Last Updated on by
Though not as common as they used to be, there’s nothing better than good old-fashioned LAN parties. With the rise of online gaming, it’s convenient and easy to play with friends from home. That said, it lacks the connection and fun you can have when gaming with your friends in the same place. There are many perks to playing over LAN, and you can spend hours bonding with friends while taking out noobs online.
It’s super easy to find games that support online multiplayer modes. It’s not as easy to find games that support LAN, let alone good ones. But they are out there. Whether you’re looking for a more reliable connection, better network security, or just fun times with your friends, LAN gaming is the way to go. Don’t know much about LAN? No worries. In this complete guide, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about LAN gaming. We’ve even included our top ten picks for the best LAN games you can get. Stick around, and you’ll be on your way to hosting an epic LAN party that will show your friends that LAN gaming is still alive and well.
Best LAN Games
🏆 Our Honorable Picks🥇
» Best Horror Game: Friday the 13th at Amazon
“Great team bonding and adrenaline elements.”
» Best Zombie Apocalypse Shooter: Left 4 Dead 2 at Amazon
“Nearly ten years old, and yet it is still one of the most played and most community-supported the zombie-apocalypse game.”
» Best Sandbox Game: Minecraft at Amazon
“Figure out how to combine resources to make new things.”
» Best Role-playing Game: Divinity: Original Sin 2 at Amazon
“Characters are hugely customizable, and the game allows you to build their personal story.”
» Best Fast-paced Game: Rocket League at Amazon
“Rocket League combines the rules and gameplay of soccer with the speed and adrenaline of driving cars.”
» Best Real-time Strategy Game: Warcraft 3 at Amazon
“If you’re into fantasy creatures and infinitely customizable players, then there’s no better game than Warcraft 3.”
» Best Wartime Shooter Game: Call of Duty: WWII at Amazon
“Beyond zombies, you can also play classic COD modes such as Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Search and Destroy and Domination.”
» Best Co-operative cooking simulation Game: Overcooked 2 at Amazon
“Become the greatest chef in the Onion Kingdom and wipe out the plague that is taking over.”
» Best Free FPS Game: Team Fortress 2
“It offers the ability to host up to thirty-two players as long as you’ve got a powerful enough system as a host.”
» Best Turn-based Strategy Game: Civilization VI at Amazon
“Build a nation from lowly beginnings to a mighty empire. “
1. Friday the 13th
Available on: PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
With a basis in the famous movies, Friday the 13th is, as you’ve probably guessed, a horror game. It’s one of the best LAN games you can get and has been designed almost entirely for this purpose. You can play with up to seven people in total. Six will play as camp counselors at Camp Crystal lake and work together as a team. The other gamer will play as the enemy, Jason Voorhees, the psychopathic murderer. The goal of the game is for the group of counselors to survive Jason, while he attempts to murder all of them.
It’s an excellent game for LAN parties as it has some great team bonding and adrenaline elements. You can also take turns with who takes on the role of Jason, so everyone gets to try their hand at slaughtering the others. While the storyline isn’t original, it doesn’t need to be. The game takes a nostalgic series and brings the players into its world. For LAN gaming, it’s perfect.
2. Left 4 Dead 2
Available On: PC, Xbox 360
Since we are already on the topic of horrors, we can’t forget about Left 4 Dead 2. It has raving reviews from PC gamers on Steam, scoring 10/10, and we can see why. It takes the classic theme of a zombie invasion with a unique spin. While you can play the game on campaign mode, either solo or multiplayer, the real fun is in versus mode. Half of the players control the humans, and the other half are zombies. You can play this game on LAN with up to eight people in total.
Four players will play as the humans whose aim is to survive continuous attacks from the zombies. The other players will be part of the zombie horde and will be trying to take down the humans. There will be other AI zombies as part of the swarm as well, but the actual players get zombies with specialized skills. They get super zombies. What’s cool about this game is it requires some serious strategizing during gameplay. While many multiplayer games can be quite basic, shoot and kill, Left 4 Dead 2 focuses on team tactics to be victorious.
