Given the ongoing situation with Covid-19, we’re all spending a lot more time at home. That gives many of us just the time and excuse we needed to delve into video games to help keep ourselves occupied, so we asked VultureHound writers which games are helping them to get through lockdown. They’ve responded with a surprising range of new titles, classics, and sociable multiplayer games as well expansive solo campaigns below, so if you’re looking for a couple of recommendations to occupy yourself through this time at home you should find what you’re looking for here.
With a lot more time on my hands and a bit more spare cash video games have become a haven for me. In this time of uncertainty these are the three games that I would recommend you can easily throw yourself into, help you relax or just pass the time.
The first of my three games and 100% free Apex Legends is a game you can jump in and out of at your leisure without all too much commitment, perfect for when you don’t know what to play. A first person shooter by Respawn Entertainment the creators of Titanfall and a splinter from Infinity Ward its combat is fast but fair. Combining elements of hero shooters like Overwatch with the battle royale genre your squad of three (see a pattern emerging) must be the last ones standing out of a total of 60 as the map slowly closes in around you. This is a game that has been optimised and enhanced of many competitive seasons, the current season is the fourth since February 2019, enjoying the addition of new weapons and characters to master.
Each with their own strengths and weaknesses you can choose from a variety of heroes:
the fast paced Octane will leave your enemies in the dust with his ability stim which make him significantly faster than his opponents at the cost of 10% of his life, playing the supporting role Lifeline can heal allies to ready them up for the next conflict and her ultimate care package can drop some of the best loot in the game and Caustic a mad scientist whose only goal in Apex Legends is to field test his deadly nox gas with some completely free clinical trials but will it cost him his life.
To many this game will likely need no introduction. Developed by Thatgamecompany and published by Sony Computer Entertainment Journey is almost unilaterally described as a masterpiece you will never forget the first time you complete this absolutely stunning game. From its jaw dropping visuals to the exquisite score Journey will send you on a rollercoaster of emotions and most likely have you crying with either joy or sorrow by its end. Only about 3 hours in length you should sit down and play it in its entirety to get the most out of it as it takes you from sandy dunes to snowy mountains. Without any dialogue Journey stands on its gameplay alone and is all the better for it as you take on your pilgrimage meeting other players on the way. Like all pilgrimages this is one you should complete at least once in your life and you will likely be ready to take it up again whenever the mood hits you.
Mixing a meticulously planned social life with a dungeon crawling RPG this game has plenty to offer to any fan of JRPGs. After school you will be spending time with friends or working your part time job to improve on the skills you will need to fight back the nightmarish apparitions of other people’s minds. Delving into the utterly bizarre depths of others peoples minds to put a stop to their real world exploits which in many cases are utterly unforgivable. Be it a teacher bully or an abusive foster parent you and your trusted allies must put a stop to their depraved behaviour. Since this is a Shin Megami Tensai game it puts style and the user interface at the heart of the experience you will never be bored looking through its menus or choosing your next attack in battle. 60+ hours long and developed by Atlus this game will keep you occupied during lockdown.
Can’t go outside? Missing interaction with your neighbours? Big fan of turnips? Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released at the optimal time for those with quarantine cabin fever.
With a small but immersive world to explore, quirky islanders to befriend, and a host of absorbing tasks to fill the day-to-day, ACNH is for many the closest thing to the communities we had before Coronavirus. And even if you don’t really miss talking to people, you can while away your time catching fish and bugs, collecting fossils, filling your house with strange furniture, and fulfilling your tanuki landlord’s dream of having his favourite canine pop star play a concert on the island.
ACNH’s calm pace and low stakes make it the perfect game for anxious souls. There are no rigid objectives; there is nothing significant to lose, and while such a relaxed atmosphere may not excite those used to shooting bad guys in the face, it is nonetheless one of the most pleasing and oddly satisfying gaming experiences you’re ever likely to have. Marvel as your adorable avatar hauls an improbably enormous sturgeon from the water! Clap with glee as you upgrade your humble home into a mega-mansion! Feel the adrenaline rush as you run to avoid being stung by wasps for the fourth time today! Or simply relax beneath a tree and enjoy the sublime graphics as day gives way to another beautiful sunset. What’s not to love?
Voluntary isolation has been a weird time where I thought I’d dip into newer games like most people, toiling away on my private island or slaying demons en masse. Instead, I found myself finally digging deep into multiplayer games that take a more significant base of knowledge to truly enjoy, as I actually have the time to study and practice everything necessary. Therefore, my games of choice are a bit older, but still worth the time if you want a deeper multiplayer experience.
Starcraft 2 (Co-op mode)
Starcraft 2 is nothing new, but the cooperative mode is an absolute gem in a genre generally defined by ruthless competitive players. Since release, the commander list for this mode has bloomed into 18 unique characters, each with unique playstyles and upgrades. Eight of these commanders are free from the start, so there’s plenty of variety without spending any extra cash.
