, Haunted House, earlydevelopers were kneecapped by technological limitations. Nowadays, with graphic gore, omnidirectional audio, and lifelike lighting and shadows, many titles are genuinely freaky to play, so it is a blessing to be able to tackle them with a friend. Here are some of Argentics’ picks for the best horror games to play with your pals.

Test your Mettle in The Outlast Trials

No game released in 2024 better exemplifies the evolution of the horror genre than The Outlast Trials. Veterans of the series probably remember inviting friends over and passing the controller at every death, as the first two installments of Outlast really were that horrifying. Now, for the first time ever, developers at Red Barrels have created a cooperative campaign. Supporting up to four players and piggybacking off of the style and lore of the original titles, The Outlast Trials creates a terrifying and exhilarating first-person horror experience for players.
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Experience fear like never before while trying to survive The Outlast Trials. Read more at The Outlast Trials - Red Barrels (redbarrelsgames.com)

Set in a secret Cold War era lab in Arizona, you will play as one of four “volunteers”, who have been coaxed into joining human trials by the mysterious Murkoff Corporation. The test subjects undergo a series of operations, including having night-vision goggles surgically attached to their heads. The NVGs are a crucial part of the gameplay, as they allow players to navigate dark corridors stealthily, but there is a catch: they require batteries. Batteries are one of the most essential in-game items and their existence is scarce! Players will be forced to choose between scavenging for more, or creeping into the unknown darkness while effectively blind. In addition to batteries, players can carry throwable items used to distract enemies, an assortment of healing concoctions, and other quest-essential items. Due to extremely low inventory space, players must rely on one another to balance out the team’s loot-load.

New to the series are four separate player-classes, each with its own perks and setbacks. This incentivizes playing with friends as it is always nice to have as many skills on-hand for each trial. This also creates a lot of replayability, as each player experiences missions differently depending on their role. Though not nearly as immersive as a true RPG, the touch of character development is enough to create a bond between the player and their virtual counterpart, drawing them even further into the experience.

The Outlast Trials is arguably the scariest game on our list. It doesn’t rely solely on cheap jump-scares to keep players at the edge of their seat, but instead draws them in with a rich plot, which is unveiled through a series of videos and phone calls throughout the game. This “Simon-says” storytelling reminds players that they are a part of a study – that other humans are putting them through this. The stylization of Murkoff as “MK” is a callback to the nefarious CIA human experiments of the 60’s such as MKUltra, and will keep players uneasy as they wonder if something like this could still be happening in real life

Travel to Livonia for Free in DayZ

DayZ is an open-world zombie survival game set in Eastern Europe. The game started out as a mod on Arma, but grew so popular that developers at Bohemia Interactive decided to make a standalone title. The game released way back in 2018, but is a must-play this year as it has come such a long way since then. Constant communication between players and the very small dev team has helped the game evolve in a positive way with every update. Now, to signal that the game is in a final state, developers have made the Livonia DLC free for all players, and have announced that work is underway for a third map as well. This is the perfect excuse for old players to revisit the game, or for new players to try out the game that has seen a meteoric rise from humble, clunky beginnings.
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Evade zombies, craft equipment, and stalk other players in DayZ. Whatever your move, do not follow the stranger offering you a free kit in Kamyshovo. For details on the latest update and the Livonia map, head over to DayZ

DayZ is at its core a survival game. Players wander through a beautiful post-Soviet apocalypse in hopes of finding food, water, clothes, and weapons. The catch? The cities are overrun with zombies, rural villages are marauded by rabid wolves, and the northwoods are stalked by ferocious brown bears! On top of that, with massive servers supporting 60 players on console and 120 on PC, you never know who you might run into. Because it is an open-world game, there are no scripted jump scares, which means that action is absolutely unpredictable. One minute you could be peacefully catching and cooking carp with a friend, and then suddenly your heart is racing as you get ambushed by a gang of roving cannibals! Even slower moments in the game keep you on edge, like when you’re creeping through the pitch-black night and see the glow of a flashlight in the distance. Should you turn and run? Or lay in the bushes while a fully-geared player walks just inches in front of you? Either choice will make your heart race.

The game’s crafting system is robust, and every item you find can be put to use if you’re creative enough. For instance, you can throw a kitchen timer or alarm clock down an alley to distract a horde of zombies, or stuff propane canisters into a tacklebox to craft an IED that can blow open an enemy base. By far the most unique feature of the game is its health system. Even with a backpack full of medical supplies (which might take hours to gather), it can be hard to treat every injury and ailment. In no other game can you perform CPR on a trauma victim, bandage their wounds, and then fumble around testing their blood type and trying to administer a transfusion while bullets fly overhead and zombies hone in on your location. Moments like these make every experience so heartfelt and memorable, as in-game camaraderie and the time spent building up characters makes it unbearable to die or lose a friend.

Grab your pals and revisit this modern cult-classic title. Whether you play the vastly improved Chernarus map, or the now free Livonia map, you’re guaranteed to have a good time! Oh, and be sure to brush up on your Russian and Polish if you want to be able to read the in-game maps and street signs.

