In the UK, we’re experiencing a new normal.
Since March, we have all experienced many different emotions. Anger, sadness, grief, anxiety… So many different emotions, but not many positive ones. Kept inside our homes due to a pandemic was obviously not in our plans for 2020, so we have had to learn quickly and adapt. Stay indoors. No travelling. Wear a mask. Work from home. Stay at home. Stay alert. These imperatives have been repeated hundreds of times each day as has the phrase, “we’re experiencing a new normal”.
Of course, coming to terms with this ‘new normal’ has been hard for different people for different reasons. For me, it has been working from home aspect. I find it incredibly difficult to be as productive as I have been known to be back in the office and I find myself browsing the Internet for the most random of things quite often. I’m sure those spreadsheets can sort themselves out, right?
What has been absolutely marvellous, however, is having a known constant in my life. This has taken the shape of turning on my laptop, logging onto Discord and Steam and simply playing games with my friends. It is something so simple, it is something I do every day anyway, regardless of whether or not there’s a pandemic happening around us, but it sure has kept me sane for the past five months or so.
A typical choice for me and my friends is Teamfight Tactics – the auto battler developed and published by Riot Games, the same developer of League of Legends. I have mentioned Teamfight Tactics (TFT) quite a lot before now, especially on Twitter, so this should be no surprise to anyone. However, because of the nature of the game, TFT has given the stimulation my brain sometimes needs whilst having some light-hearted fun with friends. Sure, I could very easily just build teams that fit the current meta but, as long as it isn’t a ranked game, I really don’t see why we can’t experiment slightly. (Saying that, I do play the same team comps a little too often…)
Despite TFT being a favourite of mine, I have also taken some time out to try and get to grips with the usual League of Legends game mode. I initially picked up the MOBA in 2017, but I was never really confident to play with my friends as much as I would like to. Now, I’m taking advantage of my friends being good at the game and having them act as my mentors. Things are going pretty smoothly so far, so perhaps I’ll be on the Rift properly soon!
My friends and I also added a few more games to our Steam libraries, thanks to Humble’s Board Game bundle towards the start of lockdown. Although it is sadly no longer available, this bundle of games allowed us to bring our enjoyment of board games to our computer screens and I have enjoyed trying to wrap my head around the rules of Splendor, Carcassonne, Love Letter and Mysterium. These are games that (except Love Letter) I had never played before, so it has been very exciting for me to be able to get to play them for the first time and I am certain that we’ll be playing more of these as time goes on.
Anime Music Quiz (AMQ) has been a constant for my friends and me for the past few years now. We have played it every so often anyway, testing our knowledge of the various openings and endings from the anime on our MALs (or AniLists), but during the lockdown, it became a bit of a tradition. From the start until very recently, a big group of us would play AMQ and come together for some banter at the same time every Friday. What made these sessions nicer was the fact that we usually formed groups of people that didn’t usually hang out or talk, so mixing them together was certainly nice for someone like me who often found themselves juggling between the groups present.
Although one of the newest games on this list, Fall Guys has certainly made its impact this year. Participating in the technical beta, I, along with my friends, had a blast playing this adorable party game version of Takeshi’s Castle. There are plenty of challenges and whilst the annoyance of falling off a ledge may cause you to rage quit, the battle pass system of unlocking new content (including some great outfits for your bean!) does make Fall Guys quite addicting.
It has also been the season for MMOs in my circle of friends. Going through our Steam libraries, we stumbled upon Kritika:REBOOT, an MMO originally released in the West in 2017 and rebooted in 2019. We hadn’t played Kritika since the reboot, so we decided to boot it up and see what it was like. It turns out that nothing had really changed (in the early game at least), but we have had fun nevertheless. Another MMO that me, my boyfriend and a few of our friends have been playing is Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO2). PSO2 was initially released in Japan eight years ago, however, 2020 has seen the popular MMO be released in the West. I am truly loving PSO2, despite not really playing it as much as I would like to. The aesthetic, the soundtrack… I just love it.
Although I’ve already covered it on AGAHA before, and despite not really playing it all too much in comparison to other games, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has definitely made an impact during the lockdown. Its release date coincided with everything happening, which made it a lot easier to cope with the initial stresses of the country being on lockdown. Never have I seen a group of my friends come together as they did for New Horizons. I’d love to see more of that. You can read more about my thoughts on New Horizons here.
Away from the typical platforms of console and PC, is a platform that I don’t see too many people talking about. I and my friends have spent hours having a blast on some mobile games. Some of their favourites include Arknights and Epic Seven, but a personal favourite of mine has been Obey Me! – an otome game featuring seven demon brothers. The gameplay is a little repetitive at times, but there’s clearly something about the game that keeps dragging me back for more. Is it the demons themselves? Maybe. But whatever it is, it’s made me sink more than fifty hours into this game. A clear favourite of mine. (If it was on Steam, it would be my second most played game…)
No matter what game we play or what platform we’ve been playing on, however, one thing remains clear: my love for video games is still there. Sure, there’s a lot of games still out there that I am yet to try out and play, in various genres and on various different platforms, but lockdown truly has reignited the love I had for games that I had when I was younger. I won’t be the best ADC, and it might take me a few tries to beat a boss, but no matter what – I am having fun. Fun that I’ve not truly experienced when it comes to gaming for years. Although COVID-19 has put a downer on everyone’s year in one way or another, ruined plans and delayed others, it has at least brought some enjoyment as well, albeit indirectly.
Have you been playing any games recently? Let me know in the comments below!
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