Single-player titles may be on the rise again, but there’s something so primally addictive about a good PvP game. Whether you’re looking to pour sweat, blood, and tears into hours of gameplay, or some simple fun, these 10 best PvP games in 2023 will offer up something of value to you.
We’ve made a point to sprinkle in as many popular genres as possible here – just in case you’re not the world’s biggest FPS fan.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Release Date: August 21, 2012
There’s not a soul alive that would argue against CSGO being considered one of the best PvP games of all time, if not the best. At least, the best Esports FPS game of all time. Viewership peaked at 2.7 million watchers in 2022, and it’s only continuing to grow year-on-year.
Counter-Strike offers a style of tactical FPS gameplay unlike anything else. It’s as balanced as could be – consisting of long 5v5 Search and Destroy matches, complete with an in-match economy that needs to be managed. It’s the thinking man’s Esport and has survived the test of time for a reason.
Release Date: November 16, 2022
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC
No matter how contrarian you are – you can’t deny the impact and mass appeal Warzone 2 has as a casual PvP game. You may not think it’s one of the best PvP games, but it is one of the biggest, and that makes it worth talking about.
If you’ve never played Warzone, you’ve definitely heard about it. You, along with some buddies, drop out of a plane into a massive open map with over 100 other players, all of whom are also collected in teams. You’ll land on the map with no gear and be forced to collect weapons around the map. The map’s safe zone will constantly get smaller as you play, forcing you and the remaining teams closer together, with the last team standing declared the winner.
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Dota practically single-handedly birthed the MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genre. That genre is considered one of, if not the single biggest Esports genres in the world today. You’ve heard of MOBAs before, or you’ve at least seen League of Legends gameplay. It’s a demanding genre that isn’t for the faint of heart – but that’s why MOBA titles make for the best PvP games.
Dota 2, the sequel, is a complex beast, and the harder to learn of the big two MOBAs. It’s everything you want a 5v5 MOBA to be – character-based, three-lane maps, and enough items and builds to make you nauseous. Getting into Dota 2 is a commitment, but it’s worth it.
League of Legends
Release Date: October 7, 2009
We couldn’t mention Dota and not talk about League of Legends. This is Riot’s flagship PvP title, and despite taking clear inspiration from Dota 2, is remarkably more popular than its predecessor – especially amongst the wider, casual gaming audience.
League of Legends is a more accessible MOBA. Its 5v5 three-lane gameplay is easier to navigate but still deep and rich enough to support one of the biggest individual Esports scenes in the world. It’s a great gateway to the wider world of competitive MOBAs, but it doesn’t have to be that if you don’t want it to.
Release Date: July 21, 2017
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Nintendo Switch
Fortnite is everywhere you go – from clothes stores to supermarkets. There’s a reason for that – it’s a damn good game. Whatever your personal bias against the game may tell you, it is a very fun pick-up-and-play casual third-person shooter Battle Royale, and it’ll stay that way if you let it.
If you don’t let Fortnite stay casual, you’ll end up in a very volatile world through Esports. There’s certainly a thriving scene with plenty of amateur support, but you will have to deal with playing a Battle Royale at a competitive level of that scale. For everyone else, you’ll be treated to engaging PvP gameplay, heightened by Fortnite’s unique building-system. That system isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly interesting.
Release Date: June 2, 2020
VALORANT has exploded into the Esports world since its release in 2020, quickly becoming one of the best PvP games in its genre. Gaining popularity through the height of the pandemic, this tactical shooter from Riot quickly become the alternative little cousin to the Counter-Strike scene. VALORANT is constantly getting fresh updates, keeping its Esports scene alive and ever-evolving – a major advantage it has over CS.
It takes the gritty, tactical FPS gameplay from CSGO, and packages it with a character-based system that replaces grenades with abilities. Wrap that up in a cute, stylistic art style that contrasts heavily with that of CS, and you have yourself a recipe for a TikTok sensation – as well as a downright incredible FPS game.
Release Date: February 4, 2019
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Andriod, iOS, Nintendo Switch
Apex Legends offers a totally different gameplay experience to the likes of Warzone. It’s a character-based battle royale, whereas Warzone is not. In Apex, you pick a character before loading into a game, with each character having their own abilities and uses.
This keeps gameplay feeling fresh and adds an element of strategy not present in other BR FPS titles. It doesn’t have the same kind of super casual appeal that Warzone does, it does demand a slight bit more from you as a player. If you’re willing to give a little bit extra to the game, though, you’ll be treated to arguably the best Battle Royale game on the market right now.
Release Date: December 11, 2013
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Rust is something a little bit different. Up until now, we’ve just looked at PvP games that exist solely for the purpose of Player versus Player gameplay. Rust, on the other hand, is a remarkably enjoyable PvP game mixed in with some survival-crafting, base-building, MMO-style gameplay.
You’re sort of getting what it says on the tin when it comes to Rust. You collect resources, build bases, and attack other players for their gear. It’s simple, but there’s a kind of primal pleasure in the wars for territory and resources that follow as a result. Rust servers tend to periodically wipe, too, so you’ll never have to worry about joining too late.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Release Date: December 7, 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Smash is something of a cultural phenomenon in the gaming sphere. It presents itself as a fun, casual party game akin to a more obviously violent Mario Party in a strange kind of way. It succeeds in being that fun game, capable of keeping rooms full of college students entertained for hours. Beneath that charming exterior, though, lies a competitive game as deep as any other fighting game you’ll find out in the wild.
It’s a 2D platform fighter with characters from a frankly insane number of IPs. So, there should be something of an appeal here regardless of your background in gaming. Smash Bros gives as much as it gets, whether you just want some fun, or a new title to sink 100s of hours into.
Street Fighter 5
Release Date: February 16, 2016
Platforms: PS4, PS5, PC
Whether or not you’ll like Street Fighter 5 depends on one thing – do you like fighting games? If you do, and you’ve never played an SF title, you’ll have a blast. If you don’t, you might get some casual arcadey fun out of it with your friends, but you’ll struggle to get into the game competitively.
Street Fighter 5 is as technical as it is flashy. Matches are often decided by a handful of frames, which is unique to fighting games. Ultimately, you’ll get as much out of a game like SF 6 as you put into it. The same can be said for any Mortal Kombat or Tekken titles.
That’s it, you may have heard of most, if not all of the games on this list – but there’s a reason for that. These games have dominant, thriving player-versus-player communities, and that’s because they’re genuinely good games.
If some personal vendetta is stopping you from trying Fortnite – let it go. Same thing for Warzone, or LoL, or any other title on this list. These games have player bases in the millions for a reason.