By Roger Flanders
Everyone needs a pause from the madness that the world has endured the past year, and video games have been that break from reality for most. Escaping to a fictional place, different time period or to new lands is an experience that can help people cope with the hard realities of pandemic and quarantine life. Attempting to avoid life problems and tough times has become a struggle as vacationing or leaving home has become a risk. This catalogue of popular games is here to help any university student or gamer who feels trapped in such a tense time, have a digital break by living a temporary different life. The following list includes the best open world games to escape to during quarantine.
1. Red Dead Redemption 2
When a game is awarded Best Performance, Best Audio Design, Best Narrative, and Best Score and Music, it shows that the developers have found a winning recipe. Starting the campaign over again for a second time, I can see why Red Dead Redemption 2 was heavily rewarded for its efforts. In the prequel to the 2010 installment, you play as Arthur Morgan in 1899. Outlaws in the Van der Linde gang find themselves fighting with the inevitable takeover of civilization and the law. In this grim tale, the times of gunslingers, bandits and cowboys are coming to an end in the wild west. While the story and characters are well written, what the game excels at is the world that has been built around them. Luckily for those who want to live out their cowboy fantasies, Red Dead Redemption 2 offers online play where you can stay connected with your friends. With its substantial replay value, the only bad part about this game is finishing the main story.
2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
A Nintendo exclusive, this was a casual gamers safe haven throughout quarantine. Don’t let its whimsical and seemingly innocent design choices fool you, this game was made for millennials and generation Z. Animal Crossing: New Horizons took the world by storm at a very convenient time. When Nintendo announced its delay from 2019 to March of 2020, fans grew a bit impatient, but the wait proved to be worth it. The never-ending vacation to an island paradise gives the gamer vast options on how to customize, build and style their new digital home. Leader of the talking animal island dwellers, racoon Tom Nook, is there every step of the way to welcome new villagers, help start up shops and guide you through the process of paying off your in-game home loans. With the online play ability of visiting your friends’ islands, it is the perfect way to stay safe and connected during quarantine.
3. Assassins Creed Franchise
Next on the list is a formula that has been working since 2007. Ubisoft really cracked the code with their Assassin's Creed franchise. With an installment every year or two, it is hard to pick just one. Depending on the gamer’s knowledge or love of history, there is a lot to choose from. The series has visited ancient Egypt, Renaissance Italy, The Holy Land of Jerusalem and many more places. Though not as tranquil as the other games on this list, it does give something the others do not. These games have the ability to reimagine older times and places that may never be visited again. Bringing important figures back to life like Leonardo Da Vinci, Socrates and Charles Dickens with such historical accuracy. The games attention to detail and design when reimagining their chosen location gives the user periods frozen in time that are able to be explored. When Ubisoft captures a new era, the gamer will not only be able to enjoy the open world but possibly learn a thing or two in the process.
4. GTA V
Rockstar makes the list again with Grand Theft Auto V. While Red Dead Redemption 2 may be the most realistic western game, GTA V may be the greatest modern day realism game of all time. Set in the fictional city of Los Santos, Angelenos may find the streets and layout a bit familiar to their hometown. The campaign jumps back and forth to Trevor Phillips, Franklin Clinton and Michael De Santa as they perform linear objectives such as heists, escaping the law or rescuing each other from danger. If the roughly 30-hour open world campaign is not enough, GTA V’s online play is vast and still growing. After eight years, the online gameplay still sees updates that keeps the game alive. Though cancel culture has attempted to take the games off shelves for its violent depictions, fans tend to enjoy the freedom of adventuring around a digital layout of a pseudo-Los Angeles. As people are advised to stay home during the current health crisis, GTA V seems to be the best way to experience getting out on the town.
Similar to the Nintendo exclusive, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Minecraft creates a world where you are allowed to build, design and make it your own. With no real goal or missions to accomplish, this never-ending journey, made by Mojang Studios, can be quite relaxing as you make your own objectives. Starting up a new world brings a refreshing feeling of new beginnings and possibilities. The simplicity of mining, crafting and adventuring in a blocky world seems to be almost therapeutic. As everything in the world can be interacted with, a gamer can easily get lost mining for diamonds, creating a farm or preparing to take on the Ender Dragon. The user can lose hours into the game without even realizing it.
With this list, staying at home does not need to mean being trapped. Gaming in an open world helps alleviate the stresses that the pandemic has brought. Whether it is finding diamonds, talking to your fellow islanders or performing a train robbery, video games are there as a mental escape. With all of these games having online play, being alone at home does not have to mean being completely alone. Video games can be more than just digital meaningless objectives. It can be a source of connecting and adventuring with your friends even if they aren’t in the same room as you. Use this as an excuse to take a break from school, ignore the news for a while and escape to a different world.
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