it’s gotta be big and it’s got to be dumb
April 7, 2020 1:41 PM   Subscribe

It’s Time to Play a Big, Dumb Video Game [New York Magazine] “Roughly 6,000 articles I’ve read over the past two weeks have informed me that now has never been a better time to “get into video games.” If you’re unfamiliar, video games are a form of interactive entertainment; they’re kind of like playable movies, in a way. There are many games you can try during these stressful times. You could play Animal Crossing, in which you perform chores for a delinquent landlord, and which seemingly every review describes as “the game we need right now.” You could play multiplayer games and voice-chat with your friends, or jury-rig a livestream setup that lets you run party games like Jackbox. If you want to spend $300 on used equipment, you can play the novel exercise game Ring Fit Adventure and get buff. You can play a rich, textured role-playing game with a deep and complex narrative. Or you could play a big, dumb game — which is what I recommend.”
posted by Fizz (134 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I'm playing a lot of Borderlands 3, Far Cry 5, and I just started Uncharted 4. All of these games are pretty much cheeseburgers: predictable, easy to consume, & satisfying. I fully agree with this article that now is the perfect time to just dive into something easy and fulfilling.
posted by Fizz at 1:43 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

If you’re unfamiliar, video games are a form of interactive entertainment; they’re kind of like playable movies, in a way.

Finally you explain it Fizz! I've been wondering what you've been posting about all this time, makes a lot more sense now.
posted by Think_Long at 1:43 PM on April 7 [25 favorites]

After one fellowship got taken away and another didn't pan out, I said "fuck it" and bought a computer capable of playing Planet Zoo, which I have been yearning to play for almost a year. I'm using it to motivate working on my dissertation: I don't get to open the game or install it until I have a full outline for my second chapter, all analysis completed, and the revisions on my first chapter are back at the journal.

I want it so bad.
posted by sciatrix at 1:45 PM on April 7 [18 favorites]

Reinstalled Doom 2016. I want to play the new one but money is tight. That's cool, my new system plays 2016 with everything turned up to 11.
posted by Splunge at 1:51 PM on April 7 [7 favorites]

I miss my desktop and my GTA V.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:54 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

I bought Black Mesa (the modern remake of Half Life), started playing through it and loved it. As the COVID-19 numbers grew, my daily cortisol levels rose to the point where I felt like I did not want the additional stress of "what's around the corner, hiding in the dark, waiting to kill me?" So I started playing Rocket League again. Definitely the Dumb Game I want right now.
posted by onehalfjunco at 1:58 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I'm playing the 2017 Prey right now, and, though the first ten minutes or so try to convince you that it's a Complex Mindbendy Video Game, it is in fact a Big Dumb Video Game.

It's fun to coat aliens in glue and then shoot them with a green death ray that makes them explode, though.
posted by lorddimwit at 1:59 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I've been playing Control (new DLC recently came out) because at least it's still weirder than reality. That said, 2020 has been nothing if not a destroyer of assumptions.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 2:00 PM on April 7 [7 favorites]

After years of resisting, our household finally ordered an up-to-date console. My wife suggested it last week, and as soon as I realized I could finally play "Red Dead Redemption II" after years of longing, I jumped at the chance. It arrived today and, man, it's everything I hoped for.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 2:07 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

This is kinda true. I have been playing the HELL out of Borderlands. Usually I am not really into gun-shooter games that much, but.....I guess I am now.
posted by capnsue at 2:08 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

I played Assassin's Creed Odyssey during Google's Stadia beta, and for various reasons never got around to playing it afterward. I've jumped back in, it runs okay on my (pretty old) gaming PC, and it's great. It may be too good to be truly Dumb, but it does involve running around ancient Greece and kicking Spartans off high cliffs, and I cannot recommend it enough.

It's a weird week to finally get around to playing The Division, which is a dumb game about shooting your way through a disease-ravaged Manhattan, but I'd been meaning to play it for probably years, so.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:10 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

Just moved house and am without proper Internet at the moment, just phone data. Consequently, there is no Rocket League or Dead By Daylight (my two usual fallbacks when not playing through anything else) for me, so between Slay The Spire runs, my boyfriend and I are playing through New Vegas yet again, this time as an NCR grunt. Parts of the game (eg Nipton) are a lot more difficult when you're in NCR faction armour the whole time...
posted by Dysk at 2:10 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

(it's hard to push enemies off cliffs in Odyssey, you need to upgrade until you get a special kick ability. Then, you can lure Spartan generals to cliffs and just kick them off to their deaths. It's so satisfying!)
posted by BungaDunga at 2:11 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]

Are there any big dumb Switch games? Or is it assumed we’re all busy with Animal Crossing (I mean, we are, but...)?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:14 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

And here I've just been streaming the 1986 NES Metroid - that's big and dumb enough right?
posted by mincus at 2:16 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

I’ve been playing Rocket League on Mac via Geforce Now. Playing 2v2 with three equally unskilled friends captures a lot of the fun of a pickup game of ultimate frisbee.
posted by john hadron collider at 2:19 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

I'm not up for playing games much anymore, dumb or otherwise, but I might smoke some pot, put on the soundtrack to Wolfenstein New Colossus and make my war face while reading the news.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:22 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

time to play the horsie game and make arthur morgan a chonky boi
posted by poffin boffin at 2:22 PM on April 7 [12 favorites]

PUBG Mobile for me.
posted by dobbs at 2:23 PM on April 7

Been replaying the OG Mass Effects. FemShep 4 lyfe
posted by dismas at 2:26 PM on April 7 [13 favorites]

I love that the article's original title, betrayed by the URL and the title tag, was "Do Not Play Good Video Games Right Now".
posted by hanov3r at 2:27 PM on April 7 [8 favorites]

I've been playing a lot of Animal Crossing New Horizons (Switch) and Minecraft (on the PC). Both are fantastic for those times when you really just want some facsimile of control over your world and surroundings. They are both similar in their taskless, endless drone-type of gameplay so I'm bolstering it with a little bit of Groove Coaster Wai Wai Party (Switch) which brings a type of gameplay that can be broken off in little delectable bites topped with great music.

I'm debating downloading Half Life: Alyx or The Room 2 to satisfy my VR cravings to reaallly (digitally) get out in the world..

If I can add one thing to this post its that games are fun alone and can be even more fun together, obv - even if you're not playing the same game! Create a Discord with your friends and share what you're up to. Maybe you'll even end up playing the same game together. We started one with 5 people as a way of sharing turnip prices in ACNH and its grown to more than 15. With channels are that are just for music, channels just for watching the same stream of a movie, show or YT playlist, and others for low-impact multiplayer stuff like Jackbox games. It's been a fantastic Virtual Third Place and I feel closer to many of my friends than I did previously (which is weird to say..).

Games are great! Play more of them!
posted by RobertFrost at 2:29 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

My friends and I are getting back into Destiny 2 as it's free to play. I played until the first raid came out so there is several years worth of content to get into and it's solid mindless fun that can just eat time.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:31 PM on April 7

I play that Mah Jong tile game and Solitaire on my iPhone. Is that dumb enough?
posted by njohnson23 at 2:33 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

That reminds me... I never got past the farmer in Untitled Goose Game.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:37 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I've gone back to Horizon Zero Dawn for my fourth?... fifth? playthrough, on Ultrahard with the Frozen Wilds DLC. Those fucking bears in Banuk land are really tough, but I love the game SO MUCH.

