The Best Video Games You Should Be Playing Right Now, Even If You’re Not a Gamer

April 2, 2020

For the first time, the only way for many people—particularly older ones—to get their daily fix of gossip or a much-needed heart-to-heart with a family member is by heading online. Zoom calls and House Party hangouts are filling the gap for now, but there’s only so much you can talk about and only so much you can do while you’re standing in front of a laptop, or holding your phone up to your face.

Enter video games. Now, you can chat with your best bud while you guys take down monstrous aliens in Destiny, catch up with the grandkids while they express their creativity around you in Minecraft, or just absolutely school your sister in Super Smash Bros online and relive your younger years. Entire swathes of video games now have a means for you to play with friends, whether they’re right next to you or in a different country, and almost every game with online functionality a way for you to chat to the people you’re playing with built-in. Why stare at each other awkwardly on a video call when you can play together, develop your skills, have fun, and forget about that big scary thing going on outside?

For non-gamers, video games can seem difficult to get into, but it’s never been easier to join in the fun. To do our neighborly part, we’ve put together a breakdown of some games you should know about, and what purpose they can serve to help connect you to others in a time of isolation or help pass the time alone.

Note: all of these games can be downloaded—no outdoor exposure necessary. PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch owners can download games straight from their console, mobile games can be found on your device’s app store, and PC games can be found on Steam, Origin, and other digital storefronts. 


The Best Games for Casual Fun & Catching Up

These games are perfect for hanging out with the grandkids. It can be hard to communicate with children through technology as their ability to use devices or to keep their attention on-task develops, but get them into a virtual playground and they’ll be chatting with you for hours. 



Cost: varies by platform, around $10 to $30
What you need: a smartphone, tablet, game console or PC. Almost any PC will do; Minecraft is easy to run. 
For: Everyone!

Minecraft Cover Art

Yeah, you guessed it—it’s first on the list. Chances are you’re familiar with the game, but if you aren’t; Minecraft is a sandbox game (and immensely powerful creative tool) in which you explore randomly generated worlds, craft items from blocks you find, and use those items to fight zombies while building your dream world. Jumping in with friends or family is super easy and requires next-to-nothing in terms of skill or familiarity with the game. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself building your first house and feeling weirdly proud of it. Flash-forward a few years and you might have built your first working computer or massive, functioning, government-defying library within the game.


Stardew Valley

Cost: $14.99
What you need: a mobile device, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, or PC 
For: Everyone, although young children might find the controls tough

Stardew Valley for Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Game Details

Stardew Valley is solely responsible for the absence of at least 60 hours of my life. This is an adorable pixel-art farming simulator, which challenges you to build up your grandfather’s old farm and bring new life to the town of Stardew. It also challenges you to catch an insane amount of fish, delve hundreds of levels of dungeons, and farm an absurd amount of produce to complete everything the game has in-store. Thankfully, I could move in my farmhands—or my “friends,” as they used to be known—to tick every box on the almost-endless list. 


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Cost: $60
What you need: A Nintendo Switch
For: Everyone!

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Game Details

You love your family and friends. Of course you do. But sometimes, secretly, you also want to ruin them (in a totally harmless way.) Mario Kart is how you can achieve that. This racing game is hugely fun, filled with content, and incredibly polished, as you can expect all Nintendo games to be. It’s also blazingly competitive; just try not to throw a controller out the window when a blue shell wipes out your lead, seconds away from the finish line.


Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Cost: $60
What you need: A Nintendo Switch
For: Everyone!

Animal Crossing New Horizons: An Unlikely Hero in Gloomy Times ...

It’s hard to describe exactly what Animal Crossing is, but the latest installment is exactly what the world needs right now. You begin the game having just moved to a ‘deserted island,’ which also has an anthropomorphic tanooki and his two cute nephews living on it. They give you a tent, crippling debt, and some tips on what you can do. What you actually do is walk around collecting resources and decorating your island, your home, and your avatar until more animal characters move in next door. The best part is inviting real-life friends over to show off your turf before jetting off to see theirs while pretending you’re not totally jealous of all the stuff they have that you’ve never even seen before. It might sound like there’s not much to do, but Animal Crossing is an incredibly chill experience that ends up feeling exactly like taking a holiday to a remote island—something we could all do with right now.  


The Best Games for Getting Serious

Missing time with your buds? Lacking some sports-driven adrenaline in your life? These games are perfect for the more serious gamer, or anyone who wants to get a competitive blood rush while catching up with loved ones. Just don’t blame them too much if they let you down. 


