Underneath the shelter-in-place order, it’s really hard to socialize. Sometimes you just need to hang out with the gang, though. During this pandemic, online video games can help bring distant friends back together. All you need is a game system, a mic/headset and internet access. Here are a few games that do a great job of simulating hang out time.
“Call of Duty: Warzone”
“Call of Duty: Warzone” is a standard CoD first-person shooter, but it’s a battle royale. It’s a new game, so there’s a huge player base and many possible people to connect with. The game also introduces some interesting new mechanics to the overdone battle royale game type. When you die, you go to the Gulag, where you must win a 1v1 match with limited weapons in order to drop back into the main map, Verdansk. If you lose, your team can still buy you back at a Buy Station. The best part about it, though, is that it’s cross-platform. If you’re on Xbox One, you can play with a friend on Playstation and another person on PC. Hallelujah, we finally have a cross-platform, multiplayer first-person shooter!
If you’re familiar with any “Call of Duty” game, “Warzone” will be really easy to get into. There’s not much of a learning curve. You just play over and over with friends until you win. And, let me tell you, that first win does feel great.
“Minecraft” is a classic at this point. It is the second most selling game of all time and an icon of the past decade, carrying over into the ‘20s with updates every few months.
There are two editions of the game: Java and Bedrock. Java edition is the standard one for the PC. This is the more customizable edition of the game, but it is less user-friendly than Bedrock. Bedrock, unlike Java, is cross-platform. You can download it on Windows 10, Xbox One, PS4, Switch and mobile devices. Bedrock edition is fully moddable and is more up-to-date. For online play amongst friends, however, you have to pay $5 monthly for a Realm. If you know anything about networks, though, you can just get a free cloud-hosted server for your friend group to play on. I would recommend Aternos.
“Minecraft” is basically an endless sandbox where you can build anything. Even if the vanilla experience gets old after a while, there are millions of servers and mods which create infinite possibilities. It’s a really great game to just connect with friends and have a chill time. And, if you live away from home, you can also use this game to connect with siblings. It’s like building a long-distance pillow fort with your younger brother.
Price: It depends.
“Titanfall 2” is an unsung, classic first-person-shooter. In addition to a must-play story mode, the multiplayer is so good. When you’re running around and jumping off walls and rocket boosting through the air, you feel like a spider monkey. It’s some of the most fluid and fast-paced gameplay I’ve ever played. Then, when you get in your Titan, you become a nearly unstoppable tank. This is one of the few times we’ve done a mech game in the west, but it’s so right. When you rack up enough points and call in that Titan, the whole game changes. I’m still afraid I’ll be walking around town someday and hear, “Stand by for Titanfall.”
“Left 4 Dead 2”
“Left 4 Dead 2” is a classic game from Valve’s glory days. It’s a 1-4 player, socially distanced, couch co-op experience minus the pain of split-screen. The best way to play it is on PC, but it can also be played on an Xbox One if you have the old 360 disc.
The gameplay is super fun and different from the average first-person-shooter. The newest version of the game comes with the entire first game plus all of the downloadable content. There’s also a versus mode where one team plays as the survivors while the other team plays as the zombies. “Left 4 Dead 2” is one of my favorite games of all time and perfect COVID-19 hangouts. It’s cheap and timeless, having a memorable story with great characters. Plus, part of the game takes place in Mississippi, so that’s pretty cool.