With unprecedented measures currently being taken to ensure public health, much of the world is locked down in their homes, asked by government officials to be judicious about when they venture out. While it’s important to balance any hobby, gaming is one that not only often asks you to stay in your home, but is also adaptable to a diverse array of needs. We’ve compiled a list of some of the Game Informer staff’s recommendations for gaming during this time based on various situations and needs.
The outside world is pretty heavy right now, so here are a few games that are joyful experiences from start to finish.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)
The Animal Crossing series has always been a bastion of wholesomeness in Nintendo’s library, but the recently released entry serves as the perfect staycation for anyone hoping for a soothing gaming experience during these troubled times. It’s also a great way to connect with friends who are also tending to islands of their own. Read the review.
Stardew Valley (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Vita, PC, iOS, Android)
Building up your farm may seem like the focus of Stardew Valley, but interacting with the townsfolk and engaging with the title’s surprisingly deep RPG elements never ceases to delight and reward from start to finish. Read the review.
Yoshi’s Crafted World (Switch)
The charming homemade look of Yoshi’s Crafted World is just the start of this cute game’s appeal. Satisfying exploration and fun platforming gives you something to strive for, but if you want to just coast through and enjoy the scenery, there’s an easy mode for that. Read the review.
Local Fun For Everyone
While social distancing is in full effect, not everyone is locked down in isolation. Here are a few games to play with family members and roommates keeping you company while you stay home.
Castle Crashers (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PS3, Xbox 360, PC)
One of the best cooperative games of last generation, Castle Crashers is one of the best ways to gather your entire household together for some old-school, side-scrolling, beat-’em-up action. Not only is it chaotic and immensely fun, but it’s lighthearted, cute, and appropriate for players of all ages. See it in action on an episode of Replay.
Overcooked (PS4, Xbox One, Switch)
While going to restaurants isn’t necessarily an option at the moment, you can run your own virtual kitchen alongside those you’re locked down with in Overcooked. Getting your family or roommates together in a cramped, sometimes-shifting kitchen is a recipe for pandemonium and uproarious fun. Read the review.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
When all else fails, you can always turn to one of the best local multiplayer series of the last two decades: Super Smash Bros. This latest edition features the biggest roster of fighters in history, and with custom rulesets, you can always tweak the experience to your crowd’s liking. Read the review.
An Open-World Escape
We may be stuck inside, but these games offer up so many massive worlds to explore and get lost in.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)
Lauded by many as the best RPG of this generation, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt recently received new life thanks to its smash-hit Netflix series, but it’s well-worth your time even if you didn’t spend the last week binging that series. With a massive world to explore, myriad meaningful side-quests, and a gripping main story, The Witcher 3 is one of the best games you can spend your time on. Read the review.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC)
Following the series’ reinvention with Assassin’s Creed Origins, Ubisoft really knocked it out of the park with Odyssey. Sailing all over ancient Greece is awesome, and uncovering the mysteries of the world is beyond rewarding. Add the two expansions to the end of the adventure to dig deeper into the lore of Assassin’s Creed. Read the review.
Red Dead Redemption II (PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC)
The Wild West comes to life in Red Dead Redemption II. In addition to delivering a gripping tale of betrayal, vengeance, and hardship, Rockstar gives you an unbelievable world to explore with a once-in-a-generation cast of characters. Read the review.
Staying Social While Social Distancing
Unfortunately, for those of us who do want to go out and be social in the real world, it’s not possible (or advisable) right now. Thankfully, gaming has ways of letting us keep up with our normal friend groups.
Call of Duty: Warzone (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Infinity Ward’s recent battle royale game delivers intriguing twists on the genre, but more than anything, it’s an excuse to squad up and play a few rounds with your friends. Not only is it crossplay, so everyone can play regardless of what system they have, but it’s also free. Read the review.
Borderlands 3 (PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, PC)
Few games just embody the fun spirit of getting a group together and taking on the world like the Borderlands series. Borderlands 3 continues that reputation, giving you ample opportunities to blow up bases and baddies with your pals. Read the review.
Rock Band 4 (PS4, Xbox One)
Who needs karaoke night when you can have virtual rock concerts? Sure, there might be a barrier in getting everyone the right equipment to jam, but playing through a handful of songs from the massive (and still-growing) library is as fun today as it was over a decade ago when the series started. Read the review.
While some of us may feel as though we are in a creative slump thanks to the events going on in the outside world, video games have a way with kickstarting those parts of our brains. Express yourself creatively or get back into your creative flow with these titles.
Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
Most people who have picked up a controller have played a Mario game at some point. Because of that, the course language is nearly universal, making Nintendo’s intuitive toolset easy for almost anyone to pick up and create their own Super Mario levels. Not only that, but community sharing tools and more than 100 levels from Nintendo offer plenty of inspiration to get your wheels turning. Read the review.
Cities: Skylines (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)
City-building sims give you an objective of creating a bustling city with a thriving economy and happy residents, but how you achieve that goal is completely up to you. Cities: Skylines represents the best city builder in recent memory, and gives you the flexibility to creatively address any problem or need that arises. Read the review.