Available on: Pretty much everything!
Minecraft is a household name in the gaming world and one of the best-selling PC games of all time. It’s a sandbox-style game, which means that you’re dumped into the map and can do whatever you want. The premise of the game is to use blocks to build things. Blocks represent everything in-game, and it’s up to you to figure out how to combine resources to make new things. It’s an excellent game for friends to play on a LAN. Two hands are better than one in this game, and the more, the merrier.
There are two main game modes to choose from; Survival and Creative. Survival mode is the default and also the more exciting of the two modes. You and your friends will need to find resources to construct buildings, keep your characters fed, find new locations, and fight off mobs of enemies. Creative mode means the sky is the limit! You’ll get unlimited resources, as well as the ability to fly in this mode. It removes the survival elements as well, so no need to worry about enemies or starvation. It’s a fun mode when you and your friends want to see how epic of a world you can build.
4. Divinity: Original Sin 2
Available on: PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
If you’re LAN gaming with a group of four players or less and love a good RPG than Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the best LAN games. The characters are hugely customizable, and the game allows you to build their personal story. You can choose from a roster of pre-made characters, each with the full development of their backstory. Or you can opt to create your character from scratch. It embodies everything we love about an RPG game with the added benefit of its LAN capabilities
The goal of the game is to prevent the world from ending. You will do so alongside members of your team. The turn-based combat style means that playing on LAN allows you to communicate with your team-mates to discuss strategies. Discussion and strategizing are essential to being successful in the game as there are many awesome combat tactics available using multiple players. Though the game is available on a ton of devices, you cannot play cross-platform. All devices that connect to the LAN have to be the same for it to work. So, either everyone needs to be on a PC or everyone on an Xbox One, etc.
5. Rocket League
Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Described as “soccer with cars,” Rocket League combines the rules and gameplay of soccer with the speed and adrenaline of driving cars. While sitting around with friends playing FIFA is one thing, Rocket League is much more fun, fast-paced, and silly. It’s the perfect game for friends who want some light competitiveness and simple goals. You’ll pick from a roster of customizable cars and start the game on either the blue or orange team.
Each team starts on opposite sides of the field and, just like standard soccer, the aim is to score goals. The clock continues to countdown while the teams attempt to get the ball into the opponents’ net as many times as possible. After each goal, the cars all move back to their starting position and start again. It’s not as simple as it sounds, and the game is full of complex plays. Beyond that, it’s incredibly fast-paced, and you’ll need to be quick to outmaneuver the other players. Rocket League has sprung to popularity in the esports world. Every year the Rocket League Championship series draws teams from all over to world who compete for the title of World Champions.
6. Warcraft 3
Available on: PC, Mac
If you’re into fantasy creatures and infinitely customizable players, then there’s no better game than Warcraft 3. Even if you’re not a big gamer, chances are you’ve heard of the infamous World of Warcraft series. It’s no doubt one of the best LAN games of all time. While you can play multiplayer online, you can also play it over LAN with up to twelve platers total. Warcraft 3 has four different options when choosing your race: Humans, Undead, Orcs, or Night Elves.
The game aims to destroy all your enemy’s buildings and bases. They will also be attempting to destroy yours, as well. The multiplayer mode is relatively quick due to the map being fully visible but cloudy from the fog of war. It means you don’t have to waste your time exploring and trying to locate the enemy. There is a cool map editor that allows you to create customized maps to play in. It’s a cool feature for LAN gaming since if you prepare, everyone can bring some unique maps with them to the LAN party. It will allow everyone the opportunity to play on a map they never have before.
