Picture the scene: it’s 23:58 on December 31st 2019, the decade has left an interesting mark, to say the least, but you were content in the drunken haze that maybe the 2020s weren’t going to be too bad. Maybe you even muttered those famous last words: “This is going to be my year, nay, my decade!”. We are barely 3 months into 2020 and while I could use this article to sound off on how this year has really been a test of my patience, by this point I am preaching to a disillusioned, spiritually worn down choir.
As of 25th March 2020, the UK is under lockdown, due to the coronavirus. This is no laughing matter, we are all confused, we are all scared and we sadly don’t know how long it will take before we can return to normal civilisation. It is of little respite that, at the very least, this self-isolation will give you a chance to catch up on your pile of shame.
Seeing as there isn’t an end in sight to the current crisis in question, I have compiled a shortlist of 10 games that will help whittle down the hours. There are rules for this list, though. Firstly, if needs must and depending on availability, I will be including whole franchises. Depending on how long it will take to return us to normal civilisation we might be in it for the long haul, so multiple entries could be what we need.
Also as a second rule, there’s no end of the world/outbreak games. That means no The Division, The Last Of Us or Resident Evil, simply because this article aims to deliver some haphazard light-hearted entertainment and isn’t meant to stoke the fires of fear, compared to the grim reality of what we are seeing. If we’re to be stuck indoors like we’re playing a role in a bizarre Mitchell and Webb sketch come to life, then we might as well try and complete some of these games.
10. Spyro and Crash Bandicoot HD Collections
While lumping two franchises into one might be cheating, Spyro and Crash are lauded and praised as the quintessential platforming adventures. With varying levels of challenge and tight gameplay, it is hard not to talk about one franchise without the other and with a total of 3 games for each, there’s easily a lot of time to put into both with enough left over to tackle Crash Team Racing also.
All 6 adventures and its kart racing counterpart offer some great story experiences that will give both children and big children alike giggling until the credits roll. If you feel like you’re a little too old for these games, perhaps this will be the perfect bribe for your children who will undoubtedly test your sanity while you’re trying your best to homeschool them.
9. Batman Arkham Series
Thankfully, no matter how tricky things have become, stories of psychotic clowns and beaked nosed mobsters are going to stay firmly in fantasy, albeit a gritty realistic fantasy. Please don’t head out the house wearing your partner’s black yoga pants just yet. Rocksteady has provided an excellent opportunity to be a superhero, in the comfort of your own gaming space – yoga pants optional.
All three titles offer around 30 hours of vigilante escapism each. That makes for 90 hours of running around the maddening halls of Arkham Asylum as well as the dingy streets of Gotham City, taking down mobsters and a memorable rogues gallery that will certainly give our favourite caped crusader a run for his money. The trilogy is available on all current-gen consoles and even if you did complete the story, there’s still the case of catching those frustrating Riddler trophies.
8. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Catchy song aside, if you ever saw its wonderfully done Netflix series, this franchise helped put CD Projekt Red on the map for quality western RPGs. What else can I add to the heaps of well deserved praise? Well, maybe that the third title, Wild Hunt, easily offers over 100+ hours of well-crafted gameplay alone and that’s if you’re just playing the base game and not investing in the extra 20 to 40 hour DLC packages.
CD Projekt Red has pulled out all the stops to make newcomers and old school fans alike feel welcome, from the intriguing main story to the long well-written side quests that can take an hour or so to complete. That’s not even including some of the jaw-dropping visuals that push the graphical capabilities of your chosen console or even PC to the limit. The Witcher 3 is a rite of passage for any RPG fan to give this game a go.
7. Final Fantasy
Let’s be honest here, Square Enix knows how to continually sell their most beloved franchises and want as many a gamer as possible hooked. Final Fantasy offers 13 single-player titles, 2 MMORPG titles and countless side franchises that I am not even going to attempt to calculate the hours for. It would most definitely in the thousands. Most of its titles can even be bought on your smartphone, should you want something to do while taking a walk in secluded woodland.
Much like another franchise that will be mentioned later on this list, there really is a Final Fantasy for every occasion. Perhaps you’re looking for a coming of age title? Final Fantasy XV. A tale of how to look after our planet? You can pick up Final Fantasy VII for pennies these days, or maybe just wait for the remake that is looming on the horizon. Whatever the pleasure, there’s a chance that Square Enix’s juggernaut franchise will keep you going for the days and weeks to come.
