The 9 Best PS4 Party Games of 2021

Take your next party up a notch

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The Rundown
"Jackbox Party Packs were designed specifically to get a group of friends laughing and chatting."
"A great way to put a new spin on family game night, you can grab your favorite Monopoly pieces and start buying up the virtual world."
"A fast-paced cooperative cooking game that scales from relaxing to downright intense as the game progresses."
"With many different bomb scenarios available, this game can keep you and your friends entertained for a long time."
"Players jump into an 8-bit-style combat arena where they battle each other with arrows and melee attacks."
"You'll never run out of fun thanks to the game's ever-expanding community that features over 8.5 million custom level designs."
"Harmonix has long been a leader in music gaming, with legendary titles like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central."
"Dance games are a tried-and-true way to get a party going, and that’s just what Just Dance does best."
"Castle Crashers Remastered is an old-school beat ‘em up with modern-day appeal."

We're all starved for human contact, and one of the best ways to remedy that is with the best PS4 party games. While there is no substitute for hanging out IRL, until we can all hang out again in person, these games are a solid stand-in. The PS4 has built up a broad lineup of stellar games, which include plenty of single-player titles and more serious, immersive fare. But you’ll also find a treasure trove of light, casual options, designed for shorter sessions and more players.

As a bonus, the PS4 has a strong set of social features for connecting with friends. You can use Share Play to let people watch a stream of your game, join local multiplayer, or take control of your game remotely, even if they don’t own a copy of the game themselves. (Share Play is limited to two players and one-hour sessions, with certain features requiring a PlayStation Plus subscription.)

The PS4 may not be the newest console anymore, but it still has plenty to offer, so don’t feel like you’re missing out if you can’t get your hands on a hard-to-find PlayStation 5 (PS5) or don’t want to shell out for the upgrade. Just grab one of these crowd-pleasers for the PS4 and get the good times rolling.

Best Overall: Jackbox Games Jackbox Party Pack 7

Jackbox Party Pack 7
What We Like
  • Tailor-made for in-person or remote parties

  •  Hilarious collection of games

  • Improves on old formulas

What We Don't Like
  • Enjoyment varies based on your group

  • Some games are less fun to play remotely

Jackbox Party Packs were designed specifically to get a group of friends laughing and chatting, and the latest installment on PS4 does that job better than ever. Only the host needs to own the game; up to eight participants, as long as they can see the game screen, can join by entering a room code on any mobile device or web browser. Even more people can jump in at any time as audience members with lesser degrees of participation.

Headlining the five games in Party Pack 7 is Quiplash 3, a classic favorite where players write responses to prompts and everyone votes on their favorite answers. New to this edition is a “Thriplash” final round that calls for three-part responses, plus you can spice things up by using your own user-generated prompts.

Most Party Packs also include a drawing-based game, and in Champ’d Up, you sketch zany characters that are pitted blindly against each other. The Devils and the Details takes on a unique structure for a Jackbox game, putting you into a devil family to cooperate on household chores—while tempting you with selfish tasks that boost only your own score. Filling out the bundle are the impromptu speech game Talking Points and the mad-libs-style guessing game Blather ‘Round. It’s the strongest set of games to date, but if your favorites aren’t included, previous Party Packs still hold up well and might be worth a look.

“Some games were more fun than others to play on a big-group Zoom call, but it was definitely a hilarious way to hang out with friends from a distance.”Anton Galang, Product Tester

Best Board Game: Ubisoft Entertainment Monopoly

Monopoly Plus
What We Like
  • Core Monopoly game with optional rule variations

  • Customizable visual flair

  • Play online

What We Don't Like
  • Only one controller locally

  • Some users experienced glitches

Classic board games like Monopoly are a staple of social gatherings, and now you can enjoy it in a much more dynamic, digital way on the PS4. Monopoly Plus is a faithful re-creation of the property-buying, rent-collecting capitalist clash we know and love. A number of rule variations have become popular over the years, so the game includes options to choose your favorite set of house rules. You’ll also recognize all the familiar locations and game pieces, but with the extra razzle-dazzle of seeing the action brought to life on a highly animated three-dimensional board. You can even customize the board to your liking by changing up property names and icons and other visual elements.

Players in the same room can hop on the board using a single PS4 controller, which is handy if you only have one controller, but if you own multiple, players may wish they could each use one of their own. You do, however, have the convenient ability to play on a smartphone or tablet through the PlayStation mobile app. And then there’s online multiplayer, opening up the competition to friends on PlayStation Network (PSN) anywhere in the world.

Best Family Game: Team 17 Overcooked! 2 (PS4)

Overcooked 2
What We Like
  • Innovative twists to every level

  • Exciting cooperative gameplay

  • Free content added regularly

What We Don't Like
  •  May be challenging for young players

  • Loading between screens

Cooking can be a fun activity to do with the family, but Overcooked! 2 truly spices things up. You play as two to four cartoony chefs working together against the clock to grab the right ingredients, chop and cook them up, and serve them based on specific food orders. The kitchens, though, are what make things interesting. They each have a culinary theme ranging from sushi to pasta to desserts, along with zany mechanics like conveyor belts, river rafts, and swamp creatures. Some levels may get overwhelming, especially for younger gamers (or teams that can’t quite get on the same page), but it’s always a satisfying challenge to work through as a group.