7. Call of Duty: WWII
Available on: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
One of the best LAN games is, without a doubt, the Nazi Zombies mode on Call of Duty: WWII. The zombie mode, in general, has been an absolute fan favorite, and there’s nothing like fighting off the invading horde with your friends. You can play this mode with up to four people on LAN. Explore your way through the levels while collecting more powerful weapons and increasingly large waves of zombies. While the game begins quite mildly, it soon becomes almost impossible to protect yourself from the stronger and faster zombies. You’ll need to work together as a team and watch each other’s backs to avoid extermination.
Beyond zombies, you can also play classic COD modes such as Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Search and Destroy and Domination as well. There are tons of options for LAN gameplay in this title, which makes it an excellent choice for a LAN party. The different modes add versatility to the game, so you’re guaranteed not to get bored, even during a multi-day LAN session.
8. Overcooked! 2
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Mac, Linux
Flipping onto the whole other side of the spectrum is Overcooked! 2. You won’t find any zombies or car racing here. Overcooked! 2 drops you smack in the middle of chaotic kitchens where you’ll need to cook your way to success. You can play with up to four players and work together in many different unique kitchen setups. The goal is to become the greatest chef in the Onion Kingdom and wipe out the plague that is taking over.
Each kitchen comes with its string of challenges and obstacles to overcome. It could be on a pirate ship that’s rocking back and forth, or on a highway, speeding between other vehicles. You never know what you’re going to get in this game. You’ll need to coordinate your kitchen and all work together or end up with a big mess on your hands. It’s a more light-hearted and silly game to play during a LAN party. The cartoony graphics and ridiculous levels will have you and your friends laughing the whole time.
9. Team Fortress 2
Available on: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac, Linux
Team Fortress 2 is a first-person shooter-style game that has amazing potential for LAN gaming. It offers the ability to host up to thirty-two players as long as you’ve got a powerful enough system as a host. There are tons of different maps and game modes, which means there’s no shortage of gameplay options during a serious LAN party. The game is also free, which means everyone can download it without having to pay anything.
You can choose between nine different classes in Team Fortress 2. Each class has different strengths and weaknesses that will help them during the game. The class options are Pyro, Scout, Heavy, Sniper, Soldier, Medic, Spy, Demoman, and Engineer. There are also tons of unlockable weapons that are available as you continue to play. The only downside of this is that some players will have an advantage if they’ve already unlocked weapons before LAN gaming. There will likely be newbies in the group who will be stuck with stock weapons while others dominate with upgraded ones. That said, it’s an excellent choice for LAN gaming all around.
10. Civilization VI
Available on: PC, Mac. It’s also available on Nintendo Switch, but it has no multiplayer mode.
Civilization is a well-known turn-based strategy game in which you build a nation from lowly beginnings to a mighty empire. You’ll begin thousands of years ago and advance your country in whichever way you see fit. You can focus your efforts on your military, or great wonders and science. Either route can lead you to victory. It’s an excellent game for LAN, and you can play with up to six players in total.
The game is notorious for taking an extremely long time. Depending on the size of the map and the way your enemies play the game. If everyone’s strategy is to remain peaceful and gain a victory based on resources, then you’ll be waiting for it to end for a long time. On the flip, if you have some aggressive players, it could be over quite quickly. Either way, you can choose maps and turn amounts that will allow the game to finish up quicker. Even if there’s no military victory, the game will come to a close and tally up the winner based on other factors. It’s fun for LAN gaming as you can choose who you want to ally yourself with and who you want to take out.
LAN gaming is, in our opinion, the best way to play video games. It encourages human interaction and allows you to bond with your friends while doing what you love, gaming. Though it may seem tedious to haul your rig from place to place, it’s worth it for all the fun you will have once you get to your location. If you don’t like it, then opt to host the party! Don’t let the LAN gaming trend fade into the darkness. With some fantastic titles, like the best LAN games on our list, there’s no reason not to jump on board and get the LAN party started.
What is LAN?