Visit the Sunny City of Angels in Dead Island 2

Twelve years after the release of the revolutionary Dead Island, Dambuster Studios is back with a bang! Set in modern-day Los Angeles, players team up to survive the city-wide quarantine that has been put in place by the US military. The reason the city has been closed up? Zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. Players are able to choose between one of six characters at the beginning of the game, each with wildly different personalities. The ensemble cast of a petty criminal, a stripper, a D-list stuntman, and some other average Joes creates for some hilarious storytelling in between the action. Likewise, players will encounter charismatic gang leaders, paranoid celebrities, and a ton of other faces along the way. These unique personalities make the game special, as you aren’t playing as yet another generic macho man, but instead as regular civilians cast into the city of celebrities.

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Hack and slash your way through the sun-soaked metropolis of Hell-A in Dead Island 2. For trailers and info check out Dead Island 2 - Deep Silver

The first person game differs from its predecessors as it no longer contains a skill tree, but instead a “player deck”, which can be filled with skill and perk cards found or earned throughout the campaign. Being able to shuffle things up during the playthrough is fun, and makes it less likely that your group will get stuck on a quest if a member can’t be online. The lack of acute skill specialization also makes it easier to jump into gameplay with strangers and still be able to carry on.

The game is reminiscent of the movie Zombieland– characters have a sense of humor and often pretend to be living normal lives, just for a brute of a zombie to come crashing through the door when you least expect it! The mostly intact city and casual banter tricks players into letting their guard down, making for some epic jump scares. On top of that, new technology has made this the goriest game in the franchise! The so-called “FLESH” (Fully Locational Evisceration System for Humanoids) mechanism is a randomly-generated system of body dismemberment. This means that a good crack from your baseball bat could crush a zombie’s skull in, or even take their arm clean off! Countless animations and realistic physics make every kill feel unique, so you will never get bored of fighting through the undead.

If trouble in paradise is your thing, then head out to LA in Dead Island 2 for your fair share. The map is beautiful, the fights are visceral, and the storytelling is deep. This game promises to be good for both laughs and screams, and is a wonderful time to play with your friends.

Survive the Chaos in SCP: Secret Laboratory

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Work with friends and enemies alike as you try to survive and thrive in the endless, haunted corridors of SCP. Learn more on Steam at SCP: Secret Laboratory on Steam (steampowered.com)

SCP is a first person, arena survival game reminiscent of The Darwin Project or Among Us, in the sense that players are split into five teams, each with their own competing objectives, and their own suspicions of one another. Each game is set in a secret, procedurally-generated lab, which means that no player starts with the advantage of map knowledge. At the start of each game, you will randomly be assigned to one of five classes: a human lab-rat prisoner trying to escape, a scientist overlooking the experiments, and insurgent trying to destroy the lab, security tasked with rescuing the scientists, or a random SCP, which could be a ghost, anomaly, or even an evil AI code uploaded to the facility’s mainframe.

Players compete to complete as many objectives as they can while trying to survive in the maze of dark corridors, which are overrun with mutants and ghosts due to the attack on the facility. The game is plum-full of jump scares, and players will easily get lost in the randomly generated rooms, not knowing if they have been through a part of the map before. On top of this, you never know who you can trust. Cunning players can disguise themselves as a different class, and sabotage you at any time. For instance, a common objective is to turn on the facility’s backup generators. An anomaly disguised as a prisoner might offer to help you do this, only to separate you from the pack and take you out once you’re alone in the electrical room. Player creativity makes every match unique. Different minds coming together in an unknown map promises fragiles truces, inevitable backstabbings, and endless chaos. The game is currently free to play on steam, so why not give it a try?

Other Fun Picks to Enjoy

Rounding out our list are a handful of creative, spooky titles you can play with friends. If you’ve ever dreamt of being a ghostbuster, check out Phasmophobia. Using an array of high tech gadgets, you and your team will try to contact paranormal beings and gather evidence from them in a variety of haunted locations from creepy asylum basements to ordinary homes tainted by murder.

If you’re interested in facing off against an evil version of America’s favorite cartoon character, then you have to pick up Infestation: Origins. Through some creative legal jockeying, Nightmare Forge Games was able to capitalize on the Mickey Mouse character turning 100 years old and joining the public domain. You and up to three friends will play as exterminators in the 1980s, sent to various locations to deal with infestations of unholy, rabid beasts. The mastermind behind the outbreaks? None other than that evil corporate rat, Mickey Mouse himself. The game is quick to learn, has easy controls, and is sure to generate some great laughter as you run for your life from Walt Disney’s posterboy.

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Say your prayers as you try to fend off a demonic Mickey Mouse in Infestation: Origins.

Playing horror games with friends is an experience like no other. You quickly learn who the brave and feint-of-heart folks are, and will hopefully share as many laughs as you do screams. Whether you prefer hardcore survival, non-stop combat, or something a bit out left field, Argentics hopes you’ll enjoy a game or two from our list!

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