Earth is in a scary place right now due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. More than ever, we need entertainment that takes us away from the world outside our doors. We need content that not only distracts us but engages us.
Video games are perfect while we’re under quarantine have the unique ability to put us inside of stories. Instead of reading about a character’s adventures, they let us go on step into their shoes. To help you find which story you want to escape to, here are 6 titles, one for every type of gamer, that take us to faraway worlds.
Mobile (Paid) – Grindstone
Grindstone is a color-matching puzzle game but more similar in style to The Legend of Zelda than Tetris. Developer Capy figured out a way to breathe new life into a puzzle game by putting a character at the center of it. The Apple Arcade game features a Conan-like barbarian protagonist who brutally kills creatures that stand in its way using color-matching mechanics. You can play the game absentmindedly while watching TV, but the RPG elements make it feel far richer than a few rounds of Candy Crush. You can also visit a tavern where you regain health, go to the armory to buy new weapons, and even engage the services of a tailor who will make outfits that offer different abilities.
The world isn’t particularly deep, but the characters are fun and the battles bombastic. With 150 levels, Grindstone can keep you occupied for hours and hours under quarantine. As one of Apple Arcade’s video games, there are zero microtransactions: the game will never try to get you to spend money on in-game purchases. A subscription to Apple Arcade, which gives you access to over a hundred games, costs $5/month, but new users get the first month free.
Mobile (Free) – Hearthstone
Your options are more limited if you don’t want to spend any money on a mobile title, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had. One such source is Hearthstone. The mechanics of the collectible card game are simple enough for anyone to jump in but contain a level of sophistication deep enough to make it an eSports mainstay.
Hearthstone builds on the lore from the World of Warcraft franchise, which is more expansive than anything else in gaming. It can be a time sink, but under quarantine, we need video games like that. The mobile game pushes players to buy card packs and expansions, but they’re entirely optional. You can enjoy the game for hundreds of hours without spending a single dime.
PC – DOOM (2016)
This 1st person shooter is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and even the Switch, but the franchise is designed foremost with mouse and keyboard play in mind. Bethesda just realized a widely acclaimed sequel to this title last Friday, but you’re better off starting here and can probably find it for a lower cost.
The 2016 game is a hyper-violent, over-the-top, incredibly satisfying power fantasy. In a world where everything feels outside of our control, players need something that makes us feel powerful. Jump into DOOM to shoot, kick, and tear at the hellspawn in the game to shut out your inner demons off-screen.
Nintendo Switch – Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Anyone who read the headline probably suspected this game would take a spot on the list. I normally prefer to avoid choosing something so obvious, but this Nintendo Switch launch title is so deserved that it felt wrong not to include it. Breath of the Wild takes the core elements of Zelda titles and reinvents them to apply to a huge open world. You can spend literally hundreds of hours traveling across Hyrule, learning all its secrets and battling the evil that plagues the land.
I can’t think of a single game that will make time fly faster than this, which is what we need from video games while we’re under quarantine. If you’ve already played Breath of the Wild, check out the adorable remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, or one of the many hundreds of games the franchise inspired.
Xbox One – Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves is developed by Rare, the studio best known for its Donkey Kong Country trilogy and the Banjo-Kazooie franchise. You take to the high seas as a pirate, searching for treasure, finding adventure, and uncovering the mysteries of its world. I attended an NYCC panel where the developers explained how the live service game has grown and changed over the years, and it’s remarkable how much they’ve added to Sea of Thieves since its launch in 2016.
Sea of Thieves is designed for co-op play, communicating with other players with your headset. That’s perfect for the era we’re living through. Grab a few friends to join you or connect with people across the world similarly looking for adventure.
Sea of Thieves is also playable on PC. It’s included with Game Pass, which is currently offering new users one month of the subscription for $1.
PlayStation 4: God of War
When I looked at PlayStation exclusives, I strongly considered making either Spider-Man or Horizon: Zero Dawn my choice. But the former is extremely obvious, especially for The Beat’s audience, and the latter shares too much in common with Breath of the Wild.
God of War is technically a sequel to the “edgy,” brutally violent series of third-person action games released for PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. However, while it hints at the protagonist Kratos’ past, the game is a spiritual reboot for the series. Kratos is joined by his son, Atreus, on a trip to spread his wife’s ashes from the highest mountain. They embark on a journey that takes them further than either could have ever imagined.
The father and son travel through the realms of Norse mythology in order to fulfill the last wish of a loved one. The game is much more adherent to the original legends than the Lee/Kirby Thor, so it offers a very different experience if you’re only familiar with the Nine Realms as presented by Marvel Comics.
I’ve never seen a more fully realized and immersive environment. The visuals are absolutely stunning, the worlds are rich with detail, and using Kratos’ Leviathan Axe genuinely makes you feel like Thor wielding Mjolnir. At the center of the game, though, is a father and son coming to terms with a new way of life. They bond in a time of immense change, and ultimately, they both grow from the experience.