Destiny 2

Cost: free, but there are expansions you can purchase
What you need: A relatively powerful PC or Mac, PS4, or Xbox One
For: Teens and up

Bungie: The Narrative That 'Destiny 2' Doesn't' Have An Anti-Cheat ...

From the team behind the famous Halo franchise—which is practically worshipped by many— Destiny 2 is a totally free-to-play massively multiplayer loot’n’shooter. To put that in simpler terms: you’re a space wizard jetting around the galaxy with your friends online, blasting aliens with a collection of high-tech/magical firearms and blades that would put Ted Nugent to shame. Destiny 2 is easy to jump into and start playing immediately, but it’s also deep enough to keep you and two friends busy for a year or more. 


Final Fantasy XIV

Cost: $24.99 for the starter edition, but there’s a spectacularly good expansion to purchase if you want to play with everyone else. You’ll also need to pay a monthly subscription of around $10.
What you need: A relatively powerful PC, Mac, PS4, or Xbox One
For: Teens and up

8 ways to celebrate friendships in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online ...

This is the 14th game in a decades-spanning franchise, but you don’t need to have played the previous 13 games to get into it. Final Fantasy XIV is on this list for a huge range of reasons, chief among them being the game’s incredible storyline, seemingly endless supply of top-rate writing and voice acting, and genuinely wonderful music. That’s not saying anything about the hundreds of hours of fun to be had, the millions of other people playing the game with you, and the awesome array of challenges to slam your unique character into. This game starts slowly, but get past the opening slog and you can heal allies with astrology, protect them by going toe-to-toe with hideous foes, or destroy your enemies with spears, archery, swords, fists, dark magic, or a gun that is also a sword. If fighting isn’t your style, you can even get into fishing, blacksmithing, or the breeding and racing of horse-birds—among many, many, many other activities. This is a vibrant, breathing world and we couldn’t recommend it enough. 


League of Legends

Cost: free/your soul
What you need: A PC (older ones will be fine) or Mac
For: Teens and up (online play can be toxic)

League of Legends client teases upcoming content | Dot Esports

Be warned: League of Legends can be dangerous for your blood pressure. You’ll control any one of over a hundred bizarre characters, ranging from sun dragons to demigod bears with unique powers, as you attempt to force your way into the opponent’s base. Player’s engage in intense 5-on-5 showdowns that hinge on dramatic, show-stopping moments of teamwork and opportunity: there’s a reason this game turned into a real sport featuring professional ‘athletes’ and millions of spectators. Just don’t expect to be fighting for money any time soon. For now, enjoy League of Legends as a pulse-pounding game for you and four friends to take on the world. And be aware: this is a tense game, with matches taking upwards of half an hour. Friendships will be tested. 


Rainbow Six: Siege

Cost: $19.99
What you need: A relatively powerful PC, PS4, or Xbox One
For: Teens and up

Rainbow Six Siege: DDoS attacks and what's being done about them ...

Much like League of Legends, Rainbow Six: Siege is for the groups who want to feel like they’re competing. You and three friends are tasked with either defending or assaulting an objective and must engage in tactical modern warfare to achieve your goal. Attackers will send in drones to scout the area, cautiously breach doors and windows, and sneak through secret passages while defenders lay traps, establish firing lanes, and board up entry points. There’s a ton of strategy and tactical thinking involved so communication is key. Make sure you use a headset so you can blame your friends every time you lose!


The Best Games for People Sheltering Together

Whether it’s your family, your spouse, or your friend, times like these test our bonds with the people we live with. If you can’t take one more night of Netflix, try gaming together: studies have shown it can actually give your relationship skills a boost.


Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Cost: $60
What you need: A Nintendo Switch
For: Everyone! 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Bells - How To Make Bells Fast In ...

This is on the list twice, but it deserves to be. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate game for the time. Not only is Animal Crossing: New Horizons a wonderful mental break from all the craziness of the world, it’s also great to share with the people you live with. Everyone who plays on the same console joins the same island, so you can furnish and fill it together as a group project. Or just enjoy the beautiful blue skies, peaceful seas, and endless list of low-stress activities to pursue. It’s a wonderful way to get some of the joys of the great outdoors, without all the risks and connotations that come with that in 2020.



Cost: $60
What you need: Table space and some snacks
For: Everyone!

