Games You Should Be Playing While You Are Social Distancing
Like so many out there, my work has made the correct decision to close down due to coronavirus for the next couple weeks. That is to say, the building is closed. We here at CheckpointXP are soldiering on from our makeshift studios at home. We know that many of you are stuck at home, or worse, not stuck at home. From us to you, we’re all in this together. Now, let’s check out what games you should be playing during the COVID-19 quarantine. We’ll break it down by platform.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
There are two types of games that are going to be on this list. Games that you’ve stored away for a rainy day, and games that you can sink a ton of time into. This is absolutely one of the former. When Link’s Awakening came out, I said this was one to wait on, at least until a sale came along. Well, I need to amend that. Wait on playing Link’s Awakening until a sale comes along, or a global pandemic does. Link’s Awakening first appeared for the GameBoy and was a cult classic. It’s remake remains true to the original, and seeing Koholint Island remade for the 21st century is a moving experience. The music sounds stellar, the graphics are fun, and the gameplay is what you’d expect. Now’s the time, give it a go.
Super Mario Odyssey
This is one that fills both lists for me. Super Mario Odyssey was well liked when it came out, but not in the same way that Mario games that came before were. It didn’t reach the acclaim of games like Mario 64 or Mario Party… or Kart… or even Tennis/Golf. Wow, the Nintendo 64 really was a golden age for Mario games. Nevertheless, Super Mario Odyssey is a solid platformer for the modern age. Not only that, but you can sink a TON of time into it if you’re committed to getting all the collectibles. It’s also got that rockin tune on New Donk City, so check it out!
Dark Souls: Remastered
I know everyone is expecting to see Breath of the Wild or Smash Bros Ultimate on here. But here’s the thing. EVERYONE has played those games. And while a replay wouldn’t be a bad idea for the quarantine (more on that in the PC section), I wanted to highlight some games not everyone has played. And what better game to highlight than the game everyone says they want to try until they actually try it.
Dark Souls is brutal. There’s no other way to describe it. The controls are wonky, the enemies are unforgiving, the platforming is sadistic, and you certainly don’t get rewarding cut-scenes for your efforts. But this is important: There have been 3 mainline Dark Souls games, plus Demon’s Souls, Bloodborne, Nioh, and Sekiro. Believe me when I tell you there is something to these games. The rewarding feeling you get when you finally beat the Capra Demon is unbelievable. I’m not so much recommending Dark Souls: Remastered as I am the entire genre of game. DS: Remastered is just a good jumping off point. (PS. You can skip Demon’s Souls.)
Do you remember the Fall of 2018? Within a few months of each other we saw Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Assassins’ Creed: Odyssey drop. Games no doubt got lost in the shuffle. One that I saw people back burnering frequently was Marvel’s Spider-Man. I’m here to tell you now’s your chance to check this one off the list. Spider-Man was stellar. The graphics were great, the voice acting was solid, the story was excellent. The gameplay is a tale of two themes.
The combat is reminiscent of the Batman: Arkham games, although the spider-sense works much better with, ya know, Spider-Man than it does Batman. Where the game really shines is in the web-slinging. Web-slinging is what makes or breaks a Spider-man game and this one delivered big time. Swinging through the buildings of an incredibly detailed New York City is excellent. So much so that when I visited New York City for my first time last year, I was intrigued that I already sort of knew my way around. Yes, I know it’s a grid-system, but I learned from Spider-Man.
God of War (2018)
This one is on here very selfishly. Yes, I know that most people played God of War. Hell, it won Game of the Year. But here’s my dirty little secret. I didn’t like the God of War series at all. It’s particular brand of smashy smashy stab stab never really spoke to me, and so when the new one was announced, I didn’t pay much attention to it. It wasn’t until late 2019 that I finally got to the experience the game and WOW. I have never been so happy to be so wrong.
God of War (2018) takes a much deeper look at the character of Kratos than previous entries. The story follows Kratos and his son, Atreus, as they journey to the highest peak of the realm to lay his wife’s ashes to rest. Everything that was Greek myth before is Norse myth now. The over-arching theme of Kratos feeling remorse for the things he’s done and hoping his son will be better than him is powerful, especially near the end of the game. Overall, I was very impressed with the game and would recommend it to anyone.
Monster Hunter: World
On the other end of the game-play spectrum is Monster Hunter: World. I’m by no means saying that MH:W is a bad game, just that the reason for playing it is drastically different. Monster Hunter: World is your time sink option on the PS4. Many of us are going to have a lot of time to kill over the next few weeks or even months, and MH:W is sitting there ready to suck up a couple hundred hours worth of it.