I also started playing The Talos Principle on my Switch. That is not a dumb game, but I like spatial puzzle games.

Then I had to stop playing for spoilery reasons.Text in the game makes it clear that global warming released a virulent simian disease from the permafrost, and all of humanity was infected and going to die.

posted by hanov3r at 2:38 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

Are there any big dumb Switch games? Or is it assumed we’re all busy with Animal Crossing (I mean, we are, but...)?

Skyrim, Doom, Metro Last Light, Dragon's Dogma, Bayonetta I & II, Wolfenstein, Dragon Quest XI, Saints Row III. Some of these are massive games (and most of them are dumb enough to turn your brain off). That being said, there are some graphical compromises but the games run pretty damn well on Switch and they're big enough to sink your teeth into them. I'd say pick up Skyrim or Doom on a cartridge and go from there.
posted by Fizz at 2:43 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

I play that Mah Jong tile game and Solitaire on my iPhone. Is that dumb enough?

You play whatever is fun for you.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:43 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

Minecraft or Stardew are both massive games and once you figure out the crafting loop, you can turn your brain off and just farm/explore at your own pace.
posted by Fizz at 2:44 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

Are there any big dumb Switch games?
Bayonetta 2 is probably the biggest, dumbest Switch exclusive. (See also Astral Chain, the newest game by the same developers.)

There are also some good ports. Doom (2016) and the two newest Wolfenstein games are available for Switch. There are remastered older games like Devil May Cry and Assassin’s Creed: Rebel Collection. And Borderlands and BioShock are coming to the platform next month.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:44 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

I highly recommend Journey (92 on metacritic). Don't read anything about it ("Journey is a game about everything and yet nothing at all; an adventure wrapped in poignancy, optimism, hope and trepidation"; "You will rarely play a game that makes you feel so much like you're actually there as Journey does").
posted by user92371 at 2:45 PM on April 7 [7 favorites]

Nice article. I somehow developed a massive blind spot and had no idea The Outer Worlds existed until I saw it in the current PS4 sale, and I’ve been playing it pretty much non-stop ever since. Really scratches an itch and I have no idea how I missed the release as this game might as well have been custom built for me.

I feel like I have gotten a big, dumb present from myself-past in my time of need.
posted by arha at 2:48 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

Been playing Days Gone, Division 2, and Far Cry New Dawn for just this reason. All 3 are recent post apocalyptic wankfests (I'm ok with that right now, but others might find them a little too close to reality) with the writing so bad that skipping the cutscenes is a benefit to my enjoyment. (Seriously, how can this much money be invested in a game and the plots are so bad?) All 3 have gameplay that pretty much boils down to "figure out how to get to marker x, explore a bit, murder lots of things with limited "stealth" options, get slightly better loot/skills to give you new ways to kill people who just exist to die in obscene numbers, new markers open up on your map. Repeat until you get bored and move on to a new game. (Oh and all three were pretty damn cheap.) They are all very pretty to look at, and minute to minute gameplay loop is pretty fun, during which my analytical brain can pretty much turn itself off. The empty calories of videogaming.
posted by aspo at 2:54 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I got through enough movies in March (I maintain monthly media quotas - it is weird in this era of binging I know but it keeps me sane & organised) to have some time for games and it was between Assassin Creed Odyssey and Witcher 3. I opted for AC Odyssey. Its meeting my dumb game needs - looks nice, teaching me Greek swear words, flirting with men and women, lots of goats... We picked up Ringfit for the kid and he's enjoying that (its remarkably weird).
posted by Ashwagandha at 2:58 PM on April 7

I've been playing Katamari Forever on my PS3, which is the newest game console I have. It's glorious and makes me genuinely happier after a round or two.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:58 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

If anyone wants to pick up Warframe, my partner would adore helping someone get started/hooked on being a robot space ninja. And it’s free and plays on even my 15 year old computer! (Mostly. The spaceship battles are largely out. Collecting puppies and murdering fascists, though, it can do.)

Seriously. Memail me. It’d make their week to have a newbie to show around.
posted by brook horse at 2:58 PM on April 7

The criteria for a big, dumb game is that it’s gotta be big (meaning it’ll take dozens or hundreds of hours to finish) and it’s gotta be dumb (meaning that you can safely ignore the narrative).

I wouldn't have thought replaying Temple of Elemental Evil with all the extra content from Circle of Eight would count as "big and dumb" but by these pretty forgiving criteria it actually is. It's not exactly "cerebral" (and the plot is absolutely 100% ignorable) but if you're not the sort of person who enjoyed hanging out on the 3rd edition D&D character optimization boards, it will kill you a whole lot of times. I really enjoyed making it to Hickory Branch (the biggest chunk of new content added by the Co8 mod) and finding it every bit as murderous as the original.

Anyways, now that my immuno-compromised brother's left his apartment a block from the hospital in Providence and came out to the woods to stay with me to ride out the pandemic, we've picked up where we left off (literally years ago!) on Borderlands the Pre-Sequel, and that's definitely big and dumb.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:02 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

I keep starting new civ 5 games for the first fifty turns or so. It’s like a slow cooker version of a slot machine.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:05 PM on April 7 [13 favorites]

I'm an old, so no consoles here...

Lots of Overwatch still. Thinking about a month of WoW, still love my troll Mage, despite the animation changes from 4 years or so ago. Glad I bought Alpha Centauri and Crossfire off GOG. Child just bought Papers, please. Blood Bowl 2 and Football Manager 2010? still fun, (GO HIBERNIAN!!!)

The times we live in. Back in my day, we played Star Trek on an Apple II, AND WE LIKED IT!!!
posted by Windopaene at 3:09 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

For the past 4 months I'd put a moratorium on my gaming so I could make progress on my Frustrating Hobby Project, but last week I gave myself permission to hit "pause" on that to play The Outer Worlds. Glad I did.
posted by microscone at 3:14 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

Recent Hideo Kojima titles like Metal Gear Solid V and Death Stranding are totally nonsensical and comfortingly rhythmic and mundane;

The anti-Kojima backlash begins in the New York Magazine video games column that I am reading
posted by Going To Maine at 3:17 PM on April 7

When I saw the title I thought "Oh, Saints Row is back?" (And it is, they're doing a remastered SR III that's out next month.)

But sure, Borderlands 3 is big dumb fun. #2 is actually well written, but #3 is, yeah, just hang out with my cool co-op partner Ash and pew pew pew.
posted by zompist at 3:20 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

This article get it right. I am absolutely hard in on Borderlands 3 right now. It's the quintessential Big Dumb Game. It's so big and dumb, it tries to lampoon it's own big and dumbness, fails because it's too big and dumb, then doubles down on how big and dumb it is, and gets bigger and dumber. The plot is completely nonsensical, the characters are ridiculous, and the jokes are stupid. It's like if you played any of the other Borderlands games and thought, "You know what this needs? More Borderlands."

