10 more games you should play while we’re all quarantined
Here are the games I think you should play while you’re stuck inside waiting for COVID-19 lockdown to end — y’all remember the drill, I assume, from when Anna wrote up a heap of games to play while stuck in. Mine won’t all be computer games, and I’m not going to list super obvious ones like Doom Eternal or Animal Crossing New Horizons because those two just came out and literally everyone is playing them.
Let’s not waste any time.
Tabletop RPGs online
We’ve talked about doing this before, but quite honestly, now is the time to get comfortable with the plethora of options for online play of tabletop role playing games. Whether it’s Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder or some other game system like the Cypher System or 13th Age or GURPS, I don’t really care. All I care about is that getting together via your favorite voice chat program and rolling pretend dice to determine what happens next has never been easier. With us all stuck in our domiciles, it’s never been a better time to preserve your sanity and get your socialization fix by pretending very hard that you’re a small bird person who plays the bagpipes.
I mean, we do this every month and it’s a lot of fun.
Yes, I am recommending Stardew Valley. Right about now, a game that presents you with a series of achievable goals is really not a bad idea, all told. Setting up on a farmstead, telling a big corporation to go pirate ghost itself, and exploring a series of caves to fight weird oozes? All preferable to reality right about now, and the way Stardew lets you basically go as deep or as shallow as you want. A game with a multitude of games-within-a-game about whether you want to date Shane or Sebastian or any one of a dozen other choices, hatch a dinosaur egg, or become a farming tycoon of sorts is all pretty excellent distraction fodder.
If you’d told me that there would be a game that’s ostensibly about running a farm that would involve weird magic in a town rec center, I wouldn’t have expected to be recommending it during a pandemic, but here we are.
This game was recently re-released in an expanded and updated version, and that’s great, and the original campaign is a classic for a reason, but that’s not why I’m recommending Neverwinter Nights. I’m recommending NWN for the campaign tools that allow you to create modules for the game. It’s a very robust set of tools and with them, you can recreate old favorite adventures from D&D editions past, invent whole new chapters from whole cloth, experiment with and play around with the game. Neverwinter Nights uses the 3rd Edition rules. It’s a nearly 20 year old game at this point– it came out originally in 2002. But outside of actually playing it, the campaign tools will set you up for literally hours and hours of time wasted. And right about now, that’s something I can get behind.
Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning
Look, I’m not going to write a full review of Kingdoms of Amalur Reckoning here — I already did it. But if you’re one of those players who likes big, sprawling, absolutely jam packed open world RPGs that let you play the game pretty much however you want, change your playstyle on a whim, and will literally take you hours and hours to get through? This is the one that, in a better universe, would have dominated the hobby back in 2012 and you’d all be wondering why Skyrim never amounted to anything.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Robot Dinosaurs. That’s it, that’s why.
Oh, all right, I’ll take the time to tell you why you should play Horizon Zero Dawn. In a time where we’re looking at some really cataclysmic current events, it’s a good time to play a game where hope ultimately triumphs — it may take a really long time to get there, and have to make some awful choices, but in the end there’s a feeling of guarded optimism about this game. Yes, people do awful things, and they could well bring disaster to us all, but there is a chance to save the situation. There’s a path forward. And maybe, just maybe, you can shoot a robot Tyrannosaur on your way to that hopeful moment.
There’s a bit of a theme here — I like CRPGs a lot, and a big chunk of my gaming lately has been them. Greedfall is an ambitious game, made by a small development house, that evokes the feel of classic RPG experiences like Icewind Dale or Knights of the Old Republic. Since I wrote a review for the site, I don’t want to rehash it all, so I’ll just say that Greedfall is the kind of game I’d like to see get rewarded for existing — it’s not The Witcher 3 or what have you, but it’s not trying to be.
This is quite possibly the most distilled experience Bioware ever put out. Jade Empire was a love letter to Hong Kong martial arts movies, a very exacting example of the old formula that led to games like Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect, and a fun mix of RPG and fighting game mechanics. Like a lot of games I’m mentioning here, I already wrote a review of it, so I’ll just say that if you want a reminder of Bioware as they transitioned from licensed properties like Neverwinter Nights into the company that made Dragon Age and Mass Effect, then Jade Empire is a perfect moment in gaming available for you to experience.
There are some games that exist to help you blow off steam. If you’re trapped in a house with the same two or three people for the next month or two, Overcooked 2 will allow you to have that cathartic meltdown you need to have when your oafish quarantine buddy Joe sets the whole kitchen on fire while completely failing to just chop up those tomatoes like you asked them six times already.
I’m picking Overcooked 2 over Super Mario Party for your low-stakes bickering purposes because there are more options for playing it. Not everybody has a Switch, after all. Plus, at least Overcooked 2 has a kind of inherent logic to it, it makes sense when you watch your dream of running a kitchen burn to ashes in the flames of human inability to work together. It’s a great game if you really need to just lose your mind and scream Stop blocking my way the whole bloody boat we’re trying to cook on is on fire.
World of Warcraft
I don’t feel like this one needs a lot of explanation, considering what site we’re on and all. But for the past week, WoW has become my go to for just emptying my brain, chatting with some friends, and casually murdering old raids for that one pair of pants I never got.
And yes, I know you all saw it coming…
Look, I sincerely tried to skip recommending this game. I mean, I’ve done it. I have banged the drum for this game as long and as hard as anyone. But the fact is, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the game I’ve been playing the most ever since it came out, to the point where I have it on a console and my PC, and both my console and PC playthroughs have seen me with an excess of XP earned, to the point where I can’t even spend any of it anymore. I have spent well over a year telecommuting to Ancient Greece, in essence, and the game’s sprawling, lush and extremely detailed setting is just a pleasure to escape to.
The game has fully embraced the RPG mechanics that work to get me hooked on a game, it’s got Kassandra who is my current favorite playable character in video games. She just beats out Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn for her pure snark, but also the sheer nuance of the voice performance and even the performance capture acting — there is a moment where someone barks an order at Kassandra and the character does a head tilt that does all the work of conveying Are you actually serious right now and it’s just perfect.
Plus, there’s a Story Creator, which adds an element of that expansiveness that I mentioned for Neverwinter Nights.
There are more I’d like to mention, but we have to end this somewhere. If you really want to know, ask me in the comments, I guess. Take care and I hope you find some games that help make this time a little more bearable for you.
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