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For reasons we entirely do not need to go into, there's a chance that some of you reading this might have to stay home for a while, soon. And look, that doesn't immediately sound like a lot of fun, does it? And, realistically, it won't be. Soz to break that to you.
But! Video games are a thing you can most definitely turn to to break up the boredom, the misery, and the lamenting the lack of loo roll on the shelves of your local mini-market (seriously, guys, stop with the panic buying - it's really not helping). And with that in mind, we've looked at some options - single games, series and entire sagas - that should/could keep you at least partially occupied during a period of self-isolation.
Let's start with a big one, shall we?
Of course, you could just play the chronological first game in the main Yakuza series, especially with it - said game being Yakuza 0 - just recently being added to Xbox Game Pass. But why stop there? If you've time on your hands, and you really want to get to know the dazzling (fictional, ish) Tokyo district of Kamurocho, why not settle in for the entire run, from 0 through to Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. All seven games are available now for PlayStation 4, so you can fill your boots - or, I guess, your white snakeskin shoes.
All of our completion numbers here are estimates drawn from How Long To Beat, based on finishing the story - or stories - and some of the extra content, but we reckon this whole mainline series should take about 340 hours to get through. That's the equivalent of 24 hours per day, over 14 days. So maybe only turn to this epic if you're not at all fond of the old forty winks. If you want to just tackle Yakuza 0 - and you should, it's magnificent - that should take you anywhere between 40 and 60 hours. Subsequent games in the series tend to be shorter (Okay, maybe not you, Yakuza 5).
Atlus's bewitching role-player - and no, you don't need to have played any of the previous Persona games to get it - already ensnared hearts aplenty in 2016, when it originally released. But its new Royal version, coming to the UK at the end of March, is perhaps the definitive version of the game, with an extra palace to explore, a handful of all-new characters, an entire extra semester for the school-attending cast to get through, and much more. If you've played Persona 4 Golden, that game's expanded release, you'll know just how special it is; and Royal is that again, but for the fifth numbered entry. But to get through this in 14 days, you're going to need to put a shift in - Royal could necessitate a full 10 hours per day to finish off. Worth it, we reckon.
The Witcher 3's been enjoying renewed success since Netflix's show featuring its array of monsters and monster hunters (and so, so much more). But perhaps you're yet to saddle up and ride into Velen? If you start the game on day one of 14, and want to finish the main story and a bunch of very rewarding side-quests and treasure hunts, you're going to have to put in about eight and a half hours per day. Of course, fast-travel helps, and you needn't wander too far from the beaten track of the story - that way, you will finish the game a lot sooner. But you're really missing out if you strap the blinkers on and only play this one for the end credits. If you want to extend the experience, the two (excellent) DLCs of Blood & Wine and Hearts of Stone should fill up another 50 hours between them.
I'm still playing this one, three years after its release, and have clocked up over 210 hours in its breathtaking vision of Hyrule. But not everyone's as smitten as I've been, so if you just want to beat what's perhaps the greatest Zelda game of all time... Well, you could achieve that feat inside half an hour, as some expert speedrunners have. But it's more likely - and more recommended - that you poke around, and really go exploring. Breath of the Wild is at its best when you're not really going anywhere; just following your feet, one after the other, to see whatever is over that hill, or around that bend. Our estimate of 120 hours is, to be fair, on the high side - but if you get fully immersed in this one, you could easily play for several hours per day.
Apparently you can 'beat' Minecraft. Someone should tell my kids. Anyway, if you want to spend your days mining and, indeed, crafting, then you could be done in 120 hours - so, again, you're looking at about eight and a half hours of play, per day, if you wanted it out of the way inside two weeks. But who plays Minecraft like that? I've never met anyone who's played it to beat it. How perverse.
If The Witcher 3 can come to Switch, why not these previous-gen sci-fi gems, eh? I'd love to revisit the crew of the Normandy (SR-1 and SR-2 models) for some handheld extraterrestrial exploration - and, like, some beneath-the-sheets exploration too, if you know what I mean. Yeah, there's shagging in it, whatever. Anyway, Mass Effect to Mass Effect 3 was a hell of a run, with the middle game probably the strongest of the trilogy for me (all characters intact, come the credits), but your mileage may vary.
If you've got the three games on Xbox 360, those discs will work in your Xbox One just fine, via backwards compatibility. And if you don't own them already, they're super cheap these days. You're looking at a tickle over six hours of play per day to finish the Mass Effect trilogy, and if you just can't get enough, 2017's Mass Effect: Andromeda will add another 40 hours or so to that total.
Once again, there's a way to finish Stardew Valley? Apparently, yes, there is a resolution to all the crops planting and pulling. Muggins here hasn't actually ever played this one (I know, I know), so if I have to stay home for a prolonged period, I reckon this is my pick. Just under six hours of play per day, and I'll have it licked. (Please, readers: do not go around licking things, right now. Cheers.)
I don't want to say something like, what a very relevant storyline given the fate of this game's protagonist, but, damn, I went and did it anyway. That's poor taste on my part, perhaps, but also: RDR2 isn't the happiest of games, story wise. It looks and sounds bloomin' gorgeous though, and is a virtual wild-western world to truly lose yourself in for hours at a time. Want to get to the end credits, though? And not simply carve a straight line through the game, without doing any of the extras? Much like Stardew Valley, you're looking at just under six hours per day, for 14 straight days, to knock this one off your pile of shame.
