Due to the impact and concerns of COVID-19, there aren’t going to be very many sports to watch for the foreseeable future. The NBA has suspended its season, the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments have been canceled, MLB is suspending operations, and the NHL is also pressing pause on the year. That doesn’t even begin to get into what has happened in soccer worldwide, or the fact that the NFL is months and months away from games.
To put it bluntly, there are no big sports happening right now, which has many people going a little stir crazy as they sit inside their houses and apartments with little to do. Perhaps they’ve already gone through half of their Netflix backlog, going through snacks and maybe the beer they bought to get through the social distancing period that will hopefully limit the impact of the virus and save lives.
We’re a social people and it’s not going to be easy but, for many, video games help. This is a great time to get to your big backlog of games you put aside and never got around to finishing, or perhaps bought on sale and never really gave a chance. And with some big releases coming out in just a few days, you’ll have plenty to work with if you have a console or PC.
Video games can be the ultimate time sink, and the best part is how accessible so many of these games are. We live in a digital age where you can download most games directly to your consoles, some are even free! Here are some of the best options if you’re looking to dust off your console and forget about social distancing for a while.
These games are the ultimate users of your time. You go in with plans to play for 15 minutes and come out three hours later blurry eyed and unsure of what you just did, but you know it was a great time.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The newest Animal Crossing releases on March 20 for the Nintendo Switch and it’s set to be one of the most exciting games in the franchise. With each new iteration, more power is given to the player to customize their town just how they want it. New Horizons looks to be the most customizable yet with players able to adjust the landscape itself. Want to make a waterfall? You get a waterfall. Want to put fossils you found on the beach? Then you can do that, too. The entire town is yours to create and longtime players are salivating at what they’ll be able to accomplish. Putting this on top of the relaxing elements of fishing, bug catching, fossil hunting, and interacting with your villagers, Animal Crossing is set to be one of the best games of the year. You can spend hours in your town and never get bored making it the perfect time sink.
Final Fantasy XIV
This MMORPG from Square Enix came out originally in 2010, got rebooted in 2012, and has become the number one MMO in the world. Is it worth that status? Absolutely. The gameplay loop of FFXIV is addicting and will turn what you planned on an hour of game time into five hours of game time. The region the game is set in, Eorzea, is beautiful and fun to explore. The best part? The first 20 levels are completely free, so you can spend time figuring out if you actually want to dive into the world before you do. Be warned though, the game is extremely addicting and you may never be the same person after you’ve finished those 20 levels.
The Sims 4
Like Animal Crossing, The Sims 4 is a life simulation game, but unlike Animal Crossing, The Sims 4 has been out since 2015 and with it comes numerous expansions. The base game can usually be purchased for pretty cheap now and it’s recently become available to consoles, giving it wider accessibility. If you really find yourself really enjoying the game then there are eight expansion packs and more than 20 game/item packs to fill your world and time. Even after all these years, The Sims continues to be one of the best time sinks out there.
Civilization V or VI
Did anyone else know a guy in college that had to drop out because they spent too much time playing Civilization? That’s how addicting these turn-based strategy games can be. Players have sunk thousands of hours into the game as they’ve taken over the world through Civ‘s deep mechanics. There are multiple ways to win a game and each one feels fun and addicting. Games can take hours, but the payoff at the end is almost always worth it and will make you feel like a genius. While Civilization VI is the newest in the franchise a lot of players still swear by V as their favorite in the franchise so you can’t go wrong with either.
Maybe all you really need is just that sports fix to get you through these dark days. Well, there’s plenty of sports simulation games out there and new releases just in time for a long stay inside.
MLB The Show 20
A lot of baseball fans were crushed to find out that they won’t get to witness opening day on time this year, but they can always get their baseball fix in a virtual world. The latest version of MLB The Show just dropped and it’s set to be one of the biggest in the franchise. The Show has slowly and quietly become one of the most consistently great sports simulation games out there with multiple modes, in-depth mechanics, and addicting gameplay to keep you coming back well into next winter. The only downside is that it’s currently a PlayStation exclusive, but that is expected to change in 2021.
It’s 2K. It’s basketball. It’s currently $20 — if you have Xbox Gamepass, then you can play it for free — and it’s largely considered the best sports simulation game out there. You know what this is and you already know if you will like it or not. One advantage 2K has is that it’s kept up with the season to this point so fans can actually play out the rest of the year, playoff race, and championship all on their own. Just because the NBA season is on suspension doesn’t mean the video game season is.
Hockey’s on ice, too, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some skates in. The NHL series is an easy way to sink a lot of time into getting good at it, as there’s a learning curve that comes with the two-joystick mechanics of skating and stickhandling. Once you get it down, though, there’s a robust online system that can keep you connected with players and a ton of features to use up your time.
Extremely Long Games
I like to call this section the RPG section, or the almost impossible to complete section, because once you’ve beaten or 100 percented these games you’ll look at the playtime and be disgusted to see 100+ hours. You’ll also feel fulfilled after knowing what you’ve accomplished.
Finishing this game’s story mode alone will likely take you more than 100 hours on your first play through. Actually 100 percenting the game can add another 60 hours on top of that. But you’ll rarely get bored, if ever, throughout your entire playthrough as Persona 5‘s style and aesthetic alone will keep you intrigued. The story is incredible and the combat is fun. The game’s menu, music and even battle system is designed in a funky way that’s just fun to look at. Don’t be afraid to put it on easy mode if you’ve never played a Persona before, though. These games can be hard.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild
Breath of the Wild is one of the best Zelda games ever made. The freedom of the game is just spectacular. The first couple hours of the game see you following a general tutorial to teach you how the game works, but once you’re past that the entire world is open to you to tackle it however you choose. There is no time limit in this game or set way of how things have to be done. Sure, the game gives you a couple hints of what you should do next but there’s no need to follow them. Breath of the Wild lasts as long as you want it to, and it’s truly amazing what the community around it has done with the engine to find new ways to do cool things. That said, if you want to do everything the game has to offer, then it can consume well over 100 hours of your life. It will never be boring though.
Red Dead Redemption 2
PS4, Xbox One, PC
Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the greatest stories told in any game ever. Its beautiful interpretation of an old America is not only fun to explore, but it allows you to see the deep darkness underneath it. There is so much to do and there’s complete free will for the player to do it, but the story is where the game shines the brightest. It’s a tale everyone deserves to experience at least once. Of course, if you really don’t care and just want Grand Theft Auto with horses that element does still exist, but RDR2 is so much deeper than that and deserves to be enjoyed as more than that.
PS4, Xbox One, PC
If you don’t mind playing a game with subtitles, Yakuza 0 is an incredible crime drama that will leave you shocked at how much you care for those characters. It’s the sixth game in the series, but it’s a prequel making it the perfect jumping on point for anyone that’s never played a Yakuza game before. Where Yakuza really shines is its wide variety of side quests. Karaoke, fun fishing mini-games, a shockingly in-depth pocket racing mini-game, running a cabaret club, and taking over all of Kamurocho’s real estate is all available in Yakuza 0. You’ll fall in love with the characters and story, but you will also spend the majority of your time just goofing off.