When COVID-19 forced everyone to huddle indoors, it didn’t take long for the arrival of gamer-centric memes. The general consensus is that gamers will have an easier time during quarantine than other people because we already spend our spare time diving into games rather than going outside.
While that may be true, we all know the truth: not all games are created equal. Being stuck inside the house for weeks or even months means you can take the time to really dive into those complex games.
But what games are worth both your time and your money? I’ve compiled the eight best games to binge during social isolation.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Sometimes, hit games are a product of hype. Other times, it’s a matter of timing. And the remake of Final Fantasy VII has both hype and timing on its side!
This game is jaw-droppingly beautiful, but Square Enix did more than give the game a graphical overhaul. Combat is now completely different, with dynamic battles where you control your characters directly. It plays more like Kingdom Hearts than classic Final Fantasy, but that makes each fight more engaging.
While this is only the first part of multiple remake expansions, it will still take at least 30 hours to complete. And many more if you want to unlock every secret! No better time than the present to dive into a deep RPG.
Super Mario Odyssey
In Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo hits the sweet spot of difficulty and depth. The platforming gameplay (which is all about moving, jumping, and throwing your hat to take over creatures) is easy enough for gamers of all ages. And it doesn’t take that long to simply progress from beginning to end.
However, it takes a ton of time to collect every power moon in every kingdom and unlock every hilarious Mario outfit. And even once you unlock everything, you can get countless hours of fun out of creating meme-worthy Mario screenshots.
Easy enough for your kids, deep enough to keep you busy all year. That’s Super Mario Odyssey in a nutshell.
The Witcher 3
Thanks to the popularity of Netflix’s The Witcher series, more and more people are checking out The Witcher video games. Take it from us: you’re better off just jumping into The Witcher 3.
The Witcher 3 is good at filling you in on backstory. In fact, it does a much better job than the show! You won’t have to worry about getting lost in the narrative.
And The Witcher 3 has something for everyone. The swords-and-sorcery action will scratch your “hack and slash” needs while the optional quests and dialogue trees will give you pleasant Mass Effect flashbacks.
Throw in a surprisingly deep crafting system and card game and you have a real hit on your hands.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Needless to say, the coronavirus has many of us stressing out. But what if you could binge a game that is the opposite of stress?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons seriously impressed me. This is a game where you largely make your own goals, including upgrading your home, tricking out your island, and socializing with your villagers.
You can make new friends with multiplayer chat and trading or just focus on your own little corner of the world. Every moment of this game is pure relaxation, making it perfect to binge if you’re freaking out!
World of Warcraft
Real talk: sometimes coping during stressful times means falling back into old habits. In another time, this might be getting back with your ex. During social isolation, that means getting back into World of Warcraft.
And there has arguably never been a better time to return. While all of those expansions may seem intimidating to returning players, you can always relive your own glory days with World of Warcraft Classic.
Beyond that, WoW is the original “something for everyone” game. You can get serious and join a guild for regular raids or just kill time exploring and working on your blacksmithing skills. Whether you want to digitally hang with old friends or make some new ones, WoW is a great choice.
Kingdom Hearts 3
Speaking of games that can seem intimidating to jump into: Kingdom Hearts 3! Even for people who played the first two games in the series, the plot of this can seem incomprehensible. That is partly due to bonkers storytelling and partly due to a story that draws off every bit of obscure lore from different side stories.
If you can get past that, though, this game has a lot going for it. Dynamic combat, beautiful graphics, and a surprisingly successful mashup of your favorite Disney characters and settings as well as Final Fantasy characters.
Come for the fun nostalgia and stay for the killer gameplay. And if you get confused, don’t be afraid to pull up an explainer YouTube video (or two, or three) to help things make sense.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I have a terrible confession to make, so I am burying it here near the bottom of the list: I almost never beat Zelda games. I beat Ocarina of Time when I was a teenager with a ton of time on my hands, but I usually get lost in exploration and sidequests before moving on to another game.
That’s true of Breath of the Wild as well. I still haven’t completed this amazing game because there is so much to see and do. And everything looks almost achingly beautiful as you wander the land and encounter fantastic settings and creatures.
Then again, I am pretty much made of time during quarantine, and hope to use that time to not only beat this game but unlock most of its secrets. If you own a Nintendo Switch, this game is a must-have for your library.
If you’re a computer gamer, Tabletop Simulator will change your entire quarantine experience. In fact, it might change how you approach multiplayer gaming.
The game premise is simple enough: you can generate a virtual room and invite your friends for multiplayer gaming. Where this experience really shines, though, is the Community Workshop on Steam. Here, users post digital versions of countless board and card games for you to enjoy.
Of course, those versions are in a bit of a legal grey area, but you can also download plenty of licensed DLC. Either way, TTS is the only way to play some of your favorite board and card games that don’t currently have a video game version.
Long after quarantine is over, I guarantee you’ll be using this game to keep up with friends who live far away!