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The 20 Best PvP Games of All Time

Here, we take a shot at putting together a list of the best PvP games of all time. Competition in virtual worlds has never been more fierce than it is today. When two people hold the same hobby, there exists a universal and timeless question: who’s better? The first multiplayer game ever created — I’m talking about Tennis for Two in 1958 — was a player versus player (PvP) game. Humankind thrives on friendly competition. And occasionally, not-so-friendly competition. 

The advent of personal computers and the internet made PvP experiences as easy to access as click and go. No more meeting after school or bringing your team to the park for a pickup game — now we can capture flags and assert dominance from the comfort of our own homes, anytime we like!

Ready to scratch that competitive itch? We’ve curated this list of the best PvP games across platforms and genres, completely optimized to satisfy your hunger for conquest. 

20 Best PvP Games of All Time

While some of the following games offer modes besides PvP, all of them allow you to pit your skills, reflexes, and intellect against other players in the pursuit of victory. And isn’t that what PvP is all about?

20. Team Fortress 2

TF2
  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: Valve
  • Platforms PC, Mac, Linux

There are lots of free-to-play games vying for your time. But none of them offer the time-tested and top-tier PvP gameplay of Team Fortress 2, which is hands down the best free PvP game you can buy. That’s a joke — you don’t buy free games. You might end up buying cosmetics, though, if you want to be the best-dressed and geared mercenary on the battlefield.

Pay-to-win it’s not, but Team Fortress 2 is a classic that’s still hopping with a strong community and class-based PvP. 

19. Old School Runescape

Runescape
  • Genre: MMORPG
  • Developer: Jagex
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Mobile

For many of us, Runescape was our first exposure to both the MMO concept and the idea of PvP combat. The Wilderness is the “anything goes” scorched realm that scoundrels, brigands, and honorable warriors call home. PvP combat in Oldschool Runescape is a surprisingly frantic and skill-based affair. Here, adventurers unleash all their spells and special abilities on opponents in the hopes of harvesting their sweet, sweet loot. It may be old-school, but it’s still one of the best PvP games for PC.

18. Mordhau

Mordhau
  • Genre: Hack ‘n Slash
  • Developer: Triternion
  • Platforms: PC

Medieval combat is a brutal, chaotic affair — which makes it the perfect setting for some incredible PvP action. Bring your zweihanders, crossbows, and battleaxes to bear on war-torn battlefields as you lay siege to castles, raid towns, and destroy enemy encampments. At the heart of it all, the delicate ballet of steel clashing against steel determines the winner. Keep your helmet on, and never turn your back on the enemy. 

17. EVE Online

Eve Online
  • Genre: MMORPG
  • Developer: CCP Games
  • Platforms: PC, Mac

Looking for the best MMO PvP game? I’ll be honest: I don’t play EVE Online. But anytime I’m browsing the web, and I stumble across another after-action report of an EVE Online battle, I have to stop what I’m doing and read it. The player-driven politics that go into them weave storylines worthy of A Song of Ice and Fire. And the backstories combine with the sheer, unrivaled scale possible within EVE Online to produce the biggest, most magnificent space battles worthy of a summer blockbuster.

The repercussions of a big EVE battle ripple across the server for months and sometimes years afterward. Sometimes they even warrant monuments placed by the developers to commemorate the occasion. You’ll never find PvP on this scale anywhere else — that’s a promise. 

16. Hearthstone

Hearthstone
  • Genre: DTCG
  • Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Mobile

Let’s face it: if you’re looking for a mobile game to play, you’re probably in your jam-jams at the end of the day. High-octane PvP action is nice and all, but sometimes you want to pit your mind, not your reflexes, against your opponents. That’s what makes Digital Trading Card Games (DTCGs) like Hearthstone so satisfying and relaxing to play, and that’s what makes Hearthstone the best PvP mobile game around. Manage your mana to unleash monstrous minions and board-wiping spells plucked from the Warcraft universe, and leave your opponent convinced that you’re simply smarter than they were. It’s not about the size of the card deck — it’s what you do with it. 

15. Rise of Nations: Extended Edition

Rise of Nations
  • Genre: RTS
  • Developer: SkyBox Labs
  • Platforms: PC, Mac

The RTS genre is filled with classics like Age of Empires and Empire Earth. Not to mention sister turn-based games like Civilization that have allowed armchair commanders to engage in a bit of PvP and diplomacy as they conquer the world.