But it's fun, and it doesn't ask much of you, and it's successfully keeping my mind off all the horrible stuff going on for an hour or two at a time. So thank you, you big stupid game.
posted by mrgoat at 3:21 PM on April 7 [6 favorites]

The biggest, dumbest game I've played recently is definitely Dragon Quest XI on Switch, which is an almost unbelievably mindless and rote JRPG (DQ as a series is known for this) but also a great time-waster that requires very little brain and much of the time only one hand.

Astral Chain is also definitely big and dumb, though the gameplay is pretty demanding.

On PS4 I've been playing Nioh 2, which is even more demanding, but also extremely big.

It's probably high time I finished Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2... and got started on the Final Fantasy VII remake. Looks like this quarantine is going to last a while.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:29 PM on April 7

The biggest, dumbest game I've played recently is definitely Dragon Quest XI on Switch, which is an almost unbelievably mindless and rote JRPG (DQ as a series is known for this) but also a great time-waster that requires very little brain and much of the time only one hand

I am watching someone play DQXI! It’s quite relaxing.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:31 PM on April 7

A few recommendations:

If you like competitive board / card games, and are excited about the idea of playing 1 on 1 multiplayer ladder matches that are not at all social: the latest incarnation of "magic: the gathering" as an online game (mtga arena) is pretty good. Free to play. I like playing the "draft" mode as you can be competitive without having a strong collection of cards, and it's entertaining to try to cobble together a competitive deck by drafting from a sometimes weird collection of underwhelming cards. If you want to learn how to play better, LegenVD has lots of youtube videos where each decision is carefully explained.

If you like card games / deck builders, but the idea of playing competitive multiplayer games stresses you out, Slay the Spire is a fantastic single player roguelike x deckbuilder with heaps of replayability (i think i played 150 hours of it?) and a pretty neat art style.

If you like the whole roguelike thing but want more mindless action, if you ever enjoyed a shmup (shoot em up), check out nova drift: , some footage here:

it's asteroids + roguelike with a rich upgrade system. less replayability as slay the spire. easy way to space out for 5 minutes to an hour or so in a bullet-dodging trance, until you inevitably explode
posted by are-coral-made at 3:31 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

I've spent a lot of time in Skyrim on my Switch, but the game I'm playing these days is Civ6. Not super big or dumb perhaps but such an easy way to make time disappear. Probably the best part about playing in handheld mode is that if you don't keep it plugged in you have a built-in timer to stop playing and go to sleep when the battery runs out.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:33 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

I generally don't game much in the spring and summer, but seeing as the parks are now closed, I guess it's Saints Row the Third, The Outer Worlds, and maybe No Man's Sky for me.
posted by mollweide at 3:34 PM on April 7

So I'm playing the heck out of Fortnite.
posted by jjderooy at 3:36 PM on April 7

Animal Crossing may well be the game we need right now (I'm on the fence after Jim Sterling's assessment, and don't have a Switch anyway), but Fizz is most definitely the poster I need right now. Thanks again, Fizz!

Edit: For my part, I've been playing the hell out of Stardew Valley, am taking a breather from it to play Doom Eternal, after that it's Borderlands 3 (which was on sale on the Playstation Store), I play Hunt Showdown every now and then with some buddies, and Greedfall, Death Stranding and Slime Rancher are all in my "to do" pile.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:42 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I don't play games like I use'ta did. But damned if they don't make games like Carmageddon anymore, by God.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 3:47 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

I'm still hooked on Words With Friends.
Which has turned into the biggest pile of steaming bloatware with all kinds of distracting scruff like coins and personalized tiles and badges and blah blah blah. It now takes so long to load on my old iPad that I would probably have given up on it if not for the Coronavirus lockdown.
So, it's a big, dumb game, even if the skeleton of Scrabble is now bulked up with 1,000 pounds of fat and seven layers of distracting glittery outerwear.
posted by chavenet at 3:48 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I have been playing the heck out of Star Wars: Fallen Order. Before that - and to be returned to once the shine of Fallen Order wears off - was Shadow of War. Something about open world games where you're just.... a hero with endless nostalgia canon around them.

Fallen Order feels really, really good. I'm not the biggest Star Wars fan (the Sequels being my favorite of the bunch), but I'll be damned if this game isn't making me a bigger fan. It's a AAA title with a still significant price point (I grabbed it off Steam at 40% off recently), so I wouldn't recommend it to someone who's not sure on gaming as a pastime. To people who love big, vibrant worlds and level exploration mechanisms somewhere between Dark Souls and Breath of the Wild, I can't recommend enough, though. Like Dark Souls, there are "shortcuts" back to your ship that you unlock as you explore, and save/meditation points throughout; there's minimal fast travel as a result (only between planets from what I've seen). Then there are the Jedi powers you unlock that are not only fun and combat-necessary, but they also work in the environment to be the "keys" to unlocking new areas (e.g. a Push power that opens paths that are obstructed by rocks/debris or pull powers that pull bridges down to you). They're unlocked as the game progresses and it's always awesome.

On top of that, the voice acting and motion capture of the protaganist is top notch, though I do wish they'd just make games like this with at least binary genders if not full customization. The voice acting in general is great, as is the dialogue thus far.

The game feels like a platformer but still plays like a polished parry/dodge/abilities swordplay game. And the world is HUGE. Not necessarily in square miles to explore, on that I'm not sure, but as far as the locales, they feel BIG without the player feeling small.

Can't recommend this game enough.
posted by avalonian at 3:51 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

I don't play games like I use'ta did. But damned if they don't make games like Carmageddon anymore, by God.

You know there was a Carmaggedon reboot released in 2016, right? And it's available on Steam.
posted by hanov3r at 4:07 PM on April 7

The first Diablo is the superior game, but Diablo 3 is the bigger and dumber game.

throws caltrops, body flips away, pew pew pew vengeance is mine whee
posted by logicpunk at 4:08 PM on April 7 [10 favorites]

My pandemic game is American Truck simulator. It's slow, chill, and the reason I got it is that it contains a toy version of the US west coast, so I can pretend to take all the road trips that I am not currently able to take in real life.
posted by surlyben at 4:12 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

The blessing/curse of MMORPGs is that success comes not to the skilled, but to those who put in the time. To this end, I’ve fallen/jumped into the deep end of Final Fantasy XIV again. Normally I’m the kind of player who shuns intentionally-grindy “endgame” MMORPG content like gear treadmills and rare weapons, but today I’m looking at the new relic weapon quests they released (the first part of a surely long and arduous grind to unlock a piece of equipment that will be obsolete by the time the next expansion comes around) and thinking hell yeah sign me up.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 4:19 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

Diablo 3 can be a dumb game but it can also be much more than that. The difference between clearing a GR100 solo and a GR150 in a group is huge, and I had to play the game for a few seasons to even begin to understand what the endgame looked like. 99% of the players don't ever get to do the latter, because it requires a dedicated group setup and a fair amount of practice. Which I think is an underappreciated aspect of the game, it supports both casual players who just want to murder demons for a few hours and collect loot, as well as a more hardcore playerbase that honestly isn't even playing that game anymore at all (I've become one of these people; I still ilke the dumb aspects of it but for me the real draw is the group playstyle).
posted by axiom at 4:25 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

