We take online multiplayer as a given for most games, regardless of what PC or console we’re playing them on. Not every game needs online multiplayer, of course, but these days it feels like a game that lacks multiplayer is an anomaly.
The early days of online multiplayer on gaming consoles were a very different story.
Many people think the Dreamcast or Xbox were first to bring online multiplayer to gaming consoles, but the PlayStation 2 was right there with them as a pioneer of online gaming!
It might have been seen as a more limited platform, but the PlayStation 2 had plenty of great online multiplayer games. Some of them you can still play now with a little software trickery.
10. Final Fantasy XI
Final Fantasy XI wasn’t the first MMORPG on a gaming console. That’s an honor that either goes to Dreamcast’s Phantasy Star Online or PS2’s EverQuest Online Adventures.
But Final Fantasy XI outlived both of those games, remaining playable on the PS2 until 2016. The fact that Square Enix kept it going for that long speaks to both its popularity and quality.
9. Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow took an interesting approach to online multiplayer: two players were Sam Fisher-style spies and two more players were mercenaries.
While the mercenaries are equipped with more powerful weapons, the spies’ stealth abilities are their real weapons.
8. Star Wars: Battlefront II
Not to be confused with the more recent game, the PS2’s Star Wars: Battlefront II is still talked about fondly by fans of the series.
Less buggy and with a more interesting story than the first game, Star Wars: Battlefront II isn’t just a game for Star Wars fans, but for fans of action-packed online gaming in general.
7. Battlefield 2 Modern Combat
A slightly revamped version of Battlefield 2 that was modified to work on the PS2, Battlefield 2 Modern Combat is an odd game. The single player barely existed, but that’s not what people came to the game for anyway.
Unlike the max of 64 players on PC, this game was limited to 24 players on the PS2—but that was still more than most games!
6. Tony Hawk’s Underground 2
It’s tempting to put Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 in this spot, since it was one of the few PS2 games to support online multiplayer even before Sony released the PS2 Network Adapter…
…but in many ways, Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 is the superior game, especially if you ignore the largely dumb humor in many of the cutscenes.
5. Twisted Metal: Black Online
Twisted Metal: Black Online is an anomaly, as most people who played this game technically got it for free. Of course, to get it for “free,” you needed to purchase the PS2 Network Adapter and send away for the game disc.
But that wasn’t a big deal since you needed the Network Adapter (at least on an original PS2) to play online anyway. It’s Twisted Metal: Black but online, which was a boon for vehicle combat fans.
Before its release, many gaming magazines (remember those?) were hyping up Killzone as a “Halo-killer.”
Spoiler: It wasn’t. Nothing ever is.
But it did have a pretty fun single-player campaign and some quality online FPS gameplay for up to 16 players, which was a slightly big deal for a PS2 game at the time.
3. Resident Evil Outbreak
Resident Evil Outbreak did things that later games like Left 4 Dead would eventually do, but long before they came to be.
While critics weren’t especially thrilled with the game, players that clicked with the online mode played it obsessively until the servers were finally shut down by Capcom in 2007.
2. SOCOM 2: US Navy SEALs
The second SOCOM game took everything that made the first game great and kicked it up a notch.
While it included a few maps from the first game, they were tweaked to keep them fresh, and the new maps and modes would even surpass SOCOM 3 as the go-to PS2 tactical online shooter.
1. Monster Hunter
Of all the games we’ve mentioned, not many are still going strong. But Monster Hunter? This game is more popular than ever thanks to Monster Hunter World and Monster Hunter Rise.
The first Monster Hunter wasn’t the most polished, and the analog stick weapon controls take some getting used to, but once it clicks, it’s some of the most fun you can have on a PS2.
Local Multiplayer on PS2 Was Great, Too
Online multiplayer is great, but it’s not the only way to have multiplayer fun—especially on an older gaming console where online play was shoddy and unrefined.
Fortunately, the PlayStation 2 had a solid lineup of local multiplayer games that are still awesome to play on a couch with friends. Want to revisit them? Check out our favorites below!