Console yourself with nine of the best video games for whiling away the long hot summer
From first-person shooters to agriculture sims to mysterious puzzlers, there’s something for every gaming taste in this selection of titles that have the staying power to keep you playing all summer long
If you’re lucky enough to have some sort of summer break (whether it lasts a week or three months), you might be hit with a dilemma: you want to spend a lot of your free time playing video games, but you can’t possibly afford them all. After all, games aren’t cheap, so you don’t want to buy something with the hope of it lasting you all summer only for you to be finished with it in a single sitting.
Here are some suggestions for games to keep you occupied for a while. These are games that you can really sink your teeth into for hours, days, even months at a time. If you want some bang for your buck, this is where to start.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
This RPG that’s part dungeon crawl, part celebration of J-pop music, part anime and part coming-of-age story is very Japanese, but in a lot of the best ways. I hope you don’t mind Japanese voice acting, because you won’t hear any English – you’ll just have subtitles. The game is a blend of the popular Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem series, though it’s far more of the former than the latter.
Perfect for: the player who can’t stand that they need to wait until next year to play Persona 5.
Available on: Wii U
Developed by Gearbox Software, Battleborn is packed with colourful characters who all have unique skills to master. Admittedly, it’s not setting the world on fire like Gearbox’s smash-hit Borderlands series, but if you’ve got a cooperative first-person shooter itch to scratch, this might do the trick. Just make sure to play it with a good group of friends.
Perfect for: players who want to spend the summer cooperating with a handful of friends, either playing the story, competing against other teams or both.
Available on: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Leave it to Blizzard (creators of World of Warcraft and Hearthstone) to come out of nowhere with the company’s first first-person shooter and to knock it out of the park. Overwatch has captured a lot of hearts and minds with its variety of characters (each with their own strengths, weaknesses and abilities), its fast-paced competitive gameplay and its overall sense of style.
Perfect for: the multiplayer-focused gamer who got hooked on Team Fortress, or just anyone who wants a good competitive first-person shooter.
Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
The latest game to bear the “Tom Clancy’s” branding takes a bit of getting used to. It looks and sounds like your typical modern military-based third-person shooter, but it plays more like an action RPG (or, in a weird way, like 2014’s Destiny). So yeah, you might be shooting an enemy combatant in the head, but you’re not guaranteed to get a kill unless you can keep whittling away at their health bar.
But if you know what to expect going in, there are things to love about The Division, especially if you’re playing with a solid group of friends. Rolling around the streets of New York city in the end times, finding rare guns and equipment along the way, can be addictive as long as you don’t get overwhelmed by the game’s many gameplay systems.
Perfect for: the player who was disappointed with the latest Rainbow Six, but can’t wait for the next Ghost Recon.
Available for: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Easily described as “Harvest Moon but on your PC,” Stardew Valley has been one of gaming’s biggest and best surprises this year. Developed primarily by just one guy, it’s a game all about farming and building relationships (sometimes of the romantic variety, if you want) with the other people in your town. The only enemy you’ll be fighting here is the disappointment when you forget to water your vegetables.
Perfect for: anyone looking to chill out and grow some crops this summer rather than shoot or slash their way through hordes of enemies.
Available for: PC (coming to consoles later this year)
Minecraft (with Mario!)
Minecraft has always been a game that people of all ages can sink hours upon hours into. With the recently released Wii U version of the game, though, the Lego-like formula is dialled up a notch with the inclusion of Super Mario Bros. items, sounds and skins. So instead of crafting a generic fantasy world, now you can create a Mushroom Kingdom masterpiece and roam around it as Mario and Luigi.
Perfect for: the person who doesn’t have nearly enough Lego to make their Super Mario Bros. diorama as magical as they want it to be.
Available for: Wii U
This grand strategy game could keep you up all night trying to establish a peace treaty with another species (while secretly trying to outpace their military research so you can crush them the second they look at you funny). Reductively, you could look at Stellaris as basically Sid Meier’s Civilization, only set in space. The similarities are certainly there in terms of things like research and policy management, but there are also profound differences – a major one being that Stellaris runs in real-time (though the action can be paused) while Civilization is turn-based.
Perfect for: the armchair strategist for whom chess is too slow, who can spend hours slowly building toward a better future through the steady research of technology.
Available for: PC, Mac
The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was on last year’s list of games to play throughout the summer, so it’s fitting that the game returns this year with its new (and final) expansion. Blood and Wine promises more than 30 hours of additional questing with Geralt of Riviera in a standalone story that can be played even if you never finished the main game (though they suggest you be at least level 30).
If you missed The Witcher 3 the last time around, it’s an incredible (and incredibly adult) fantasy RPG in which your choices can have significant effects on the outcome of the story. Whether you want to spend most of your time hunting monsters, talking to people or just playing the card game Gwent, The Witcher 3 has a lot to offer. And it’s only become better over time thanks to patches and additional content.
Perfect for: anyone who wishes there were more episodes of Game of Thrones.
Available for: PC, Xbox One, PS4
There are a lot of things that are impressive about The Witness, including how much mileage it gets with such a simple concept: every single puzzle in the game is solved by drawing lines. That’s all there is to it – there are no items to pick up, no jigsaw pieces to manipulate, no platforms to leap from. But there are also no instructions. You have to figure out everything by yourself, sometimes using the most subtle of environmental clues around you.
It’s a game filled with hundreds of screens on which you just draw lines between dots, and yet it’s one of the most challenging, thought-provoking and beautiful puzzle games in recent history.
Perfect for: anybody who has ever obsessed over the Myst games.
Available for: PC, PS4