For absurdly intentionally dumb (and hilarious and tons of fun) I can't recommend Saints Row 4 highly enough. So much of it had me laughing out loud, the soundtrack introduced me to some really cool music, and I can still remember the thrill of... not flying exactly, more like bouncing really, really high... throughout the city. And there's a real sense of jovial camaraderie that develops between you and the NPCs in your gang -- after I finished the game, I actually missed some of them! My bad-ass character was a deceptively innocent looking woman with a huge beehive, heart-shaped glasses, a polka-dot dress, and a sassy southern accent. I might have to break that one out again. It might be the most sheer delirious joy I've ever gotten from a game.
posted by treepour at 4:29 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

Dusted off my Oculus Rift for Half Life Alyx (it runs ok on a 2 year old 1060 laptop). It's not *long*, but it does feel big and, though it has a lot of stuff for a player to do, it doesn't really ask that much of you besides shooting zombies and gawping at stuff. And you can pick up a marker-pen and draw penises on the window that the bad-guys are walking past. I still think that no-one gets that big dumb action movie feel like Valve.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 4:32 PM on April 7

AssCreed Odyssey is definitely big and dumb. I do like how a lot of it’s side quest tie back into the twin themes of “family will fuck you up” and “people getting thrown off cliffs” that run through the main story. I’m puttering through the DLC right now but I’m kind of done with it, it’s really not helping that it keeps on reminding me that the DLC set in Elysium is A SIMULATION!!!, just own the weirdness and drop hints guys, sheesh.

I’m kinda thinking of picking up a cheap copy of AssCreed Origins despite my ban on AAA games where you have to be a dude, so I can sneak through Ancient Egypt. But I probably won’t.
posted by egypturnash at 4:34 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

What I could really use is Saints Row 5 tbh, SR3/4 were gloriously stupid.
posted by egypturnash at 4:35 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]

I am not playing any big dumb games right now. I'm working on beating Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine on hardest on a Genesis Mini. I am two robots away from the end. Prior to the shelter in place order, I did not know a puyo chain from my left foot.
posted by Mister Cheese at 4:39 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

My comfort play is the recent Tomb Raider reboots. Sneaking around exploring with my bow is very relaxing.
posted by drnick at 4:46 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]




You're welcome.
posted by East14thTaco at 4:49 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

Red Dead Redemption is in fact big and dumb in all the good and bad ways you'd expect a Rockstar flagship title to be. I've been 80% enjoying it (horses! good voice acting! minigames! hijinks! horses!) and 10% annoyed at it (every predictable ludonarrative and general tonal dissonance of a big Rockstar game) and 10% critically deconstructing it, and boy there's a whole lot of sidequest and challenge meat to dig in on. I'm mildly annoyed but totally unsurprised that you can't really play a nonviolent, moral outlaw even as the game flirts with the idea that you might want to, but Grand Theft Horse wasn't ever likely to support a non-lethal stealth playthrough in any serious way.

Seconding Saints Row 3 & 4 as utterly stupid and wonderful uses of time. They dodge the Rockstar dilemma by just being self-consciously bonkers and satirical instead of listing dizzyingly between a serious narrative and the chaos engine at the heart of these kinds of games.
posted by cortex at 5:03 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]

Did someone mention Dragon's Dogma? Dragon's Dogma is fucking amazing. 100% recommended. The elevator pitch is basically "what if the Monster Hunter team made Skyrim?" The roleplay and questing aren't nearly as good as Skyrim's, but in exchange you get probably the best RPG combat ever? Huge monsters that you can climb on and cut parts off of, and you can freely change your class at any time. I love the Mystic Knight, which is basically a Paladin-ish archetype where you get a big fuck-off shield that can cast powerful spells when you block attacks with it. But the Sorcerer is also an incredibly cool pick, because you get to have spells like this. Or you can be a Magick Archer and set yourself on fire because ninjas can't catch you if you're on fire. It runs great on Switch, too, and the Switch version comes with the DLC and a bunch of nice quality-of-life changes like an unlimited-use fast travel token.

(I'll also second the Bayonetta recommendation above. Both of the Bayonetta games rule.)

Anyway, the thing I've actually been playing, for the most part, is Dauntless. Which is basically Monster Hunter as a free-to-play indie game. (Though I guess Garena bought them out a little while ago, so not quite as indie any more?) The monsters and weapons are both fantastic. It's incredibly well-polished and creative, all the weapons feel very distinct from one another, as do the monsters, even the ones that are just elemental type variations. The indie legacy shows in that it's pretty much just got a series of monster fights to offer, but for me right now it's more than enough. I'm having a blast. Also another game that runs well on the Switch, and it has full cross-play and cross-save with at least the PC version.

And finally I started a game of Stellaris with the new expansion. I have to say, the Galactic Community tomfoolery really adds a lot to the game for pacifist playstyles. There are a lot of levers to play with to give yourself both material and political advantages, or to screw over your opponents.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:10 PM on April 7 [4 favorites]

Does the Presidency satire in Saints Row 4 tone down? Y'all almost have me sold, but I literally put it down last time because I couldn't get through the scenes in the white house that felt a little too... on the nose. I don't want to derail. I promise.
posted by avalonian at 5:10 PM on April 7

WoW is definitely doing it for me. I have an ongoing subscription (bought with in-game gold so it's not taking my cash) and they've doubled the rate you earn experience for the next couple of weeks yet--so instead of grinding away at end-of-game stuff, I'm leveling a bunch of new characters, which means that I'm doing stuff I'm so familiar with it's definitely easy to shut my brain off.

And I'm even getting something I want in the game out of it--my wife likes to play around with the appearance (transmog) system, so the one bit of thought I'm putting into it is how to optimize gaining new appearances while leveling.
posted by Four Ds at 5:20 PM on April 7

I don’t know if Divinity Original Sin II (now on the Switch) is dumb, but what is dumb is standing in front of the mirror in the ship endlessly tweaking your stats, reordering your inventory, trying out different runes on weapons, doing little crafty tweaks to spellbooks, and on some days barely playing the actual game rather than all the above. It’s soothing.
posted by argybarg at 5:20 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]

Does the Presidency satire in Saints Row 4 tone down? Y'all almost have me sold, but I literally put it down last time because I couldn't get through the scenes in the white house that felt a little too... on the nose. I don't want to derail. I promise.

The White House stuff is just the first 5% or so of the game.

I, naturally, have been playing Rocket League. Maybe I'll finally reach champ this season.
posted by dirigibleman at 5:30 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I've been playing Alyx on and off. I splurged on a computer last year (2080ti, Valve Index), so it looks amazing. Still, I don't really play it for long stretches before I pick up something old and familiar like Minecraft or Just Cause 2. I think this article explains what's going on. I'll try replaying Just Cause 3, which is even dumber than 2, especially with the ludicrously overpowered DLC.
posted by netowl at 5:34 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the game basically forgets about the gonzo POTUS stuff immediately in favor of gonzo cyberpunk TRON nonsense that has no such weird valences.

