Who doesn’t love a good, old fashioned LAN party? While the games played at LANs may change over the years, the core ingredients of a LAN party remain the same. A group of like-minded gamers meet up, set up their latest gaming beasts and after a few short hours of resolving technical problems and trips back home to grab forgotten power boards, these lucky participants enter gaming Valhalla. From this point friendships are tested, insults are traded and red bull cans are flung around the room as they compete for the respect of their fellow gamers. Then as the sun rises the participants emerge from their dungeon red eyed and smelling of pizza to seek sweet slumber.
There are so many great PC LAN games out there, however it is always the CODs and the DOTAs that seem to grab the headlines. While these games are indeed classics, we would like to share some of our games that seasoned LANers will know but many of you may not have played. Here are five that may have slipped under the casual gamer’s radar but offer a lot of fun and a point of difference from the more mainstream PC LAN games.
Supreme Commander is all about scale. Massive scale. This polished RTS offers players huge maps full of hundreds if not thousands of troops and makes the player feel like the commander of an entire war rather than just a lieutenant of a small battlefront. While this title may be quite an old now, it still delivers an amazing amount of depth and strategy that some of its more contemporary rivals fail to match. It’s visuals also belie it’s 2007 release date as, despite the epic size of some of the battles, each unit is still surprisingly detailed when you zoom in. The game also does a very good job of balancing land, sea and air units to the point where all three need to be carefully balanced in order for the player to put a decent attack together.
Supreme Commander makes our list based on its immersive gameplay and the potential for LAN battles that can last many hours. While it might not be the most mainstream of RTS games, it offers enough accessibility for anyone to pick up and play while also offering the seasoned gamer limitless strategies and tactics to hone. If you need an RTS game for your next LAN, go back to a classic and give Supreme Commander a go.
Left 4 Dead 2
Never before has a game made up for so many failings in it’s single player so well with a great multiplayer experience. Left 4 Dead 2’s single player was poorly paced, frantic (but not in a good way) and generally quite boring. In contrast the multiplayer offered players something unique…the chance to be a zombie.
This survival horror/FPS game offers players the choice of taking control of one of four human survivors or as one of a number of different zombies, each with it’s own unique abilities. Out of wide range of zombies my personal favorites are ‘the boomer’ (pictured) who vomits bile and explodes on dying, ‘the smoker’ who shoots out a long tongue to impale its victims and ‘the charger’ who as his name suggests charges into the survivors and then begins to slam one of them into the group repeatedly (one of the finest moments in gaming in my humble opinion).
Left 4 dead 2 also has a particularly fun mod for LANs called ‘Let’s build a rocket’ which involves fending off waves of zombies while attempting to build a rocket to fly you the hell out of there. I still recall the unbridled joy of accomplishing this feat for the very first time at a LAN and the intense concentration and organization it took to get there. Left 4 Dead 2 makes our list for being one of the quirkiest but ultimately one of the most fun PC LAN games that you may have missed.
ORION: Dino Horde
Who hasn’t wanted to play a FPS as a dinosaur? This is exactly what Orion: Dino Horde offers players – the chance to chose from a range of their favorite dinosaurs (T-Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus) and chase after puny humans. Much like Left 4 Dead 2, this game was panned by critics as a single player experience, yet is surprisingly fun at LANs. While it is hard to argue that this is a well made game (it really is rough around the edges) it offers enough silly entertainment to make it a welcome distraction between more serious PC LAN games.
Orion: Dino Horde makes our list of PC LAN games for its simple fun that brings out the child in you as you stomp around eating your enemies and debate the merits of each dinosaur with your fellow LANers.
Natural Selection 2
Natural Selection 2 is the first game I can think of that has successfully blended an RTS with an FPS. The game pits a squad of marines against a horde of angry aliens in a game with more than a little influence from the film Aliens. The difference of Natural Selection 2 from the bulk of the other FPS games is that each team nominates a commander at the start of each game. The commanders role is to direct their troops to build structures, expand their territory and ultimately take over the map. This unique element means that following your commanders orders and working as a team is more important than ever and without cooperation you will lose.
Other cool features of the game include the ability of the alien grunts (known as skulks) to run across walls and ceilings and pounce on the unsuspecting marines (as in the screenshot above) and a tech tree that influences what weapons and aliens you have at your disposal.
Natural Selection 2 makes our list for its ability to create such a deep and intense LAN experience that forces you to work as a team. Every game is a hard-fought slog, where each inch of territory and resource point your team gains is a victory. If you haven’t tried the game you owe it to yourself to load this up at your next LAN.
Dungeon Defenders is a four player, third-person quasi-tower defence game. As with some of our other PC LAN games, many will overlook this gem due to its rather bland single player experience, but this is a game best played with friends in a local co-op session. In Dungeon Defenders you pick one of four fantasy classes, build and upgrade your defenses and do your best to survive multiple waves of enemies in an effort to defend the precious Eternia Crystal. While this may sound like it could be quite repetitive, the genius of Dungeon Defenders is how each wave of enemies presents a different challenge, forcing you to adapt your defenses accordingly.
The secret to this game’s fun is a combination of its frantic crisis control and an addictive loot/upgrade system that leaves you hooked and wanting to play game after game. It is for this reason that Dungeon Defenders has made our list of great PC LAN games you may not have played.