LAN stands for “Local Area Network.” What this means is that any consoles or devices on a LAN are on one network. Beyond just the creation of an interface between the devices, it also specifies that they are local, or in the same physical vicinity. The area a LAN covers can be anything from one room to an entire office building. Typically, though, it will be in one building. Within this, you’ll find LANs that can support anywhere from a couple of devices to thousands of devices. No matter what the size of a LAN, the main factor that determines a LAN is that it’s in a specific, limited location.
The perk of connecting to a LAN is that all devices will be linked together. It means that files and resources can be shared seamlessly from one to another. Here, we will be talking about how you can use LAN networks for gaming and the benefits of doing so.
You may come across other networks such a WANs, and they are “Wide Area Networks.” That means devices don’t need to be local to each other to hop onto this network.
What is LAN Gaming?
LAN gaming is when you play video games with others in the same location on a local rea network. It means that you and your friends all hook your devices up and can be physically in the same place as each other while you game. It’s a fun way to take your multiplayer gameplay to a whole new level. Instead of talking to friends over microphones, or not at all, you can all be together.
There are many different types and genres of games that you can play via a LAN. Many gamers are opting for the convenience of online multiplayer, but that’s not to say LAN gaming is dead. While the need for LAN gaming is reducing, the want is still there because games are just more fun with friends. LAN gaming is also a great option if you want to play with others but have a bad network connection.
To participate in LAN gaming, you will have to bring your device to the location of the network. That means you’ll need to cart your entire rig, including your monitor. It can be a bit annoying if you have a large setup. So, if you plan to do a lot of LAN gaming, it might be a good idea to invest in a small, portable monitor that you can take specifically for that reason. Because it is very time consuming to pack and unpack your rig, LAN parties will often take place over multiple days. That way, you can set up and leave it be for a while.
LAN gaming encompasses a vast number of players. You can game with two people, or you can game with two-hundred people. It can take place at a friend’s house, or massive venues set up expressly for the occasion. The idea isn’t new either. LAN gaming has been around since gaming was still in black and white. Since we now have access to the much more evolved technology of online multiplayer gaming, why would you even want to play via LAN?
Well, of course, you can sit alone and play many amazing titles online against friends and strangers. If you live somewhere quite isolated or don’t have transport, then playing online may be your only chance to game with others. It does have its benefits, of course, in that you don’t need to haul your rig from place to place. But with the millions of people gaming online and many of them playing by their own rules, it can be more challenging to have a quality gaming experience. There is no shortage of hackers and cheaters in the online space, and it’s no fun playing against them. When you’re always getting your head blown off in an FPS and don’t have a chance, you’ll start to resent playing at all.
Beyond that, playing online comes with its share of technical issues, as well. If you’ve got a bad connection or your rig can’t keep up, you may end up with lag. Even if you do have the highest quality of gaming equipment, you may still end up facing delays from the game servers end. As we all know, lag is the ultimate enemy of gamers everywhere, especially in fps or racing games. If you connect directly to a LAN, you’ll rarely, if ever, experience lag times more than 40 milliseconds. With the advancement of LAN technology, you can even use services to expand your LAN network, allowing you to connect outside of your home or building.
How To Play Games on LAN
Now that you know what LAN is and a bit about LAN gaming, let’s talk about how to game via LAN. We will walk you through how to set everything up from beginning to end so you’ll be able to be the best host for your next LAN party.
1. Pick Your Games
The first step is to find and choose games that will support playing on LAN. Since online multiplayer is becoming increasingly more popular, it’s a bit harder to find games that allow you to LAN. It’s not impossible, though, and there are still some incredible titles that fully support and tailor to LAN gaming. Before you waste a ton of time setting up a LAN, you’ll want to ensure your games are going to be compatible.
The majority of the time, each playing will need a copy of the game installed on their computer or console. Make sure before your friends come over that they all have the game, and it’s ready to go. It will prevent any unnecessary problems when they arrive and allow you to get straight the gaming.