I don’t know if Divinity Original Sin II (now on the Switch) is dumb

I don't think it's technically Dumb but it is wonderful for how much it lets you sort of commit to some stupid stuff, and it's a relatively joyful time for a talking Baldur-ish RPG.
posted by cortex at 5:37 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

Ah, Just Cause. It took me a while to realize that you could read that as having a just cause, or blowing shit up just 'cause. That's all you need to about the games (which are big, dumb, and lots of fun) and probably me too.
posted by mollweide at 5:37 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

I had a week of corona-PTO recently, and rather than be productive I started and (pretty much) finished the most recent God of War. It was really good! I’m not sure that I will finish some of the more grindy combat side quests, but who knows.

I’d recommend Horizon:Zero Dawn. I wouldn’t call it stupid. But it is big and immersive. The DLC is good.

In the past I tried Days Gone but I got really nauseated riding on the motorcycle: maybe I have to adjust the camera somehow? Haven’t tried again.

I’m disappointed (but not surprised) that Last of Us 2 is indefinitely delayed. I really liked the first game (really my re-entry point to gaming as an adult), so I’ll just have to wait.
posted by maryrussell at 5:44 PM on April 7

I bought Black Mesa...
...I did not want the additional stress of "what's around the corner, hiding in the dark, waiting to kill me?"

I had the same experience. I actually got all the way up to the Gonarch Lair, though there were many times where I had to shut it down and walk away. But I'm just not going to finish that big fight/puzzle/thing.

I've been playing Dirt Rally 2.0 (as I have been for a while) and custom races in Project Cars 2 (because the career mode is too difficult and stressful).
posted by Foosnark at 5:57 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

Borderlands 3 is enormously entertaining. Some of the boss fights got to be tedious. But I was able to turn the difficulty down for 2-3 of those. They were more a test of patience versus skill.

But otherwise? An ENORMOUSLY dumb game in an enormously entertaining way (though there's SO MUCH YELLING...)
posted by SoberHighland at 6:04 PM on April 7

I bought A Short Hike on Steam. It's like Zelda in that you gradually expand your abilities by finding and/or trading new items, but there's nothing to fight. It's like Animal Crossing in that everybody's a cute anthropomorphic animal, and the music just switches from one simple little gem to another. You're hiking up a mountain that overlooks a peaceful island, and because your character is a bird, you can just hop off to one side of the trail you're on, just about anywhere, and glide around. There's no pressure to do anything except roam around and be amused. It's not big and it's not dumb. It's eight bucks and it's just the thing. (Disclaimer, I am not the A Short Hike guy, nor do I get a thin dime if you buy A Short Hike.)
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:06 PM on April 7 [5 favorites]

it tries to lampoon it's own big and dumbness, fails because it's too big and dumb, then doubles down on how big and dumb it is, and gets bigger and dumber

Not sure I can fit the saga of Gonner Maleggies into that...
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:11 PM on April 7

Not big and dumb, but dumb and free. My wife and I have been playing Drawful 2 (should still be free on the jackbox site) via google hangouts with our families the past two weekends. It's been a blast and has made my Mom who just lost her husband of 32 years (My stepdad) and Father in law, who is sadly losing his battle with cancer still feel connected to everyone. Despite the uncertainty hanging over us, we make terrible drawings and worse jokes, then when it's over we all stay on and chat and share stories for another hour or so.
posted by remo at 6:22 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

There have been no good video games since 1989, and I have beaten and re beaten the NES River City Ransom on an emulator 5 times since lockdown.

I'm halfway through Zelda
posted by eustatic at 6:23 PM on April 7 [7 favorites]

I don't really play videogames much but I did play a bit of The Gardens Between which is a lovely non-violent puzzle game where you get to go back and forth in time and fix your mistakes until you find the solution. Which is a lovely sort of feeling of control to have over reality these days. I should play some more of it sometime.
posted by hippybear at 6:24 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

I’ve spent an unconscionable amount of the last few weeks playing Dead Cells, Fantasy Strike, and Animal Crossing. I figure I’ve got my bases pretty much covered with those three games, heh.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:53 PM on April 7

I'm Sam Porter Bridges, and I'm rebuilding America. One zip-line at a time.

High speed delivery of essential medical supplies? I'm on it!
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:56 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

My big dumb game of choice this past month or so? Tom Clancy's The Division 2.

Weird choice for a pandemic, given that it's about a (man-made) pandemic that wipes out something like half of humanity and leaves society in ruins, but it really is pretty brainless: don't bother paying attention to the story, just shoot things, get loot, make builds, shoot things harder, rinse, repeat. If you want a tough-as-nails challenge, it's got one. If you just want a turkey shoot, it's got that too. It's so big and dumb and enjoyable (as long as you don't think about its dumb politics!) that it's managed to muscle out the big dumb game I thought I was going to play a ton of this month, Doom Eternal.

The other game I've been playing a lot of lately is not dumb, but it is big and glorious: Horizon Zero Dawn, a game I bought THREE YEARS AGO and didn't get deep into until a month ago. I can't believe I didn't play this when it came out; it's stunning. The combat is fun, I enjoy the characters, and the story is surprisingly good and INTERESTING (this is, after all, the same studio that made Big Dumb games with terrible stories, like Killzone 3).

Oh, and there's Half-Life Alyx, an action shooter that, because it's in VR, is suddenly a really intense survival horror game. I think at one point my neighbours thought I was being murdered in my apartment.
posted by chrominance at 6:57 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I started off with Stardew Valley, but for the last three weeks Satisfactory has been my go-to in the evenings. It's just a nice, slow cycle of figuring out what's under-performing, planning how to fix it, spending an hour or two connecting the bits, and then looping back to the start. It'd be a bad life choice for me under normal circumstances, but right now it's a relaxing way to unwind and stay at home. I'm halfway through Alyx and it's great, but higher stress than I want right now.
posted by Fully Completely at 7:12 PM on April 7

Oh I wanna suggest the Spyro remake. It is big - three games, each larger than the last. It is not *dumb* per se but it is told at a kid’s level. It is also full of blissfully chill music and simple controls the come together into a really pleasing experience once you get the hang of gliding around and burning sheep.

It gets harder later in each game, especially if you are being a completionist and finding every egg/dragon. But for the most part it is a relaxing chill-out platform affair, with a cartoon sensibility that means it’s fun to watch enemies hopping around.

Also they did a unique design for every single dragon you rescue in the first game’s remake, and my SO and I had a lot of fun ranking their fashion choices. Someday I will make that blog post with all the screen grabs and our snarky commentary. Someday.
posted by egypturnash at 7:21 PM on April 7

Alien: Isolation is probably neither big enough nor dumb enough to qualify, but sneaking around a spaceship is a good way to spend an afternoon. The Working Joe andies are terrifying, and they’re my current obstacle.