World of Tanks
As far as competitive multiplayer games go, World of Tanks is a unique experience that takes a lot of time to really click. At first, everything seems straightforward: you have a tank, and you shoot the bad tanks. But after a couple of rounds and a few easy upgrades, WoT starts to reveal its true ingenuity. It’s a game about short-term goals to reach long-term achievements, with a new upgrade always dangling right in front of you. It may be tough to get started at first, but once you’re in, World of Tanks has plenty to offer the quarantined gamer.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
The more mainstream choice for my list, Modern Warfare makes a lot of sense in our current time. Season 3 just started on April 8th, and the game was recently discounted 25%, prompting a few of my friends to finally take the dive. Though the gameplay is exactly Call of Duty, the new unlock system focusing on weapon attachments is both novel and rewarding for those longer play sessions. It adds a wild amount of variety that keeps the game fresh as you try different kit load-outs and builds for each gun.
Wing See Li
Ever since I heard about the Sly Cooper series due to watching videos on YouTube and surfing the internet, it’s one of the video game franchises I’ve always wanted to try out. Sadly, I missed out on the franchise due to high school and a lot of stuff caught my attention back then. It’s well worth the wait. I finally tried out the Sly Cooper series last year but I didn’t properly play the games until this year. I’ve always imagined Sly Cooper as a modern day Robin Hood but the only difference is he steals from other thieves.
I’d also recommend the Jak and Daxter series. Since I already played the games on the PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation 4, I know what to expect, gameplay and stories wise. Here’s the order of enjoyment: Ratchet & Clank series > Sly Cooper series > Jak and Daxter series. After playing Sly Raccoon, I realised the controls in the Jak and Daxter games aren’t as fluid as the controls from its fellow platformer compadries. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed playing the Jak and Daxter series but they’re not as fun as Ratchet & Clank franchise and the Sly Cooper franchise. The stories of Jak 2: Renegade, Jak 3 and Jak X: Combat Racing are a stark contrast to the story of Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy.
The third game comes to mind is Aqua Kitty XD: Milk Mine Defender. It’s on every console known to man but I prefer to play it on the PlayStation Vita and the PlayStation 4. There isn’t much of a storyline as you’re tasked with shooting down seemingly endless waves of underwater enemies while you protect the milk mine kitties from getting abducted. Be prepared to hear a continuous stream of adorable meows every time they get kidnapped.
Like many people, and as Laura has covered so well – Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a major part of gaming in lockdown in our house, though not for me. My partner got in there first, established the island and immediately became an expert. In part, that’s frustrating because the Switch is being used all the time, but also because you can only have one island per Switch, which means that while I can create a character, I’d have to go and live on her island, able to exist, but not move the story on. That doesn’t feel hugely enticing to me, so when I am able to wrestle the Switch away I’m mostly playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
I’ve owned it for a while now, but have always been hopeless at it, so this seemed a good time to develop my skills beyond frantic button mashing. The Switch obviously has the built-in capability for local multiplayer, so we can play together in the house, but where it’s been a really handy tool for social interaction is online – I’ve had a few sessions playing with friends with a video chat going, where they are able to annihilate me and cackle at my poor ability almost as if they were there in the room.
Lockdown is also going to be a good time to disappear into a large-scale solo campaign, but I only recently replayed both Breath of the Wild and Skyrim,so for my single player fix at the moment I’m playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Picked up at a bargain price in PlayStation’s Spring sale, this latest chapter in the rebooted adventures of Lara Croft is much like the other entries in this series – it owes far too much to the Uncharted series, without ever really hitting the same heights. I’m not far in, but this one in particular seems to be clumsily copying and pasting the slightly more mature approach to storytelling of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, complete with flashback sections revisiting the hero as a child. That said, Shadow does look great, and has just enough collectible-hunting to keep me coming back for more.
For the real thing though, there’s probably never been a better time to go on an escapist Indiana Jones-style adventure with Nathan Drake. Uncharted 4 is this month’s free game on PS Plus, and Sony are offering Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (the first three games in the series) for free, as part of their recently announced Play at Home initiative. That’s a whole lot of games for no money, and a great way to kill a few hours.
Lockdown has also caused me to look for games in unusual places – partly as we’ve adopted a habit of gaming on the sofa with comfortable TV on, and the Switch is now constantly being used for Animal Crossing. The Legend of Zelda series has always been one of my favourites, and so I’ve found myself breaking out the old DS to play The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass – a game I never actually completed first time around.
It’s very much Wind Waker-lite, without the ambition or scale of that game – the HD remaster of which on the Wii U will surely get a replay soon – but having completed BOTW recently it’s a joy to be playing a slightly more old-fashioned type of Zelda game. Something that I’ve found really striking playing it now is how in love with the DS the team clearly were when making Phantom Hourglass – I can’t count the amount of times I’ve had to blow dust off a map, call out to someone behind a door or close the system to ‘transfer’ a mark onto my sea chart. And while this is far from my favourite in the series, my love for Zelda games is more than strong enough to get me through lockdown – I could happily replay my way through every entry in the series until they force me to go back to work. In fact, maybe I will.