Life

It's a perfect time to play video games. Here's how to determine which ones are right for you.

Itchaboo is a Gnome Warrior, and one of many options in the fantasy World of Warcraft.
Itchaboo is a Gnome Warrior, and one of many options in the fantasy World of Warcraft.
/

This sheltering in place seems to be going on forever.

Maybe it has you desperate enough to try something completely different.

Many gamers have been enjoying the extra time to spend on their computers or consoles while being shut in. Is it time for you to join them?

Here a couple suggestions.

Virtual leagues

While news of sports’ great return begins to look more positive, this is where the virtual world can reintroduce a sports buzz back into your depleted system that longs for broken plays and lazy defense.

For many, online gaming can be daunting with the fear of being cursed out by a random 12-year-old or just getting dominated by someone with more free time ... taking away from the competitive joy of the experience.

This is why playing a season, dynasty or career mode on your favorite sports’ yearly released title — i.e. Madden, MLB The Show, etc. — on a PlayStation 4 or X-Box One is a great option for players who want an evolving and fairly long-term commitment to the teams they love.

 

If you enjoy online play, you can create a league with your friends and salvage any lost summer plans, even talking to each other in real-time while playing in the same universe.

MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, FIFA, NASCAR and even UFC let you name and build your created player with specific features that range from nicknames to tattoos, letting you customize the most minute details of your player throughout their career. Same goes for your race cars on NASCAR HEAT 4, the most recently released racing title.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Seasons range from shortened versions of a standard schedule to a full slate of events that mimic the current year.

Dynasty mode lets you not only play year after year, but many games will allow you to decide if you would like to act as a player, coach or owner with tasks required varying depending on the title you select.

Probably the most popular choice is to play a career.

In NASCAR HEAT, you start on the dirt tracks of America and work your way up through the various series.

 

NBA 2K20’s storyline features real-life actors Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson while Madden has brought back a partial version of the ever-so-popular NCAA football game within its parameters as a career mode that starts you in college, trying to win a national title with one of 10 schools.

MLB The Show starts you in Double-A and lets you earn your way to a cup of coffee, if not a full-fledged appearance in “The Show.”

The best part is many of these games have abandoned the standard rookie, pro, all-star and hall of fame levels and have replaced them with algorithms that continuously adjust to your performance and allow you to advance through the game, regardless of your ability.

Wish your favorite team was located in Iowa? Move them wherever you want or create a new team. You choose the name, logo and team colors. You even design all of the jerseys in many titles.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Wish Carmelo was an Indiana Pacer? Trade him. Force roster moves, complete fantasy drafts and recreate your favorite league as you see fit with the ability to run reckless or tell the computer you want them to keep you in check. You are the master of your newly created sports universe. Enjoy.

— Justin Webster, The Gazette

Fantasy world

More than 100 million people have played World of Warcraft since it launched in 2004. The game is 16 years old and still going strong, getting a boost with people in lockdown looking for something to do.

Is it for you? The game has been updated a lot over 16 years and the original game has had seven, soon to be eight, expansions, each adding to the game. That’s a lot of content and can be overwhelming.

If you like role-playing games, you get to choose to become a member of the Alliance (a coalition of humans, dwarfs, elves, gnomes, etc.) or the Horde (orcs, trolls and undead, etc.). This decision impacts how the game unfolds for your character. You can be one of many fantasy archetypes — Warrior, Mage, Priest, Rogue, etc.

But your role comes down to three types — Tank (absorb damage and keep the fight focused on you), healer (keep the tank, and rest of the party alive with spells), damage (you hurt the enemy). Tank and healer require an extra level of skill, so a beginner may want to stick with damage.

 

Is it not for you? Looking at Facebook fan groups, players range widely in age, and it attracts men and women. You don’t have to be a nerd to play. (It doesn’t hurt.)

While the story steers your progress from quest to quest, you can play the game however you want. Run dungeons with other people against mighty foes, play battlegrounds against other players, try to make tons of money in the world economy or play a Pokémon-style pet battler all over the world. One player got to maximum level without killing anything in the game. They just explored and picked flowers. The game world is massive. And populated with thousands of real people. Many people have met their spouses in-game.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Advice. The game has a trial mode to see if it is for you. I think the game really clicks for certain people and scratches a particular itch.

— Ryan Suchomel, The Gazette

Search and destroy

Of course, the biggest video game sensation these days is massive online battlegrounds. PUBG — Player Unknown’s Battleground (227 million monthly players at its peak), Fortnite Battle Royale (78.3 million), and Call of Duty: Warzone (50 million) are the best known.

These games drop you into a battle zone where you face off against other players in different modes. Sometimes it is just who can kill the most other people, other times, it is who can be the last one standing. Capture the flag and other games add variety and a team aspect. Your character will have to find the best weapons, from guns to grenade launchers, and rain destruction down.

Fortunately, Fortnie is free to play. You can download it on PS4 or X-Box One or even a tablet and begin battling. PUBG and Call of Duty require you to buy the game.

 

Is it for you? It is a lot of fun to run around and blast other players. Unfortunately, the learning curve is often steep. They don’t keep the rookies together, so expect to spend a lot of time dying until you learn the ropes. But if you can join up with some RL (real life) friends, you can work as a team over headsets.

Is it not for you? At some point, a 14-year-old with no manners is going to tell you “you suck!” If you have thin skin, these games are not for you. But if you invest the time to learn the different weapons, different maps and master how to play, then it can be you “pwning the noobs.”

Advice. Try the free-to-play Fortnite first. If you like that, try expanding to other games.

— Ryan Suchomel, The Gazette

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.