Rise of Nations: Extended Edition is what would result if you put the aforementioned games in a blender — and like a succulent smoothie, all the different flavors taste great together. Lead your empire through the ages, amass resources and wealth, then get your PvP on. If you’re quick and plan well, you can have aircraft performing bombing runs on a rival that has only just unlocked gunpowder’s mysteries. If that doesn’t make this the best online PvP game — I don’t know what could.

14. Destiny 2

Destiny 2
  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: Bungie
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Stadia

Eyes up, Guardian. Though we’re all on the same team when it comes to the defense of humanity’s last remnant, it pays to practice the art of war. Just as iron sharpens iron, Guardians use one another as crash-test dummies for their light-powered abilities and weapon loadouts. Leave all the PvP in the Crucible where it belongs, and we may live to fight another day against the darkness.

13. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Halo Master Chief
  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: 343 Industries
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox

LAN parties flush with copious amounts of cheap soda, and Halo dominated my formative years. Halo is simply one of the best PvP multiplayer experiences, hands down. There’s an infinite amount of replayability here across dozens of game modes. And it’s back as if it never left in the all-in-one package dubbed The Master Chief Collection. Lock and load, Spartans. 

12. Half-Life

Half Life
  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: Valve
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux

Growing up in the 90s meant playing Half-Life. And playing Half-Life meant jumping into any LAN party you could find for some classic deathmatch goodness. Despite its age, Half-Life still has populated servers where you can throw down in wild free-for-all matches and paint the map red. Remember to head inside the bunker when you hear the claxon. 

11. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

Age of Empires
  • Genre: RTS
  • Developer: Forgotten Empires
  • Platforms: PC

Where Mordhau puts you in the thick of the action, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition grants you a king’s eye view on medieval warfare. Build up your towns and castles, muster your forces, and conquer your opponents in grand displays of strategic supremacy. Or you can just turtle up and sap the map dry of resources. It’s like a siege but in reverse, and even if you win, you lose some small part of yourself each time. 

10. Quake III Arena

Quake 3 Arena
  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: id Software
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, iOS

Though DOOM may have given rise to the deathmatch, Quake III Arena perfected it. It’s fast-paced, bloody — and above all, fun. Rocket jump your way across maps, capture some flags, and frag until the sun comes up. Like DOOM, the Quake III Arena community never really passed on to the dusty annals of history, so there are plenty of virtual battlefields left standing for you to dominate. 

9. Unreal Tournament

Unreal Tournament
  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: Epic Games
  • Platforms: PC

While id Software was making waves with Quake III Arena, Epic Games (then Epic Megagames) was quietly brooding over their Unreal franchise and thinking, “Yeah, we could do that too — but with our own unique spin.” Thus was born Unreal Tournament.

To be honest, I played this way, way more than Quake III Arena. It’s still an incredible PvP experience more than two decades post-release. And when you break out the Redeemer, it’s hard not to cackle as everyone in the server runs for cover. 

 8. Worms: Armageddon

Worms
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Developer: Team17
  • Platforms: PC

It’s time for tiny, turn-based warfare. Worms: Armageddon is seen by many as the pinnacle of the series: an artillery-style game where you position your worms and wield wacky weapons to obliterate your enemies and the land they stand upon. Burrow deep if you sense an Armageddon or Concrete Donkey coming — but know that even that may not save you. 

 7. Starcraft II

Starcraft 2
  • Genre: RTS
  • Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC, Mac

In the early days of the real-time strategy genre, Warcraft (and it’s sci-fi counterpart Starcraft) were two of the leading players in the space. With Starcraft II, Blizzard has honed its craft to a keen edge, providing some of the best RTS player versus player experiences anywhere. Harvest more vespene gas and build more pylons than your opponent to assure victory. And when all else fails, send a Ghost to drop a nuke on ’em. It’s also free-to-play these days — so what are you waiting for? 

