With the user base growing each day, and with people not only looking to kill time, but also wanting to remain social, video games seem like the perfect way to stay in touch with your loved ones during a period of isolation.
Since the pandemic began in early 2020, free-to-play games such as Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Warzone have been even more popular – and let’s not forget about Minecraft which has recorded an increase in uptake by as much as 40%.
The game platform ‘Steam’ announced a record-breaking number of 20 million simultaneous users. Xbox Live has also seen an increase in usage, resulting in numerous download problems in the last couple of weeks. Luckily the availability of 5G will speed things up and change the way we play, but for now, we are dependent on temperamental download speeds.
While there’s still no sign of the Playstation 5, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 remain excellent machines for playing with and against your online buddies. Both are easy to set up online but come with an annual fee of around $40 a year for access. They both have very intuitive ‘Party Chat’ functions, which let you chat with your friends via a gaming headset.
What’s even better is the fact you can keep the banter going between games or even while watching Netflix on your console. Sadly things are a bit more complicated on Nintendo Switch as it requires a downloadable mobile phone app to talk to your friends – saying that only a minority of games support the feature making Nintendo Switch a less viable option.
A lot of games on these devices support cross-platform gaming, which is a feature that has shaken up the world of online gaming. Thanks to this feature, you could still potentially play with a friend even if they have a different device. It’s definitely something that’s worth investigating.
Now we have discussed the hardware. Let’s look at the best games available for socializing while we’re stuck at home, starting with an old favorite, Minecraft.
Minecraft played on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch have had an upgrade. Arriving on the scene in May 2009, the upgraded 2020 version of Minecraft is a cult game. It looks the same in its old-school style layout but overhauled with loads more cool gameplay features.
The game allows groups of up to eight players to meet online and explore vast blocky worlds and construct unique buildings together. Recent updates have a combat feature that wasn’t a thing on previous versions. Now geeks get to wreak havoc too, watch out coders for a new style of play.
Fortnite: Battle Royale
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years and are unaware of Fortnite, the concept is simple. Drop down into the map, scavenge for hidden weapons and materials and, using a combination of outwitting your opponent and lots of shooting, fight to be the last player standing.
You can play alone, but now the upgraded squad mode lets you take part in teams of four.You can create your team, or Fortnite will do it for you; either way, it’s addictive fun.
The game isn’t just about fighting either. If you manage to get your team somewhere quiet, you can mess about together for ages, building camps, and crafting sailing boats. There’s also a new creative mode where you can create your own levels.
Available on your console, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and smartphone – just don’t blame us if you can’t stop playing.
The legendary GTA is one of the most popular games in the world. The GTA franchise started releasing games in 1997, and since those heady days of one player gaming, the new GTA online offers you the ability to interact with others – your merry band of criminal brothers.
GTA Online is available, but only with Grand Theft Auto V. The new feature allows groups of four friends to plan and execute multi-stage heist missions together. Each friend can take on a different character and different roles, whether robbing banks or hijacking goods vehicles or generally act out some illegal scenarios.
At least one player will need to have played the game before to reach the appropriate skill level, but playing with an amateur or unfamiliar is much more fun. Red Dead Online does similar things for a more tranquil experience, but with more horses, cowboy hats, and no car chases.
Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One – just remember, don’t try these antics in real life because it won’t end well.
Red Dead Online
Created in 2010, the original game, Red Dead Redemption, is set during the American frontier’s decline in 1911. It is a family saga about John Marston, a former outlaw whose wife and son are taken hostage by the government in ransom for his services as a gun for hire.
Like the single-player game, Red Dead Online presents through the first and third-person perspectives, allowing the players to roam freely throughout its interactive open world.
The usual gameplay is available, including heists, shoot-outs, hunting, horse riding, and interacting with other non-playing characters. Still, the trickiest bit is maintaining the character’s honor rating through moral choices and deeds. The game operates a bounty system and affects how law enforcement and bounty hunters will respond to the crimes you commit.
Here is where the game gets social – the players can traverse the open world alone or in a gang of up to seven players, with or against whom they can run riot on the empty plain.
Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up and saddle up and let’s get social.