Overcooked! 2 doesn’t require any knowledge or experience of the first game; it takes a solid core formula and adds tons of fresh levels for new or existing fans to enjoy. If you get through the mostly plot-free campaign and are hungry for more, new stages are added for free during various seasons and holidays throughout the year, along with other content and characters available for purchase. There are also online modes where you can cook alongside or against other individuals or teams.

“The game has plenty it can teach about teamwork and communication, so it has potential to be a bonding tool for all ages.”Anton Galang, Product Tester

Best Puzzle: Steel Crate Games Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
What We Like
  •  Hilarious and hectic group activity

  • All but one player can communicate remotely

  • VR option

What We Don't Like
  • Can be difficult and stressful

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is one party video game where you won’t have all your guests staring at a screen. In fact, only one player (the Diffuser) is allowed to see and manipulate the convoluted, procedurally generated bomb. They must describe it to the other players (the Experts), who then have to interpret the downloadable/printable bomb-defusal manual and relay instructions to the Diffuser on how to shut down the bomb within the time limit. It’s tense, frantic, loud, and lots of fun—just like the best parties.

One advantage the game has in the era of remote get-togethers is that, because the Experts never actually see the bomb, they can call in their commands through any type of voice chat. Another bonus is that Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes was originally designed to be played with a virtual reality (VR) headset. So if you have a PlayStation VR, the Diffuser can isolate him or herself in a virtual world with the explosive for a more stressfully immersive experience.

Best Action: Matt Makes Games Towerfall Ascension

Towerfall Ascension
What We Like
  • Designed for local multiplayer action

  • Responsive, fun archery combat

What We Don't Like
  • No online multiplayer

  • Limited solo/co-op campaign

As a modest, pixel-art indie game, TowerFall Ascension may seem like it couldn’t compare to Nintendo’s big-name brawler Super Smash Bros., but the similarities are clear when it comes to head-to-head couch multiplayer mayhem. TowerFall Ascension tosses four players onto a single-screen 2D map for an archery-based platform-jumping deathmatch. You start off with a supply of only three arrows, but you can pick up arrows stuck around the environment or catch them in mid-air. Mixed in with some melee moves, jump skills, and power-ups, it adds up to precise and strategic yet accessible combat that makes every match intense and enjoyable.

While this updated edition of the game does include a campaign where one or two players face off against waves of foes, it doesn’t shine nearly as much as the core battle royale mode. Having the option to play against others online would have been nice, but as a local-only multiplayer experience, it’s still an excellent way to duke it out with friends.

Best Platformer: Sony Interactive Entertainment LittleBigPlanet 3

LittleBigPlanet 3
What We Like
  • Wholesome co-op platforming

  • Tons of campaign and user-generated content

  • Rich creation and customization features

  • Excellent voice cast

What We Don't Like
  • New characters seem underused

  • Level creation tools can get overwhelming

The Sony exclusive series LittleBigPlanet comes to the PS4 with fresh twists on its charming co-op platforming gameplay. You still traverse imaginative, hard-crafted settings in a delightful Stephen Fry-narrated campaign, but your main character, Sackboy, now has tools and power-ups at his disposal. More significantly, he’s joined along the way by three new playable friends, each with a distinct feel to their mechanics and how they move about the stage.

Besides the platforming, customization and creativity have always been key components of the series, and the latest entry continues to step things up. You can tweak Sackboy’s appearance, skills, gadgets, and friends. You can create and share your own levels, as well as try out any of the millions made by other members of the online community, including from the previous two games. The creator tools in LittleBigPlanet 3 are more powerful than ever, supporting up to 16 playable layers and new ways for imaginative level-makers to shake up the gameplay—all to the benefit of you and your party.

“My LittleBigPlanet journey started with the original on PS3, and I appreciate seeing how far the series has come while maintaining the creative and cooperative elements that sucked me in for hours.”Anton Galang, Product Tester

What We Like
  • Create cool mashups at any skill level

  • Diverse collection of available songs

  • Online competitive and collaborative multiplayer

What We Don't Like
  • No local multiplayer

  • Virtual audience requests don’t always make sense

Harmonix has long been a leader in music gaming, with legendary titles like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Central. They now look to mix things up with Fuser, a DJ simulator where you mash up tracks on the fly for a virtual music festival. A real audience, of course, is more satisfying than a virtual one, and Fuser’s online multiplayer lets you take part in head-to-head DJ battles or collaborate onstage with up to three other DJs, plus eight spectators that can rotate in. You can also create mashups on your own in Freestyle mode and share them with the community, with periodic challenges asking players to vote on their favorites.