If you really want to let your creativity run wild while using all the time you might have on your hands thanks to this lockdown, Dreams’ vast and complex toolset is worth the time it takes to learn. It’s fun to play and sample the creations of others, but nothing beats the joy of seeing your dream game through to completion. Read the review.
Clearing Your Mind
With so much stressful news hitting at a seemingly impossible rate, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Use these games to zone out and reach a more zen state.
Journey (PS4, PS3, PC, iOS)
Thatgamecompany’s crowning achievement to this point, Journey, is a serene, stress-free adventure. While it’s not complex or long, Journey is an utterly beautiful experience that anyone can enjoy. Read the review.
Abzû (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)
An aquatic world full of ambient sea life awaits you in Abzû, the debut game from Giant Squid. This entrancing adventure is accompanied by an excellent soundtrack by veteran composer Austin Wintory to deliver an experience unlike anything else. Read the review.
Tetris Effect (PSVR, Oculus, Vive, PS4, PC)
While Tetris requires you to use your brain to figure out where to drop the blocks, Tetris Effect makes it less about the puzzle and more about the experience. The music causes you to zone out as you enter an almost meditative state of autopilot the deeper you get into each track. Play it in VR if at all possible. Read the review.
Mountains To Master
If you suddenly find yourself with an abundance of time, you could learn a new language or instrument, but if you’d rather stick with video games, here are some you could invest your time in.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
While most From Software titles could fit this category, Sekiro is the latest one to push fans to the brink of their skillsets. Like all From Software titles, Sekiro is based in learning from your mistakes, and with so much time to do so, it’s the perfect lockdown game. Read the review.
Street Fighter V (PS4, PC)
Since the dawn of the arcade revolution it drove in the early ’90s, the Street Fighter franchise has pushed fans to hone their skills to become the most perfect fighter they can. Street Fighter V may not be the best entry in the franchise, but it has improved by leaps and bounds since its underwhelming launch in 2016. If you’re buying it now, pick up the Champion Edition to get all of the DLC. Read the review.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Xbox One, PC)
The new entry in the Ori series may have taken a while to come out, but it was well worth the wait. It made myriad improvements over the already fantastic original, and gives you plenty of challenging sequences to work toward mastery. Read the review.
Taking The Field Again
Live sports may be on hold, but you can write your own 2020 season with these sports games.
NBA 2K20 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC)
With the NBA season coming to a screeching halt and NCAA’s March Madness being canceled, hoops fans are hurting for some on-the-court action. NBA 2K20 gives you plenty of ways to see the NBA season through to the end, including custom leagues, a story-driven career mode, and robust franchise options. Read the review.
MLB The Show 20 (PS4)
The recently released MLB The Show 20 was supposed to signal the start of baseball season, but instead, it’s serving as the best way to see the boys of summer in action. With excellent gameplay, terrific visuals, and an impressive suite of modes, MLB The Show 20 is the way to go for those of us who were looking forward to spending the upcoming months in the bleachers. Read the review.
NHL 20 (PS4, Xbox One)
Few things in sports rival the thrill of watching the world’s best hockey players chase the Stanley Cup. While NHL 20 isn’t the series’ best offering, it offers solid gameplay across multiple modes to help fans get their teams back on the ice. Read the review.
A Weekend Adventure
Sometimes we just want a big adventure to go on over the course of a few days.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4)
The conclusion of Nathan Drake’s story is among his grandest adventures. With massive set-piece action moments galore and utterly stunning visuals, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End rivals any Hollywood blockbuster action film. Read the review.
The Outer Worlds (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Obsidian, the studio behind Fallout: New Vegas, showed it still has what it takes to create a game in that style with 2019’s The Outer Worlds. Traveling from planet to planet, solving the problems of the masses is a blast, combining the right elements from the Fallout and Mass Effect series. Read the review.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Switch)
The name may be a bit incorrect since you’re actually exploring a hotel this time around, but the rest of the series’ trademark fun returns in Luigi’s Mansion 3. Luigi may have nearly 35 years of experience playing second fiddle to Mario, but this adventure shows he’s more than able to steal the spotlight. Read the review.
Keeping Active While Locked Down
When your gym closes and you’re told you have to stay in your house, you may worry that you’re going to have a hard time staying in shape. While not the only way to be fit in lockdown, these games can help you hit your goals.
Ring Fit Adventure (Switch)
It may be difficult to find right now, but Ring Fit Adventure gives you a terrific and unique workout thanks to it’s titular Ring Fit accessory. Add in a new rhythm minigame featuring music from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Splatoon 2, and you have an awesome game to help you stay in shape. Watch our impressions.
Beat Saber (PSVR, Oculus, Vive)
You may look like a goofball to anyone watching, but when you’re inside of Beat Saber, you feel like a Jedi Master. Slicing and dicing is satisfying, and ducking below and juking away from obstacles makes one of the best VR games to date a fun way to work up a sweat. Read the review.
Just Dance 2020 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Wii, Stadia)
The clubs are all closed, but you can still work on your dance moves thanks to Ubisoft’s long-running Just Dance series. This latest edition continues the series’ trademark of giving you choreography to some of the hottest songs from today and yesteryear. It may seem silly, but it’s an excellent way to work up a sweat and become a better dancer in pursuit of a high score.
Now we want to hear from you! What games are you turning to? Do you have any additional recommendations for these categories?
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