Online games sure have come a long way, right? I can recall when they were pretty much relegated to browser-based quiz games and Flash knock-offs of retro arcade titles.
The quality of online games has improved greatly since then, and even better, they tend to focus on competition.
It’s you against your friends (or working with your friends against others) in pretty much every genre available: first-person shooters, real-time strategy games, RPGs, and (of course) MOBAs and MMOs.
Online games have become so popular, a list of the best online games for Mac could be massive. To keep things nice and tight, we’re focusing solely on the top competitive online games here. The best cooperative games (online or played locally) will be covered at a later date.
If you do want something all-encompassing, check out our list of the 100 Best Mac games.
|Our Pick||Runner-Up||Budget Pick||MacBook Pick|
|Best Overall||A close second||Budget pick||For older Macs|
|Fortnite||Rocket League||Dota 2||CS: Global Offensive|
|The most competitive game in the World||An excellent team-based game||A ruthless MOBA with Valve's pedigree||The legendary shooter that started it all|
|⚠️ Fairly Demanding||✅ Not Demanding||✅ Not Demanding||✅ Not Demanding|
|Full Review||Full Review||Full Review||Full Review|
Last updated: July 21, 2018
We have tested over 10 new games released since this guide was first created in September 2015 and decided to crown a new all-around champion. We also added a brand-new section with all the games that almost made it.
How We Decide
We start by seeking out games we believe to be the best options. We then play the games, and we discuss them with each other. We also consider performance specs, making sure they play well on modern MacOS computers.
Finally, it’s worth noting we received no special access or bonus packs from the developers, we played the games just as you would.
Fortnite isn’t a game, it’s a phenomenon. Available for everything from iPhone to Macintosh to consoles, this battle royal game from Epic Games has become the kind of MMOs, shooters, and even free Mac online games. And for good reason. With multiple game modes, a well-balanced fighting system and no need for in-app purchases to win, Fortnite is great at hooking new players and keeping them busy.
Fortnite drops up to 100 players onto an island where they must scavenge for weapons, health kits, and materials for crafting protective shelters. The battlefield shrinks as the game progresses, forcing players into tight circles of combat. In other words, you have to move in order to survive.
Although in-app purchases are available, they’re relegated to cosmetic upgrades and dances. Yes, dances. That’s actually one of Fortnite’s greatest strengths, as the combat and violent nature of the game are presented in colorful, light-hearted and often humorous ways. It may be a violent fight for survival, but Fortnite never feels more dangerous than a pillow fight. But dances and color aren’t why it’s our top online game.
System Requirements: OS 10.12.6 and a machine that supports Metal, 2.4 GHz Intel Core i3 Processor, 4 GB RAM, Intel HD 4000 or better, 20-30 GB of hard drive space.
Soccer not fast enough for you? Then play it inside of booster-rigged vehicles and see if that changes your opinion.
Rocket League drops teams of muscled-up battle-cars into various arenas for some high octane sport. The game can be played in single-player season mode, but the real fun is in the various 8-player online options. And if you just want to have fun with friends, this can be one of the top multiplayer games for Mac No matter how you play, Rocket League uses an impressive physics system to provide a surprising degree of control, ensuring that a good mixture of strategy and skill are required to win. You’re not just randomly slamming a ball around, in other words, you’re playing a sport.
Rocket League offers a surprising amount of depth via the varied
Here we have one of the more generous free-to-play online games, as DotA 2 gives you everything you need to be competitive up front and throughout. Developed by Valve, this game is the offspring of Defense of the Ancients, a community-created mod for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion pack.
What does that mean? Well, it means you’re getting a MOBA with the pedigree and experience behind it to provide hundreds of hours of intense competition against an active community of players. At its core, DotA is a game about 5 on 5 combat, placing teams in separate bases on a map that must be defended. Each player controls a “hero,” and teams must work together to utilize the strengths of their heroes to destroy a structure—called an “ancient”—within the opposing team’s base.
All heroes are free, as is everything you need to play and win the game; in-app purchases won’t make it easier to take out your opponents, they’ll just get cosmetic items for your heroes and the world they inhabit. And of particular interest to Mac gamers, Metal support via MoltenVK is coming soon.
Because MacBook owners play games, too, we highlight Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (affectionately referred to as CS:GO). This update to the multiplayer first-person shooter Counter-Strike debuted for OS X back in 2012, and as such runs very well on older MacBooks despite their lack of graphics processing power.
In CS:GO, two teams—terrorists and counter-terrorists—compete to achieve certain objectives, such as guarding hostages or either planting or defusing a bomb. There are eight game modes from which to choose, each with its own objectives for the two teams. Players on each team are rewarded based on how well their team performed and on how well they performed for their team. Winners get more than losers, obviously, but you’ll get your payday regardless of whether your team won.
This in-game currency can then be used to upgrade your weapons. With plenty of game modes, a solid matchmaking system and a fanbase that’s been around for nearly 15 years, CS:GO continues to offer plenty of intense FPS fun for online gamers.