I wish I had the hardware and the skillz to make mods, because the version I want would be “Alien: Splendid Isolation,” in which I sit on my porch and watch a xenomorph in a Hawaiian shirt terrorize the neighborhood, and my only control is “A: Sip Drink.”
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:41 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

um. anyone else still playing Path of Exile? *slowly raises hand*
posted by hearthpig at 7:43 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

nthing DOS:2 it rules
posted by lazaruslong at 7:54 PM on April 7

I bought A Short Hike on Steam.

It is really delightful, one of my favorite games I've played in the last few years. Short and simple, but surprisingly deeper than it looks. Some of the most satisfying flying/gliding in any video game. And the writing is also surprisingly funny, sweet, and unusual. It's a happy place.
posted by straight at 8:09 PM on April 7 [2 favorites]

I also started playing The Talos Principle on my Switch. That is not a dumb game, but I like spatial puzzle games.

Then I had to stop playing for spoilery reasons.

Yeah, I get it, but what a shame because the puzzles are so very good and satisfying to complete. Just something great about hooking up a bunch of lasers just right.
And the DLC, Road to Gehenna is fantastic. I'm 1/2 way through it right now and the puzzles are similar but significantly better-designed (definitely not just harder or more tedious) than the already great puzzles in the original game.
And Road to Gehenna's story goes much different places (I'm not all the way through but so far the plot is much less topical) with a big chunk of it being a loving parody of online communities like MetaFilter.
posted by straight at 8:17 PM on April 7

MergeDragons. It's adorably cute and simple to play, but is complex enough to inspire fan-created spreadsheets and wikis. It's been my obsession for the past 18 months, but I sadly just completed most of the content in the week before the pandemic.
posted by CathyG at 9:05 PM on April 7

borderlands 1 & 3. I also have 2 & Pre-Sequel but I'm just playing 1 & 3, because that's what I can do right now.
posted by evilDoug at 9:08 PM on April 7

If you are hankering for some new PC games but don't have the cash to spend right now there are a couple of approaches:

Install Epic Game Launcher and snag their freebies every couple of weeks. I got Subnautica through them once, which is fantastic.

Keep up with Rock, Paper, Shotgun's free games tag, they publish a roundup weekly, I think.
posted by Harald74 at 9:50 PM on April 7 [3 favorites]

I can't even remember what it's like to not have toddlers.
posted by iamck at 10:03 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I've been steeping in absolute anime nonsense for the past few days, between Rune Factory 4 and Kingdom Hearts 3.
posted by storytam at 10:41 PM on April 7

um. anyone else still playing Path of Exile?

For some reason I bounce of PoE every time I try to get into it. It's not bad, lots of folks love it, but apparently it doesn't press quite the right ARPG buttons for me.

Recently I gave Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem a go because I was having my yearly-ish itch for an ARPG, and an hour in I was like "well this seems like a reasonably decent ARPG" and three hours in I was like "well this is what I'm doing for the next month or so". And then I got to the Act I boss and he kicked my ass super hard, and I tried again and he kicked my ass super hard, and I tried again and did better and beat his first AND second forms and then it turned out there was a third form that immediately and unrelentingly kicked my ass, and, well. Came back to it with a different character a day or two later, had a lovely run up to said boss, got destroyed by him again, and haven't been back. I really want to play the rest of that game but I'm not sure what that boss fight is saying about whether it wants me to be playing it.
posted by cortex at 10:49 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

I've been playing Borderlands 3 and Doom Eternal lately. I tried Sunset Overdrive last night, but it was a little TOO dumb for my taste. But it's only $10 on Steam.

Anyone playing Borderlands on PC, hit me up on Steam. Fleebnork, same as here. The Hammerlock DLC just came out and it's better than the main campaign, IMO.
posted by Fleebnork at 4:42 AM on April 8

CTRL-F yakuza
> Phrase not found

posted by Bangaioh at 5:04 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]

I tried Sunset Overdrive last night, but it was a little TOO dumb for my taste. But it's only $10 on Steam.

It does lean into a kind or ridiculousness that is often overwhelming. But the gameplay is worth it. It feels so good to just move around in that world. It satisfies a kind of over the top 90s Mountain Dew Red Splatoon type of itch. Definitely worth checking out if you want to turn off your brain.
posted by Fizz at 5:50 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]

One of my kids is a high school senior, and Minecraft has made a big comeback lately among his set, who used to play COD mostly.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:19 AM on April 8

One of my kids is a high school senior, and Minecraft has made a big comeback lately among his set, who used to play COD mostly.

I suspect it's because it's easy to just chill on a server and chat and shoot the shit on discord while you're gaming. You can relax a bit more and still keep the convo going. Minecraft lends itself well to this kind of hangout and let's just build and explore mindset. You're not worried so extensively on being sniped in the head like you would in COD.

Also, Minecraft is just awesome. :)
posted by Fizz at 6:24 AM on April 8

CTRL-F yakuza
> Phrase not found


My husband just finished playing Yakuza! Meanwhile I am playing Animal Crossing forever. Might turn Splatoon 2 back on soon, too.
posted by phatkitten at 6:44 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]

I've been going through Borderlands 3 a lot lately, and for those of you who've also been playing, I've just discovered the joys of the reworked Lob. For those of you who haven't, it's basically a shotgun you point in the direction of the guy you want to get rid of and pull the trigger. If the guy is anywhere in the general vicinity of your projectile, he goes SPLOOSH in a very satisfying way. Between the Lob and the Anarchy (another shotgun, but it gets more deadly and less accurate the more you fire it without manually reloading), it's basically playing on easy mode...and it is so cathartic I can't tell you.

Oh, and I recently "finished" Yakuza 0, by which I mean I completed the main storylines and the main sidequests of the two protagonists. I now control a large amount of Tokyo real estate and Osaka nightlife. Go, me. I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of most of the side activities, though, partly because some of them involve a lot more fine motor control than I actually have. (The dancing game especially can get in the sea.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:36 AM on April 8 [1 favorite]

This combination of increasingly immersive video games and reduced housing options because of the impending economic collapse is starting to feel very Snow Crash.
posted by mecran01 at 8:36 AM on April 8 [4 favorites]

While I have many things to feel thankful for, this seems like a good place to say that one of them is that video games are in a fantastic place to benefit people during this crisis.

In the midst of all this, they are providing comforting routines, cathartic fantasies, vicarious traveling, opportunities to connect with others, and even exercise. There are more games than ever, there is more access to them, and more people are playing them. So many people in this thread are enjoying such wildly different kinds of games that there's clearly something for everybody.

I think we'll experience a scarcity of new titles in the coming months as delays set in, but it's an opportune moment to pause and appreciate the amazing landscape of play we have before us.

Of course there are still many who don't have access to them, and many more who do not have time for them, and of course they can be consumed in an unhealthy way, but for the many who are stuck indoors trying to wait out a pandemic, there has never been a better time for video games.
posted by subocoyne at 11:36 AM on April 8

I keep starting new civ 5 games for the first fifty turns or so. It’s like a slow cooker version of a slot machine.

This is my favourite gaming thing to do and I am so tempted to download Civ again (I mean, last time I played it I got it off discs!) but scared of never working again in my life.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 2:32 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]

I highly recommend Journey (92 on metacritic).

