You may be stuck at home avoiding the virus and physically disconnected with your friends, but look on the bright side: you and your buddies have more time to play video games and see each other online.
From first-person shooters and battle arenas to roleplaying games and battles royale, there’s definitely a game that’s right for you and the gang’s mood and gameplay. Whether you want something new or haven’t decided yet, check out these 14 games to play during the lockdown.
Scrabble, Monopoly and other board games
Back in the good, old days, tabletop and board games are traditionally played on, well, actual boards. But thanks to large-screen phones and tablets, these games have embraced the digital era.
There’s no more need to unbox and prepare choke-hazard, easy-to-lose dice, play monies and other game pieces. Just bring out your Android or Apple devices. Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk and so many other classic board games now have equivalent apps with online multiplayer functionality. Some are available on Facebook, while some can be downloaded from Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
When real life is restricted thanks to self-isolation, quarantines and lockdowns, why not play a life simulator? Right now the world is going gaga over the recently released Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
In this Nintendo Switch game, you move to a deserted island through a holiday getaway package and build a village from scratch. Anthropomorphic animals will also inhabit your island, and you can spend time on building your fish and bug collections for the museum, upgrading your house, landscaping, selling fruit and so many more activities.
In addition, you can invite your real friends to tour your island or trade items with you; you can visit theirs too! Everything on Animal Crossing is designed to provide calm and relaxation, with gentle music, mundane tasks, cute graphics and open-ended gameplay. You play this game to just chill, with up to seven friends together if you like.
Stardew Valley is in the same spirit as Animal Crossing. Both games involve collecting and selling of goods, maintaining good relationships with the villagers and customizing your house. But Stardew Valley boasts features that are not found in Animal Crossing: mining, romance with NPCs, and focus on farming. The former can also be time-consuming what with all the tasks to do, while the real-time clock restriction of the latter gives it a more casual gameplay. If you want to experience the country-life, Stardew Valley is for you. It started as a single-player only game, but a 2018 update introduced a multiplayer co-op component allowing up to four players to play locally or over the Internet.
When you want to play Pictionary but still need to keep a safe distance, just set up a streaming session with your friends and play Drawful 2. Basically, this game has players take turns and prompts them to draw something, and the rest of the players then guess what the prompt was. There’s no ability to erase or do over, and everyone is given just a minute to finish their drawing. The resulting art, if you can all it that, is usually silly enough to generate laughter among participants.
Dota 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, and Mobile Legends
Playing a video game during the lockdown is a no-brainer. In fact, many people are playing so often these days that battle arena games are actually experiencing a surge in popularity and activity. Take Dota 2, for instance, a game that enjoys once more a monthly average of 400,000 active players. If the trend continues, it may be able to regain its 450,000 average players, a number it hasn’t had since 2018. So what do these numbers mean to you? For starters, you’re guaranteed short queue times. Just start matchmaking and the game will find opponents for you in no time. Expect these opponents to have the same level of skill as your group of friends, too, so you can have a fair yet challenging match.
MOBA or multiplayer online battle arena games should be familiar to a lot of people. If you’ve never of it before, it is similar to real-time strategy games. You get to pick and control a single character or hero for the entire match. You along with your teammates then need to invade and destroy the enemy team’s base. The best and most forgiving MOBA game for beginners is Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm. A mobile gaming equivalent is Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
That’s right. The popular gambling card game that what some may call as the Pinoy style of poker is available on Android and iOS. Regardless of whether this is played for money or just for fun, Tong-its will surely keep you hooked with its perfect combination of skill and luck.
Houseparty is a social networking service that promotes itself as the “face to face social network.” As the name suggests, you use the free app to start a house party, albeit remotely that’s more or less a simultaneous video call a la Zoom’s group video conference or Skype’s Meet Now functionality.
What sets Houseparty apart from those other apps is the ability to arrange and group people in virtual rooms, like how people would walk and gather between rooms at an actual house party.
And to keep people engaged, Houseparty features quizzes and games so participants can do more than just have a simple conversation in front of a camera. The games include the charades-like Heads Up!, the know-it-all favorite Trivia, the word association game Chips and Guac, and drawing game Quick Draw! Up to eight people can join in on the fun.
Another platform where millions of people gather to play and create is Roblox. Available on multiple platforms including PC and mobile, Roblox lets you create and customize your avatar to explore myriads of player-created content. You can, say, join a world full of monsters for you to discover, fight and collect just like Pokémon. There are games for scuba diving, solving murder mysteries, speed running, serving pizza in a restaurant, and managing a theme park. Just imagine a game, and most likely someone has created it on Roblox. If not, you can create your own game too!
It’s the year 2020, and Minecraft remains a cultural phenomenon with over 112 million monthly players. Just like Roblox, Minecraft is a place for you to let your imagination run wild. You can design a world and invite people over your server to explore and play for hours.
Through Minecraft, you can even foster learning and creativity not just for your kids but for yourself. The best worlds and games in Minecraft (and Roblox) were created by players who have applied and improved their skills in math, reasoning, logic and programming. So even though school is out because of the lockdown, you can still keep your mind sharp through gaming.
Yet another perfect app for a virtual game night is Psych. The goal is simple: outwit your friends. One game category is called “Is That A Fact?” in which players fool others by creating fake answer choices for a real trivia question while they try to guess the correct one.
There’s also the category “Movie Bluff” that prompts users with a movie title each round. Once more, everyone will attempt to outwit each other by concocting a fake plot for the movie while figuring out which one is the real plot.
Setting up the game for a remote, virtual game night is quite easy. Just establish a video call using your favorite video call service like Google Hangouts or Apple FaceTime so everyone can communicate. Afterwards, have participants run Psych! on their mobile devices, and one participant shares a game code for everyone else to join. Psych! Is free on Android and iOS.
Where can you get and download more free online games?
Some of these games need spending. It may be as one-time purchases, as monthly subscriptions or through in-app microtransactions. Of course, in these troubling times your money is better spent for food and other essentials.
Fret not, it’s easy to find and get free games, including multiplayer games, for remote play with your friends. Try checking out the Epic Games Store, which gives a couple of games for free every week. It’s how I got Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Batman Arkham Asylum, and World War Z at no cost whatsoever. Steam also occasionally offers great games at 100% discount, albeit at a much lower frequency than Epic. And for heavily discounted bundles of games, you can check out HumbleBundle.com.