With over 35 million users visiting Twitch monthly, it’s clear that there’s a huge market for people wanting to watch others play games. While it can be argued that playing games yourself would result in more engaging fun, this is not always the case.
There are countless reasons why someone would rather watch another person play games. Streamers have unique personalities, you can gain tips for certain games, or maybe you just prefer backseat gaming. Watching others play games can also introduce you to games that you might not have considered playing until you saw what it’s actually about. Backseat gaming certainly isn’t restricted to watching streamers, but streaming, overall, has become a major part of the gaming landscape. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best games to watch someone else play.
Updated January 14, 2022 by Cameron Roy Hall: Originally, we offered selections for enjoyable spectator games. Our picks focused on what one might enjoy watching a streamer play. Streamers and YouTubers have ballooned the unified popularity of this particular concept, and for that, we will be forever grateful. In this update, we'll be adding more games that are perfect to watch someone play, but these were chosen through the lens of in-person viewing. These are games that we believe are heightened by sharing them with a friend/partner, a couch, and whatever snack is nearby.
10 Baba Is You
One of life's great pleasures is watching someone play Baba Is You for the first time. Why is that, you may ask? Because it's an FBI-grade torture activity disguised as a cutesy puzzle game. For the uninitiated, the crux of Baba Is you is that you, the player, manipulate word blocks to reshape the puzzle board, the obstacles, and even yourself, to succeed.
The puzzles start out easy enough, but the difficulty ramp is less of a gentle incline and more of a sheer cliff. It's the kind of game that elicits extreme emotional reactions and, whether negative or positive, that's the kind of thing that's worth seeing unfold on another person's face. In a word, it's unforgettable.
9 The Uncharted Series
An oldie but a goodie, the Uncharted series mashes together platforming, target practice, and a movie, basically. It's this last facet that makes any Uncharted game fun to watch because, even outside the cutscenes, the characters are actively engaged in interesting, story/character developing dialogue, which can be heightened or hilariously undercut, depending on the skill level of the person holding the controller.
There are a number of games that fit this particular mold these days, but it's arguable that Uncharted did it best or, at the very least, first. Can the same effect be achieved by just streaming National Treasure on Disney Plus? Sure, but then you run the risk of missing Nathan Drake's hilarious death squeals.
For the Percy Jackson fans that felt as though Riordan's modern fairy tale was missing something, there's Hades. A wonderfully crafted and beautifully rendered rogue-like that goes the extra mile to ensure everyone leaves feeling a little confused.
The reason it's so interesting to watch another person play is that the cyclical gameplay of a rogue-like is baked into the story, with an emphasis on the minutiae that differentiates every single run. Invisible choices (actionable events without specific in-game indicators) inform the dialogue, which makes each attempt to jailbreak Grecian Hell unique. Also, everyone's hot. Pretty sure we mentioned that.
Hey, another puzzle game! Back in the day, before ninety percent of the dialogue was snatched for colloquial memes and YouTube parody musicals, the world did not in fact think with portals. And that's important because seeing a person try to think with portals for the first time is more precious than a parent witnessing their child's first steps.
We cannot stress enough how much glorious confusion Portal caused. What's more, as we collectively struggled to wrap our minds around this new reality, a sassy, homicidal AI was emotionally browbeating us. Was it infuriating? Sure. Was it the funniest thing to watch another person suffer through? Absolutely.
6 The Kingdom Hearts Series
Its mere existence defies logic and sound reason and baffles even the sturdiest mind... and that hardly begins to cover how complex the Kingdom Hearts series truly is. The briefest explanation requires a PowerPoint presentation because the story is what happens if a Final Fantasy game (which aren't exactly known for their brevity) paused every fifteen minutes to play an entire Disney movie before returning to the main plot.
And, if we're being honest with ourselves, that's kind of the beauty of it. It's patently ridiculous, sure, but it's equally endearing, nostalgic, and surprisingly fun to play. Who hasn't wanted to run around Beast's castle, or give Frollo a good smack? It's unbridled silliness that takes itself the right amount of seriously and is far more enjoyable if shared with a friend.
5 League Of Legends
Considered one of the biggest esports games today, League of Legends is a team-based MOBA with the ultimate goal of destroying the enemy team’s nexus. With over 157 champions available, League of Legends contains one of the most robust character selections in games. Originally launched in 2009, League of Legends has seen its player base grow to nearly 180 million monthly users over the years.
The popularity of League of Legends has soared to such heights that Netflix recently released a show based on the game called Arcane. It’s a spin-off series that some feel does the game justice and expands upon its lore uniquely. League of Legends matches can be extremely intense with the outcome flipping in any given moment, making it one of the better games to spectate.
4 FromSoftware Games
It might come off as a surprise, but games in the past didn’t always have an abundance of save points and checkpoints. Some games required you to commit to the long haul, in fear that all the time invested would go to waste and you’d have to start all over. FromSoftware has embraced that old concept and developed a range of extremely difficult and stress-inducing games that reward determination and hard work.
Commonly referred to as Soulsborne games, the Dark Souls series and Bloodborne are held to such high praise in the gaming community for their unrelenting punishment to players who don’t take the games seriously. Watching others play these games can unearth tips and strategies that you otherwise might’ve never discovered. On the other hand, watching someone else play and succeed at these games would spare you having to go through the same torture if you’re only interested in the story.
When Riot decided to jump into the first-person competitive shooter arena, many had their doubts about Valorant. But now, Valorant has evolved into one of the premier online team-based shooters in the same vein as Counter Strike. In a five-on-five setting, the objective of Valorant is to either plant or defuse the spike-bomb, depending on which team you’re on.
While most other online shooters have adapted to a battle royale-type format, it’s refreshing that Valorant sought to perfect the classic team-based format. Currently, there are 17 agents in Valorant, but Riot continues to add more throughout the game’s ongoing development. Because of Valorant’s continued rise in the online shooter community, it was nominated for the best esports game for the Game Awards.
2 Grand Theft Auto Online
It’s a running joke about how impressive Grand Theft Auto 5’s overall sales are and how often Rockstar launches “new iterations” of the same game, just on new consoles. While Grand Theft Auto 5 has a compelling story with a cast of interesting characters, the real money-maker is its online component.
Launching in 2013, Grand Theft Auto Online presents a plethora of activities and missions for you to partake in, but mostly playing online just means doing all the nonsense you’d do in the game but with other people. Eventually, Rockstar added high-quality events to the experience, like the Online Heists. Streamers of Grand Theft Auto Online have also heightened the experience by introducing a role-playing aspect to the game, some even going as far as using voice mods.
1 Halo Infinite
The half-surprise of Microsoft launching the Halo Infinite multiplayer beta early during the company’s 20-year anniversary stream has elevated the game to this list’s top spot. Halo multiplayer was held the competitive shooters’ genre in a vice grip, but since the changing of developers in 2012, Halo hasn’t experienced the same level of success.
Halo Infinite looks to change that, and so far, it’s off to an amazing start. Throughout the gaming industry, Halo Infinite’s multiplayer has garnered incredible praise for its solid structure, smooth gameplay, and phenomenal ranking system. The only negative has been the limited maps and playlists, though 343 Industries will continue to enhance the game. For now, Halo Infinite has the inside track in becoming one of the best online experiences in recent memory, and one that's an absolute thrill to watch.
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