Article originally published on 27th March. We’re bringing it forward because of the CMCO here in Malaysia for 20th October. The article is also edited and updated with new games.
With Malaysia’s Controlled Movement Control Order back again after months of some normalcy, we may need to social distance ourselves a lot longer than usual. And also wash our hands as usual, and #StayTheFuckHome. We’ve recommended a bunch of manga to read, but why stop there?
Let’s talk about the best games to play while we’re still confined to our domiciles. Just some guidelines to establish:
- Any game that has a campaign that takes longer than 10 hours to complete is perfect. Short visual novel games? GTFO!
- Any game with huge multiplayer longevity and with stable networking is included.
- They have to be available digitally. Which is a no-brainer given the situation we’re in.
We’ll split them into two categories: single-player fares and multiplayer games. Let’s start:
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
Genre: Adventure Game with Real-Time Strategy Bits
Why This Game? Because it’s a literal treasure that needs to be shared, and it’s a hefty read to boot.
I was initially turned off at the prospect of paying RM230+ for what amounts to a dolled-up visual novel. That is, until I drank the Atlus Kool-Aid once more and dived right in.
I am so glad I am wrong in assuming as such because 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a marvellous work of sci-fi fiction. Think of the best works in the genre -books, anime, TV shows- and mash them all up into a cohesive-yet-complex platter filled with a ton of dialogue, adventure plot paths, and the amazing artwork of Vanillaware & George Kamitani. That is 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim in a nutshell, and even so this doesn’t do justice to the 2020 video game odyssey you’ll be experiencing.
And yes, there’s a real-time strategy combat segment too where you control an army of Sentinels piloted by troubled teenagers all done in the style of a Wargames tactical map. It’s actually pretty fun, but it does lack some aesthetic kick; I was expecting the attack and damage calculation transitions to be like Advance Wars. But honestly, that’s the only bad thing I can say about this storytelling masterpiece.
If you don’t believe me, ask Yoko Taro. He has nice things to say about it, and he made NieR Automata.
Estimate Time to Complete: 30+ hours to get the full picture of this sci-fi rollercoaster ride.
Ghost of Tsushima
Why This Game? In case you haven’t heard, it’s one of Kakuchopurei’s 100/100 games. It’s also a Japan Feudal era action-adventure title that will take you hours to complete.
If you need an open-world game that isn’t all busywork like a Ubisoft sandbox title, and one that comes with heart, challenges, and a ton of bliss just experiencing when it comes to its quieter moments, you need Ghost of Tsushima for your PS4. Getting distracted by yellow birds and foxes while being waylaid by wandering ronin and Mongolians is guaranteed to eat up your time while you’re stuck in quarantine.
Also, there’s a new co-op mode out and ready, so you can share the love with your online samurai buddies and tackle the game as a team.
Estimated Time to Complete: About 30 hours minimum. The intro itself lasts about 45 minutes; that should give you a rough indication of what you’re going into. – Mr Toffee
Genre: Online JRPG
Platforms: PC, PS4, iOS, Android
Why This Game? Because it’s an easy JRPG to jump into. If you can’t spend money on games at the moment but want a meatier experience than a mobile game, you should jump into Genshin Impact and its expansive world of Teyvat.
With a good cast of characters you can select from, a nifty combat system that rewards swapping party members and mixing up elemental effects, and a lovely world filled with secrets and beautiful vistas, Genshin Impact is 2020’s most time-consuming RPG that costs zero dollars. Of course, if you want to pay money, there’s always the login bonus pack and the battle pass to sort you out with in-game goodies.
Estimated Time to Complete: You’re joking, right? This being an ongoing “live service” type RPG with oncoming continents and characters, you’ll be hooked onto Genshin Impact for a very long time. But if we’re talking about getting to Adventurer Rank 30, it’ll take you less than 30 hours.
Why This Game? One of this generation’s best JRPGs on the PS4 now gets a meaningful upgrade. You play as a student who ends up being under probation for something he didn’t do. He also ends up being a leader of a group of secret vigilantes known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts. They help correct the course of people’s hearts and minds by entering their mind palace and killing the big bad inside.
Oh, and you also have to balance your work life with your social life, as befriending and dating people help power up your magic spirits called Personas to make your mind dungeon-running a little more breezy. It’s as insane as it sounds, and it’s pretty fun. With a likeable cast, a colourful art and music style, and a thoughtful turn-based battle system that is still Megami Tensei levels of hard, it’s tough to pass up on this Atlus-made entry that’s still being quoted and meme’d up to this day.