It’s a weird pick, but hear me out. Civilization is an opportunity to play as the planet’s greatest leaders and work out where exactly we went wrong. This franchise is best reserved for those who want to take their time and strategize their preferred playstyle, whether that’s dominating the planet to their image or perhaps winning the game by putting on really good plays and festivals.
Whatever the playstyle, the Civilization series is a tried and true franchise that offers addicting gameplay that is easy to learn, yet tricky to master. It is a game for relaxing, without the need to cause wars — so long as you don’t piss off Gandhi anyway. While Civilization VI is now out on all gaming platforms at a fair price, you can pick up prior entries for a little cheaper if you’re looking out for the pennies.
If you are really longing for something that sets itself out as a dystopian title but with over-the-top immature humour, then Borderlands is the franchise for you. With four games under its belt, all ranging from 40 to 100+ hours of outlandish shooter action, the real challenge will be stopping yourself levelling up every character, just so you can experiment with the many skills on offer.
Throw in some fun, memorable characters, billions of guns and plenty of side quests and you have a franchise built to last another 3 pandemics and a common cold to boot. While Borderlands 3 is still in its first DLC pass, the first two entries to the franchise and The Pre-Sequel are available for current-gen consoles with all the DLC, to get your blood pumping while you run and kill everything in sight.
4. Uncharted or Tomb Raider
For the adventure aficionados among us, Uncharted and Tomb Raider are not the longest titles out there. With a combined total of 3 games for the reboot series of our favourite female adventurer and a total of 5 games for Nathan Drake, each game lasts around 20 hours, if you were to play all of them in one go. That clocks up to around 160 hours and that’s not including any side activities if you’re a completionist.
Both franchises offer a lot of fun action, puzzles and, in Uncharted’s case, a cast of characters that are worth investing the time over. Tomb Raider’s strength lies in the continuing growth of challenging side activities that include hunting, crafting and raiding actual tombs. Maybe these games were on your pile of shame because there have just been other games to distract you, but it’s never too late to pick up and play some of the best adventures told by Naughty Dog and Crystal Dynamics.
3. Literally Every Lego Game
Don’t scoff! Lego games are absolute fun and are needed. Not everyone wants to go through the therapy when finally beating Rom The Vacuous Spider in Bloodborne, nor does everyone want their mothers creatively insulted by every under 18 American online. There really is a Lego game for all occasions, whether that be Star Wars or my personal favourite DC Villains.
Offering bright graphics to combat any blues, funny storylines and a simple style of gameplay that’s easy to just pick up and play, Lego is no longer a franchise that is made as a gateway for children. With plenty of play styles, options and replayability to choose from, it’s hard to resist the nostalgic lure of enjoying a few hours of brightly coloured worlds where everything is—nope, I won’t complete that sentence. I don’t want that song in my head.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
Apart from the glaringly obvious that it is hands down one of the best games for the current-gen, the size and scope of RDR2 is so jaw-droppingly immersive that one playthrough is simply not enough. You just have to keep playing through to uncover every hidden nook and cranny Rockstar Games wants you to find.
The other reason for this entry is because of Red Dead Online’s growing community. Rockstar clearly wants to offer something else compared to its monolithic GTA Online. There always seems to be new activities, heists and missions that will keep you and your squad of cowboys from hell galloping furiously across the plains for hours to come. Of course, failing that, it’s always fun to just shoot some random players for the giggles, but don’t complain when that is returned in kind.
1. Persona 5
Persona 5 isn’t a video game for mere mortals. It is a project that leaves hardened JRPG masters staying up all night wondering which parts of Joker’s social life need to be worked on next, rather than working on our own social lives, which in my case is a far scarier process. You would be quite forgiven if you need several guides and online help to just work out the basics.
However, the beauty lies in Persona 5’s narrative of inner demons and loveable Phantom Thieves that will keep you coming back for more. Getting to know well-written NPCs, splicing demons to create more powerful ones and, of course, traversing the psyches of nefarious villains in the hope of changing their hearts, as you gain more investment in the world around you, there is plenty to do in Persona 5 and each little part of your journey and how you play is very important to the narratives bigger picture.
You can pick up the base game for cheap these days, however, it might be worth splashing out on the upcoming Royal edition with extra characters and quests to sink your teeth into. As forewarned though, don’t expect this to be an easy push, as even just getting through the storyline will take up to 80 hours. If you’re looking to fully immerse yourself, you’re looking at an eye-watering 120 hours. Persona 5 does deserve your time, but despite its longevity, none of it feels like a waste.
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