Three is actually company
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to come up with a three player game to play: and found myself scrambling through stacks of discs or menus upon menus of Steam games. It’s literally an odd number!
While a lot of this list is going to skew toward modern games due to the proliferation of multiplayer beyond multitaps: there are a few older classics on here. Here’s a selection of a few of the best 3 player games of all time.
Do you consider Minecraft old? No? Well, you might be old. 2009 (the release of Classic) was over 13 years ago!
Playable at any count, but more fun with friends, Minecraft is on basically every modern gaming system ever made: and lets you choose from a variety of different user-created maps that can be catered to any player count. Or, you can just make your own world and do whatever you want!
Don’t Starve Together
If you’re itching for a survival challenge, grab some friends and hop on a Don’t Starve Together server.
The Tim Burton-esque visuals are an easy sell, and the more people you add, the merrier: in this randomized and sometimes incredibly punishing survival romp.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
Although it technically can support up to four players, trying to navigate Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a unique experience at each player count. Your job is to pilot, defend, and repair a ship: with a manual crew member that needs to actually physically do these things.
Specializing and learning who can handle what job is part of the fun.
Secret of Mana
As one of the original marquee three player games, Secret of Mana needs to be on here in some capacity.
While the modern 3D remake has been polarizing, the SNES original is still an absolute classic, allowing players to take control of three distinct characters: the hero, the girl, and the sprite.
While Trine certainly has issues, it had to make this list: it’s in the name!
Taking a page out of The Lost Vikings, the gist of Trine is that you’ll control three characters (hey, just like Secret of Mana!): a wizard, a thief, and a knight, each with distinct playstyles. Adding more players into the mix only adds to the game. Plus, there’s four total games in the series, so you can keep going if you enjoyed the original.
Also known as “GoldenEye 64,” this game really needs no introduction. Like Halo after it, it inducted a ton of folks into the world of split-screen play, and multiplayer in general.
It’s actually coming back to modern platforms, too! Good timing!
Adding more players only adds to the pure chaos that is Spelunky. While you can play it perfectly fine solo, having multiple ways to approach an in-game problem can be key: especially with the limited inventory system.
Spelunky is constantly on sale, so give it a shot the next time you find yourself in a group of three and are up for a challenge.
Many beat ’em ups could have made this list, but Castle Crashers is one of the most accessible modern games out there in the genre.
You’ll take control of one of four knights in a quest to take down baddies stage-by-stage, and the stop and go nature of the game ensures that everyone can pick it up, even slowly, and get through it bit by bit.
The Simpsons (Arcade)
You know I had to add another beat ’em up!
Simpsons arcade is great for a bit of quick fun, but it also has concessions for team up attacks, which are enabled by standing still next to another player: each combination of Simpsons family members has a different team up.
Although this one is a bit tough to play due to its removal from several console marketplaces: Arcade1Up does have an official cabinet that’s coupled with Simpsons Bowling.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
This one is one of the more ingenius multiplayer games in recent years.
Technically playable with an unlimited player count, it’s one person’s job to diffuse a bomb while everyone else explains how: by reading and deciphering a carefully detailed and puzzle-like diffusion manual.
I’ve played this one-on-one and with groups of up to 10 people, and it’s a blast in any case.