Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Video games to play on lockdown

GameCentral readers discuss what games they’re playing during the coronavirus crisis and how their approach to gaming has changed recently.

The question for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grackle, who asked if how you play video games has changed during the coronavirus outbreak. Have you been playing more or less games in the last few weeks and do you have any specific plans in terms of what games you’re going to play during lockdown?

Almost everyone said that they were playing more games than usual, with most opting for longer games that they wouldn’t ordinary have time for – as well as co-op games for all the family.

Dynamic duo
Several months ago I pre-ordered both Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, having played the previous entries and being confident that I would enjoy both. I wasn’t wrong on that count but of course had no idea how important they’ve become to keeping my sanity during this strange crisis we find ourselves in.

Doom Eternal is the ultimate catharsis and while I admit the platforming can be very irritating the action is so good I have had a whale of a time with it. The amount of secrets and collectibles is great too and, obviously, I have plenty of time to find them all now.

Animal Crossing is, of course, completely different in every possible way. It’s also a major step forward than the previous games, which I didn’t expect. To the point where my girlfriend is now heavily hinting that she wants a Switch Lite so she can have her own copy. I’m not at all surprised that the game has been a massive hit, but from what I’ve seen so far it’s completely deserved.

Virtual escape
The virus situation has led to me doing a few things gaming wise. I’m in a fortunate position that my income is unaffected by the situation and my outgoings on leisure activity, petrol, gym, etc. has been significantly reduced. So, along with some Christmas money I treated myself to an Oculus Quest to play Half-Life: Alyx.

Half-Life 2 is my favourite game of all time so I thought I could allow myself such an indulgence, so I am eagerly anticipating delivery of the Quest next week and have got Alyx installed and ready to go. I haven’t been as excited for a game in a long time, especially after reading the reviews and the response I have seen on Twitter to the game.

It has also led to me arranging to play more co-op games with friends, the first being Lara Croft And The Temple Of Orisis, which was free earlier this week. I have always been a predominantly single-player gamer, the last co-op game I played was Portal 2, but now is the perfect time to get back involved again for the social interaction. Whilst I wait for the Quest to arrive, I have been catching up on my backlog by playing Judgment, which I’m around halfway through and very much enjoying.
Angry_Kurt (Twitter)
Now playing: Judgment (PS4)

Busy and occupied
I’m playing a lot more games than I would do normally because of being stuck at home as I am self-isolating. I’m keeping to a routine of household chores, keeping in contact with friends and family, and playing games or reading GameCentral. I’ve been mostly playing indie games as they are not too short or too long. Sometimes I am put off by a game when I know it is going to be 50 hours to complete it, but I will try to play one or two of those types of games at some point.

I am trying to get Platinums for some of my games I have already completed to keep me busy and occupied. I have recently been playing Arise: A Simple Story, Oxenfree, and Gris which I have all enjoyed.

I am lucky to have an Xbox One too and I have a gold account so I can play online co-op with a friend for social contact. We have been playing Halo 5’s co-op campaign. I can really only afford one online account so don’t subscribe to PlayStation Plus as well. I have a big selection of digital games to play, as I like my indie games but also I have triple-A physical releases to play too. Stay safe.
Andrew J.

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Time to play
I have been playing a lot of Mario Kart 8 with the kids, I can tell you that, and somehow we’re not all sick of yet. Although I don’t even know if that’s possible for Mario Kart. For myself I scored a copy of Octopath Traveler for half price and have really enjoyed what I’ve played of it so far – a really cool old school Japanese role-player with just enough modern twists.

I don’t know what I’ll play after that, and since I’m not much of a multiplayer guy I guess the obvious thing is more role-players, especially as I don’t normally have time for them. We’ve also got a PlayStation 4 so I think I’ll give Persona 4 Royal a go when it comes out, seems pretty good time for that considering what I hear about its length.

Good distraction
I have my nine, seven, and five-year-old children in my small two bedroom flat, with their mother seriously ill in hospital with meningitis. She’s been there a week now and we are unable to visit, can’t go out, and don’t have family around to help. It’s as intense as it sounds.

However, playing games together is a great distraction and we have been enjoying a daily four-player Worms Armageddon tournament and are working our way through Cuphead together. The seven and five-year-old have been chipping away at it since Christmas and unbelievably had managed to finish the game on easy.

They’ve now drafted me in as they want to see the final bosses and need to complete it on regular to do that. It’s an absolutely fantastic game and once in the loop of passing the controller between us and taking turns against each boss, it does the job of drawing our full attention. We are now three souls contracts away from getting to the final bosses and I know they’ll be delighted when it happens.

Outside of that, once the kids are asleep I’m trying to at least get an hour on Call Of Duty: Warzone with my mates, or play some Football Manager to again be absorbed in that world rather than this one. As I write this, I’ve also got Mortal Kombat 11 downloading which I’ve wanted for a while so that as well should keep me entertained.

I have to say though, I’m desperately hoping that things somehow go back to normal soon. We are lucky to have a hobby that immerses us in the way it does, but we need to not distract ourselves so much that we forget about the difficulties those close to us may be experiencing, and to offer them our support where we can. That level of support for me has been my mates simply taking an hour to play a game with me and us just focusing on that, and it has been a life saver.

Time well wasted
I bought Animal Crossing: New Horizons yesterday (Thursday) and The Witcher 3 earlier in the week, so these should keep me busy for the foreseeable future.

I don’t normally get much time for gaming but unfortunately coronavirus has forced me to suspend my business, so whilst I am home-schooling my children and am busy with that I have found my gaming time has greatly increased so am making the most of it (and the sunny weather) whilst I can.
Superiordom (PSN ID)/Superdom (Steam ID)

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Stay home
This is not the letter I had intended to write into the Hot Topic. Sorry for that:

I hope everyone reading has been adhering to the Government guidelines to stay indoors, playing lots of video games at home and looking after themselves. I hope you and your families are all well.

My mum died today, not from Covid-19 but it indirectly contributed to her death. NHS staff are depleted because of Covid-19 and doctors are scared to admit patients into hospital because contracting Covid-19 could turn a survivable illness into a death sentence. This is essentially what happened to my mum. She was not admitted into hospital soon enough because the doctors were scared she would contract Covid-19.

The huge number of people who have volunteered to help the NHS shows that we care and the huge cheer I heard from my neighbours at 8 o’clock shows we all appreciate the NHS. If you have not volunteered you can still help, by staying at home. The virus is not spreading unassisted, we are spreading it.

After watching my mum die I walked home from the hospital, I only live 20 minutes’ walk away. During that short walk I passed 102 people outside, enjoying the sun. 102 people disregarding the guidelines to stay at home. Please do not be like them, please take care of yourself and protect your family and friends. Please stay at home.

Now for the letter I had originally intended to send into this Hot Topic:

Up until a few days ago my wife showed no interest in gaming but after seeing me play Pikuniku she asked if we could play together. I know she dislikes competitive gaming because her brother would take great pleasure in humiliating her when they were children. So I figured it needed to be co-operative but also needed to be relatively simple.

Lego games seemed like a reasonably good fit and some of them are in the current PSN sale. As she likes superheroes I bought Lego Avengers. I knew it was not the greatest Lego game but I had already played Marvel Super Heroes. So far it has worked quite well, but the array of buttons does confuse her. She particularly enjoyed a chase sequence where she got to use a mounted gun though.

GC: We’re sure we speak for everyone in saying we’re extremely sorry for your loss.

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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