Monster Hunter: World is the epitome of swinging big weapons at big enemies. It asks bold questions like “Just how big of a hammer can some feasibly swing?” While it may not have a realistic answer to that question, it’s incredibly satisfying when you land the perfect hit with an axe the size of a mid-range car. Now’s a good time to get in as the Iceborne DLC dropped last fall and adds even more content to check out.
I struggle with the X-Box One, because so many of their best titles lead to me saying “I’d rather play it on PC.” While that’s true of any system, save for the Switch, it’s especially problematic on the X-Box One. Nevertheless, let’s start with Gears 5. Gears 5 is a game I have a lot more experience watching than playing. I’ve been able to watch some professional Gears competitions since the game’s release and it is very fun. While cover shooters are over-done these days, Gears of War was one of the pioneers of the genre. The combat is pretty fluid, the controls are good, and killing stuff is satisfying. A good shooter, this does make.
Resident Evil 2: Remake
Again, not an X-Box One exclusive, but it saves me from having to put it in the PS4 section. Resident Evil 2 was a great game in spite of itself. No game with controls and camera angles that bad should be that good. Yes, you can argue that the awkward viewpoints and clunky controls add to the survival horror element. Or you could have a brain and call a spade a spade. The controls were a crime against humanity, but the game was dripping with atmosphere and terrifying anyway so we let it go.
Enter Resident Evil 2: Remake, a game whose development meetings probably went like this. Resident Evil 2, but we fix the stupid. Brilliant! They took RE2, threw it in the RE7 engine, put in some fun call backs, and said good. Well done Capcom, we’re all very proud of you and yes you can have my $60 dollars. While this entry also allows me to shamelessly remind you that the Resident Evil 3: Remake demo is out this week, it mainly makes the list because of what’s going on in the world. We’re one anime convention away from COVID-19 mutating into the T-virus so you might as well play RE:2 and figure out what to do in case of the apocalypse. Lastly, we all have to make a pact right now that if Capcom utters the phrase Resident Evil 6: Remake, we all go back to playing Silent Hill.
Any Other Game You’d Be Better Off Playing On PC
I’m sorry X-Box fans, i really am. The problem with this section is the problem with X-Box One. Why should you own it? If they’re going to make all their game releases available on PC, why not just play them on PC? I’m not saying you don’t have any good games. You absolutely do. Halo, Destiny, Titanfall, Stardew Valley, Cuphead, GTA 5, Metal Gear Solid 5… all stellar games. All games you should play during the quarantine. And all games you could just as easily play on another console or on PC. Of that list, I can highly recommend Stardew Valley as a way of killing 80 hours or so.
Your Steam Backlog
Okay, we’ve gotta get this one out here right away. The Steam backlog has become a meme in and of itself. We all have a pile of games, not downloaded, never played, just waiting in our Steam libraries. Before you go investing in a ton of new games, maybe it’s time to take a look at the trove of titles you bought because they were $1.49 on the summer sale and at those prices, you’d be stupid not to buy it, right?! RIGHT?!
This one is on here because it’s what I’m doing during quarantine. I first played the Mass Effect series in 2017, and was blown away by how good it was, even for a series that was a decade old. But after completing Andromeda, I had other things to move onto. As anyone who has played Bioware games will tell you, once simply isn’t enough. So while I have some extra time at home, I’m going through the trilogy again. (I think I’ll pass on a second play-through of Andromeda.)
Now, two things about this. Yes, you need Origin for it. Yes, you will feel dirty having it on your computer. And yes, it’s worth it in the end. Rather than lug out the X-Box 360 from the basement, cranking through the trilogy on PC is really the way to go. The number of user created mods out there is staggering if that’s your sort of thing. If you want the vanilla experience, I’m here to tell you it’s as good as you remember it. For better or for worse.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
I know. Anyone who read’s my stuff regularly was probably expecting Undertale or Life is Strange to pop up here. And while you ABSOLUTELY should play those games if you haven’t, they don’t have the length to sustain you during the quarantine. And so we turn our attention to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. You probably remember the name of this game, but nothing else about it. That’s because it became a cult classic shortly after release back in August of 2017, but never reached mainstream success. Don’t get me wrong, it did well for itself. There’s a sequel coming out this year after all.
Many people like me however, heard about the game’s success and went “aww, that’s a feel good story for a smaller dev.” and then promptly shifted focus to getting excited for Middle Earth: Shadow of War. Last year, I had the opportunity to go back and play through Hellblade and WOW. It’s not just good, it’s great. I’d put it up there as one of the best releases of 2017. If not for Breath of the Wild and Horizon releasing that year, it could have been a contender.
It’s March and our Video Game Bracket Challenge is on! You and a friend could win a Respawn Gaming Chair and all you have to do is cast your votes for which games are the best of all time. You can have six chances to win by voting throughout the month. Check out the bracket here.