With COVID-19 seemingly going nowhere, it’s only natural to feel restless during these long months ostracized from a normal life. That being said, we live in a golden age of the internet where there are a million different ways to interact with and enjoy the presence of your friends from the comfort of our own homes. One of the primary ways I do so is through video games of various genres, depending on what my friends want to play, and there truly is something for everyone.
To get the big names out of the way first, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14 are the two biggest and best names in the MMO, or massive multiplayer online, genre, both with their own pros and cons. FFXIV is very story-oriented and features over 100 hours of story alone. WoW has expansive worlds to travel through but is mostly balanced around the end-game raiding atmosphere. Both have friendly, social communities and while WoW is probably a little easier to learn, both are well worth their triple-A price point.
For those with a competitive itch, Riot Games has you covered with two hit games. League of Legends should be a familiar name and has been a major player in eSports since its inception. It’s a 5v5 battle arena game that is both incredibly polished and absolutely free with optional cosmetic microtransactions. Meanwhile, VALORANT is the newest game in the tactical shooter scene akin to Counter Strike but visually friendlier. Both games are relatively difficult to get into, even if way easier than their counterparts in Defense of the Ancients and Counter Strike: Global Offensive. The community can also be called into question, with players often being mean for one reason or another. Still, they’re top tier games for players who get joy out of competition as opposed to relaxed gameplay.
The battle royale genre has grown immensely since the days of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and was even the new genre everyone was trying to emulate for a while. Coming out of that phase, Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone are both premier games that I enjoy the most. Apex suffers in terms of having lackluster servers, general character imbalance, and rough matchmaking. Still, the gameplay itself is to die for. Apex is crowned the absolute king of mobility which makes for flashy gunfights and great montages. On the other side, Warzone is the second installment of a Call of Duty battle royale after Blackout. It does lack in mobility in true CoD fashion, but the gunfighting is what sets it apart. It rewards holding positions as opposed to hunting for kills. Its gulag respawn system is also refreshingly unique. Both are totally free and on PC, XB1 and PS4.
For those who want a less structured game or a more casual experience, Dead by Daylight has emerged as a high-quality survival horror game for up to five players at a time. One player acts as a killer who spends the duration of the game hunting down the four players before they can escape. Different killers include iconic characters like Michael Myers and Pyramid Head from Silent Hill. Players must rely on teamwork, game knowledge, and a bit of luck to activate the generators and open the escape.
Games don’t necessarily need to be heavy. Human: Fall Flat and Gang Beasts are both physics-based multiplayer games that are hilarious activities to do with friends. Human: Fall Flat is a puzzle platformer where you play solo or with friends to either advance through various puzzles or stall the game indefinitely by messing with your friends. Gang Beasts leans heavily towards the latter, with the players acting as gelatinous characters as they throw themselves at each other and fight for victory in entertaining fashion. The gimmick for these games is the same: the characters don’t move like normal characters. Their bodies are slaves to momentum as players move around and it makes for some truly hilarious moments.
For those who want a sandbox environment to do what they want and show off their own creations, Minecraft and Terraria lead the charge. Minecraft is already a household name, an exploration and crafting game with no real end goal. Players in the past have used this endless freedom for some truly remarkable achievements, including a 1:1 scale model of planet Earth. Terraria, while lesser known, is also praise-worthy. Unlike Minecraft, it has slight direction towards an action-adventure game while still maintaining the sandbox nature of crafting and tunneling into the ground. The art style is also a bit more playful than Minecraft, giving it an almost nostalgic air akin to that of old Nintendo games.
Even holed up at home, there’s no reason you can’t continue to lead a social life. Connect with your friends and find a way you can further your bond through the miracle that is the internet.