Another older game that continues to entertain, Starcraft 2 is a real-time strategy game from 2010. Released by Blizzard as a sequel to 1998’s Starcraft. It wasn’t until 2017, however, that the game became one of the best free games for Mac, unlocking the Wings of Liberty campaign, online multiplayer matches, and various game modes. Starcraft 2 now makes money through microtransactions for items such as skims, voice packs and war chests.
For the online multiplayer component, gamers select from one of three possible races: Protoss, Terran
Although there is a single-player story campaign, the multiplayer component has received better reviews whether you’re looking to tackle co-op missions with a friend or compete against others in 2v2, 3v3 or 4v4 battles.
There was a time when World of Warcraft was the go-to title for online multiplayer gaming. Seems like every Mac gamer I knew had an account, it was just a matter of how long they kept it active due to the subscription-based payment system.
That system is still in place, but Blizzard offers two option to get into it. First, you can get the $59.99 World of Warcraft: Complete Collection—which comes with 30 days of play time and access to the latest quest lines via a character boost to get your hero to the proper level. If your pocket is a little lighter, however, you can jump in by paying just the subscription fee…no base purchase required. You don’t get access to the newest quest lines, but you wouldn’t be able to use them, anyway, since you’ll have to spend the time to get your character up to level 110 to play them.
And just why would you want to subscribe to a game, anyway? Because of World of Warcraft has been entertaining millions of MMORPG players since 2004. It gets expansions about every two years and offers plenty to do between those major releases. If the thing you hate most about quality RPGs is that they end, then you need to check out World of Warcraft.
One of the best Mac games of 2018 so far, Paladins is a free team-based shooter that launched from beta with over 25 million players.
Having drawn inspiration from Team Fortress 2, Paladins centers around its champions, which you select each time you play. Each champion falls into one of four categories—front line, damage, support and flank—and their abilities are enhanced via cards, talents, and items that can be purchased within the game.
A well-organized team will have representatives from each category of champions, and players are encouraged to swap these as they play. Not all of the champions are available at the start, and a few are rotated in and out every other week to give players a fresh experience.
As for gameplay variances,
If you’re a fan of World of Warcraft (or similar RPGs) but prefer more cerebral battles, than Hearthstone is your game. This free-to-play online collectible card game uses a turn-based battle system throughout your adventures, but still provides characters and artifacts you love from the World of Warcraft universe. You fight using a deck of 30 cards and a hero to take down your opponent. Victories grant you new cards, in-game currency, and other prizes, and you can purchase card packs as well.
Honestly, if you’ve never tried a turn-based collectible card game, Hearthstone is the one to get you going. It’s fast-paced, it’s easy to pick up on, and it has AI options (including an adventure mode) to help you master your strategies before you attempt to take on human opponents. And you’ll need to be ready because according to Blizzard there are over 70 million human opponents ready to take you down. At least you can get some practice in your iPhone, too, as the iOS, Android, Mac and Windows PC versions are cross-platform compatible.
Okay, but enough with the shooters, right? If surviving an online game means more to you than just not being shot, you may want to check out Rust, a massively multiplayer action RPG from Facepunch studios.
Rather than starting with a gun and an enemy, Rust starts you out with just a rock and a torch. You must find ways to use these to create better tools, build shelters, find food and survive the harsh environment. This includes vicious animals and, of course, other players who see you as a threat. And you are a threat. If you don’t want to go it alone you can form clans with other players. But as you’d expect from a gaming community, those clans will break down and everyone will just end up killing each other.
One of Rust’s greatest assets is the visual design, which does a great job of laying out a bleak, apocalyptic landscape. The world may be harsh, but at least the world of Rust is pleasant to explore as you fight desperately for survival.
Not only did Team Fortress 2 inspire elements of Paladins, it also makes our list in its own right. Featuring traditional battle modes such as capture the flag and king of the hill, it utilizes offensive, defensive and support roles for players to assume. Nine total classes are available in these roles (three each), thereby encouraging teamwork as players attempt to capitalize on the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses of other classes.
The game was originally released for Mac in 2010 and has received numerous upgrades and new features since. It went free-to-play in 2011, and you can still take advantage of that. Team Fortress 2 also gets some points for the design of the game, which was one of the first to shooters to pull away from gritty military design and go with more light-hearted, cartoonish visuals.
|Games||Games||Our take||Genre||Free games only?|
|Insurgency||Insurgency is an online first-person shooter set in WWII, but it’s quite a bit different from what you’re used to. For starters, it offers nine different PvP gameplay modes and five co-op modes that offer some really fun twists on the genre. For example, one PvP mode requires a team to escort a VIP to a safe point while the other team attempts to assassinate him.|
On the other hand, Insurgency is almost brutal in its difficulty. Unlike other first-person shooters that allow you to be shot over and over and over again before you die, a single headshot will eliminate you here. In addition, the HUD provides no ammunition count, health info, or even a crosshair to help you aim. Thankfully there’s an offline practice mode available. In addition, you get to upgrade your gear to suit your playing style, with over 40 weapons available for you to modify.