Wingspan – Stonemaier Games

This one isn’t a video game, but if you’ve read our review of this bird-themed board game, you’ll know we’ll take any opportunity to talk about Wingspan. It’s just really good. Elizabeth Hargraves’ debut game is a masterclass of design and fun for the whole family. It’s also educational, as we can guarantee you’ll learn something about a bird every single time you play it. If you’re still comfortable getting deliveries, we recommend this one highly. Wingspan can be the centerpiece of countless quarantined evenings over and over again, ensuring you never run out of things to do. 


Overcooked! 2

Cost: $60
What you need: A Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC, or Xbox One
For: Everyone!

Overcooked! 2 for Nintendo Switch - Nintendo Game Details

Overcooked! 2 is a cooking game but that’s a dangerously thin description for a game this good and this challenging. You can play with 4 others on the same console as the game tasks you with following recipes and serving food in increasingly difficult circumstances. For just two or three minutes at a time, your living room will transform into Hell’s Kitchen as everyone starts barking instructions and yelling out what ingredients they need. Gameplay is fast, fun, frenetic, and immensely challenging. Just try to keep your inner Gordon Ramsay at bay. Overcooked! 2 is a great distraction for dull days inside. 


Pokemon GO!

Cost: Free
What you need: A mobile device
For: Everyone!

Pokémon Go Gym interaction distance temporarily doubled | Dot Esports

This is a game about walking. That might not seem like a great idea right now, but we do still need to get outside for exercise every now and then. The problem, really, is finding a way to get exercise that isn’t super boring. Pokemon GO! is a great excuse to do exactly that, but now has a range of features for you to enjoy when you’re not out and about, like battling other trainers over the internet. Grab a friend or family member from your household and get out for your limited time outdoors while catching hundreds of Pokemon in the process. 


The Best Games for Passing Time Alone

A lot of people are being forced to stay in with just themselves for company. That’s bound to be an uncomfortable experience for many. If that’s you, and you’re struggling, here are our recommendations: the best, most distracting games to keep you going in your isolation. 


DOOM Eternal

Cost: $60
What you need: A PC, PS4, or Xbox One
For: Mature audiences only

Doom Eternal: Essential Tips to Survive the First Few Hours ...

When you’re feeling vulnerable in the real world, video games can give you the escapism and the power fantasy you need to get yourself back in the driving seat. DOOM Eternal is the perfect game to help with that. You’ll rip and tear through tens of hours of demon-busting, rocket-launching, high-octane fun. If you want to feel like a demigod for a little while, crank the difficulty down, and DOOM will make you feel about as badass as you can in a seated position. Just be warned—it’s not for the squeamish. 



Cost: $30
What you need: A PC or Mac
For: Teens and up

Factorio version 0.17 - Now stable | Factorio

Here’s how an average first encounter with Factorio goes: you launch the game and find yourself alone on an alien planet, crash-landed. You begin to gather materials and start automating the process, starting with your first automated refineries. Then you realize you need a new power plant to support that new mining operation you’ve established. Then you decide you need a train to start ferrying minerals back and forth. Then it’s 4AM, your friends are worried about you, and your small-scale survival operation has scaled into an industrial powerhouse replete with programmable drones, supply chains, and defensible areas from the aliens that assault your ingenuity. Factorio is the time-killer, and we have a lot of that to spare right now.  


Dwarf Fortress

Cost: free/hours of your time in understanding the game
What you need: A PC or Mac
For: adults with a lot of spare time to learn

Dwarf Fortress introduces interrogations and lets dwarves have ...

Okay. If you’re a gamer, you might have heard of this one. Dwarf Fortress is a video game… kind of. It’s also a simulation and a story generator—as well as a marvel of artificial intelligence and world generation—developed by just two guys for over a decade. You’ll build your own fortress of dwarves and do your best to protect them, but they have lives and minds of their own. Don’t be too upset when your best blacksmith sees a ghost, goes mad, and starts crafting traps and hunting your other dwarves, or when you delve too deeply and flood your fort with lava. You probably won’t win at Dwarf Fortress, but ‘winning’ doesn’t really have a place in the conversation. The real point of the game is the potential for storytelling: everyone’s fortress has its own incredible tale to tell. The game simulates an entire world and its history, with goblins, humans, elves, and other dwarves building entire civilizations that are, in turn, brought down and rendered unto dust, history, and fossils for your fortress dwellers to find. How will your fortress end? 

Note: Dwarf Fortress is a particularly inaccessible game. You’ll need to do a lot of reading and fiddling to even understand what you’re looking at at first. But hey, for a lot of people, there’s never been a better time to get into this goliath of gaming. 


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