The UK is now a week into the nationwide second lockdown and gaming may be coming to mind as an ideal activity to kill time. Games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Final Fantasy VII Remake were perfectly poised in the first lockdown to provide us with hours of entertainment. We’re here to recommend you 10 games, both new and old, that we’re planning to play over the coming weeks.
World of Warcraft: Shadowlands – Activision Blizzard’s flagship MMORPG, World of Warcraft, is getting its first expansion in three years on November 23rd. After a turbulent time in recent months with a delay necessitated by the Coronavirus work-from-home order, anticipation is the greatest it has been since the game’s peak in 2010. There are a raft of changes to the game’s systems and mechanics, as well as a levelling experience that has been significantly streamlined, which make this as good a time as ever for new players to get started. End-game content like Torghast also means this is one that fans of the series simply cannot miss.
Assassins Creed Valhalla – At this point, Assassin’s Creed is as ubiquitous in the world of electronic entertainment as superheroes are in movies. The latest entry in the series takes us to 9th century Norway and England. The player is tasked with hacking their way through the populace in the conclusion of what has been nicknamed as the “Ancient Trilogy”, following on from Origins and Odyssey. This is the first to be released on the new hardware of the 9th generation of consoles, offering greatly improved graphics and frame rates. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a release day console, this is a title to look out for.
Civilization II – In a significant departure from my previous 2 recommendations, Civilization II is old. Very old. Originally released back in 1996 by Microprose and created by strategy legend Sid Meier, it remains the pinnacle of isometric 4X games. Offering enough simplicity that the game isn’t daunting for new players, whilst at the same time showing incredible depth for those who are willing to sink 500+ hours of their life into it, don’t let its rough edges fool you. This is a game that doesn’t need fancy graphics: it is more than well-equipped to get you through lockdown on its own!
Watch Dogs: Legion – The first Watch Dogs game was a colossal disappointment. Upon release, it was most known for having a huge number of game breaking bugs, a crime we can pretty much consider unforgivable when the product comes from a developer as large as Ubisoft. That being said, the second game ironed out a lot of the creases and this third release looks, on the surface, as though it’s a spectacular return to form. Set in a dystopian London run by a corrupt government, the game tasks us with overthrowing the regime through rampant insurgency. What more could you want at a time like this?
DOOM Eternal – The original DOOM remains one of the best and most important video game releases of all time. Although it went untended for some time, the reboot in 2016 was a gory, over-the-top experience that showcased the very best in games of this type. DOOM Eternal looks as though it builds upon the successes of its predecessor, whilst at the same time adding further polish and greater definition of concept. With an unbelievable soundtrack by Mick Gordon, this one will have you emerging out of the other side of lockdown before you know it.
Hades – Roguelike games have always appealed to me. They provide varied challenges and different outcomes from what at first seems to be a linear path. What surprised me in Hades is the depth in story and dialogue between the characters – something that tends to not receive much attention in roguelike games. An interest in Greek mythology stemming from my Ancient History undergraduate degree helps, but those not well-informed on mythology can still get a lot out of Hades. I’m eager to dive even deeper into what may be my candidate for game of the year.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon – The 8th mainline instalment of the Yakuza series just released yesterday. Yakuza: Like A Dragon is a fresh take on the series with a new protagonist and a change from its classic brawler gameplay to a turn-based RPG, akin to other SEGA series Persona or Dragon Quest. The game still has the typical Yakuza formula of a deadly serious main story drastically contrasted by wacky and absurd side missions and minigames. Even if you haven’t tried Yakuza before, this soft reboot provides a great entry point into the series as well as a great experience for veterans of Yakuza.
The Outer Worlds – Outer Worlds has been out for a year on the Epic Games Store, but I just recently picked it up through the Xbox Game Pass. Being an FPS RPG, if you enjoyed games like Fallout or Borderlands you’d probably enjoy Outer Worlds. I’m really immersed in the setting of the game so far: a far-flung space colony in disarray. There’s also a varied cast of interesting companions you take with you across the star system, including a priest with a knack for computer hacking and a cleaning robot repurposed for combat. Looking forward to what other adventures I’ll have in the Halcyon system.
Deep Rock Galactic – A cross between Left 4 Dead and Minecraft, Deep Rock Galactic is a procedurally generated co-op game where you play as a group of dwarves tasked with running a mining operation deep below a planet’s surface, all whilst fighting hordes of enemies. The gunplay and different classes provide good depth to the gameplay and there’s plenty of chaotic, make-or-break moments that offer a lot of tension and challenge. After mostly playing single player games for a while, it’s nice to play something with friends again during lockdown. I’ve also always wanted to roleplay as a badass dwarf in space… who doesn’t?
Super Mario 3D All-Stars – This year is Mario’s 35th Anniversary and with it comes new and returning Mario games to the Nintendo Switch. Even though Mario 3D All-Stars has been criticised for being a collection of barebones ports, I’ve still had a lot of fun with these legendary platforming games. After completing Super Mario 64, one of my first childhood games, I’m now halfway through Super Mario Sunshine and I’m excited to complete it during lockdown and move onto Super Mario Galaxy. New experiences are great but it’s always nice to have games to come back to and replay – nostalgia is a great comfort.