Ark: Survival EvolvedSurvival
|Ark: Survival Evolved||Most online games are about survival of one form or another. Survive the elements, survive other players, survive your poor network connection. But how many games ask you to survive attacks from dinosaurs? It doesn’t matter, because Ark: Survival Evolved may be the only one you need.|
Trapped on an island filled with dinosaurs and other hazards, players must establish a base from the materials available, then use them to survive attacks from vicious beasts and hostile players, and some will inevitably be hostile.
Of course, what fun are dinosaurs if you’ve can’t train them and ride them around, right? You can in Ark: Survival Evolved, and take care of them will become part of your daily routine.
|EVE Online||From prehistoric beasts to futuristic space exploration, it’s all covered here. And few games are better at providing sci-fi adventure than EVE Online. This persistent world MMORPG allows players to become space pirates, explorers, traders, fighters and more in over 7,800 star systems. Good luck hitting them all. |
Choose from one of four playable races and then find your way through the massive universe with the help (or the hindrance) of fellow players. There’s plenty of deep space combat to had, of course, but the game offers much more than that. There’s so much to do within its universe, in fact, that you don’t have to be online in order to play it; you can queue up skills to level up in real time even when you’re away from your computer.
EVE Online allows gamers to play for free, but a monthly subscription is required to open up the more impressive ships and higher skills. Get started and you’ll know quickly enough if it’s worth it to you.
World of TanksMMORPG
|World of Tanks||Players are dropped off in a battlefield for PvP combat in their choice of game mode: random battles, tank-company battles, team battles, stronghold battles, special battles and team-training. Tanks are modeled to accurately reflect real-life mid-20th century technology, and of course are customizable with weaponry mods and cosmetic upgrades. The funds required to do this can be purchased or won within the game.|
World of Tanks offers a surprising amount of depth within its tight focus on tank-based combat, proving some RTS elements alongside the first-person action. Set up clans with your friends and fellow gamers then duke it out with other clans in battles that can include as many as 15 tanks per side.
|SMITE||Brought to us by Hi-Rez Studios, the same company that developed Paladins, Smite is a free-to-play, third-person perspective MOBA centered around gods and mythological figures. You have nearly 100 gods to choose from when selecting your character, all of which fall into an assassin, guardian, hunter, mage or warrior class.|
The playing field is basically a jungle with three lanes connecting the north and south ends—one up the middle and one each side. Minions will spawn for each team and move along these lanes in attempt to take out the enemy, and you have free movement to clear out their path and pick up buffs for your team.
Sound confusing? Blame me for not explaining it well. After a bit of time with the game it’ll become pretty intuitive, and there are plenty of customization options and gameplay modes to keep you entertained as you learn.
Heroes of the StormMOBA
|Heroes of the Storm||More Blizzard goodness for you, this time in MOBA form...although Blizzard would prefer we call it a “hero brawler.”. And just who’s brawling? Heroes from Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft, the Lost Vikings and Overwatch.|
You won’t get access to all of these heroes right away, as they’re availability is rotated. However, if you find one you particularly like you can purchase permanent access through in-game currency or microtransactions. Regardless of how and with which character you choose to fight, you’ll do so in 5 vs 5 battle arenas, engaging in versus AI, unranked and ranked fights. The ranked fights are split into hero (solo) leagues and team leagues, both of which pit you against stronger competition as you rack up wins.
Honestly, you don’t need to have a working knowledge of the Blizzard universe to enjoy Heroes of the Storm. Just download the free game and get started.
Guild Wars 2MMORPG
|Guild Wars 2||MMORPGs can be a lot of fun, but they do tend lack a cohesive story. Plot elements are there just to get you battling, and they tend to disappear quickly behind the combat. Not so with Guild Wars 2. This online game builds the plot around your actions, setting up quests in different ways within its persistent world.|
You’ll create your character at the start using a custom combination of races and professions. You can then engage in player vs. environment combat to take on AI monsters, player vs. player combat for small-scale tactical combat, and world vs. world combat for large-scale, on-the-fly battles.
And although Guild Wars 2 does offer strong story elements, that doesn’t mean the combat suffers. On the contrary, it’s fast-paced and highly customizable as your character levels up and learns new skills. There’s more than one way to take down a phantasm, after all.
All games must install natively on your Mac. No need for Wine, Parallels, Bootcamp, etc.
As always, it’s never good to trust the opinion of a single critic. But if the majority of them are raving about a game, there’s generally a good reason for that. As such, we tend to focus on games that have been well-received by the gaming media and those who just play for fun (we’re both, after all).
With free-to-play, freemium, and subscription options available for online games, pricing is a pretty wide target. We don’t penalize games for their pricing method, we just take into account whether the money you spend will be worth it, regardless of when or how you pay it. The more you have to pay, the more we expect to get for it.
As you can tell, we’re serious when we say there are a lot of great online games to be played on your Macintosh. Hopefully, our guidelines here help you get started, but choose carefully…any one of these can become a huge time sink, so you won’t want to start up too many of them. Make your pick, gather up your friends and make some new ones.
And remember that gaming is supposed to fun for everyone, even the people behind the characters you’re trying to eliminate. When you’re playing online, be nice out there.