Six games with the most supportive, least toxic communities
A recent article on the top 5 worst gaming communities got me thinking about my own experiences interacting with players in various genres, from shooters to MOBAs to fantasy MMOs.
There are certain multiplayer games you know ahead of time to just mute-all from the start. Any given Call Of Duty game (or really any popular FPS) is one example. If you don't want to hear a 12-year-old calling you racial slurs and describing what he did to your mother last night, you hit mute as soon as the match gets going.
Aside from the garden variety name-calling, MOBAs in particular tend to have insular communities that are abrasive towards anyone new and learning the ropes. Those games also tend to foster toxicity by how they are designed, with players working against each other as often as they work together.
I've been lucky in that regard on Heroes Of The Storm, and have had a mostly positive experience playing with total strangers. I can't say the same for trying out League Of Legends, where nearly every match is a nightmare of negative players.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there exists a burgeoning class of games that specifically revolve around a teamwork experience, like the Oculus Rift indie experiment Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes. The early access title Squad is another interesting example, directly incorporating verbal communication between players into the gameplay and essentially requiring everyone have a headset.
We all know what games to avoid if you don't want to deal with an obnoxious player base, but what games have the most supportive communities? I've found it isn't always restricted to one genre or even platform, with some of my best multiplayer experiences coming on both console and PC in games with player bases both large and small.
As with any online game, your mileage may vary depending on which server or time you play, but in general, these are the games where the communities are worth interacting with and getting to know.
Gears Of War 3 Horde Mode
I'm a big fan of all the games in this series and regularly go back and play each of them, but easily the pinnacle of the Gears experience is horde mode. When you've got a group of players dedicated to hitting wave 50 (or at least making a valiant effort to get up higher in the double digits), this is one the most addicting and straight up fun multiplayer options around.
Despite its age at this point, horde mode in the series' third entry still has a thriving community, and it frequently seems like there's more people playing Gears Of War 3 than the newer Gears Of War: Judgment.
Since you only succeed in horde mode if everyone is working in tandem towards an effective strategy, it's in everyone's best interests to be team players and help each other out. Obnoxious players don't tend to last long here.
Sure, every now and again you might get the person who thinks they know how to play best and assumes everything that goes wrong is everyone else's fault, but for the most part, horde mode is an excellent place to meet other Gears enthusiasts and have a great time.
Guild Wars 2
I had the good fortune to jump into Guild Wars 2 early and watch the community grow, and I can say without hesitation this is truly one of the best MMORPGs for newbies. The unique PvE setup of Guild Wars 2 encourages people to work together and doesn't give any particular benefit to standing in the way of another player's success.
As I mentioned in my look at the state of the game today years after launch, there does unfortunately seem to be fewer people logged on these days, but the base that's still there is overall very friendly to new faces. Log in, find an an on-going event, and join the fun. You're pretty much guaranteed to have someone helpfully explaining what players need to be doing in the in the larger, multi-stage boss battles.
When you win a hard fought battle, expect a lot of back-patting from the regulars and invitations to join groups or hook up with a guild. If you have trouble finding hidden points of interests or figuring out how to finish a renown heart location, help is just a chat message away, with only the occasional bout of trash talk clogging up the screen.
Pretty much the exact opposite of the Left 4 Dead communities, the ultra-gory zed-hunting phenomena that is Killing Floor has an overall excellent player base. Teamwork is an absolute must in this co-op horror FPS, and with many shooters that would normally mean a constant stream of VOIP harassment.
For some reason that doesn't tend to happen as much in Killing Floor, where finding a great team that works well together and helps each other out isn't a tall order at all.
If you've had nothing but awful experiences with Battlefield or COD online, give Killing Floor a few hours of your time and discover what it's like to actually have helpful teammates. The fast-paced dismemberment of demonic zombie creatures is also a hell of a good time to boot.
Kerbal Space Program
This may be the one and only game in the entire world where the reddit community is legitimately nice to one another and the toxicity level is at nearly 0%.
The learning curve on this space engineering simulator is high, and you'd think that might breed elitism and a disdain for those who haven't mastered the mechanics, but somehow the exact opposite occurred here.
Seriously, go to any KSP message board or social networking page and look at how people treat each other. There's more high fiving over minor accomplishments here than anywhere else in all of gaming. Somebody needs to do a scientific study on how this occurred and how it can be replicated with other games.
This one comes with a caveat: there absolutely are negatives to be found in the Destiny community. For the most part it's divided into two segments though: people complaining about problems within the game itself, and the fanboys who don't like criticism of the game or developer.
What you'll notice outside those two factions is that people generally aren't attacking each other at all, and the actual in-game experience with a group of friends is solid gold.
When you find a good group to play with who work well together, Destiny absolutely develops a “band of brothers” feel over time, and there are people here making real-world friends for life in raids and strikes.
Lord Of The Rings Online
Unlike with Guild Wars 2, I got into this Tolkien-inspired MMORPG quite late - way past its hey day unfortunately. But I've actually found the reduced player base to be friendly and willing to lend a hand.
LOTRO tends to have a very laid-back community these days, so you are rarely going to experience people screaming at each other on the global chat. And if you ask a question, you'll usually get an excellent answer without people looking down on you.
There's also the bonus here that many players are fanatics for Tolkien or fantasy literature in general, so it's not tough to find someone who wants to chat about anything fantasy related, so making friendship beyond the game itself is a natural and easy extension of exploring Middle Earth.
These six games all have communities worth joining, but there are easily more out there where the level of discourse doesn't devolve into screaming racial slurs.
What games have you had the best online experiences with, and what genres do you think tend to have the most supportive communities?