Times are really tough right now. Clubs are shut, festivals are cancelled, the world is in shutdown mode. Of course there's music to buy and Labs to stream but things can undoubtedly feel pretty grim when you're practising proper social distancing.
Gaming has always been there as a viable option to both pass time and transport you to different realms but for some, it's just never really been something they've thought. Until now.
With so much time being spent in the house, gaming is a great way to connect with friends both online and offline in the comfort of your own home. The titles available right now are better than ever and whether you're seasoned veteran or complete novice when it comes to gaming, there's something for you.
Here we'll go through the best consoles and gaming methods right now and you'll be able to pick the perfect option for you. Social distancing is hard but don't stress, we've got you covered.
See you on the battlefield/football pitch//racing track/flight simulator.
Best for: The long player, seasoned veteran
Exclusive titles: Death Stranding, God Of War, The Last Of Us
Anyone who was around during the 90s will have a pretty strong love affair with the PlayStation. As a child of that era, I loved the Sega Mega Drive and the Nintendo 64 but when the Playstation One (PS1) first came out, things changed.
Sony have been innovating and evolving ever since and the current iteration, the PS4, is just as much of a beast as its predecessors. If you're considering a console and you want long, unwinding and sprawling games to get stuck into, this may be your best bet.
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Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima's breathtaking, slow-burn set in a post-apocalyptic world may be a bit too on the nose with what's happening for some but the masterpiece, starring Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen, will easily pass the hours. Same goes for The Last of Us but there's also everyone's favourite childhood heroes like Sypro and Crash Bandicoot that have been remastered for modern day enjoyment.
Shadow Of The Colossus, essentially one of the most beautiful games and mesmerizing ever made, has had a remaster too so if you're looking to give your 4K TV a work out, this one is essential. Petrol-heads have a plethora of Gran Turismo titles to work through too.
You can also play Blu Ray discs and the online service offers loads of titles to play for a monthly fee. As is ever the case with the PlayStation, there are thousands of games to pick from and it's a console you can really trust.
Best for: Versatility, big titles and a massive Game Pass
Exclusive titles: Gears Of War, Halo, Forza Motorsport
If we're being totally honest, the choice between Xbox and Playstation, is a hard one to make, mainly because they're both really solid systems. It often comes down to allegiance, some people are in the Sony camp while others can't comprehend leaving Microsoft.
The Xbox is a mighty powerful console too, it comes in three versions: Xbox One S, Xbox One S All-Digital Edition and Xbox One X. The One S is the standard system with the digital-only getting rid of the disc drive and making games downloadable. The One X is a the flagship system with 4K gaming and a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray player.
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Stats aside, the exclusive titles are going to make the difference here. Halo fans can rejoice in the knowledge that the classic franchise is only available via the Xbox, as has always been the case, and it remains one of the best first-person shooters, ever. The equally gnarly Gears Of War franchise is also a Microsoft special and the alien-slaying third-person shooter is now five editions deep and well worth your time.
Forza Motorsport is one of the best racing games out there and that remains faithful to the Xbox. Most recently though, with an outlook towards community, players get the most for less as the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers unlimited access to 100s of game titles (that can be played on PC and Xbox) including Grand Theft Auto V and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
Although priced very similarly with the PlayStation, the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is actually the cheapest option for high-quality console gaming (around $230)
Best for: Multiplayer madness, portability, one of the family
Exclusive titles: Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, Pokémon
Nintendo's knack for being the most fun console out there is unmatched: like the younger sibling who never takes life too seriously and somehow manages to make the elder look boring. The Nintendo 64 gave us classics like Goldeneye and Super Mario 64, the Gamecube had Double Dash, the Wii was a gamechanger, hell the GameBoy wrote the blueprint on how to change the game.
It came as no surprise then that when the Nintendo Switch dropped, the Japanese giant wanted to do something different, again. The handheld, TV-utilising hybrid brings together everything Nintendo is good at, all in one unique package.
The controllers attached can be pulled off to play with friends or they can be used to play by yourself. You can just as easily play the Switch on a flight as you can at home on your TV. It's essentially a 4-in-1 system, it's the Optimus Prime of games consoles.
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Here we have a winner for family fun and multiplayer action. Two people can play gems like Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros and Mario Party, either on your home TV set-up or huddled around the portable screen. If you want solo play then the astonishing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the ever-enchanting, highly addictive Pokémon has just made a return in the form of Sword and Shield editions.
The newly released Nintendo Switch Lite offers the same portable version of the console without the TV hook up and swappable controllers, so if you're looking to play on your own, on a budget (the Lite only costs £199/$199) then this is the one for you.
Basically the Switch is super easy to get started and the games don't require you to be a weathered pro who's spent the last 20 years locked into gaming. It's perfect for your mum, dad, brother, sister, friend, partner, gran. That says a lot and during quarantine, this console forces you to look at the fun side of life.
Best for: Graphics, power, performance
Exclusive titles: N/A
The trusty computer, not just a device to send emails and scroll the internet, but the most powerful gaming solution on the market. In terms of graphics, processing power and sheer performance, the PC is a hardened gamer's best friend.