Haha! Ok, funny I got a TON of games right before all this, some more with my amazon stock-up order, and then I've been downloading smaller/indie games off the playstation store b/c the sales are so good rt now. Like 15 new games. What have I been playing? 'Watch ALL the news' and 'is this a symptom' like everybody else. Sigh. So last night I'm all 'let's play something nice and relaxing' and I remembered I got the Journey collection with 'flower' and 'flow'. I was gonna play Journey but then I remembered from the trailer that there's a bunch of stuff where the guy has like a twin, and, considering that I have been thinking about covering the mirrors because that 'other guy' has been freaking me out, I decided to try one of the others. 'Flow' is apparently about germs swimming around in water so...nope. So ok, Flower, you play as a flower petal drifting in the wind...there's acoustic guitar and harps and shit, perfect. Oh my god it's so frustrating! There's like some combination of motion control and joysticks that's totally counterintuitive and I ended up with sore shoulders and a pain in my neck.
So I switched to a game so big and dumb I kinda feel bad about it, even here. Darksiders 3. I'm fighting hellspawn with a metal chain-whip, I have a ton of combo moves, and yes, my metal boobs are gigantic.
Before all this went down I was having great fun with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. There's all these parts where there's like giant mud pits, usually right outside of towns or tombs, that you have to slog slowly through. They're there so the computer has time to load the next area...instead of a load screen. I however, have been treating it as an opportunity to narrate 'Lara Croft's tour of her many poop holes.' "This poop hole might not be the biggest, but its definitely the deepest. Look, I'll walk around and u can see how deep it goes!" "Ok, so I know there's toilets right back there in town, but after the first time...I dunno, I just kept coming back. A lot!" "So this poop hole seeems like it's out in the middle of nowhere, but I promise you, right around the corner is this amazing burrito place."
posted by sexyrobot at 8:20 PM on April 8

(Also I have been just squatting by the poop holes and making Nggghh noises. I am mature.)
posted by sexyrobot at 8:28 PM on April 8

yes, my metal boobs are gigantic posted by sexyrobot at 21:20 on April
Well, that does seem to be right up your alley.
posted by Harald74 at 9:57 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]

It does lean into a kind or ridiculousness that is often overwhelming. But the gameplay is worth it. It feels so good to just move around in that world. It satisfies a kind of over the top 90s Mountain Dew Red Splatoon type of itch. Definitely worth checking out if you want to turn off your brain.

The movement is what caused me to quit and refund it. The fact that they bound both grinding and rolling to F, which caused me to often duck and roll instead of grinding, when the entire game is built around grinding.

Also the gameplay was far too arcade/consoley for my taste. It felt very clunky, like I was trying to control a wet sponge.
posted by Fleebnork at 4:40 AM on April 9

Animal Crossing isn't dumb, but it is big (with lots to do). I've been slowly unlocking new customization options and organizing my island.

Along with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I am recommending The Sims 4 and House Flipper. Both games that satisfy that itch to design/curate/improve/customize.
posted by Fizz at 7:32 AM on April 9

My family has been getting back into Minecraft. I'm not thrilled with the lack of modding scene on Bedrock, but the kids and I are scattered around and distancing - 1 teenager up in albany for the duration, 2 local but 50/50 custody - so having a shared game we can play on whatever tablet, phone, or PC is open really helps.

I may have gone nutty for redstone.
posted by BS Artisan at 10:41 AM on April 9

I was playing No Man's Sky for a while, but they "upgraded" it out of my interest zone. I don't want to craft and build bases and such, I want to explore and especially find and catalog species. I feel like the game left me behind.

I'm looking for something I can chill with, where no one's yelling or shooting at me. The Witness would be perfect but I've done it twice. Is there anything else out there like it? I really really just want calm and chill right now.
posted by Legomancer at 10:52 AM on April 9

Lara Croft's tour of her many poop holes.

Ah, yes, Loo Rater.
posted by cortex at 11:42 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]

Also: Farm Simulator 19. It's janky and all you can do is farm and it's very unclear how some of the equipment is supposed to work and you're gonna go horribly in debt your first couple games just trying to figure out how to manage basic farming, but once you figure that all out it's...a boring game where all you can do is farm.

It's incredibly chill. I mean, it's really genuinely boring, don't get me wrong. But it's a placid boring, a restful boring, a "literally drinking a real beer and checking my real twitter on my real phone while I drive this virtual tractor" boring.
posted by cortex at 11:45 AM on April 9

Nobody's mentioned Return of the Obra Dinn yet, which is my favorite game in recent memory due to a) old-timey nautical theme b) old-timey Macintosh aesthetic & c) being a detective game where you actually get to logic out all the detective work yourself instead of just connecting "Clue A" to "Clue B" and listening to the detective protagonist explain what they mean to you. To say more would be a spoiler, it's amazing.
posted by rifflesby at 12:27 PM on April 9 [3 favorites]

I stopped playing Darksiders3 last giant metal high heels were KILLING me. It's all the jump-slam attacks. I tried using band-aids but they kept digging into my heels anyway.
SO, I put on SotTR, changed into my bird outfit and went to the BIGGEST poop hole, where I spent about a 1/2 hr squatting and jumping around going 'Flap Flap Poop Poop! Lookatmee, Ima SH*TBIRD! Tweet tweet! Poop poop! Ppbbbttthhhtt! Pbthht!' I am already writing my speech for when I win the Nobel prize for maturity.
Then I booted up Borderlands3 but it was late and I fell asleep while wandering around the first area reading all the posters and graffiti. I'll prob go back to it later (I found a toilet I want to jump up and down on), but I'm probably going to put on NoMan'sSky VR for a bit first (when you point yr finger at the menu screen there's like a target circle that turns red when you poke yr finger in and out and wiggle it around and make moaning noises.)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:40 PM on April 9

legomancer: I still come back to nomanssky every now and then when I need some chill time flying over planets. You don't need to do any of that building stuff (I also have zero interest there), and the game has made the non-building bits better as well. I just like putting on an audiobook while flying about pretending I'm in a 70s sci-fi book cover.
posted by aspo at 12:50 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if your favorite bit is scanning all the animals, they've added procedural full descriptions of the animals (including fun stuff sometimes like what color their pee is and what they smell like), as well as all different foods for them, and the ability to farm them and ride them around...
posted by sexyrobot at 2:58 PM on April 9

My impediment to running big, dumb games is the 512 GB SSD on my MacBook that is already used by XCode and Android dev tools. I might need to run them from my big, dumb 3 TB spinning platter.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:44 PM on April 9

I was playing No Man's Sky for a while, but they "upgraded" it out of my interest zone. I don't want to craft and build bases and such, I want to explore and especially find and catalog species. I feel like the game left me behind.

It's been like a month since I played, but there has been nothing taken away from NMS in terms of exploration. That's like 90% of what I do. The other 10% involves telling frigates to go bring me things so I can fund said exploration.
posted by wierdo at 3:55 AM on April 10

I finished Doom Eternal today. It’s a new release AAA game, so not for the budget oriented, but boy is it ever BIG. The gameplay is heart pounding and the story and visuals are truly epic.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:10 PM on April 10

The Witness would be perfect but I've done it twice. Is there anything else out there like it? I really really just want calm and chill right now.