Estimated Time To Complete: 90 hours or so, just for one playthrough. You’ll spend weeks trying to hook up with that shogi player while also completing that burger challenge in the local fast-food joint to beef up your character’s social skills. -Mr Toffee
Genre: Open-world stealth-action
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Why This Game? The open world is pretty dull, but it’s home to a host of missions that each take place in sizeable areas that can be approached in a variety of ways. You can snipe from afar, charge in with a horse, or call in fire support to soften up the enemy. You can also sneak in in a box, sabotage communications before going in, try stealth before having a heavier loadout delivered to you when shit hits the fan, blast enemies with non-lethal shotguns or headshot them with a silenced pistol, and more.
Basically, the opportunities are varied, and the experience deliciously freeform (outside of the boss battles). The awesome gameplay makes up for the story, which starts off well but devolves into mainly replaying missions (albeit with gameplay twists) in the second half.
Estimated Time To Complete: I’m not sure if multiplayer is still active, but the singleplayer portion is pretty beefy. How Long To Beat lists the main story duration as being around 46 hours long, with the side missions increasing the playtime to 84 hours. I spent over 100 hours with the singleplayer, so I’d say the latter is pretty accurate. – Melvyn
Deus Ex GOTY
Genre: Stealth-action RPG
Why This Game? The more recent Human Revolution and Mankind Divided, which I’ve started playing recently, are wonderful games too, but the original is a more-than-solid package that holds up despite being almost twenty years old. The graphics are undeniably outdated and the gameplay can be a bit clunky, but it’s still impressive in scope and offers a variety of ways to accomplish objectives. You’ve got a variety of weapons, can upgrade skills to improve stats like aiming and swimming, and can install augments that give you new abilities.
One of the reasons I got interested in this game was a PC Gamer Top 100 Games of the Decade from 2011 that mentioned neon-lit Hong Kong as being one of the game’s locations. I was so enamoured with the idea that I headed to the nearest video game store right after reading that and actually managed to get a copy of it for less than RM30 (the manager was worried that I’d confused the game for Human Revolution after seeing my joyful reaction to the price). Due to reasons, however, I only got to visit Deus Ex’s Hong Kong almost a decade later.
And man, what a place it is. It’s a large hub that begs you to explore every corner and level, and it also contains the VersaLife facility, which is basically a level within a level. There’s also an apartment owned by a character called Maggie Chow, and while I won’t reveal spoilers, exploring the place gave me an unexpectedly memorable experience that you just won’t get in a traditionally-linear game.
Estimated Time To Complete: Like a lot of games of this nature, it depends on whether you speed through the story or take your time to explore. It took me 28 hours to complete the game, with some of that time spent breaking into buildings and wandering around. -Melvyn
Genre: Soulsborne Action RPG
Why This Game? Nioh 2 is likely one of the first few GOTY candidates for 2020. I prefer to avoid Soulsborne games in general, but Team Ninja’s latest effort is probably the most polished and accessible title to come out of the genre yet.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still punishingly hard as hell, but at least the sheer number of possible playstyles and gameplay options make for more space to really “git gud”. Sekiro forced you to play by its rules (parry mechanics and using a katana as your main weapon), but Nioh 2 forces you to use everything in your disposal to survive, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
Even if you don’t like Soulsborne games in general, this game is highly recommended. And oh, did I mention that Nioh 2 is the closest thing to a new Onimusha game that we’ll ever get? Yeah, you read that right, my fellow Onimusha fans (who have been deprived for years thanks to Capcom only obsessed focus on Monster Hunter and Resident Evil).
Estimated Time To Complete: I’m probably around 40 to 50 hours into Nioh 2, and I haven’t even finished the game yet. I’ve been playing through the many sub-missions to prepare me for the main missions, and I’m having a great time experimenting with playstyles. It will probably take around 60 to 70 hours to complete them all, and that’s not even mentioning the game’s New Game Plus, which offers even harder missions and better loot. – Comicslord
Dragon Ball Z Kakarot
Genre: Action JRPG Fighting Game Hybrid
Platform: PS4, PC, Xbox One
If you’re an anime fan, you’d be hard-pressed to find many video game adaptations that aren’t bland 3D arena fighters (which are usually cheap and blatant cash-ins). However, Bandai Namco’s Dragon Ball Z Kakarot is an ambitious action JRPG that recreates the iconic Dragon Ball Z anime in its entirety, from the Raditz Saga to the Buu Saga.
While the game has its share of problems, it’s quite possibly the largest Dragon Ball game ever made in terms of scope. Sure, less than 10 characters are actually playable, but it’s still a great time for Dragon Ball fans to relive their nostalgic memories in this flawed but loving ode to Akira Toriyama’s masterpiece.
