Hexbyte – Science and Tech
For many, the deciding factor when buying a game is whether they can play it with their friends. There’s certainly a lot of fun to be had when diving into a thriving online community, where you can jump into matches against opponents or go on fun quests with allies, and more games have begun to place a larger focus on making online play engaging and fun to invest time in. However, a common hindrance to enjoying these online-centric games can be boiled down to whether or not you’re playing on the right platform. Whether it’s low player populations, or if your friends are all on a different system, these things can put a divide between periods of frustration and having a good time.
In recent years, cross-play has become more common with online games, allowing people to play with or against others on different platforms. The inclusion of cross-platform play has not only given fading games a second chance, but it’s also unified online communities, removing the barriers placed by platform ecosystems. Microsoft has been leading the way with cross-play for Windows 10 and Xbox One, while Sony has steadily loosened up its attitudes on cross-play due to the success of games like Fortnite and PUBG.
So with that, we’ve compiled a list of the most interesting and exciting games that offer cross-play between platforms. Games with crossplay can be a great way to keep up with friends on different platforms and stay social during our present times, even while you’re engaging in fast-paced fights or having some ridiculous fun in an open world. In addition to cross-play trailblazers games like Rocket League and Hearthstone, we’ve also included more recent picks such as Borderlands 3, which brought together player bases from Steam and the Epic Games Store. For more on new games that will have cross-play, along with next-gen updates for PS5 and Xbox Series X, be sure to check back with GameSpot.
Rocket League: Cross-play on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
When it comes to fun and accessible online matches, Rocket League is in a class of its own. But as it turns out, Psyonix’s online sports game was one of the early innovators of cross-play. At launch, Rocket League allowed for crossplay between PC and PS4, but eventually it expanded that ecosystem to include players from the Xbox and Nintendo Switch versions of the game. This online soccer game with vehicles has been a constant joy over the years, all due to regular updates, along with a passionate community of players. Even five years after its debut, Rocket League is still hitting a constant stride, and with a thriving community, it’s safe to say that it will keep going for the foreseeable future.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare / COD: Warzone: Cross-play on PC, PS4, and Xbox One
While Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was a return to the series’ roots focusing on the more grounded type of infantry combat, it also introduced several game-changing elements that would be a first for the series. The most significant innovation, by far, was the inclusion of cross-play. For the first time in the Call of Duty series, Modern Warfare 2019 brought players on PC, PS4, and Xbox One together, making it the largest COD community for a single game to date. In addition to seasonal events, the newest game mode, Warzone, brings battle royale back to Call of Duty. Available as a free update for MW, or as a standalone free-to-play game, Warzone brings the most expansive map to COD, where you and some friends can face off against over 100 players in a match.
Gears 5: Cross-play on PC and Xbox One
The latest entry in the Gears of War franchise was an ambitious return for the series. Along with expanding the scope of the world of Sera, it also did justice to protagonist Kait Diaz, and how she fits into the larger plot focusing on the war between the humans and the swarm. Much like previous games, Gears 5 leans heavily on its thrilling campaign that can be played cooperatively, along with robust multiplayer modes that play to the strengths of Gears 5’s tight pop-and-shoot mechanics. Continuing from Gears of War 4, Gears 5 allows players on PC and Xbox One to play the campaign and multiplayer together. It was one of the rare AAA games to allow for cross-play at launch, and given its success, it likely won’t be the last.
Fortnite: Cross-play on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
Epic Games’ online survival game and creation-tool, Fortnite, went from a stalled experiment to an overnight phenomenon following the debut of its battle royale mode. Fortnite quickly became the game to copy during its unprecedented rise to prominence, and that included its approach to cross-play. Initially, Fortnite only had cross-play for Xbox One and PC, but with the debut of Fortnite mobile, those using iPhone or Android could join in with console players–though by default it will pair them with other mobile users. Fortnite now allows for cross-play between PC, PS4, and Xbox One as well, letting you take part in the scavenge, shoot, and build gameplay loop of its fast-paced battle royale game. Though for console players, you can select to avoid PC players for concerns of advantage with mouse and keyboard controls.
Street Fighter V: Cross-play on PC and PS4
Capcom’s Street Fighter V has come a long way since its 2015 release. The recent Champion Edition, which increased the roster size to 40 and gave existing fighters new special moves, is Street Fighter V at its best. Some of the most exciting moments from Capcom’s fighting game comes from the many battles you can take part in online, and with cross-play, PC and PS4 players can duke it out to see who has the best skills.