Nintendo's critically acclaimed role-player of last year is one of the Switch's most-essential titles, and its two wins at 2019's The Game Awards highlight how Fire Emblem is much, much more than a cult concern these days. Three Houses starts at a kind of Hogwarts and ends up on a series of battlefields, upon which characters can die and remain dead, permanently. (Although, given how attached some players get with this series' characters, there's a mode available to prevent that.) If strategy games are your thing and you're yet to dabble in Fire Emblem, perhaps only knowing the series through its Smash Bros. crossovers, Three Houses is a great place to start. Five hours per day, plus change, will see you through this one in a two-week window. (Edit: I am reliably informed that you can easily put 180 hours into this, if you follow all the paths, so, be warned accordingly.)
Look at that: a Vita game, folded into the mix. Yep, some people still use their little portable PlayStations, me being one of them, and Golden Abyss is pretty decent, actually. It's not a patch on the main-console Uncharteds after the first entry - which, played today on PS3 at least, is pretty forgettable. But it's still a lot of fun, if you're fully bed-ridden - for whatever reason. Adding the excellent 2017 release Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, but not including that questionable card game, the whole Uncharted series will take you just over five hours of play per day to finish. The longest game of the lot is Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, which can easily eat up 20 hours alone; but what a wonderful way to end the series, given its conclusion (no spoilers from me!).
I've not included 2013's Judgment here, even though it's kinda mainline, and definitely canonical. I just don't rate it that highly. But those numbered titles, which pretty much maintain a high level of quality throughout (question marks over 4, I guess, but it's not a bad game), will be done and dusted if you can spare just under five hours per day. And that's based on dying, and dying, and dying over again, at certain difficulty spikes - set these to the easiest mode, and they're a blockbuster breeze to chainsaw your way through. TBF, play 'em like that and you'll have the most fun - I'm not judging you.
AKA my own, personal holy trinity - or tri-force, I guess (lower-case t and f, naturally) - of Super Nintendo RPGs. These are all available these days for systems other than the SNES, of course - A Link to the Past and Secret of Mana are on Switch, for example, and the DS port of Chrono Trigger is probably the best-ever version of that particular classic. Gorgeous, timeless, ever-enchanting - these three games are, IMO, absolute must-plays for anyone who loves RPGs. And if you've got to spend a whole bunch of time at home, what better genre to stick with than RPGs.
Four hours per day will get you through all three, and if you want my advice, play them in the order listed above: Zelda, Mana, Chrono. You'll see how developers pushed and pushed the SNES in terms of audio and visual quality, with Chrono Trigger releasing in 1995, after the PlayStation and Saturn consoles were already out. That it looks and plays better than a lot of games on those newer systems really nails home just how expertly crafted it is.
Another relatively recent Game Pass addition, Final Fantasy XV could work to get you in the mood for the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake. It's a little on the divisive side, when it comes to some of the mechanics, such as how combat works - which does feel a little fiddly for the first few hours. The game's also kind of linear, too, during its opening period. But once it opens up, and you really get to know the four merrily camping lads at the centre of its story, FFXV becomes a delight. Sixty-five hours to finish it is on the generous side, as you could cruise through the game in far less time. But like The Witcher, BOTW and more games on this list, exploration is rewarding in this one.
I know a lot of you have already played this one - your love for this PlayStation-exclusive adventure (well, ex-exclusive) spills into our comments on the regular. Horizon Zero Dawn suffered at launch in 2017 for not being Breath of the Wild - for being a lot more restricted, a lot more buggy, than Nintendo's grand adventure. But it's not a bad game at all, and it'll scratch a lot of the same itches that The Witcher 3 does in terms of its gameplay loops.
One key difference: where Geralt hunts huge beasts, our protagonist here, Aloy, encounters almighty robotic creations that range from crocodile-like nasties to huge, long-necked dinosaur-y titans that need to be climbed in order to conquer (kinda). For me, the backstory of HZD is actually more compelling than the one we're given to play through in the game itself - and I'm not about to spoil it. But if you want to crack on, with the game cheap pretty much everywhere, the whole thing plus its Frozen Wilds DLC will take up less than four hours per day.
You're looking at about the same daily play time to tear through Lara Croft's reboot trilogy - the games in which she "becomes the Tomb Raider", or so goes the official blurb. And certainly, the first and second games here - 2013's Tomb Raider and 2015's Rise of the Tomb Raider - are a lot of fun, entirely in the Uncharted mould but, hey, Nate stole from Lara first. 2018's Shadow of the Tomb Raider isn't so recommended, but that's as much for repetition setting in than it is any particular missteps on its part. Just like HZD, you're looking at four hours per day, across 14 days, to guarantee beating these three.
And if you want Reach and ODST, too? Add another 20 hours. The Halo series is, for some, a multiplayer game first and a solo experience never. But to those people I say: you're missing out. Well, maybe not so much with Halo 5: Guardians. But the campaigns for the original Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 3 remain classics; and, y'know, Halo 4 isn't so bad in hindsight. With Halo: Infinite on the horizon, now is a good time to go back and replay the adventures of Master Chief and this series' memorable supporting cast.
This beautiful, melancholic series of turn-based role-players is really one for dark evenings and darker nights, when the world outside has disappeared and you can fully luxuriate in The Banner Saga's exquisite storytelling and atmosphere. If you loved the Norse mythology twist of 2018's God of War, this series comes highly recommended, as it's set in a fantastical version of Viking-era Scandinavia. Well, the world is fictional, full of giants called the Varls and the stone-armoured enemy of the Dredge, but it all looks very, very Scandinavian. And the artwork, generally speaking, is incredible. All three entries in the series are on Game Pass right now, and while the turn-based gameplay won't be to all tastes initially, stick with this one. It's a sad-hearted spectacle that'll stick with you long after you've finished it - which'll take about three hours per day.
Featured Image Credit: SEGA, Microsoft, Square Enix, Sony Interactive Entertainment
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