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The casual gamer’s guide to surviving quarantine

Time to dust off the ol’ controller

March 27, 2020

11:26 AM

27 March 2020

11:26 AM

After several days in quarantine, you’re probably thinking: what now? You’ve exhausted a few Netflix series, spent some time in the kitchen baking, had some drinking sessions over Skype with your buddies, and now you’re probably getting a little bit stir crazy.

And if you’re a video gamer, you might have finally finished the one or two games you bought a few months ago but never had time to play because of work or social obligations. Unfortunately, that means you’re fresh out of ideas for how else to spend your time in self-isolation.

Lucky for you folks, I’ve put together a list of my top video games you should play while quarantined. Download them from Steam or the Playstation and Microsoft Stores or order them express in the mail, but this mix should keep you busy until we all go back to work.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo Switch)

The latest installment of the Animal Crossing series dropped just in time for the quarantine to rave reviews. Load up a dreamlike cartoon town filled with animal villagers and spend your time collecting fruit, fishing, and building your dream house. Animal Crossing is escapism at its finest. The game also multiplayer capabilities, so if you’re feeling a bit lonely, you can connect with friends virtually.

Spider-Man (PS4)

Insomniac Games finally delivered the ultimate Spider-Man game that Marvel and superhero fans had been begging for in 2018. The main storyline is engaging and features many of our favorite characters from the series, and the combat system is practically flawless, combining melee fighting with neat gadgets in a way that reminded me a lot of the Batman: Arkham games. If you ever need a break from the campaign, you can web-sling around New York City and help the local police take down criminals to upgrade your skills and gadgets.

Assassin’s Creed: Ezio Trilogy (Xbox 360/PS3)

The Assassin’s Creed series has been filled with some exceptional games set in stunning landscapes and featuring a heavy dose of historical fiction. However, the best moments in the series are spent playing as Ezio Auditore da Firenze in Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood and Revelations — also known as the Ezio Trilogy. Ezio falls into the Assassin Order at the age of 17 after a brutal family tragedy, and players get to grow with him over the course of three games as he seeks revenge. Take in the Italian scenery to make up for your canceled vacation, enjoy the brutal but creative assassination sequences, and fall deep into the interwoven historical and modern day timelines.

Stardew Valley (PC/Mac)


Stardew Valley is an excellent alternative to Animal Crossing if you don’t want to shell out for a newly released game or a Switch — it costs about $15 on Steam and you can play right on your laptop. Yes, it is a cartoon farming simulator, but there’s also some intriguing mystery, basic combat that takes me back to my Gameboy days , and even a chance to get married to one of the townsfolk. I bought the game last week and have already stayed up way too late a few nights trying to earn enough money to build a new barn for my cows. Severely addicting!

Doom Eternal (Xbox One/PS4/Nintendo Switch)

This sequel to the 2016 release of Doom finally came out last week after a four-month delay and critics are already saying it’s a massive improvement on its predecessor. If slaying monsters with insane weapons is your idea of stress relief, then this is the game for you. I haven’t gotten a chance to play firsthand yet, but as a Catholic I’ll admit the idea of slaying some demons is pretty enticing.

The Last of Us (PS3/PS4)

A bit on the nose maybe, but The Last Of Us follows a smuggler, Joel, and a teenage girl, Ellie, in a post-apocalyptic world where much of humanity has been decimated by a plague. Joel and Ellie have to use a combination of combat, stealth, and puzzle-solving to avoid being infected or killed by the zombie-like creatures roaming around. Make sure you play this one before HBO finishes developing a television series based on the game.

The Sims 4 (PC/Mac)

Sure, you could read some books, learn to play chess, and ‘WooHoo’ while in quarantine, but there’s something so fun about making your Sim do those things instead. The Sims 4 isn’t my favorite installment in the series — the new mood system can be an annoyance and the ‘Create a Sim’ options feel like they’ve regressed a bit since The Sims 3 — but I’ve found it has the smoothest playing experience in terms of graphics and loading times. Add on a few of the expansion packs to make the fun last even longer. Level up your sim in their career and force them to fall in love with their neighbor and have children, or kill them slowly by locking them in a room with no food — wait, is this about a video game or quarantine?

Red Dead Redemption 2 (Xbox One/PS4/PC)

Yeehaw, pardners! Saddle up for the long-awaited follow-up to Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption, often touted as the ol’ Wild West version of Grand Theft Auto. The game is actually a prequel, telling the story of how Dutch van der Linde’s gang fell apart while running from the law in 1899. John Marston is still a major character in the game, but we find ourselves playing as the rough and tumble Arthur Morgan, who actually ends up being a far more complex character. The shootouts are excellent, the landscape is gorgeous, and the voice acting is so good certain parts of the story had me near tears. A+.

Super Mario Party (Nintendo Switch)

Cooped up inside with roommates, friends, or family members? Then it’s definitely worth rounding up the gang to play this classic game that’s been re-imagined for the Switch. The board game-style play means there’s a decent bit of luck involved, so you don’t have to feel bad about beating up on your younger sibling or child. And there’s no actual board to throw, unlike in Monopoly. Just be careful with the controllers.

Uncharted series (PS4)

Uncharted is one of my favorite series of all time and in my opinion it does not get the attention that it deserves. The series follows treasure hunter Nathan Drake across four games, where he uses climbing and platforming skills, guns, and puzzle-solving to search for ancient artifacts and lost cities while avoiding being captured or killed by enemies. You can get away with playing just Uncharted 3 and 4 without missing too much, but each game is great and there’s a collection pack for sale containing the first three games.

Plague Inc. (iOS/Android app)

No console, no problem. In this mobile app, you create a viral pathogen and help it evolve so that it infects the entire planet and wipes out humanity. The game has gotten so popular since the coronavirus outbreak, that the creators announced they were going to be adding a new style of gameplay where you try to stop a virus instead of creating one. Social distancing, anyone?

Pokémon Gold (GameBoy or PC/Mac Emulator)

Finally, a nice classic for anyone who needs a serious dose of nostalgia and thinks Pokémon Go just doesn’t cut it. Pokémon Gold was part of the second generation of Pokémon games and improved on the first generation by adding color, new Pokémon and Pokémon types and additional regions to explore. It’s easy to spend hours catching new Pokémon for your team, training them, and then taking over a new gym. If you didn’t hang onto your old GameBoy Color all these years, no worries — you can play online through an emulator.

Happy gaming!


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