The Best Video Games to Get Lost in While Self-Isolating

In just a few days, “Animal Crossing” fans will be able to travel to an island paradise and build a community when “New Horizons” finally releases. For gamers with fairly different tastes, on that same day, “Doom: Eternal” will allow those at home to battle through the demonic forces of hell. Either way, it’s an escape.

And for many, a break from reality is needed right now. As the U.S. and other governments advise citizens to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic, there are few better options for entertainment while self-isolating than diving into a new video game.

Whether you’re trying to find a game to play with your family or significant other, looking to get some social interaction online or just need something to hold you over until “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and “Doom: Eternal” come out, here are some great games to dump a few (hundred) hours into.

If you want to focus on an in-depth narrative:

“Red Dead Redemption 2”
Giddy-up, cowboy. As outlaw Arthur Morgan, gamers traverse a declining Wild West while completing objectives and surviving against bandits, rival gangs and law enforcement. Along the way, players explore a vast, detail-heavy open world and meet a wide array of characters, opening up a deep, ambitious narrative that has been lauded as among the best in video games.
(Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Stadia)

“The Last of Us: Remastered”
If you’re looking to hop onto “The Last of Us” train, now would be a great time to do so. Its bonafides speak for themselves: in addition to receiving critical acclaim and being one of the best-selling PlayStation 4 titles of all time, HBO is developing a series based on the game. Its highly anticipated sequel is set for release on May 29.
(Available on: PlayStation 4)

“The Walking Dead”
Fans of “The Walking Dead” TV series and comic book already had plenty of reason to check out Telltale’s episodic series, but even for those who aren’t, Clementine’s struggle through the zombie apocalypse is one that’s worth following. Plus, there are four seasons of the game available, offering a ton of engrossing narrative to get wrapped up in (and dramatic choices to agonize over).
(Available on: iOS, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

“The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”
Before Netflix’s TV series based on the high-fantasy novels were the widely beloved video games, following the titular witcher Geralt of Rivia as he searches for his long-lost lover and adopted daughter. Even if you haven’t played the previous two games in the series (or read the books or watched the series), it doesn’t take a lot to fall into “Wild Hunt’s” rich narrative and massive open world.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

If you want to explore a wide open world:

“The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Special Edition”
It’s never too late to start playing the game that inspired countless open world titles after it. The fifth installment in the “Elder Scrolls” series completely innovated the genre and, despite dozens of glitches (some of which are endearing and hilarious, some of which are infuriating and quest-breaking), it holds up, especially the remastered edition.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch)

“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”
Believe the hype: it really is that good. The latest entry in “The Legend of Zelda” series was a breath (heh) of fresh air for the franchise, letting Link explore a gorgeous, giant world. Whether Link is gliding miles over a valley, solving a Shrine puzzle or clobbering through Bokoblins, there’s always something to do.
(Available on: Nintendo Switch, Wii U)

If you’re taking advantage of the fact that no one can see you rage right now:

“Cuphead” is sometimes so challenging that it’s easy to forget to appreciate the wonderful, ’30s cartoon-style animation — but you shouldn’t. Plus, the indie run-and-gun title has a two-player option, in case you and your social distancing buddy want to rage in harmony.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, macOS, Nintendo Switch)

“Dark Souls: Remastered”
You can’t have a discussion about difficulty in video games without bringing up “Dark Souls.” The game is notoriously unforgiving, spawning countless rage compilations and Twitch challenges — but it makes success all that more rewarding.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One)

Often compared to the “Souls” series, “Bloodborne” has another challenging, skill-based combat system, and is not necessarily for the faint of heart. Fight through it, though, and there’s a deep lore and interconnected world to explore.
(Available on: PlayStation 4)

If you’re looking for a way to distract both you and your significant other:

“Overcooked 2”
An easy title to pick up for gamers and non-gamers alike, this cooking simulation will test your communication skills (for better or worse). Play for long enough, and you and your significant other will be working like a well-oiled machine.
(Available on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Mac, Xbox One)

“Human: Fall Flat”
This quirky puzzle-platformer will offer some levity to couples who might be dealing with stress. For those who don’t want to opt for the multiplayer option, it’s also a humorous game to sit back and watch.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, Linux, MacOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android)

“Super Smash Bros. Ultimate”
If you’re not afraid of the competition putting a strain on your relationship, consider the best entry in the “Smash” franchise yet. With so many well-balanced characters, players can burn hours trying them all out (or just practicing on improving their main).
(Available on: Nintendo Switch)

If you’re entertaining kids (but want to have fun too):

“Super Mario Odyssey”
“Super Mario Odyssey” has the feel and joys of the older Mario Bros. games while offering up plenty that’s fresh and new. Whether you have a young gamer who’s never tried out the franchise or you miss the days of “Super Mario 64,” it’s sure to entertain.
(Available on: Nintendo Switch)

“Pokemon Sword and Shield”
Even players who haven’t picked up a Pokemon title in a while (or ever!) can enjoy “Sword and Shield” and its Great Britain-inspired region. Plus, two expansions packs are coming out later this year, so it’s a great time to catch up.
(Available on: Nintendo Switch)

If you’re looking to train your brain while on the couch:

“Portal 2”
One of the major innovators of modern puzzle-platformers, “Portal 2” and its predecessor are worth playing for anyone looking to get into the genre. It goes far behind puzzles, too: with darkly humorous writing, memorable characters and stellar voice acting, “Portal 2” earned its critical acclaim.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

“The Witness”
The puzzles of “The Witness” are challenging to be sure, but in terms of putting your brain to work, there are few better options. Even though players might find themselves stuck occasionally, the puzzles are never insurmountable, and surrounded by lovely art.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nvidia Shield, macOS, iOS)

If you’re longing for a simpler time:

“Tetris 99”
It’s “Tetris” — with friends! And in 2020! The new take on the classic game has up to 99 players trying to complete rows while knocking each other out. Get the feel of the classic with a competitive spin.
(Available on: Nintendo Switch)

“Puzzle Fighter HD”
Play as “cute-ified” versions of your favorite “Street Fighter” characters in this fast and fun retro puzzler. You can play against your best social distancing mate or against A.I.
(Available on: Xbox 360)

If you’re social distancing but still want to play with friends online:

Okay, this isn’t exactly an original recommendation, but what better time to pick up the free-to-play battle royale sensation? Build, shoot and dance with your friends in the colorful phenomenon that’s attracted more than 250 million players.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android)

“Apex Legends”
Another free-to-play battle royale title and a worthy competitor to “Fortnite,” “Apex Legends” has been praised for its thrilling combat and blend of genres. Its “ping” system, which makes voice chat largely unnecessary if it’s not preferred, makes it all the easier to get into.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

One of the best multiplayer shooters to come out in recent years, “Overwatch’s” colorful world, smooth gameplay and diverse cast of characters make it approachable, while its mechanics will put your and your friends’ teamwork skills to the test.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)

If starting a new life entirely sounds appealing:

“Stardew Valley”
“Stardew Valley” has frequently been described as “chores, but fun,” and that’s not entirely wrong. It’s both calming and engrossing — not to mention addictive — to devote yourself to life on the farm, raising livestock, growing crops, befriending villagers and starting a family.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Android)

“Sims 4”
Anyone looking to kill time can find few better options than “The Sims.” Start the perfect family, progress in your career or just wreak havoc on your subjects — you choose! The Sims lives are as nonsensical as the player wants them to be.
(Available on: Microsoft Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Jordan Moreau, David Viramontes, Audrey Cleo Yap and Meg Zukin contributed to this article.

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