Estimated Time To Complete: While Dragon Ball Z Kakarot calls itself a JRPG, it’s actually much shorter than most other games in the genre. You won’t be spending 100 hours in this game; try 30 hours or so. -Comicslord
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age
Genre: Classic JRPG
Platform: PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age is not only the best current-gen JRPG, it’s totally one of the all-time greats. The Dragon Quest franchise is older than even Final Fantasy, but the beloved gameplay mechanics have remained very much the same over the years. That holds true for Dragon Quest XI as well, with traditional turn-based combat and going from town-to-town in a classic epic storyline with twists and turns.
All of this may sound generic at first, but this latest instalment in the long-running franchise is one that’s been polished to perfection. If you’re a JRPG fan like me, there are almost no flaws in the game, besides the dreaded casino (thankfully, I didn’t need that to get the Platinum trophy).
Getting to the end of your journey in Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age will feel like you’ve just completed an odyssey, with compelling characters as well as comedy and tragedy along the way.
Estimated Time To Complete: It took me more than 100 hours to complete the game (and obtain the Platinum trophy). A couple more if you want the true ending. -Comicslord
Genre: Action JRPG
Platform: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Nier Automata is one of the most celebrated JRPGs of the current generations, and there are many reasons for that. The story explores heavy and deep philosophical questions with a narrative that’s praised for its complexity. What’s a good story without good gameplay, right?
Well, Nier Automata’s hack and slash gameplay is both awe-inspiring to behold and to actually control. It’s bullet-hell from a third-person perspective (which is smartly referenced by actual bullet-hell gameplay segments when using 9S’s hacking skills).
You don’t need to play any of the prior Drakengard games to comprehend and enjoy Nier Automata. It’s a game that has to be experienced at least once and is probably Yoko Taro’s best game to date.
Estimated Time To Complete: Nier Automata isn’t actually that long, but it requires multiple playthroughs with different protagonists in order to reach the true ending of the game. so 20+ hours or so.
For the record, I obtained the Platinum trophy and it took me approximately 40 to 50 hours. -Comicslord
Men of War: Assault Squad 2
Genre: Real-time Tactics
Assault Squad 2 offers 15 new skirmish missions in addition to 25 reworked ones from its predecessor, and thanks to the series’ gruelling real-time tactics gameplay, you can expect to spend some time on just a couple of missions. Due to the lack of a proper campaign, the missions’ formula can feel overly familiar, but there’s still a mix of offense, defense, and stealth missions for each of the playable countries. And unlike the first Assault Squad, you can play these in any order you like.
Length is one thing, but Assault Squad 2 also boasts remarkable depth. Like the other Men of War games and their spiritual predecessors, every soldier and vehicle in the game has its own inventory. It’s a bit fiddly, especially when your dudes can actually run out of ammo and have to resupply, but it’s this kind of detail that makes the game amazing.
Adding to the joy of combat are the destructible environments and the ability to directly control a soldier or vehicle like a third-person action game. Pristine urban maps will be reduced to smoking ruins by the end of a gruelling push, and directly commandeering a tank to take matters into your own hands is fun. The game is not a 100% accurate simulation, but there’s still some realism as tanks have longer ranges than those in games like Company of Heroes, and can be easily disabled and even damaged beyond repair from a single well-aimed hit.
Assault Squad 2 is supposed to be more of a multiplayer and co-op-centric experience than the non-Assault Squad Men of War games, but I’ve had a blast playing the skirmish missions alone, so it’s still a pretty good singleplayer experience.
Estimated Time To Complete: I’ve played maybe half of the skirmish missions, and took 44 hours to do so. It’s a meaty game. -Melvyn Tan
Any Of The Total War Games (Preferably Total War: Shogun 2, Total War: Three Kingdoms, or Total War: Rome 2)
Genre: Real-Time Strategy with Turn-Based Micro-Management
Why this game? Any history buffs or RTS nuts out there? If you’re a combination of both, the Total War franchise is tailor-made for you. Like the Romance of The Three Kingdoms from China, play Total War Three Kingdoms, which is also the most recent Total War title. If you like all things related to the Romans and Greeks (This is Sparta!), then I recommend Total War: Rome 2, which is definitely much better now than it was at launch back in 2013. If you’re a fan of Japan and the Sengoku Era, Total Wars: Shogun 2 is available for you to live out your dream of unifying Japan.
The Total War franchise strikes a balance between RTS gameplay and micro-managing your empire. You could also choose to not play RTS battles at all (if your PC’s not powerful enough) and auto-resolve everything, focus on building your empire instead. It’s addicting and before you know it, you’ll be saying “one more turn” to yourself at 3am in the middle of the night. I’m speaking from experience.
Estimated Time To Complete: Unlimited. I’m serious.
Sure, you could end your campaigns when you accomplish all the objectives but you could also technically continue playing until every nook and cranny of the map has been conquered.
I have thousands of hours in multiple Total War games, and I still play them even now. The number of factions and the RNG actions of the AI ensures that no two playthroughs will be the same. -Comicslord