Are you a very competitive person? Are you eager to test your limits? Somewhere in cyberspace is a punk who thinks he can beat someone like you easily. If you know you’ve got what it takes to put the wannabees like him in their proper place, then it’s time to put your game on.
Since the dawn of humankind, man always had an innate desire to compete with his peers. It’s part of the natural selection process. However, when compared to other species, ours has been on turbo mode for the last million and a half years since our ancestors discovered fire. Even Alexander the Great wept when he no longer had any worlds to conquer. The best of our kind had always strived to improve and be better than the rest of us. That’s how we evolved to be the most advanced beings on the planet. It’s in our wiring.
In modern times, the average human’s competitive outlets have become more limited. We still compete with one another but in a more subdued environment of a playground, school, or workplace. Only a few, like the members of a school’s varsity team, or career athletes, whether professional or otherwise, have the opportunity to go into a direct head-to-head competition against the best in their class. The rest of us ordinary mortals are relegated to the sidelines as mere spectators.
With the arrival of online gaming, people from all walks of life have the opportunity to compete with others on a virtual, rather than a visceral level. It doesn’t matter who you were or what you are. Whatever your weapon of choice may be, whether it be a keyboard and mouse or a controller, all that matters is that you know how to use it better than anybody else. And it can be done behind the anonymity of your avatar and in the safe confines of your bedroom or living room.
It has come to the point where online games have their own pros and stars, who make a living by emerging as champions in tournaments. They have the ultimate twitch reactions, the fastest decision making thought process, and have consistently beaten the competition when it counted the most.
If you’re one of those aching to blow someone’s head off with a rocket launcher or obliterate your enemy’s troops and takeover his stronghold, or maybe dropkick your opponent into submission, we’ve rounded up a list of some of the best games you could try out online. But first, allow us to shed some light on the exciting world of competitive gaming.
Types of competitive games
You’re not limited to try your hand in only one genre, and there are several kinds of games that you can get into and be a competitor.
- 3D First-Person Shooters
It was FPS pioneers like Castle Wolfenstein and Doom that popularized multiplayer deathmatches via a LAN (Local Area Network) connection even before the Internet was a thing in homes. LAN parties became an everyday event, and a lot of people were eager to participate in them. Those games started the multiplayer craze, and when Internet connections became widespread, online gaming exploded into the mainstream consciousness, and things were never the same again.
The name comes from the perspective of the player character, which is in first-person. It’s like you inhabit the character, and you see his world through his eyes. You can even see his arms, hands, and the weapon he’s wielding right in front of you as you move him around the map.
There are different modes in online FPS matches, but two are the most popular. It can be a simple deathmatch, which is a free-for-all where your goal is to “frag” or kill your opponent the most number of times within an allotted time. There’s also Capture the Flag, where you and your teammates prevent the enemy team from capturing your team’s flag and bringing it back to their stronghold. Whoever successfully plants the enemy flag at their home base wins.
Since the introduction of Microsoft Windows, the keyboard and mouse combo remains to be the best control method in FPS.
- Fighting Games
Brace yourself for a finishing move. During the early years, two people were able to test their mettle against each other on coin-operated arcade machines with fighting games. They’ve been around for a long time.
Modern fighting games are accessible to beginners but also challenging enough for the pros. It’s more satisfying to pull off an 11-move combo, though, than mindlessly button-mashing your way to victory. Of course, that’s just routine stuff for the pros. If you want to be at least competitive, you have to know the exact button presses by heart for each of the character’s special moves.
That’s why it’s vital to master the key combos for the various punches, kicks, throws, and grabs in the extensive training mode that usually come with the best fighting games. And the pros not only train with their favorite character but study the moves of all the other fighters in the roster. In that way, they’ll know the best approach to fight whatever character their opponents choose to play.
It pays to know what the advantages and disadvantages that all the characters have against each other.
- Real-Time Strategy
Sadly, the RTS or Real-Time Strategy games are in a bit of a rut right now. With no new developments seen on the horizon that RTS veterans might find interesting, they’d have to make do with the old, tried and tested RTS titles.
It involves the gathering of resources to help you build structures necessary to form and equip the different units of your combined forces. Once you think your troops are ready, you can launch a full-scale attack on your enemy’s base. In the meantime, your opponent is racing against the clock with the same thing in mind. So you would also have to defend your base vigorously. While you’re building up your side, you may send military units to disrupt your enemy’s production. Whoever is the last man standing wins the match.
