We aren’t all inherently gamers. If I were to think of the image of a gamer, I would imagine a basement-dwelling goblin who consumes nothing but fast food and energy drinks. How times have changed, as video games are no longer an exclusive territory occupied by the schoolbook definition of “nerds”. No, gaming has grown and so has the genres and games which are on the market. You don’t need to know the lingo, the history, the community, all you need is time and engagement, and since Covid-19 hit us, time is something we all have way too much of. So, I’m going to give you my personal recommendations for video games that might pique an interest for you in these times, whether you’re a complete newbie or a veteran. And since gaming is no longer a solemn activity, I’ll be giving both single and multiplayer recommendations.
If you’ve been around the gaming community, this game certainly has popped up, as it’s probably the game most streamers love lollygagging about right now. Among Us is a multiplayer game where up to 10 people can play, either with friends or with random people. The core gameplay is all about lies, deceit and detective work. Players are put onboard a spaceship, where they can either be a Crewmate or an Imposter. The Crewmates’ job is trying to do tasks on the spaceship and figure out who the Imposter is, and the Imposters’ job is trying to kill the Crewmates without being found out. The gameplay is split between Exploration and Discussion phases. In Exploration you run around and do tasks or try to commit murder, depending on which role you got. During this phase players are prohibited from speaking to one another, so you do not know what people are doing unless you physically see them in game. When a body is discovered, the players enter the Discussion phase, where you may discuss who found the body, in what location, and try to establish everyone’s alibies. This is the most thrilling segment, as for Crewmates, you’re trying to find the holes in everyone’s testimony or alibies, while the Imposters are trying to lie their way to innocence. During the Discussion phase, everyone can vote for who they would like to kick off the ship, and the person with the most votes is gone. If the Crewmates kick off all the Imposters, they win, but if the Imposters can kill everyone, they win.
I’ve recently started playing more and more of this game with a group of nine friends so we’re always a full lobby, and it is an absolute blast! We’re laughing, we’re howling and we’re yelling at each other. It has been some of the most fun I ever had accusing my friends of betrayal and deceiving them myself (sometimes failing miserably I might add). I haven’t tried online with random people, but the option is there, and who knows, you might even make some new friends. And it will definitely make you forget all about the time, as matches don’t take too long, and as soon as one is over, you can boot up another, either hoping you’ll be an Imposter or a Crewmate.
As the name suggests, you or a group of up to four friends are challenged to run a hectic kitchen, and the sole factor which will separate you from a novice to an expert is the most dreaded thing in all friend groups: teamwork. You only need to know two buttons, pick-up and let go. That’s literally it. On the top of the screen orders will zoom in and you and your friends will have to maneuver around different kitchens to prepare the meals. Someone might be cutting the vegetables for the burger while others cook the meat, meanwhile someone will have to wash the dishes so you can get another plate to serve this culinary marvel on etc. The hectic nature of the game is something one can absolutely fall in love with, and the game keeps throwing curveballs at you to keep you on your toes and mix it up.
This game can also be enjoyed in single player, but I can’t with a good conscience recommend it. I’ve usually played this with three other friends, and it’s an absolute blast. Never in my life would I believe I would be yelling “MARI, IF YOU DON’T BRING ME MORE TOMATOES BEFORE THIS MEAT GETS OFF THE PAN YOU’RE BANISHED FROM MY HOUSE”, but alas, here we are. Nothing can test your friendship and cooperation like this game, as you’ll be screaming louder than Gordon Ramsay, with an even fouler vocabulary to boot, but it’ll be worth it, cause there’s numerous hours in this game to be enjoyed, and many expansion packs (DLC) and even a sequel. Levels never last too long either, so you can have a break from yelling at each other before continuing on to the next level.
Monster Hunter World:
Just a fair warning to begin with, this title is mostly aimed at people who’ve played video games before. That’s not because a new player can’t handle this game, but it’s not newcomer friendly. Heck, even if you’re a seasoned gamer I would recommend playing this with someone who’s already suffered the steep learning curve of Monster Hunter World (MHW).
As the name implies, the main task of the game is to hunt different fantastical monsters in The New World. You’re a hunter, whose task is to explore this new world and take down the monsters of it. The unique aspect of MHW is that you can’t see the healthbar of the monsters, you have to pay attention to how they act, move and look. All these signs give away how much health the monster has left. It’s simple on the surface, but go deeper, there’s lots of customization. First off, you have a multitude of weapons to choose from, all with different playstyles. And there’s lots of different armor and weapons to forge and upgrade with the spoils you get from a hunt.
