These are difficult days, and many of us have been forced to retire behind-closed-doors while we wait for the pandemic to run its course. During these times of self-isolation, we thought it might be a nice idea to round up a bunch of games that can be enjoyed over an extended period of time. And so, without further ado, here some games that you can really sink into.
Dragon Age: Inquisition - You could easily include the first game in the Dragon Age series in this list too, but we're going with our 2014 Game of the Year because of the sheer scope of the adventure that it offers. You might even argue that it's BioWare's last great role-playing game, and as such, much rests on the shoulders of the development team handling the fourth game in the series. For a great big woke fantasy adventure look no further.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Maybe not quite as woke as Inquisition, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is still an exceptional action-RPG whichever way you look at it. There's an argument that Geralt's fantasy adventure is the defining game of the current console generation because while GTA V sold the most and undoubtedly had the more significant cultural impact, Wild Hunt took CD Projekt RED and elevated the studio to the major leagues, to the extent that Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most anticipated games of all time. Back to The Witcher for one sec, make sure you also play the Blood & Wine expansion once you're done, as it's an excellent adventure in its own right, extending the game by another 20-30 hours, and it offers a satisfying conclusion to Geralt's story arc.
Grand Theft Auto V - We mentioned GTAV so let's get that out of the way right now because no list like this would be complete without it. What's more, if you factor in the endless replayability of GTA Online, you've got one hell of a package in Grand Theft Auto V. The single-player adventure alone represents many hours of top-quality entertainment, but there's so much more packed into the open world of Los Santos that it's easy to get lost in it for days on end. There's a reason we crowned this our game of the last decade, and if you've never played it before, there's still every reason to take the plunge.
Fallout 4 - We were stuck between a rock and a hard place when choosing which Fallout game to feature. New Vegas had plenty of personality and 3 boasted a wealth of content. In the end, we opted for Fallout 4 because it's the more modern experience in the series. The wasteland is a dangerous place, and you can even experience it in VR if you've got the right gear, which added together with all those base-building elements and a compelling story makes Fallout 4 a hugely immersive game to sink into over an extended period of time.
Mass Effect Trilogy - Yeah, we're kinda cheating because this is three games, but by the time you've finished the first game we'd wager that the vast majority would prefer to keep on playing, such is the quality of the BioWare's now-iconic sci-fi RPG series. The first entry is the weaker of the three, but it's still full of stellar world-building, while the second and third games up the ante with vastly improved combat and consequence-based gameplay that keeps you guessing right up until the epic conclusion at the end of the third. Once you've got that far, however, stop - the trip to Andromeda just isn't in the same league as Shepard's battle with the Reapers.
Persona 5 - There are few games that can hold a light to Persona 5 when it comes to pure style. This deep and involving RPG has a gang of high school students battling the spirits of oppressive grownups in an otherworldly realm, and the story and combat are engaging in equal measure, but it's the fact that Atlus does it all with such effortless swagger that really impresses. There's a new Royal edition of the game that's also very good (see the trailer below or our review), but the original's a masterpiece and you can buy either edition with absolute confidence.
Red Dead Redemption 2 - In a decade that started and ended with a Red Dead Redemption game, we're rolling with the second because it's a god damned technical marvel. With some of the best and most detailed world-building in the business, a stellar story magnificently told, and more gun battles than you can shake a rickety old stick at, Rockstar's Wild West epic is an incredible game and well worth exploring for an extended adventure. Like GTAV before it, there's also an online component that adds further value to the package.
Wasteland 2 - We mentioned Fallout earlier, and that game and this one have a shared heritage. However, while Bethesda went first- and third-person, Wasteland 2 stuck players atop an isometric perch. Wasteland 2 also delivered turn-based combat and consequence-heavy gameplay, with a deep and branching narrative that explores grown-up themes and doesn't pull its punches. It's filled with murky characters and impactful moments, and the post-apocalyptic setting is grim-faced and punishing. Still, grim-faced and punishing it may be, the game still offers around a hundred hours of gripping entertainment.