Some games will require an internet connection to run, even if they have LAN support. Make sure you check this out before you choose the game, especially if you’ve got a lousy internet connection. That said, some games don’t require any internet connection at all to the game.
2. Get Your Equipment Ready
You won’t need too much beyond your basic gaming set up, but there are some essential items you’ll want to have on hand.
– Extension cords and surge protectors. You’re going to have a lot of people drawing power from your outlets. With multiple gaming kits plugged in, you need to ensure you’ve got surge protectors, so you don’t end up tripping a circuit during gameplay. There’s nothing worse than being kicked off mid-game and losing everything. Extension cables are also essential so you can utilize multiple outlets but still set up everyone’s rigs wherever you want them.
– Ethernet cables. Some gamers will bring their own, but you will need to have enough so that everyone can connect their computers to your switch. It is an essential piece of equipment for everyone to have. Otherwise, they will not be able to link up. You also need to have a cable that will connect from the switch into the primary router.
– Desks, tables, chairs. Get all the furniture you need in place. Depending on how many people you have coming, you’ll want to consider the best layout of your space. Decide where people can set up their computers and make sure adequate table space and seating space are available so that everyone is comfortable.
3. Circuit Logistics
When setting up the computers, try to connect them to different circuits. Try to find out which sockets link to which circuits. It will prevent you from overloading one circuit and will spread the energy usage out. Usually, different rooms will have different channels, and often most outlets in the same room will be on the same circuit. It may mean running some extension cables into other rooms of the house, ensuring you don’t run into any issues in-game. It’s also a good idea to have some reliable surge protectors to prevent any power surges.
4. Get a Switch
Though many internet routers will have a few ports, they likely won’t have enough to properly LAN. If you’re just LAN gaming with one or two others, you may have enough ports, but make sure to double-check the back of your router. You can get a network switch, which plugs directly in your router, that you can connect additional Ethernet cables into. They are relatively inexpensive, and you can plug in at least five extra Ethernet cables.
When you’re purchasing a switch, make sure to double-check it comes with auto-sensing ports. Most switches will have this feature, but some will require you to buy a crossover cable.
Connecting via a switch is essential for LAN gaming. If you have multiple people hooking onto your wifi, you can almost guarantee severe lag in-game.
5. Plug in Your Network Switch
Beyond just plugging into your router, you’ll also need to connect your switch into a power source for it to function.
6. Router Setup
You’ll then need to connect your switch to your router. You can do this using an Ethernet cord in any of the ports on the switch. Connect it to any of the Ethernet ports on the router. It doesn’t matter which one. Once you connect them than any additional computer you link up will have a direct connection to your internet.
It’s not necessary to have internet for all LAN gaming. Only some games require an internet connection. If you’re playing a game that doesn’t require the internet, then you can skip the link to your router. We would recommend just connecting into the internet anyways, in case any of the other gamers need to download game updates. Your router can also auto-assign IP addresses to each device, which makes it simpler for everyone to get connected.
7. Port Connection
Now you will need to connect all your friend’s computers/consoles to the switch. Plug them into any of the ports on the switch via an Ethernet cable. It will not make a difference which port you plug into. If for any reason, one of the computers has no Ethernet port, then you have a couple of options. You can either use an adapter, which you can purchase to fit into a USB port or connect to wifi. We would recommend going the adapter route if you want the most seamless connection. Wifi can be unpredictable when you’ve got multiple people hogging the bandwidth.
If you’ve got more people than can fit on one switch, you can attach an additional one to create more connection points. Rather than plugging both switches into the router, it is recommended you connect the second switch panel into the first.
8. Disable Firewalls
Most people will have a firewall program installed onto their computers. While this is for protection on more extensive networks, it will also impair your ability to connect to other computers. For LAN gaming, you’ll want to have all firewalls disabled. Double-check as well that Windows Firewall is also disabled, as it tends to be enabled automatically on most computers.
