11 video games to play while social distancing

With many people social distancing due to coronavirus, Shacknews takes a look at 11 video games worth playing while stuck at home.


The world is on edge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are either in isolation or practicing social distancing. Millions are off work or working from home, and quite a few of them have found a lot of extra time on their hands and not much to do with it. Analytic data tells us more people are playing more video games and, as gamers, we couldn't agree more that this is a wonderful method to escape the stress brought on by the coronavirus. With that in mind, the Shacknews staff set out to choose a handful of games people should consider playing while social distancing.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

We're all essentially stuck in our homes until further notice. What better time to start up a fresh game of Animal Crossing: New Horizons (which, coincidentally, is out just as we're in the thick of things) while spending a lot more time inside? You'll have the ability to really dig in and form your brand-new island the way you see fit. With plenty of time to explore, gather materials, and spend time with your new island friends, being unable to go anywhere feels like the perfect parallel to starting a new life surrounded by all of your new animal friends. You won't have to stop to do pesky things like "go to work" or "go to the gym" while running around doing errands in a bid to pay Tom Nook back, and there will finally be plenty of time for activities. Who needs real life when you can just become an animal for the foreseeable future?

Red Dead Redemption 2

Just about everyone who plays games has heard about Red Dead Redemption 2 and has an opinion about it. If you’re just not a fan, that’s fine, but given just how long the game is, there are many out there who skipped it because of lack of time. If you’re isolated, though, now might be the perfect opportunity to get into Rockstar’s open-world masterpiece. 

The story is good, and definitely shines in the second half. The real sell, though, is open world exploration. Simply put, it’s one of the most detailed and alive open worlds ever created. Players can go fishing, hunting, and camp out under the stars. Every inch of the environment was built with care. Watch bears fish for salmon in a stream, an eagle swoop down and scoop up a rabbit for a meal, or two bucks battle it out for mating rights. Explore abandoned buildings and caves for loot and treasure. It’s a very calming and beautiful place to spend some time, and we think we could all benefit from hearing Arthur Morgan say, “You’re alright, boah.”

The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 is regarded not only as one of the best games in the last few years, but one of the best games ever made. It still manages to sneak into the top-sellers list on Steam annually, even though it’s been out almost five years now. The main campaign alone will take about 100 hours, with another 50 added if you want to play the two major expansions. However, the only time consideration should be whether you have it these days, because story is the reason you play The Witcher 3. It is an epic journey about a father trying to save his daughter, and along the path there are incredible characters and adventures to be had. If you’ve never played it, consider it. If you have, consider doing so again.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

It might be hard for some people to be hopeful during all the craziness going on right now, but that doesn’t mean we have to give in to the despair. Video games have always been a great way to escape, and now is an even better time than most to dive into a new (or familiar) story and experience beautiful worlds. If you haven’t already played it, or if you just need another reminder of how good it is, then we highly recommend jumping into Breath of the Wild.

Not only does the game have hundreds of hours of content, but the story within is one of hope – something that we need more now than ever. A world that has been plagued by a tyrant for 100 years finally sees a hero rising from the smoke of its ruins. It’s a story as old as time, but one that continues to delight and enthrall. Sure, there are tons of great games out there, but if you want something that blends hope, exploration, great combat, and fantastic puzzle mechanics together, then Breath of the Wild is the perfect escape from everything going on right now.

Doom Eternal

If you are inclined to listen to the most negative outlooks on our current global pandemic, you may be expecting civilization to fall and for the world to devolve into chaos. If this sounds like a great time, have we got the game for you! Doom Eternal is set against the backdrop of a demon invasion of Earth that leaves the planet in shambles. What kind of weapon is needed to turn back this particular quagmire? Here’s a hint: it’s not social distancing, but rather a wide assortment of sweet-ass guns.

Worst case scenario, real-life Earth becomes a wasteland, but at least with 15-20 hours of Doom Eternal under your belt, you’ll have the training needed to shoot your way out of the apocalypse.

Rocket League

The great thing about competitive online gaming is no two games are ever the same. It all revolves around the skill of the player and their opponents. And sure, you could get that from just about any sports game, but none of those other games are Rocket League. The gameplay is just flat-out addictive and utterly unique as far as electronic sports are concerned. We've logged hundreds of hours in Rocket League competition and I’ll definitely be getting a lot more practice over the next few weeks. 

Super Mario Maker 2

What could be more therapeutic than quietly building and testing your own Mario levels? Super Mario Maker 2 has always been an incredible toybox of creation and one can get lost for hours in the intricacies of putting whatever comes to mind together in its level creation. Don’t want to create? Just want to play? That’s fine. The game has so many levels from other creators, as well as its own little campaign to fiddle around with. The Legend of Zelda updates to the game only upped the ante and allowed more, so you’ll never run out of things to do in Super Mario Maker 2 if you’re looking. There’s a good reason this was Shacknews’ 2019 Game of the Year. The neverending opportunities therein are only confined by your imagination and the imagination of the robust community that supports it, perfect for a lengthy time indoors.

No Man's Sky

Feeling a little cramped up having to stay indoors? Why not explore the vastness of space from the comfort of your couch? No Man’s Sky may have had its issues when it first launched, but since then it’s turned things around with a ton of expansive content and an endless universe for you to explore. Hopping in your spaceship and cruising around to alien worlds could be just the thing to help you feel less isolated during these trying times. And now that there’s fully integrated co-op play, you can travel the cosmos and have sci-fi adventures with your friends as well. 

Resident Evil 2 Remake

What better way to spend your time in quarantine than with the granddaddy of games about a deadly outbreak? Capcom wowed longtime series fans and newcomers alike with the outstanding survival horror remake of Resident Evil 2 last year. It offers just about everything you could want during isolation, including loads of replayability. Resident Evil 2 Remake has several different ways to enjoy its campaign, offering viewpoints from several different characters. 

Thrillseekers are likely to find lots to love about Mr. X, the game’s unofficial mascot and the only thing on earth that might be more terrifying than COVID-19. 

Monster Hunter World

Monster Hunter World was already an incredibly rich game and has only become moreso with the launch of the Iceborne expansion and its launch on PC. When the world outside is collapsing, the world in MHW is as beautiful and robust as ever, and the grind is never truly finished (or even a grind). It’s easy to lose hours upon hours hunting down your preferred wyvern and digging out the materials you need to make the armor and weapons of your absolute fancy. And when you don’t want to go it alone, there’s a vast community of hunters in the game always ready to help you progress through the toughest hunts that threaten to stifle you. No matter what heights you reach and what strength you acquire, there will always be a bigger and stronger beast in Monster Hunter World waiting to test your resolve and challenge your hunting skills to the fullest.

Destiny 2

There’s a lot that can be said about Destiny 2. Despite the missteps the developers have taken since leaving Activision behind, it still remains one of the best FPS experiences out there. Yes, there are problems with the loot system and the microtransactions – but when it comes down to raw potential, Destiny 2 has every other shooter beat. It’s also free-to-play, sort of. You can definitely get in and get started without spending cash, but might want to expand your content options if it gets its hooks into you.

The real reason Destiny 2 made this list, though, is its ability to make you feel connected to other people, even if you don’t have a mic or friends to play with. The social spaces are always filled with other Guardians, and pretty much any time you head out to a planet to explore you’ll bump into those doing the same. You’ll be playing with other people, and at a time when you might feel more isolated than ever, that might be just what you need.

We don't yet know how long we'll all be social distancing, but most of us are stuck at home for the next couple weeks at least. Should be plenty of time to dig into something on this list, or hit up on of the new games coming out, which you can browse through using our 2020 video game release dates guide.

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

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