Home / Gaming / Bored at home? These video games can keep you occupied while social distancing – The Dallas Morning News

Bored at home? These video games can keep you occupied while social distancing – The Dallas Morning News

Chances are, you had some plans this month that got canceled. Events have been shut down, travel is discouraged and everybody is advised to stay at home. So what can you do?

This is a time for video games to shine.

Each of the games below can provide many hours of entertainment, even if you’re in isolation. Provided you already have the hardware required (a game console, a decent computer or even just a phone or tablet), you don’t even have to leave the house to buy them, as they can all be purchased and downloaded digitally.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

It’s hard to imagine the newest Animal Crossing game coming out at a more perfect time. The entire goal of the game? Live a relaxing life on an island that’s populated by lovable animal neighbors. That’s it. And at a moment when millions around the world are isolated in their homes, a chill island getaway sounds like heaven, even if it’s virtual.

The game plays out not only in real time, but on a real calendar. If it’s April 3 in the real world, it’s April 3 in Animal Crossing. If it’s winter in the real world, there will likely be snow on the ground in your virtual one. You can go fishing, catch insects, build furniture, design clothes and much more, either alone or with friends. Up to four people can play together on one system, or up to eight can play together online.

Available March 20 for the Switch.

Doom Eternal

If Animal Crossing sounds like heaven, Doom Eternal might sound like hell. Which is appropriate, because much of this high-octane first-person shooter takes place there.

The latest in the long-running series from local developer id Software will allow you to relieve stress by shooting rockets and shotgun shells directly into the faces of demons. It’s not exactly soothing, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

Available now for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

A screenshot from 'Doom Eternal,' from Richardson-based id Software.

Murder by Numbers

There’s been a murder at the TV studio, and the only way to solve it is by making pictures via numbers.

Murder by Numbers is a game of nonogram puzzles (Nintendo calls them picross puzzles). They’re a bit like Sudoku in that you have to use numbers and logic in order to fill out a grid, but instead of filling that grid with other numbers, you fill it with black squares. By the end, the grid becomes a simple image of an object.

What makes this nonogram game particularly charming is that it’s wrapped up in a stylized, light-hearted visual novel packed with fun characters and an intriguing mystery to solve. It’s like a brain exercise and a cozy fireplace all in one.

Available now for Switch and PC.

Pokemon Sword and Shield

Exploring the real world with Pokemon Go might not be the best option right now, but you can stay indoors and catch Pokemon on your Nintendo Switch — and since the Switch is portable, you can do it from any room in the house.

Sword and Shield are alternate versions of the same great game that could keep both kids and adults happy for many hours. This latest game in the Pokemon series tasks you with catching hundreds of interesting monsters and training them for stadium supremacy in Pokemon battles across the region.

Finished the main game already? There is expansion content that will start rolling out in June with the release of “The Isle of Armor.” Hopefully the real world will look a little more normal by then, but it will still be good to have indoor options.

Available now for Switch.

Civilization VI

The ultimate time sink. If you’re looking to kill the most hours possible, Civilization VI will make them fly by. A turn-based strategy game that anybody can pick up and enjoy, Civilization will have you guiding a fledgling nation from the ancient era into the near future.

Playing with (or against) AI versions of historical figures like Genghis Khan and Queen Victoria, you get to decide the entire course of your civilization, including whether or not you want to win by peaceful means or by wiping all of your competition off the map. Just beware: Despite all appearances, Gandhi will try to nuke you.

Available now for PC, Mac, iPad, Switch, Xbox One and PS4.

The Witcher 3

Maybe you’re reading this because you’ve already worked your way through your entire Netflix backlog, in which case you may have fallen in love with the world of The Witcher. While the show is based on a series of Polish fantasy stories, The Witcher rose to prominence with this series of in-depth, engrossing role-playing video games.

Across many dozens of hours, you’ll explore a land packed with interesting quests, people, enemies and challenges. Or if you just want to kill a few hours playing a cool card game called Gwent, you can do that, too.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, that’s OK. You can think of it a bit like Game of Thrones, but with even more magic and monsters.

Available now for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch.

A subscription to Xbox Game Pass

You’re going to be inside for a while, and you might want a wide variety of games to play instead of just a couple of choices. Xbox Game Pass has your back, offering a catalog of more than 100 games that you can enjoy to your heart’s content. It’s the closest thing we’ve got to a true “Netflix for games” (though, note, you do have to download the games to your system rather than stream them).

For $10 a month on console, $5 a month on PC or $15 a month for both plus Xbox Live Gold, you’ll get access to a wide variety of hits including The Witcher 3, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Gears 5, Minecraft and much more.

One of the latest games added to the Game Pass library is Ori and the Will of the Wisps, a gorgeous 2D adventure platformer that is fun both to play and to look at. The beautiful art, animation and movement will catch your eye, but the solid gameplay will keep your attention for hours.

Apple Arcade

If the only game-playing device you’ve got on hand is an iPhone or iPad, you can subscribe to Apple Arcade for just $5 a month. Arcade games promise a premium game experience that is free of ads and microtransactions. Some of the library is hit-or-miss, but there are some definite standouts in it too, including Tangled Tower, Sayonara Wildhearts and Oceanhorn 2.

One recent release I’ve been enjoying is Roundguard, which mixes Peggle with a dungeon-crawling RPG.

Nintendo Switch Online NES/SNES Classics

If you’ve got a Nintendo Switch at the house and you want to wander down memory lane, a $20 yearly (or $4 monthly) subscription to the Nintendo Switch Online service nets you access to a selection of classics from the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (NES and SNES, respectively) lineups.

That includes classics like Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Kart, Tecmo Bowl, Super Metroid and more.

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