Having ultrafast broadband puts you in pole position for the best online gaming experience around, ensuring there’s little to no lag and freezing screens that once interrupted you mid-game, are a thing of the past.

Gaming is now far more of a social experience. Most games are designed to be played against people who are either in the same room as you or in their own living rooms or bedrooms as far away as on the other side of the world.

Across the last couple of generations of consoles, people of all ages have plunged themselves deep into virtual worlds to play together and right now there are plenty of top titles to keep you entertained and excited.

In Part 1 we looked at the different consoles and their online platforms – now here we'll pick some of the best multiplayer and online games. Just don't forget that if you are allowing your children to play online, ensure the titles they have chosen are rated correctly for their own age group.

Also take time to set up the appropriate parental controls on their computers or consoles to stop them from purchasing games or in-game extras they shouldn’t be, seeing inappropriate content or being contacted by strangers. Each official hardware manufacturer will have a good guide for doing this on its own website.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Nintendo Switch

The handheld Switch brings online gaming to bedrooms, gardens and even out of the home if connected to the internet using WiFi. And one of the all-time classics is Mario Kart, which sees you race the Italian plumber and his friends around a range of weird tracks - putting obstacles like banana skins in the way of opponents or firing quirky things such as shells to knock their karts off-course. It has a great online offering that supports up to eight different friends playing together. It’s also worth considering Mario World Tour for the iPhone or Android handsets if you don’t have a Switch and want a similar online experience against strangers or friends, albeit in a smaller scale on your smartphone.

Fortnite – (various platforms incl online, PS4, Xbox One)

If your children aren’t yet into Fortnite, then it’s unlikely to be long before they are. Played by millions of young people and teenagers around the world, this virtual world has taken over so many lives. With various vast spaces, including some you can create yourself, it’s a mix of battle, shoot ‘em up and creation packed full of Zombie-like creatures to challenge. Players can go it alone or team up with others in huge online multiplayer arenas, up to 100 people at a time, spending hours consumed by this adventure experience. Beware though, because while Fortnite may be free, it offers extra in-game purchases that are paid for and that can become expensive if not kept in check and monitored.

Minecraft – (various platforms incl online, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch)

This world-building game is very similar in its ethos to those that came before it such as Sim City, The Sims and Spore. The difference here is you create your worlds from lots of little blocks, each representing different sorts of materials or life sources such as water and fire. Many experts suggest Minecraft can actually be really beneficial for kids, teaching them about engineering and construction. Once again, they can join up with friends online to play and this game has certainly kept so many busy during lockdown. It’s a great way to understand more about the STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – four key knowledge bases that will form or strongly influence many careers of the future.

Roblox – (various platforms incl Computer, Smartphone, Tablet, Xbox One)

A bit similar to Minecraft, Roblox has its own ultra-committed fans. It lets players create their own 3D worlds and 3D games for others and again, it is actually very educational in terms of understanding how computer games are put together. Players can buy, sell and create virtual items and everything from racing games to role-playing ones exist within its own vast maps. It even has its own currency – Robux. Like with all of these online games though – Fortnite, Minecraft or Roblox – it is important to monitor how younger children are using them as they can spend money or encounter strangers. Parents should always be clear on how they are playing and what they are doing within these virtual worlds if playing alone.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Nintendo Switch

Adults and children alike have had their imaginations captured by this handheld game. Based around the idea of creating your own paradise island, you can build, buy, swap and develop a colourful world filled with a host of different characters. It is pure escapism and many have used it during lockdown to forget about the world outside and have thrown themselves into inhabiting the new world they have created. It’s surprisingly addictive even for “big kids” and has been in such huge demand that a lot of places are sold out of boxed copies. You can buy it via a digital download and store it on a memory card plugged into the Switch. It is worth noting that you’ll also need to buy a Nintendo Online annual membership to play.

Football Manager 2020 – Computer, Smartphone and Tablet

For so many, this is one of the most addictive online favourites of all-time and it is still as popular as ever, with a hardcore of supporters who can’t put it down. Choose your favourite club from leagues around the world, pick the players, select the team, plan the tactics and go onto glory… or relegation. You can play this as in-depth or as lightly as you wish and it has been known that some actual football managers even use it to test out their own game management before matches – that’s how realistic it is! You’ll soon find hours have gone by before you realise it. Especially when you’re playing as your own favourite football team and you’re desperate for them to have the virtual glory they don’t get in real life.

51 Worldwide Games - Nintendo Switch

Perfect for all ages, this is one game anyone can play. In fact, the older generations among your family will love this 21st century take on a range of classics they'll remember as traditional table top games or board games. From chess to four-in-a-row to skittles to various card games, there is something here for everyone and you can sit together reliving those memories while telling the children how this is what gaming used to be like! It’s much better when played for quick hits of fun with someone next to you, rather than online, but that makes it great to just dip in and out of when someone is around to be your opponent. It’s taking the traditional, virtual and doing that so well.

Just Dance 2020 - Nintendo Switch

One of the best things about the Nintendo Switch is you can plug it into the TV as well as using it as a handheld games console. And there is no better game to view on the big screen than this. Practice your moves, throw some shapes, burn up the living room floor with your dance steps and boogie away to 40 songs with more than 500 available with an extra paid-for online subscription. What’s really great here though is 'co-op mode' which  allows friends or family members in the same room to have a dance-off against each other and see who really is the greatest. There’s also World Dance Floor where you dance with others online at the same time and everyone will be so busy enjoying themselves, nobody judges how bad you are.

Virtual Card Table – www.playingcards.io

This basic website actually has so many different uses. It’s a virtual card table that you can set up in any way you wish to. That means wherever you and your friends are, you could log on and join together for games of Snap, Poker, Bridge, Solo, Whist - whatever you fancy playing with decks of cards, it can be recreated here in a few minutes. It’s such a simple idea but can bring lots of people together this summer if they can’t be with each other for real.

Words With Friends 2 – Smartphones/Tablets

This game is a bit like Scrabble and connects you to friends or strangers for hours of wordplay. It can get really competitive at times as you build up points from each game you win and climb up the leader boards. Or you can just log on and join with a mate or family member for a fun, but non-competitive, match-up. OK, you can’t really be non-competitive in this. Whatever way you choose to play it, you’ll be desperate to find the best words, claim the most points and emerge as No1.

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