The Talos Principle (and even more so the Gehenna Principle expansion) is my 2nd favorite game in that genre after The Witness. The Witness is my favorite game of all time. Both are big but neither are dumb.

I was playing No Man's Sky for a while, but they "upgraded" it out of my interest zone. I don't want to craft and build bases and such, I want to explore and especially find and catalog species. I feel like the game left me behind.

It's been like a month since I played, but there has been nothing taken away from NMS in terms of exploration. That's like 90% of what I do. The other 10% involves telling frigates to go bring me things so I can fund said exploration.

You don't have to build bases at all in NMS if you just want to explore and catalog and name stuff. (Naming stuff is an under-rated game mechanic. I found an owlbear-ish creature on a frozen planet and named it a "Snowlbear" and felt like a genius.)

But you should definitely buy some frigates and send them out on missions. They come back with these randomly-chosen little stories of their sci-fi adventures: successes and the profits they bring you, failures and the repairs they beg you to make. They are surprisingly fun. Especially when a ship that had a bunch of failures starts to have some successes. "You tricked the pirates into an ambush, confiscated their stolen cargo, and collected a bounty for their arrest? Well done, Captain!"
posted by straight at 4:22 PM on April 10 [2 favorites]

god i just remembered i bought death stranding MONTHS AGO and then instantly forgot to play it bc overwatch continues to ruin lives
posted by poffin boffin at 5:08 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]

2nding Satisfactory from up-thread, BTW. It's got a pretty relaxed vibe, explained nicely by this guy by contrasting it with Factorio.
posted by Harald74 at 8:23 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]

It just struck me that the perfect game for these times would be the new Microsoft Flight Sim. Alas, it's not quite ready yet.
posted by Harald74 at 10:27 PM on April 11 [2 favorites]

Wow, I tried Satisfactory after watching that video, because I wanted something relaxing, and the first couple of minutes were so powerful--an alien planet! giant dinosaur-like lifeforms wandering! manta rays in the sky!--and it was all very gasp-worthy, until suddenly I was attacked by armadillo-hogs over and over and over and over. And over. Like, could not get through 30 seconds without an armored pig making a big blurry circle in front of me, and killing me. I built my first base thing, and the pig managed to kill me there, too. The graphics would glitch whenever he was close enough to hit with my space-taser, so that I couldn't aim or get in a good zap. So if I've learned nothing else during quarantine, I've learned how to request a refund from Epic.

But the reason I wanted to try Satisfactory was that I'd found Factorio too stressful. All those biters, all those machines, so much to go wrong. It was addictive, sure--the demo was great--but I don't want to constantly be stressing over details and speeds and belts at this particular time in my life!

Anyway, so The Witness was part of that recent Humble Bundle, and I tried that, and at one point I'm wandering through these bright neon pastel bushes, and their leaves are all shushing around me, and I thought I must have more of this. Not the puzzles themselves--I'm horrible at puzzles, I'm dumb and nothing makes sense--but that sense of being outside, of being in nature, wondrously strange nature--and then I re-read what folks were saying about No Man's Sky and thought, well, okay, I'm learning how to ask for refunds anyway, so if I hate it, no problem, and the Humble Store had it on sale.

And oh my god! That's what I wanted. Internalized storytelling--there's some kind of story going on, but I can leave that alone and just make up stories for what's happening, all these friendly dinosaur things, caterpillars in the sky, strange plants and these rocks with starfish--getting lost underground with a damaged analysis visor so I can't find my ship--but it's okay because it'll just take a while to wander and gather supplies for repair, and meanwhile there are all these glowing things underground to look at, and then the cave opens up and I look up and there's this vast night sky, and just ahhhh that's the stuff. Taking screenshots to show to my kids. Explaining how I accidentally rolled a dinosaur down a hill. How I managed to feed and ride one that was much too small and so it was even slower than walking. Learning the hard and terrifying way not to try to shoot a mysterious whispering egg with my laser (biological horror!!!)--a moment of real fear, and then laughing at myself for having ignored the warning signs, and dying, and respawning, and somehow that was okay in a way that the constant armadillo-hog attack had not been, and I got back to my wandering and my repairing. And then flying into space, flying... It's purest space opera dopamine, that experience.

All of which is to say, thank you for this thread!
posted by mittens at 5:16 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]

Oh, man, that's a huge bummer about that Satisfactory experience, mittens. I didn't have any kind of early hostile encounters when I played some time last year; I wonder if that's a balance change or bad luck on drop point or what. How frustrating. My experience of it had been a game where I really only ever got in a fight if I went looking for one or was doing a lot of exploring. I hope that ends up being the case for the post-early access release when I get back to it.

Also, I just looked at the post title in my Recent Activity and finally realized why I've had Bonnie Tyler's "I Need A Hero" stuck in my head even more than usual the last week and change. *shakes fist at Fizz*
posted by cortex at 8:38 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]

Also, mittens, if you're digging that experiential wander aspect of No Man's Sky you may also want to give Subnautica a go at some point. Does some very similar good environmental story telling stuff, so long as deep sea diving on limited oxygen and the occasional menacing marine megafauna aren't dealbreakers. It's not a game where you're expect to *fight* the megafauna, if that makes a difference; you'll probably catch and eat a lot of small fish, and occasional need to taser a shark-thing or punch it in the nose, but anything bigger than you you're pretty much just avoiding or running from.
posted by cortex at 8:40 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]

For real, Subnautica might be the best integration of story and open-world free-form gameplay in any game ever. It manages to combine authored plot and narrative that the player discovers in their own way with all kinds of dramatic moments that in other games would be crafted and on rails but which they've managed to set up so they just kind of (probably) happen organically in different ways in response to the player going places and doing things.

And it can be really tense and scary.

I want every open-world game designer to study Subnautica and Breath of the Wild and learn many lessons.
posted by straight at 10:39 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]

So, as it happens, I finally got into Arcanum after discovering the fast turn based mode, and played all the way through it. Big, fantasy dumb (evil banished in another dimension! Elf village on a tree! Dark elf village on a tree! Lizardmen village [not on a tree]!), and maybe not as varied in ways of solving quests, but with a very nice sense of scale for 2001, a bit of the old school Fallout sensibility and some interesting bits of writing.

Then I finished and somehow decided to start Baldur's Gate 2, which I'd mostly seen over a friend's shoulder back then. There's a message that you can play in 640 x 480 or in 800 x 600 resolution and I want to cry remembering my computer back then could barely run the first Baldur's Gate. So now I'm trying to remember two decades old D&D rules and talking to misunderstood monsters and having at least one character with two swords and worrying about beholders rather than the dread covid and it's glorious.

Basically I've turned what used to be my commuting time into desktop time. Fully recommend.
posted by ersatz at 1:27 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

Finally got myself a copy of Ni No Kuni. It seems like it'll be pretty big and dumb, and wandering around inside of a Studio Ghibli movie is pretty dang dreamy.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:28 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]

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