You can play in either single-player or play with people online. I can recommend both, as it feels more of an achievement to take down a monster by yourself, but playing with some friends can be an epic experience in itself as well, since the monster’s strength will also scale based on how many players join in (a maximum of 4). It is quite overwhelming in the beginning, but much like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, if you invest time and patience into learning the intricate system of MHW, you will be rewarded with a world and experience unlike any other, with an endless amount of missions and things to do, either by yourself or with friends online.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim:
This is probably the oldest game on the list, but considering it being republished for every console there is (I’m convinced they’re looking into porting it to a calculator as we speak), it is as accessible as ever, and for good reason. In Skyrim you take on the role of the chosen Dragonborn, whose goal is to stop the alpha omega of all dragons from ending the world. You explore the vast and beautiful world of Skyrim, and despite the game being nine years old, it’s still a breathtaking world, with too many awesome things to do and too little time. The game takes RPG (Role-playing game) elements, where you will have to cut, skewer or spell cast your way through many different enemies, which in turn, will level up your efficiency in said category (among many) and allow you to level up. The game is also infested with so many side quests and stories that you will probably end up forgetting what your main quest was. And that’s exactly why people have come to love this game so much over the years, the endless stream of content that was packed into that single release.
I’ve played too much Skyrim on PC and on my Switch as well (as I was among the dumbdumbs who bought it yet again). You will get completely lost in its world and narrative, and if not that, then the satisfying gameplay loop will definitely reel you in. Though I would say this game is slightly more geared towards hardcore gamers than a casual audience. HOWEVER, do not let that deter you at all, this game is friendly to newcomers, but it does rely on you taking your time with it and allowing it to show you the same magic it has shown millions of others. And once you’re hooked, there’s no going back, and maybe, in these times, that’s for the better?
Amongst the newest releases on the list, Hades is the tale of the son of Hades, Zagereus, trying to escape the Underworld. To accomplish this, he has to fight his way through the numerous chambers of the Underworld, but with the help of the gods and goddesses of Olympus. The selling point of the game is that you will die…probably a bunch of times. Now, unlike Dark Souls where death is a stain upon your pride (and your patience), Hades is built around dying. Every time you launch an attempt at escaping, it’s considered a “run”. The game will randomize which items, godly abilities, chambers and enemies you come across for every run, making sure that none ever feel the same. The gods of Olympus will grant you different power-ups, which may completely alter the way you play. You can unlock up to six weapons with very different playstyle, which again, allows for numerous amounts of different builds for every run. Now, as mentioned previously the game is built around dying, meaning that after every failed attempt, you will still retain some things you pick up on your runs. For example, Darkness, the game’s currency which allows Zagerus to gain power permanently or gems that allow you to upgrade the chambers themselves or the House of Hades. Speaking of which, it’s in the House you’ll spend your free time between escape attempts and talk to the (un)lively cast of colorful characters, all from Greek mythology but with a new spin to them.
The game is an absolute delight, from the great visuals to the clever and fun writing of the characters. There’s a surprising amount of depth to a game that on the surface seem to not offer anything besides a repetitive gameplay loop. Yet, nothing about this game feels repetitive, and after a failed run you will most likely want to immediately start a new one. And with each run you’ll become stronger and better, coming closer and closer to achieving your escape. And you’ll have fun while doing so for many hours.
Animal Crossing: New Horizon:
It’s like Nintendo knew what was about to hit us, as Animal Crossing launched at the most perfect time. If you’ve played or heard of The Sims, Animal Crossing is very reminiscent of that. You, the player, find yourself starting a new life on an island, one which is mostly deserted except for two animal villagers and the powermonger Tom Nook. The game is all about making the perfect island, exactly how you want it. You take things day by day, selling items, fishing, catching bugs, building furniture and other stuff with the materials you gather. Little by little, your island will be populated, and you’ll have more options for customization, even being able to completely reshape the very structure of your island! The in-game time is based around the real time, meaning that you’ll only be able to do certain activities at certain times, so be aware that there’s no option to rush through everything. The most important aspect of AC:NH is to have a relaxing and enjoyable time.
Now, AC:NH is not something for everyone. If you want an action-packed, story driven game, do not buy this game. This game is designed for people who enjoy life simulators with an incredibly cute twist (yes, the animal villagers are delightful in every aspect). So if you find satisfaction in creating and designing things, or just like to chill out with the fun cast and atmosphere of a remote island life, I can’t recommend the game enough. It is a Switch exclusive though, so if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of not owning the console, well, The Sims probably works to satisfy that life simulation itch.
Written by: Tobias Klausen