Another thing to note is that many general anti-virus software will have include firewalls even if you don’t realize. So, you’ll want to double-check that within the software and ensure you have it turned off.
9. Setup a file-sharing program
The second-best thing about LAN parties is file sharing. The number one purpose is to game your hearts out, but it’s also a great opportunity to easily share files with your friends. Especially large ones like movies, video, and audio files. A LAN makes this easy as long as you have a dedicated program to use for this purpose. You can download file-sharing applications for free online, and they will show you all the people in the network that you can share to. It allows seamless transfer through shared folders on each other’s computers.
It will use up some of the connection speed to transfer files, though, so it’s not a good idea to do it while gaming.
10. Choose a Host
One of the computers on the LAN will serve as the “host computer.” This computer will be the one all the others link up to. It will allow them to retrieve all the necessary data for the game. For this reason, you’ll want the host computer to be the one that is the strongest of the bunch. If one friend has a better rig than use their PC as the host. The best PC will naturally have the smoothest running connection and thus is the one you want to feed out to the others.
For the fastest and most streamlined connection, you can set up a dedicated, non-active computer as a server. What this would mean is that you would not be gaming on that specific computer, it would just act as a host for the rest. It’s the best option for optimized performance but not always accessible to everyone. Certain games don’t allow you to have a dedicated server computer.
Pros and Cons of LAN Gaming
As with anything, there are pros and cons to LAN gaming. A lot of it comes down to personal preferences. That said, there are some definite perks to this style, as well as some annoyances.
– The atmosphere. When you’re playing with others, the vibe is just better all around. You can play with friends online, but the reality is that you’re still sitting alone. When you have a LAN party, you can chat with your friends and have the buzz of victory when you defeat the opposition. On the flip side, if you’re against each other, you can heckle, and trash talk without having to use a microphone. It creates an atmosphere for bonding with others in real life while getting the enjoyment out of gaming.
– Fun. Gaming on LAN is much more light-hearted and fun than playing online or solo. Many players online take things extremely seriously and can get competitive. While a bit of competitiveness is fun, when it goes too far, it can put a damper on the whole experience. At a LAN, you know the people you’re playing with, and everyone is just there for the same reason, to have a good time.
– Making friends. LAN offers an opportunity to widen your friend circle and meet new people with the same interests. Whether you’re attending a small-scale LAN with five people or a large-scale event with 100, if there are people you’ve never met, you’ll likely leave as friends at the end.
– Speed. LAN essentially eliminates lag. When you’re linked up to a LAN, then the gameplay will be seamless every time. If you’re playing online, then you will be at risk of experiencing lag, even if you’ve got a stable gaming rig. The game will run smoothly, with limited wait times since all the players are connected up and ready to go, no rendering required.
– File sharing. On top of the perks for LAN during a gaming session, you can also take advantage of the file-sharing. A LAN allows you to share large files between computers easily through the use of shared folders. It’s handy if you and your friends want to do a file-swap while you have your LAN party.
– Packing and unpacking. LAN gaming can be a bit of a pain as you need to pack up your gaming rig every time. The constant packing and unpacking are time-consuming as is hauling it to the venue where you’ll be gaming. The ideal situation would have a gaming laptop that is easy to transport. If you’ve got a PC, as many gamers do, then it’s not as convenient.
– Planning. Especially if you’re the host, there’s a lot of planning that goes into LAN gaming. You need to make sure you’ve got all the proper equipment, table space, and seating. Beyond just having the equipment, you should ensure you’ve got an adequate number of ports and cables for everyone to link up.
– Organization. With everyone having busy lives and things going on all the time, it’s not always easy to nail down all your friends for a LAN party. It’s not as easy as just hopping onto the computer and logging in for an hour or two. LAN gaming is a serious commitment of time. But if you can get some people to agree on a date, then it’s worth it.