Divinity: Original Sin II - Another stellar isometric RPG comes in the form of Divinity: Original Sin II. Like Wasteland, the combat is deeply tactical and there's plenty of cause and effect to take into account as you make your way through the adventure and interact with the world. What one could argue elevates Original Sin II, however, is the personality of the main characters, and the creativity evident the construction of this sprawling fantasy world. The most recent Divinity proves that Larian is a studio at the top of its game, and we can't wait to see what it does with the Baldur's Gate license.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - If you were to slide over to a review score aggregator and check out the number next to Breath of the Wild, its inclusion in this list would be a no brainer, however, for some reason, the Switch launch title remains divisive amongst Gamereactor editors and some of the team simply don't like it. Should that stop you from checking out the game? Well, if you can live with the fact that the weapons degrade super-fast and the combat is a bit low-fi, BotW still offers one of the most enchanting fantasy worlds to explore, and it's full of brain-melting puzzles and a wealth of secrets. It's a game enhanced by the spirit of discovery and where curious minds are always rewarded.
Dark Souls - Yeah, we were always going to include this one. We've got a bunch of alternative From games that could have taken this spot, but we're going with the first Dark Souls game because it's the one that really captured the wider attention of the gaming world and established FromSoftware as one of most talented teams working in the business today. Not only was the first entry in the series recently remastered, bringing the experience more in line with our modern expectations, but the adventure itself is punishing and rewarding in equal measure. And then, if you like it, there are two more games to play through. Praise the sun!
Final Fantasy XV - Here's another series where you could pick one of several games. Again, we've gone with the most recent standalone entry in the series because it's absolutely stuffed full of things to go and offers a complete experience. Of course, we're ignoring the elephant in the room and that's the imminent arrival of Final Fantasy VII: Remake, which no doubt many of you will be tucking into during these long days trapped in the house. Talk about timely.
Crusader Kings II - We've written about a lot of role-playing games and sweeping action-adventures, but we haven't really dived into strategy games, and to be fair, a game like Civilization VI or Total War: Three Kingdoms will give you a huge amount of entertainment over an extended period of time. Yet we're focusing on story-driven experiences that you can sink into. That's where Crusader Kings 2 stands apart from its fellow titans of the grand strategy genre, as Paradox has managed build in RPG elements that have you role-playing as your character as they try to steer their dynasty through the pages of history. If you're after something a little bit different to immerse yourself in and you don't mind taking the time to climb up a pretty steep learning curve, consider taking a punt on this one. Oh, and with CK3 just around the corner, the base version of CK2 is free-to-play on Steam.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Should we have put Skyrim in this list instead? Perhaps. Then again, we're getting tired of writing about that one and every once in a while it's nice to reflect on the game that came before it. And what an adventure it was too. Instead of dragons and shouts, the fourth core Elder Scrolls game had us heading into Oblivion gates to shut down portals to another dimension. The series' familiar brand of gameplay is still at the heart of things, although some parts of the game haven't aged that well, yet Bethesda's old-gen adventure is still a remarkable achievement that has plenty to offer. Of course, you can play Skyrim if you want something more modern. It's excellent. We won't judge you.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Another strategy game with just enough personality to make it into this collection is the latest entry in Intelligent Systems' long-running Nintendo-exclusive series, Fire Emblem. As the Three Kingdoms subtitle oh-so-subtly suggests, there is a trio of different factions and you can play through the game with each of them, experiencing new content with each fresh run at the game. Throw in a solid DLC expansion and you've got dozens and dozens of hours of role-playing, tactical battles, and heart-wrenching permadeath to get through.
FIFA 20 - If fantasy or sci-fi isn't your thing, why not sink into a game of FIFA 20's campaign mode. Of course, if you're after something more detailed, Football Manager 2020 might be a better shout, but EA's game has got a deeply involving manager mode that lets you train your team no-hopers into champions, deal with transfers and build a squad, and play every single match in your quest for glory. If you're after a never-ending timesink to while away the hours and you like a kickabout, look no further than this (or PES, that's pretty good too).
Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Animal Crossing fans have been waiting for years for another core entry in the series, and New Horizons did not disappoint when it arrived this week (making it the most recent game to adorn this feature). If all you're after is a chill experience where you get to gently build your community, completing quests for your friends as you go, then you're absolutely covered with this.
Alien: Isolation - Ok, ok, this is a joke. Yes, Alien: Isolation drags on a bit at the end, but it's also an absolute monster of a game and if you've not played it before, there's still time to correct the error of your ways. You'll thank us later.
Of course, there are plenty more titles that you can add to a list like this, and if you've got games that you'd like to recommend, let us know in the comments!
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