Because of their complexity, they’re hard to get into for a beginner because of the steep learning curve required to compete with more experienced players. You end up helpless as the forces and structures you’ve been building for the last several minutes get annihilated on the map right before your eyes.
If you’re an avid fan of the genre, you can still find some competitive action online, but it was far from the RTS heyday during the late 90s and early 2000s.
- Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
MOBA is a far more accessible subgenre of RTS games. They concentrate more on the action side of things instead of building up your forces. Hence they are far less complicated than a full-fledged RTS game. They also have some RPG (Role Playing Game) elements thrown into the mix, with XP (Experience Points) soaking, leveling up, and upgrading character abilities and skills.
In fact, the player only controls one character of their choice. You can team up with other players online, and so can your opponent. The main objective in a MOBA is to destroy your opponent’s main structure. Likewise, you would also have to defend your structures. While you’re in battle, your character gains XP that, at specific increments, causes you to level up. When you level up, more of your character’s abilities or enhancements to those abilities can be unlocked to make him stronger.
Because they’re more straightforward and easier to get into, they have become the most popular strategy games online.
What more to embody real-world completion than online sports games? The most popular are FIFA soccer, NBA basketball, and NFL football titles.
They even go as far as letting you create a character, assign him attributes and stats, give him his unique look, and let him have a career by joining a team or club based on their real-life counterparts. You can have the virtual stars of that team as your teammates. The team can then compete online with the teams of other players for the entire league season. Who knows? Depending on how well you played your avatar, he might end up becoming the season MVP.
The rise of eSports
Electronic Sports are the video games online equivalent of a real-life sporting event. It’s a videogame based competition where professional gamers and teams get to strut their stuff for a chance to win a sizeable cash reward. Events like these have gained an enormous following over the years.
Giant game developers have learned to nurture the growth of an active community behind their games, so it would continue to be under the spotlight longer, and more people won’t lose interest and would even be encouraged to keep playing them. These tournaments have become an essential way to make that possible.
Some of these events include two or more game genres, while each genre also has other dedicated events that are specific to them. And like other sporting events, they have qualifying matches, and higher elimination rounds until the finals. A lot of these events are broadcast and streamed lived with play-by-play commentating.
Keep it frosty
One thing we feel we should warn you about if you’re new to all this is that, just like in all team sports in real life, there can be a massive dose of insults tossed around. Be prepared, and don’t take any scathing remarks to heart.
The less affected you are about all the trash-talking by your opponents, the better you will perform in games. And we’re not just talking about Sports games. You’ll meet all sorts of keyboard warriors who act tough behind their monitors. Never lose your cool. The best insult you can hurl back at them is with your boomsticks blowing their avatars to smithereens. Now let’s see how they like that.
The Best Competitive Games
For gamers, it is where all the money is, literally and figuratively speaking. The list includes those that have captured the online gaming public’s attention. It’s were the crème de la crème of competitive online gaming gather to do battle with one another. Are you ready to join the ranks of the elite?
Fortnite Battle Royale
Up to now, the base game of Fortnite has yet to get out of early access. Despite that, Epic games have been making a killing with the game, especially with the Battle Royale mode. Critics can’t even give it a proper review yet. Still, it has become the most popular online game on the planet right now.
First, let’s discuss what these three modes are all about.
- Fortnite: Save the World
It was the original game that came out in 2017 that had a campaign and offered as a payable early access title to gamers who were intrigued and wanted to try it out. It was meant to be a free-to-play game by 2019. As of today, there’s still no word from either the publisher or the developer of that happening
It introduced gamers to the world of Fortnite, a squad-based third-person shooter where a team of up to four players tries to hold back a horde of zombie-like creatures or “husks” as they perform mission objectives. It all started from a mysterious weather phenomenon that wiped out most of the people off the face of the earth.
In the various missions available, the players try to build and defend their rescue shelters, find and gather materials and resources, and rescue any survivors that they might find. They also need to protect the equipment they use to collect data about the storm to find out more about it and figure out what was happening. Besides that, they also have the equipment used to ward off the storm that needs defending.
The game awards players with items, such as new hero characters, survivors, weapons and trap blueprints, and more after each successful mission. It also features an on the fly build system that lets you create ramps to go to unreachable areas, windows, doors, as well as walls for protection. The art style is cartoony in a positive way, and the action is smooth. Even younger kids have gotten into it because of how addictive the gameplay is.
- Fortnite Creative
It’s a build-centric mode where players have total freedom to create anything they want on their own private island. It could be battle arenas, platforming areas or even racecourses, or whatever they can think of and then invite friends to try them out.
