With the world on lock-down, not to mention the thousands of people furloughed or unemployed, we’re finding a lot of spare time on our hands.

Games are a great way to fill that time and help us forget about the stress surrounding the pandemic. Here are my picks to get you through lock-down!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

If you’re looking for a world you can get lost in for hours, look no further than The Witcher 3.

Before it hit Netflix last year, CD Projekt Red brought Andrzej Sapkowski’s long-running series of fantasy novels to life for the third time in 2015. This sprawling action RPG is widely considered to be one of the best games of this generation.

The Witcher will allow you to get lost for hours in a sprawling fantasy world

The game follows monster slayer Geralt of Rivia as he follows the trail left by his adoptive daughter, Ciri, across the continent as she bids to escape a group of ghostly warriors.

With a compelling cast of supporting characters and countless side stories, The Witcher 3 can keep you occupied for 100 hours or more.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Nintendo’s latest entry in the Animal Crossing series, New Horizons, was released on 20 March. Given the situation we find ourselves in, the timing was perfect.

In New Horizons you escape to a deserted island having purchased a get-away package from benevolent businessman and not-at-all-shady raccoon Tom Nook.

You can customise your island home to your heart’s content or while away the hours chopping wood, picking fruit and catching fish or bugs.

The game is designed to be played a little each day, with the relaxing activities the perfect antidote to stress. As long as you don’t mind getting into serious debt to a raccoon that is.

Minecraft

Minecraft has been a cultural phenomenon for almost a decade.

The sandbox survival mode tasks players with gathering resources and building shelter to keep out creepers, skeletons and other monsters.

Minecraft’s creative mode is where the game truly shines. Image by jovanmanic from Pixabay

However, the game’s creative mode is where Minecraft truly shines during lock-down. With infinite resources, the only limit is your imagination.

Whether you’re making a full-scale replica of King’s Landing from Game Of Thrones or creating your own design, you can lose yourself in Minecraft for weeks.

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Another game that rewards creativity is Breath Of The Wild. The 2017 entry into The Legend Of Zelda series presents players with a vast open world to explore.

Unlike The Witcher 3, however, Breath Of The Wild’s main draw isn’t the story. Saving Princess Zelda and the kingdom of Hyrule from the villainous Ganon is a recurring plot in the series.

What Breath Of The Wild arguably gives you more than any other open-world game is freedom. As you run, climb, swim and glide your way across Hyrule, you tackle countless puzzles, enemies and challenges in any number of ways and in any order.

With breathtaking visuals and a richly designed world full of activities and hidden secrets, it’s impossible to run out of things to do. Breath Of The Wild is a masterpiece.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

If you’ve been spending lock-down watching The Mandalorian on Disney+, The Rise Of Skywalker or the final episode of The Clone Wars, which came to the streaming platform on 4 May, you may be hungry for more Star Wars.

If so, look no further than Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

The game follows former padawan Cal Kestis in his efforts to restore the Jedi order five years after they were wiped out by Order 66 in Revenge Of The Sith.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order contains a mix of exploration and lightsaber action

It’s an engaging story and the game delivers an entertaining mix of exploration and satisfying Dark Souls-esque lightsaber combat.

Jedi: Fallen Order was beset by technical issues when it launched in November. Developer Respawn has cleaned much of that up through patches so there’s never been a better time to jump in.

Horizon Zero Dawn

Released in 2017, Horizon Zero Dawn marked a new direction for Guerilla Games, which was largely known for its first-person shooter Killzone series.

Set 1,000 years in the future, Horizon Zero Dawn presents a world filled with robotic dinosaurs and other technological marvels, while humanity lives in primitive tribes. The game follows Aloy, an outcast searching not only for the truth of her own past but the Old World as well.

Horizon Zero Dawn sees you battle robotic dinosaurs

The intriguing story is perfectly paced as Aloy discovers more about the mysterious Zero Dawn project and how the world she knows came to be. All the time Aloy must deal with the various factions she encounters along the way.

Ashly Burch breathes life into Aloy with a masterful vocal performance, while the action is exhilarating throughout. Horizon Zero Dawn is an under-rated gem.

Mass Effect Trilogy

Ok, this is actually three games but you can’t just play one part of a trilogy can you?

BioWare’s recent output, Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem, may have failed to live up to the studio’s high standards but the original Mass Effect trilogy still ranks among the best.

The games follow Commander Shepard and the crew of the Normandy as they battle to save the galaxy from invasion by an evil race of machines – the Reapers.

While social distancing might be the order of the day, in Mass Effect you’ll assemble a squad of companions to befriend, fight alongside or romance.

How you manage those relationships and the choices you make along the way – some of them devastating – are as gripping as the grand space opera.

Red Dead Redemption 2

If you’re looking for an open world to get lost in but prefer a more grounded setting than fantasy or sci-fi, Red Dead Redemption 2 is just the ticket.

A prequel to Rockstar’s highly acclaimed 2010 cowboy sim, Red Dead Redemption 2 follows outlaw Arthur Morgan during the decline of the American frontier at the turn of the 20th century.

It’s a superbly written story of honour, betrayal and – you guessed it – redemption. However, the narrative isn’t the only hook that draws you in.

There’s plenty of action to sink your teeth into, from bank heists to train robberies. However, if you’d rather while away the lock-down hours fishing, hunting or grooming your horse, Red Dead has you covered.

Doom Eternal

If the stresses of lock-down have left you needing to vent, grab your super shotgun and fire up Doom Eternal.

Doom Eternal kicks things up several notches from its breathless predecessor, which superbly rebooted the series in 2016.

The game adds even more tools to your arsenal so you can tear your way through the hordes of hell as the Doom Slayer. He’s essentially Halo’s Master Chief if he really needed anger-management classes.

The relentless combat almost takes on the form of a puzzle as you juggle ammo, health and armour while blasting your way through demon after demon, all to an adrenalin-pumping heavy metal soundtrack.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

The cinematic premiere of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla dropped on 30 April to widespread excitement from fans of the historical murder tourism series. However, that game won’t be released until the run-up to Christmas.

If you can’t wait that long for a dose of Assassin’s Creed, now is the perfect time to pick up or revisit 2018’s Odyssey.

In this instalment you control Kassandra or Alexios, a mercenary working to dismantle the shadowy Cult Of Kosmos during the Peloponnesian War.

Melissanthi Mahut’s warm and authentic performance as Kassandra makes her character stand out. Whichever character you choose, however, you’re free to fight and freerun your way through the ancient Greek world.

The series has fully embraced the transition into role-playing it began in Origins. While that isn’t to the taste of some long-time fans of the series, the new formula might appeal to those who weren’t so keen on the earlier games.

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