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By Jack Wentworth-Weedon on

Ready Player Two? Gaming together and gaming apart

Looking for ways to keep yourself entertained while staying safe indoors? Jack, from the Yorkshire Games Festival team, has assembled some recommendations for staying social and having fun through videogames.

Gaming is better together. The likelihood is that most of you already know this, as 37.3 million people in the UK enjoy videogames and US statistics show that over 50% of gamers enjoy playing with others. Realistically, we’re looking at around a quarter of the UK that were already playing games together before lockdown, which is a figure that is steadily rising the longer that we’re all staying indoors and our mums can’t tell us to go outside.

And this is great! Rather than the passive action of viewing together, multiplayer gaming requires mutual decision making and co-operation (or competition), which is then rewarded with engagement, progression and a lot of fun. So you really do get back what you put in.

In light of the situation, I’ve gathered some Yorkshire Games Festival expertise through some recommendations for great games to enjoy under quarantine. Each category has a game that can be played ‘together’ locally or ‘apart’ through online multiplayer. (It’s worth noting this isn’t necessarily the only way to play these titles—just that they work well in their respective category.) We’ve also tried to provide options for all consoles as well as PC and mobile.

So, whether you’re isolating alone or cooped up together, here are some great games to stay entertained and social.

If you want to work

Together: Overcooked! 2 (age 3+; Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Apart: Sea of Thieves (age 12+; PC, Xbox One)

Cook up a storm and batten down the hatches in fun but challenging roles as chefs or pirates—both the kitchen and the seven seas require communication and teamwork to succeed.

If you want to have a dust-up

Together: Gang Beasts (age 7+; PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Apart: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (age 12+; Nintendo Switch)

The doughy ‘beat-em-up’ Gang Beasts is perfect for resolving all those isolation squabbles, and the classic Smash Bros is a who’s who of Nintendo characters competing in chaotic battles.

If you don’t own a Nintendo Switch then Brawlhalla, a free-to play brawler, is also perfect for some character mayhem.

If you want to create some mayhem

Together: Broforce (age 16+; Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4)

Apart: Far Cry 5 (age 18+; PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Broforce is an over-the-top action adventure featuring fun parodies of movie greats—‘Rambro’, ‘Bronan the Brobarian’ or ‘Indiana Brones’, anyone?! Far Cry is a playground of madness as you and a friend take on an apocalyptic cult!

If you want to explore

Together: Civilisation (age 12+; Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Apart: No Man’s Sky (age 7+; PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Civilisation’s ‘hotseat’ mode allows players to explore and conquer from one console (or PC), whereas No Man’s Sky’s exploration is almost endless, offering 18 quintillion worlds for you to discover online with your friends.

If you want to build something

Together: LEGO (age 7+; PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Apart: Minecraft (age 7+; Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

The LEGO franchise is a perfect family series as you recreate LEGO-ized versions of your favourite films. For a more open experience, Minecraft is an infinite tapestry of opportunities for creation with friends online.

If you want to relax

Together: Animal Crossing: New Horizons (age 3+; Nintendo Switch)

Apart: Stardew Valley (age 7+; Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the hot, new, wholesome game from Nintendo where players live in harmony on their own perfect islands with quirky creature inhabitants. A great online alternative would be Stardew Valley, a blissful country-life RPG which you can even get on your phone!

If you want a great story

Together: Divinity: Original Sin 2 (age 18+; iOS, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Apart: The Borderlands series (age 18+; PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Both of these choices have excellent stories, characters and enough quests to keep you going for days on end. Cheekily, both can be played locally and online, so you’ve got the best of both worlds.

If you want to survive

Together: A Way Out (age 18+; PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Apart: Dying Light (age 18+; PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

A Way Out is a game that can ONLY be played together, as you play as a pair of inmates on the run, depending on each other for survival. Alternatively, join up with a friend for free-running, zombie-killing action in Dying Light.

If you want to puzzle

Together: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (age 3+; Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Apart: Portal 2 (age 12+; PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

In Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, one player defuses a bomb on screen, the other has the manual—and neither one can see the other. It’s simple but challenging fun. Meanwhile, the mind-bending sci-fi puzzles in Portal 2 require some serious critical thinking.

If you want to test yourselves

Together: Knowledge is Power (age 3+; PlayStation 4)

Apart: Jackbox Party Pack (age 12+; iOS, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

If you’re a trivia nut like me, Knowledge is Power is great for getting everyone together and competing in a TV-style game show. Jackbox Party Packs are compendiums of excellent party games that can be played using your phone and one computer. They’re usually played locally, but Jackbox have provided a guide for playing by sharing your screen.

If you want to play a board game

Together: Just grab a board game, duh

Apart: Tabletop Simulator (age suitability varies depending on game; PC)

Lastly, board games are always a great option when you’re stuck indoors and we could fill a whole other blog post with recommendations for those (and maybe we will—watch this space!). Tabletop Simulator is an application where you can play virtual versions of games on a virtual table, but don’t forget that many games—such as Uno and Monopoly—have dedicated apps that can be played with your friends.

Additionally, using services such as Zoom, Skype, or Discord means that many games can be played through video chat, whether it’s a simple quiz or something as organised as a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Explore our collection, complete brain-teasing puzzles or learn about science with the Science Museum Group’s range of science games and apps.

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