In terms of the music-making itself, Fuser’s intuitive system lets even novices spit out often-strange yet often-awesome creations. You start by equipping songs from your catalog, which includes hits from just about every era and genre (and new options constantly added for purchase). Once onstage, you isolate the music into drum, bass, lead instrument, and vocal tracks and drop them in any combination onto your deck. More advanced and intrepid DJs can work on more technical skills, from dropping tracks right on the beat to adjusting the key to adding audio filters and more. Even without sophisticated techniques, though, you and your friends can mess around with your favorite tunes and come out with mashups worthy of your wildest virtual dance parties.

“As a casual musician and someone who bops to basically any type of popular music, I love throwing together a hot mess of jams, like ‘Call Me Maybe’ with ‘Jolene’ and ‘Push It’ and, obviously, ‘All Star.’”Anton Galang, Product Tester

Best Rhythm: Ubisoft Just Dance 2021

What We Like
  • Fun tracklist and choreography

  • Can use smartphone as controller

  • Online World Dance Floor mode

What We Don't Like
  • Similar formula year-to-year

Dance games are a tried-and-true way to get a party going, and that’s just what Just Dance does best. The 2021 edition has one of the strongest song lists of the long-running series, ranging from current hits like Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain on Me” to modern classics like Eminem’s “Without Me.” Grab some friends, follow the energetic and entertaining moves of the on-screen characters dancing in front of vibrant backdrops, and it’s an instant dance party. Plus, the colorful visuals combined with the kid-approved tracks of the dedicated Kids Mode make it one of the best PS4 games for kids.

Just Dance 2021 is also more accessible than ever now that specific motion accessories aren’t required to join the fun. Up to six players can jump in simply by downloading the free controller app and holding their smartphones in their hands. Then there’s the online, cross-platform World Dance Floor mode that pits you against dancers around the globe. New to the mode this year is a qualifying round that sorts you into one of three “rooms” based on your skill level. Finally, the game comes with a free one-month subscription of the Just Dance Unlimited streaming service—it provides access to over 600 songs from Just Dance games past and present, with exclusive content and new tracks added regularly.

Best Brawler: The Behemoth Castle Crashers Remastered

Castle Crashers
What We Like
  • Four-player hack-and-slash combat

  •  Comical art and animation

  • New minigame

What We Don't Like
  • Few changes from the original

  • Limited gameplay depth

Castle Crashers Remastered is an old-school beat ‘em up with modern-day appeal—especially for groups who want to hack and slash their way through a cartoony fantasy world with an oddball sense of humor. You’ll set off in a local or online party of up to four characters, choosing from knights of different colors and a slew of other options. Every character starts with a different set of abilities, and each player will end up with a unique build depending on the stats and skills they choose to focus on as they level up. This RPG element allows you to upgrade your strength, magic, defense, or agility, as well as access different combo attacks and items. You’ll even find cute animal friends to tag along.

The “Remastered” part of the game’s title comes through in the higher resolution and framerate that the PS4 makes possible, making it a smoother visual experience than the original or even the PS3 release. There’s also a new minigame called Back Off Barbarian where you follow arrows around a field of tiles. For the most part, though, Castle Crashers Remastered is the same throwback brawler that has you and your friends tearing through hordes of enemies, facing off against giant, bizarre bosses, and laughing all the while.

Final Verdict

You can find plenty of PS4 games with options for parties and groups, but the Jackbox Party Pack 7, with its selection of laugh-out-loud social games and in-person or remote options, is one that all but guarantees a good time. Depending on your group, though, you may prefer family-friendly fare like Overcooked! 2, a creative platformer like LittleBigPlanet 3, or a music game like Fuser or Just Dance 2021.

About Our Trusted Experts

Anton Galang is a writer and editor with a background in magazine journalism and more than a decade of experience. He has reviewed a number of products and games for Lifewire, including Overcooked! 2, which has become one of his family’s favorite party games.

FAQs

How many players can play at the same time on a PS4?
It usually depends on the number of players supported by the game. In terms of local couch multiplayer, you can connect up to four wireless PS4 controllers to the system, which is the maximum that most games allow for. Many party games, though, include more creative ways to account for a large group of players, such as smartphone controls, sharing controllers, and the unique non-screen Expert roles in Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. And with online play, some games support modes that involve much more than four players.


How do you play PS4 games online?

Almost any online multiplayer mode on a PS4 game requires a PlayStation Plus membership to play. There are often free one-month trials available, but after that, you will need to sign up for a monthly ($9.99), quarterly (24.99), or yearly ($59.99) subscription. The exception is with certain free-to-play games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone that can be played without a PlayStation Plus subscription.


Can PS4 games be played on the PS5?

If you’re a lucky owner of a Sony PS5, you will be able to play almost any PS4 game on your new system. There are only a limited number of titles that are not backwards compatible with the PS5, so just double-check that list for the game in question. PS4 games may also see a performance boost on the powerful next-gen console. PS3, PS2, and PS1 games, unfortunately, are not compatible with the PS5 (unless they have been remastered for the PS4).

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