- Fortnite: Battle Royale
This is the mode that hooked most people into the game.
You parachute on an island with 99 other players, which may include up to three of your teammates and then partake in a free-for-all to the death where the last man or team standing wins. There’s a giant ring of storm clouds that surrounds the island that keeps on getting smaller and smaller. Eventually, the final showdown among the few remaining players would happen in a small area on the map. The same build mechanics and items of the base game are all available here.
The development of this battle royale mode took a lot of inspiration from PUGB’s version and followed the same premise. More importantly, it was free to play. It was introduced a few months after Save the World’s early access was released and has attracted tens of millions of players and revenues above US$2 billion in 2018 alone!
Since then, Fortnite has grown into a cultural phenomenon, and EPIC has even set up tournaments that turned teenage gaming champs into instant millionaires. The prize pool for future competitions will only keep getting more significant as long as this runaway success doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Also known as PUBG (pronounced “pub”-G) is another runaway success in the battle royale third-person/first-person shooter genre, although it came out earlier in 2017 than Fortnite. The name comes from the online name of Brendan Greene and based on a popular mod he created. Developer Bluehole of South Korea approached him to be the lead designer of a standalone battle royale game similar to his mod.
They came up with PUBG, where up to a hundred players parachute from a plane and drop on one of four maps to battle it out until one man or team remains standing. Solo players or teams with 2-4 players can join the free-for-all.
Once on the ground, they have no weapons and other useful gear and must search for them inside buildings and ghost towns scattered across the map. The locations of the equipment and weapons are procedurally generated and are different every time a match starts. Players can also loot the dead bodies of their victims to gain similar items.
There is a safe zone similar to the eye of a storm that is the size of the entire map at the beginning and then gradually shrinks every few minutes. There’s a blue demarcation wall that indicates the outer edge of the shrinking safe zone. Any player caught outside that wall takes damage until he dies if he can’t get behind it in time.
Occasionally, some random areas on the map will be highlighted in red and bombed, adding more danger to players getting killed. There’s a warning letting everyone know whenever the safe zone was about to shrink or before the bombs dropped so they can hightail it to a more secure spot. The shrinking playing field and bombardment would result in more frequent encounters and player deaths until the last few remaining survivors are forced to confront each other.
By the end of the same year, PUBG had three million active players on Steam. Because of its massive success, the developers of Fortnite were hard-pressed to come up with something similar quickly. Thus Fortnite: Battle Royale was born and eventually became an even bigger hit.
Defense Of The Ancients 2
Dota 2 is a staple in MOBA gaming, although there were a lot of improvements made since it was released back in 2013. It’s an offshoot of a community made mod called DotA for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III Reign of Chaos.
It’s a five-vs.-five MOBA, where the objective of your team is to destroy the other team’s main structure called “The Ancient” while you defend your own. Each team can have five heroes selected from a roster of 117 available, which are all free, by the way. All the heroes start at level one but increase their experience level throughout the match until they reach a maximum level of 25.
Players then divide their team into roles called “carries” and “supports.” The carries are the heroes with more powerful offensive abilities that can “carry” the team to victory, while the supports generally have no strong offensive abilities but are there to provide health and other buffs to the entire team. Both roles, however, have a basic attack that dishes out a smaller amount of damage.
A slain hero will respawn back at his home base after a timer counts down to zero. The home bases of both teams are located on opposite ends of the map and connected by three pathways called lanes. Both sides have tiny creatures called “creeps” coming out of barracks, which serve as foot soldiers traveling these lanes and moving towards the opposing team’s Ancient. They fight any enemy and destroy any structures that they encounter along the way.
There are also neutral creeps located in camps that do not attack unless provoked. Some are tougher boss types that drop items with special powers that a hero might find useful. You can also find shops where you can buy abilities with gold, which is obtained by killing enemy heroes and creeps and by destroying their structures.
Valve Corp. saw the potential of the mod as a standalone title and approached its creator IceFrog to design a commercial version using their in-house Source game engine. It eventually gained a massive following and became immensely popular in eSports events. It remains to be the most successful competitive gaming franchise in eSports history, although other games like Fornite are catching up fast.
To keep it fresh, Valve has continued to improve it through updates. It has formed a Dota Pro Circuit that serves as qualifying events for The International, which is the biggest Dota 2 tournament. The prize pool for this game remains the biggest in all competitive games.
It is a popular 6-vs.6 multiplayer first-person shooter from Blizzard Entertainment that came out in 2016.
