Video game trends reflect quarantine phases

The desire to escape to another world has always existed, but ever since the pandemic took over the world earlier this year, that desire has only been amplified. Thankfully, there is something that allows us to indulge that escapism, something that COVID-19 hasn’t been able to ruin: video games. From first-person-shooters (FPS) to role-playing games (RPGs), video games in all sorts of genres have brought many of us comfort, excitement and entertainment during these troublesome times. As 2020 nears its close and the pandemic is seemingly nowhere near its end, these video games should be appreciated for easing the quarantine experience. 

2020
Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released on March 20, just as the stay-at-home order was first issued. Adults started to work from home, students started to see their schools shut down, and naturally, people started to miss their regular, routine lives. New Horizons offered an opportunity to take control once again—and an escape to a virtual private island.

Just like the other games in the Animal Crossing series, New Horizons was designed with open-endedness as its main focus. There is no story and no objective to follow, so players are free to decorate, fish, garden, collect, or anything in between as they please. The game also allows players to socialize with other players, whether it be visiting each other’s islands or trading materials or simply watching the sunset together (in real time!). 

While the world adjusted to being confined at home, it’s no surprise that the idyllic life and endless possibilities of New Horizons were very alluring. And as the pandemic continues to dictate our lives, it’s likely that this virtual paradise will continue to be a welcome distraction. 

Fun Fact: You can visit presidential candidate Joe Biden’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons island, “Biden HQ,” with the code DA-7286-5710-7478. 

Valorant

The release of Valorant on June 2 was one of the most anticipated for FPS fans, and as the pandemic seemed to get in the way of every enjoyable pastime, it was a source of excitement for video-gamers. 

Valorant has a similar premise to 1999 shooter game Counter-Strike, making it fairly easy for new players to understand. The game is team-based, meaning players can coordinate strategies and carry out plans. Leading up to its release, Valorant also went through an elaborate promotional stage where streamers and entertainers played the game for others to view. 

During a time when most traditional sports weren’t able to be played or broadcasted, fast-paced shooter games were a convenient alternative for a similar thrill of competition. And during the summer season that’s normally full of friends and fun, Valorant offered an opportunity to either try something new or connect with others. Even though FPS games aren’t suitable for everyone, Valorant provided a fresh adventure for many while its popularity lasted. 

Fun Fact: Despite Valorant’s initial success, its lack of an official esports league has prevented it from overtaking rival shooter games like Overwatch

Among Us

Among Us has been one of the most popular video games of 2020, being played by regular-gamers and new-gamers alike since August. 

Although the game was released more than two years ago, in June 2018, its sudden wave of popularity this year is unsurprising. The pandemic has understandably intensified the need for fun party games—Among Us, with its recognizable concept, was one of the best games to fulfill this need. 

In a space-themed world where 1-2 people in the group are secretly alien parasites (“impostors”), innocent players (“crewmates”) must either complete tasks to win or deduce who the impostors are before they are killed or outnumbered. Many players have devised creative strategies for either catching the impostors or killing without suspicion. Collaboration and teamwork are essential in Among Us, and players often get together in voice calls to discuss (or deceive) more effectively.

Pressure from the pandemic is ever-so-suffocating, but Among Us is always an entertaining way to spend time with friends while socially-distanced. It’s also just nice sometimes to follow a simple set of tasks instead of navigating the often complicated mess that is real life. 

Fun Fact: The developer team of Among Us was working on a sequel, Among Us 2, but decided to postpone it and add more content to the original game instead after its recent popularity surge.

Genshin Impact

The world of Genshin Impact is another one that has served as a much-needed getaway during the global lockdown. Ever since it was released on Sept. 28, the action-RPG has attracted players all over the world and many different gaming platforms. 

Genshin Impact features an open-world map to freely explore, quests and storylines to complete, dungeons to conquer, and a variety of characters and weapons to unlock. The game takes place in a fictional land called Teyvat, and includes extremely detailed lore about gods, alchemy, national rivalries, and much more. The non-player characters (NPCs) also all have unique life stories that the player can learn about by talking to them. 

The real world can be disappointing lately, so it’s easy to see the appeal of an intricate virtual universe. Fortunately, Genshin Impact is designed to be played over a long period of time, like most other RPGs, so players should have no shortage of things to do if they ever feel like escaping the real world for a while. 

Fun Fact: Genshin Impact was the largest global launch of a Chinese game in history, surpassing 10 million pre-registrations on the day of its release.