The idea of building your own computer isn't anything new but for gamers, it opens up a whole world of opportunity. Want unbelievably crisp graphics? Need loading times at a minimum? Want your games to run as smooth as butter? What about if you want all the games, right now, with no worry about storage. Well guess what, with the right PC, you can have all of that.
Of course, this is going to cost a considerable amount more to build than your standard console but if money isn't an issue here and power is your ultimate goal, then PC could be for you.
Valve's online marketplace, Steam, has pretty much every title you could wish for at the click of a button and classics from yesteryear like Age Of Empires, Flight Simulator and The Sims are still knocking around. There aren't really many exclusives though for the might PC these days as most titles are available for consoles but if a gaming PC is what you're after, that won't stop you.
Brands like Alienware and Razer will offer ready-made gaming solutions in the form of desktop and laptops so may your search being for PC greatness begin. Just remember with great power comes great responsibility.
Buy Alienware here
VR (Virtual Reality)
Best for: Those who want to be in the game
Exclusive titles: These differ between Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR
For a long time, VR (Virtual Reality) was something reserved for Sci-Fi movies about how the future would look but today, it's a bonafide option. Although a road less-travelled, VR in gaming has seen a big rise over the last few years.
Oculus Rift is the main player here, with a wide variety of popular games already out there. Beat Saber is a music game where players swipe with a lightsaber in time with their favourite tracks so for all our ravers out there, this is a must-have.
While a great deal of the most popular titles out there aren't VR compatible just yet, we think it's only a matter of time before you're running across the battlefield in real time or playing football for Barcelona...
PlayStation's move into the VR landscape is perhaps the most accessible and widely available way to dabble in new worlds. Available with Sony's own headset and a range of playable games, this is the cheapest way to get involved. Over 5 million units have been sold worldwide so far and there are now over 500 titles and experiences to enjoy.
If you want to wander into new worlds from the comfort of your living room and if the TV isn't quite hitting the spot, then VR is the way to go. Just don't lose a grip on reality or you'll end up like Leo in Inception or maybe Neo from The Matrix or something.
Buy PlayStation VR here
Buy Oculus Rift here
Bonus The big games that you need to have
Ok, so not strictly a console here but important when considering your console. Most of the biggest and most played games right now are available across all the platforms, or at least most of them. The exclusive titles mentioned above are all unique selling points for the console but here are a few monster games to consider.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare + Warzone
This is the one you've probably seen the most talk about recently as Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare (affectionately known as COD) has really taken over. It came out towards the end of October in 2019 and it became the best selling game of the year, which is no mean feat considering it only had two and half months to beat the competition. The latest instalment of the FPS (first person shooter) franchise has just upped the stakes, with impeccable graphics and a beefed up online mode but a few days ago, the biggest got even bigger.
Warzone is the free-to-play add-on that anyone can download for no cost at all and the 'Battle Royale' spectacular has had over 30 Million players drop down into Verdansk in the 13 days since release. Whether you opt for the full version or just grab Warzone, it's pretty much guaranteed that you'll find some mates to squad up with. Grab this on Xbox, PS4 and PC.
The iconic football game runs like clockwork every year. Sometimes EA Sports don't change much, sometimes it pretty much the same as the year before but does that stop us buying it? Absolutely not. The soundtrack still has gems, the Ultimate Team mode is as expansive than ever and who doesn't like playing as their favourite League One team and whopping Real Madrid, 4-0. Some opt for PES, others Football Manager, but FIFA is the ol' reliable and has been for many years. You can grab FIFA 20 on pretty much every console out there right now.
Ok so this is pretty much the OG 'Battle Royale' game. 100 players, last man standing wins. It's swept the world and stirred up a global frenzy, it's been on the news, it's had kids addicted and even Marshmello played a virtual set in the game. Chances are your parents have heard of this one and while Apex Legends and Warzone offer viable 'Battle Royale' alternatives, you can't deny Fortnite's popularity. Also, it's just damn fun, free-to-play and on all the consoles.
Anything by Rockstar
The enduring legacy of Rockstar Games cannot be understated. The gaming giant is responsible for the best games ever released. Aside from smaller, cult favourites like Midnight Club, Bully and Manhunt, there are ongoing classics and new releases that will keep you occupied for literally, days on end. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the powerhouse's latest release and the Western epic is a glorious rendition of one cowboy's journey through the dangerous yet stunning wild west. It's a long player that once you get engulfed by, it'll be hard to put down.
Then there's the big don, the undisputed king of the ring. We're talking about Grand Theft Auto V, a game that despite being released in 2013, remains one of the most relevant and played games on the market. With constant updates, including the surreal and joyous After Hours expansion featuring Dixon, The Black Madonna and Solomun, it doesn't matter if you're brand new to the game or have been seshing it for seven years, it's a riveting experience.
The soundtrack of course, is insanely good and follows tradition of showcasing electronic music in full view so ravers always have fun with it. The online mode only boosts its longevity and to be quite honest, if you only buy one game, this one's probably it.
Funster is Mixmag's Global Brand & Content Editor, he's been preparing for this level of lockdown for 25 years, follow him on Twitter
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