6. Quake Champions

Quake Champions
  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: id Software
  • Platforms: PC

Unreal Tournament has struggled to put out a modern iteration in recent years. Quake Champions, however, proves that the classic arena-style gameplay has a place in the current gaming landscape. It’s everything you know and love about Quake III Arena, but with updated visuals and new takes on classic gaming icons like the Ranger, BJ Blazkowicz, and the Doom Slayer. There are even some hero-specific abilities to change up the gameplay sandbox. If you feel like Quake III is a little too “classic” for your tastes, get your PvP fix with Quake Champions

5. World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft
  • Genre: MMORPG
  • Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC, Mac

The quintessential MMO, World of Warcraft has its mission statement right in the name. Built on a world bereft by war, WoW makes PvP a fundamental part of the experience. Whether you’re questing across the world or taking part in massive battles, you can do your part for the Alliance or the Horde and conquer Azeroth one hapless adventurer at a time. 

4. Fortnite

Fortnite
  • Genre: Battle Royale
  • Developer: Epic Games
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, Mobile

It’s rare — at least it used to be — that a PC game would get a mobile port that was anything like the core game. But we live in the future now, and Fortnite Mobile is every bit the game that you can find on PC or console. 

Explore this sprawling, epic PvP battle royale where one player (or a squad of players) fight to be the last one(s) standing. You can even crossplay with PC and console if you’re so inclined. Rub it in their faces that they lost to a phone player as you floss your way to a victory royale. One of the best PvP Android games on the market.

3. DOOM

Doom
  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: id Software
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, PlayStation. Xbox, Switch, Mobile

The grandfather of modern first-person shooters and originator of the “deathmatch,” DOOM (1993) is still just as much fun as it was nearly two decades ago. And with the recent resurgence in classic DOOM thanks to bundles with the modern games, you can find plenty of retro PvP goodness even today. Jump into a deathmatch and blast your way to victory in historic fashion.  

2. VALORANT

VALORANT
  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: Riot Games
  • Platforms: PC

VALORANT is the plucky young upstart looking to shake up the Counter-Strike formula with the addition of superpowered Agents. The goal and format remain the same: two teams of five look to either plant a “spike” that explodes or stop it from happening. But the Agent powers add another strategic layer to the proceedings that keep it fresh and engaging match after match. And it’s also free-to-play!

1. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

CSGO
  • Genre: FPS
  • Developer: Valve
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux

At #1, we have one of the best PvP PC games ever made. Counter-Strike 1.6 was released in November of 2000, and the world of multiplayer gaming has been forever changed. In it’s purest form, Counter-Strike pits two teams of five against one another in a race against time to either plant a bomb or prevent it from going off. Global Offensive is the latest chapter in Counter-Strike’s long and genre-defining history. And the best part? It’s now free-to-play for PC. 

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Matthew Koehn

Hey Mitch. I’ve had a computer in my house since I can remember. My first online games were Battletech, Mech Commander, and all the Blizzard Games and way too much of Everquest in High School and then there were the epic LAN parties. I’m noob when it comes to design and just downloaded Unreal Engine 4 last night, and I found your article by searching PvP games. Any advice on putting my effort into a game?

Thanks!!
– Matthew K

Hey Matthew,

Ah, the LAN party. The 90s-00s were truly a magical time for gaming.

My advice to you: find what you love about gaming, and put it right back into your work. If you, like me, remember the LAN party days fondly, consider games with a strong co-operative or competitive aspect. Anything that brings players together.

For your first game though, you don’t want to overcommit. A game finished is worth ten prototypes in various stages of development taking up storage space. Whether co-op or competitive, any multiplayer game is going to open you up to the wild, wild world of networking. And that’s a real big can of worms to tackle. Perhaps consider a couch co-op or turn-based/hotseat style multiplayer game for a first project. Turn-based makes the logic even easier to design, and games like Advance Wars or Worms might provide the perfect template.

Unreal is a solid engine to get started with. Plenty of tutorials on the web, and a strong visual scripting tool like their Blueprints system makes it especially accessible. Unity is another good choice, and it leans into C# instead of C++ for when the time comes that you want to write your own code. The former is a bit easier for a first programming language. But visual coding will take you a long, long way if you stick with it. So in the end, the choice is up to you.

Whatever engine you pick, I’d advise you to stick with it. It’s real easy to assume the grass is greener somewhere else when in fact all the fields have their brown patches. Try cruising through YouTube to find a good tutorial series for your engine that clicks with you personally, and lean on every web community you can for help. Odds are that if you are having trouble with something, someone else did too.

Game development is really an incredible field to be a part of. I wish you all the best in your development adventures.

Cheers,
Mitch


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