Borderlands 3: Cross-play on PC (Steam and Epic Games Store)
As of the more recent cross-play games, Borderlands 3 on PC allows folks who own the game on the Epic Game Store and to play with the new influx of users from the recent Steam release. Leveraging Gearbox Software’s Shift account service, you can not only play with others across different clients but also bring cloud saves across both. Since the release, the online PC community has increased greatly, offering more players to partner up with and collect loot.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: Cross-play on PS4 and Xbox One
Arguably the pioneer of the battle royale phenomenon as we know it, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds–otherwise known as PUBG–has seen many changes over the years as it has evolved alongside competitors like Fortnite and Apex Legends. Compared to those battle royale games, PUBG focuses more on realism, and the creeping feeling of anxiety as more players converge once the dreaded circle begins to shrink. Initially only available on PC, it later found its way to Xbox One and then PS4. Currently, PUBG only allows for cross-play between PS4 and Xbox One players. Developer PUBG Corporation has stated that there are no plans to include cross-play with the PC version at this time.
Killer Instinct: Cross-play on PC and Xbox One
Microsoft’s Killer Instinct reboot has proven itself to be a fun and gorgeous fighting game to sink some time in since its debut in 2013. Originally released on Xbox One, it eventually found its way to PC, allowing for cross-play multiplayer matches between the different platforms–which increased the player base size in a big way. Compared to other fighting games like Street Fighter V or Tekken 7, Killer Instinct is a bit more of an accessible fighter. Yet, it possesses a surprisingly high skill-ceiling that shows off how involved and in-depth each fighter’s skill set is. What’s even more amusing is that Killer Instinct also features a solid number of guest characters from franchises like Battletoads, Gears of War, and Halo, giving the roster even more variety that goes beyond its ’90s-inspired roots.
Ark: Survival Evolved: Cross-play on PC and Xbox One
Ark: Survival Evolved takes a somewhat different approach to the conceit of open-world scavenging gameplay. While you do have to contend with scraping together materials to craft items and face off against hostile players who want what you have, Ark also throws dinosaurs into the mix. While you can take your chances solo, Arc really shines in co-op, allowing you and other players to team up to take out enemies with custom firearms and your tamed dinosaurs. It’s a strange mix of elements, but Ark does a solid job of playing to the strengths of each as you slowly build up resources to survive in the world.
State of Decay 2: Cross-play on PC and Xbox One
Surviving in the zombie apocalypse isn’t easy. With minimal resources and a ravenous horde of undead continually nipping at your heels, you’ll need as much help as you can get to see another day. State of Decay 2 features full co-op play, allowing you to invite up to three other players into your game, who can help you fortify your base and outfit each survivor with the best items they can get. With cross-platform play between PC and console players, it won’t be hard finding another player to join you in your goal to survive the zombie apocalypse.
Deep Rock Galactic: Cross-play on PC and Xbox One
Exploring extraterrestrial worlds can be dangerous alone, so it’s best to bring some friends with you on the trip. In Deep Rock Galactic, you play as space dwarves tasked with mining materials or procuring rare artifacts. Each world you visit is procedurally-generated, which possesses hidden dangers and surprises waiting to be uncovered. With cross-play on PC and Xbox One, you can join friends to unearth the hidden wonders or threats on distant worlds, while trying to make it back to your ship safely.
Hearthstone: Cross-play on PC and Mobile
Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone offers surprisingly sophisticated, yet still accessible card-based tactical gameplay to invest yourself in. Set in the Warcraft universe, Hearthstone leverages its expansive lore to show off the unseen locales and stories of the world–all through the lens of a card-battle game. In addition to the plethora of events and quests to take part in during solo-play, some of which occasionally introduce limited time co-op events, you can also face off against others online in competitive battles. Since launch, Hearthstone players on any platform have been able to enjoy cross-platform functionality, allowing everyone to play with one another.
Dauntless: Cross-play on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
Dauntless is a free-to-play online action game that leans heavily into the Monster Hunter formula of slaying enemies and using their materials to craft new gear. Like Monster Hunter, getting into Dauntless can be somewhat overwhelming, but once you find your groove with your chosen archetype after taking on a few missions, you’ll be taking down beasts in no time. Diving further into Dauntless will also open access to the game’s more elaborate missions and events, yielding new gear and upgrades for your character. At first, Dauntless only supported cross-platform play with PC and Xbox One, but after a big push from the community, it expanded to PS4’s ecosystem and eventually to Nintendo Switch.