Thirty years into the future, humanity has attained economic equilibrium with the help of robots with “Omnic” AI. These Omnic became part of human society. The Omnic Crisis started when factories around the world that manufacture these AI started producing lethal Omnic robots that attacked people. Many countries developed military programs to combat these hostile robots and succeeded in putting down this robot uprising.
Jump forward three decades into the future, the Omnics continue to be a threat to humanity and a second Omnic Crisis loomed. To help put an end to this, Overwatch was formed as an international taskforce to consolidate the various forces of many countries battling this dangerous threat.
However, because of a bitter feud between the two taskforce leaders, allegations of grave misconduct were thrown, forcing the UN to disband Overwatch. It prompted the increase in terrorist incidents across the globe and for the second Omnic Crisis to begin in Russia. Thus, a secret Overwatch group was formed to battle this new threat but it was unsanctioned by the authorities.
You select one of 31 heroes as part of a team of six. There are three classes of heroes to choose from based on their abilities. Some of them are Damage heroes, which dish out the most punishing attacks and are the go-to guys in offense and defense. Tanks are at the frontline and absorb most of the attacks from the enemies. Supports provide health and other types of buffs for the entire team.
Each hero has predefined abilities and attributes that govern their primary and secondary attacks, active and passive skills, health, and speed. They also have a unique, powerful ability that recharges while damaging enemies or healing teammates.
Aside from a mode for casual play, there’s a ranked competition mode, and various eSports modes designed for tournaments, especially in the Overwatch League. In these competitions, teams defend control points on the map or safely escort a package to another location. Also supported are one-on-one and team deathmatches, capture the flag, among other modes.
Overwatch is the sixth billion-dollar earner franchise of Blizzard, with revenues mostly coming from in-game purchases. New content, such as new characters and maps, are always added. Fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the sequel Overwatch 2 in November 2019.
Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm also called HOTS is another popular franchise from Blizzard. It’s their only foray so far in MOBA gaming. It’s a crossover MOBA featuring 88 characters from other major franchises they’ve developed over the years. We see these heroes trapped in the Nexus, which is a cosmic storm that created a multiverse from Blizzard’s other games.
Players select a hero from the roster and become a member of a team of 5 heroes. The main goal of both sides is to destroy the other’s stronghold called “The Core” located at extreme edges of any one of 15 maps called battlegrounds. The first one to destroy the other’s core achieves victory.
Six groups separate heroes depending on what role they specialize in, namely, bruiser, tank, melee assassin, ranged assassin, health, and support roles. Your hero even has a mount he can ride, which is usually a horse and is a faster way to move around the map.
There are also many tiny foot soldiers called minions that spawn for each team. Their goal is to head to the enemy’s core and to attack any enemy heroes or minions they encounter and to destroy enemy structures that block their way. Structures include forts and keeps, as well as the walls with turrets that protect them.
Also found on the battleground are camps of mercenaries or siege bosses, that once overcome by a team, would aid them in their attack. Many battlegrounds also have an objective that would give a massive advantage to any team that completes them.
XP is gathered to advance the level of the entire team and not individual heroes. Teams earn them by attacking and killing enemy heroes, minions, and structures like forts and keeps. Once the team reaches level 10 during the match, the members’ devastating hero abilities are unlocked. That’s why it’s crucial to soak XP so your team would be the first to reach level 10 and have a tremendous advantage over the enemy.
HOTS has six gameplay modes, including five that are competitive and advance the heroes’ rank to make them more powerful and reward winners with loot chests and gold.
Blizzard earns revenues from the game that come from microtransactions that unlock heroes or sell various loot chests and other items that are either locked or new to the game. However, all of the locked items, including heroes, can be bought with in-game gold.
HOTS had a rough reception from some critics but continued to establish itself as one of the significant MOBAS. It’s continuously being updated and improved and has gained a substantial following after many years. It’s free to play on Blizzard’s Battle.net gaming network.
Mortal Kombat 11
It is the latest Mortal Kombat from NetherRealm Studios that has gained popularity in competitive eSports circuits in less than a year since it’s been around. It uses a heavily enhanced Unreal Engine 3 to render visually stunning arenas and characters in 3D graphics. With the combatants’ movements tied to a 2D side-to-side plane like in other fighting games, people describe them as a 2.5D fighting game.
The deity Konika who is the keeper of time wants to rearrange the timeline and erase the thunder god Raiden’s interference resulting in the death of her son Shinnok. To achieve this, she enlists the help of revenant versions of fighters from Mortal Kombat 2. There’s a story mode where you can sample the fighting styles of more than 20 characters in the roster, and find out what happens to them.
All in all, there’s a list of 25 fighters, 2 of which can’t be unlocked. The game is infamous for each fighter’s very “creative” and downright savage finishing moves that it calls Fatalities and Brutalities. We’re talking about characters being split in half, or bludgeoned with their severed limbs, or their heads and spines being torn off their torsos, among other disgusting methods. Their depiction is so graphic that they can get hilarious sometimes.
Even before its release back in April 2019, NetherRealm already announced the first season of Mortal Kombat 11 Pro Kompetition. It’s a globally organized eSports pro circuit where 16 of the best Kombatants from many different regions around the world earned a place in finals held in Vegas. Aside from that, MK11 is also a top tournament draw in the EVO or Evolution Championship Series.
League of Legends
Also referred to as LoL, it is the second most competitive MOBA from Riot Games after Valve Corporation’s Dota2 and has been out since 2012 and still very much alive in today’s eSports circuits. It’s one of those games that you could put up there among the greatest online games ever made. This game is how MOBAs broke into the mainstream consciousness.
It plays just like Dota 2 as they both follow the groundwork laid down by Aeon of Strife (Aos), which was a mere custom map in StarCraft. You play as a summoner in the background and take control of a champion you chose from a roster of 146. Opposing teams clash with one another either to defend a structure in their base called the “Nexus” or to attack the other team’s Nexus. Whoever destroys the other team’s Nexus first is the winner.
The game mechanics are less complicated compared to Dota 2, but that doesn’t mean it’s less fun to play. Most of the basic MOBA stuff is still there. Your champion is weak at the start and levels up as the match progresses until he reaches the maximum level of 18. At certain levels, his unique abilities unlock together with the augments to enhance them even more.
Your champion can be a marksman who potshots enemies at range and does cumulative damage over time. A mage does powerful support and damage magic, but are weaker defensively and move slowly. The Assassin’s specialty is to kill enemy champions the quickest way possible. Tanks take the brunt of the enemy attacks but don’t deal much damage. Fighters are slightly weaker and do more damage than Tanks. Lastly, there are the supports that heal the team, give it some defensive buffs, and weaken the enemies with negative buffs.
If their health is reduced down to zero, champions will respawn back at your base and can resume the fight from there. Your champion can earn gold by killing enemy champions, minions, neutral monsters roaming the jungle, and enemy structures. You can use the gold you’ve collected to buy items during the match that further augments your champion’s unique abilities.
If you’re interested in getting into a MOBA, this would be a great choice since it’s easier to understand but offers enough challenges even for MOBA veterans to enjoy. Even if it’s older than Dota 2, it’s still among the top draws in eSports tournaments. It continues to shine even a decade after its initial release.
Despite being more than seven years old, it’s still going strong and has been the second most popular competitive game in the eSports scene behind only Dota 2. Many of the absolute best FPS gamers come from the Counter-Strike community. Despite being old and there being newer FPS games released every year, none have succeeded in taking its crown as the top online team-based FPS yet.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, just like the other titles in the series, is a team-oriented game that pits one group of counter-terrorists against another group made up of terrorists. You can have other objectives on the map, but your main goal is to help your team eliminate the other side.
The reason for its enduring success is that it listens to its fans. Being a mod of Half-Life, in the beginning, it has continued to evolve with the help of valuable feedback from the community. And because of the close collaboration, it resulted in several updates that made the game seem fresh, more refined, and never dull to play. It’s like a fine wine that tastes better with age.
In fact, some of the community created mods have become part of the new modes offered in updates. With the kind of two-way relationship they have with their fans, it’s hard to see the support behind this game wavering anytime soon.
Valve Corp. titles have continued their domination in eSports for several years now. Dota 2 and CS: Global Offensive have both been lucrative sellers in the scene. But lately, upstarts like Fortnite and PUBG have been taking a huge bite off the competitive gaming pie, so it’s hard to tell if Valve can continue their leadership with these old titles or if they can come up with a new smash hit.
With a lot of patience, practice, and dedication, who knows? You might end up among the elite in whatever competitive game that you decide to master. Even if you don’t, it’s still worth your while to participate in friendly and sometimes not so friendly competitions just for the fun of it. It’s better than going up against a predictable enemy AI.
In gaming, nothing beats the feeling of going head-to-head against other human beings or teaming up with friends against another group of people. The best competitive games have given us gamers a means to satisfy the competitive spirit living inside us all. So go out there and start taking usernames.