The 10 best and cheapest ways to play great video games while you're stuck indoors


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

  • Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, people everywhere are spending more time at home.
  • What to do with all that free time? Play great video games.
  • Here are our suggestions for the best video games to play for all types of people.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

You stuck at home? We’re stuck at home.

Now is your chance to finally, seriously, read “The Power Broker.” Or learn how to make sourdough bread from scratch!

Whenever you’re through with that stuff, and you’re getting bored, here are some killer suggestions for the best video games to play.

SEE ALSO: China’s coronavirus lockdown is economically terrible for almost everyone except delivery, news, and gaming apps

Dive into a breathtaking, massive world with “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.”

“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is one of the best games of the last 10 years, and among the best of its franchise. 

Much of the setup for “Breath of the Wild” happened 100 years in the past. The game supposes that you (Link) and Princess Zelda — the longtime heroine of the series — failed in a major battle against antagonist Ganon. Now, 100 years later, you’re trying to repair the damage from that calamitous encounter.

There’s far more to the story than that, but it’s much more exciting to discover on your own.

And discovery is at the heart of everything in “Breath of the Wild.” It’s a massive open world full of secrets waiting to be found. There are few games that feel as immersive and alive as “Breath of the Wild,” and it’s a great way to spend a few dozen hours. 

Platform(s): Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo Switch

Laugh your face off with friends and family of all ages with any/all of the “Jackbox Party Pack” game bundles.

Forget about Parcheesi — your family and friends will have much more fun with ridiculous and delightful Jackbox Games classics like “Quiplash” and, of course, “You Don’t Know Jack.”

There are so many upsides to the excellent “Jackbox Party Packs.” They come with a bunch of games in each, they’re playable with a bunch of people without any additional hardware, they’re available on every platform, and they’re a ton of fun.

Each pack contains a handful of different games, and each game is its own board game. Some are focused on trivia while others are closer to Mad Libs or Pictionary. The games are universally clever, easy to learn, and very replayable.

More than anything else on this list, the “Jackbox” games are accessible for anyone — whether you’ve played lots of video games or never held a controller in your life. 

Platform(s): Pretty much everything, including every game console, computer platform, and most set-top boxes. 

Chill with “Stardew Valley.” Just chill.

“The best way to describe the game, as a whole, is ‘charming,'” my coworker, Matt Weinberger, wrote in a 2018 love letter to “Stardew Valley.”

“There’s no real pressure,” he wrote. Simply put, “Stardew Valley” is a very chill game. And in these trying times, couldn’t you use a chill game? 

Here’s how Matt described the game:

“You are a city-slicker who inherits his late grandfather’s dilapidated farm. It’s up to you to plant crops, break rocks, chop wood, and cut grass to restore the farm to its former glory. And as your farming prowess grows, so too will your relationship with your neighbors in the town of Stardew Valley, the game’s namesake. If you ever played the classic Super Nintendo title ‘Harvest Moon,’ the game’s inspiration, you know what to expect.”

Better still: Since launching back in 2016, the game has gotten a string of substantial, free updates that added major features like online multiplayer.

Instead of refreshing Twitter, why not water some crops and tend to some chickens? Now is the perfect time for some self care.

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, iOS, Android

Master battle royale games: “Fortnite,” “Apex Legends,” and “Call of Duty: Warzone” are all free — and very good.

Between “Fortnite,” “Apex Legends,” and “Call of Duty: Warzone,” there is a ton of fun to be had for zero dollars.

Each of these games belongs to the very zeitgeisty battle royale game genre, which derived its name from the movie of the same name in which a group of high schoolers fight to the death on an island. 

It can be intimidating at first, but the genre rewards mastery — and if you’ve got a lot of time inside, why not spend it becoming a battle royale master?

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, iOS, Android

Rediscover your childhood with the Nintendo Switch Online retro games from NES and Super NES.

Nintendo Switch Online is Nintendo’s version of PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold — in order to play games online, you must pay for a subscription. 

That unto itself isn’t very exciting, but the library of retro games that comes with the Nintendo Switch Online subscription certainly is! For $20/year, Nintendo offers a library of over 60 classic games from the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

The list includes several major “Super Mario Bros.” games, several major “The Legend of Zelda” games, and dozens of other classics — from “River City Ransom” to “Pilotwings.”

Nintendo Switch Online is, frankly, a tremendous bargain for what you’re getting: Literally dozens of Nintendo classics across 2 classic game consoles. Those games also come with modern amenities, like save states that allow you to stop games anywhere you want and jump back in exactly where you left off.

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

Or play some of the best new games with the huge instant library of Xbox Game Pass.

Maybe you’re not into the retro thing, and you’re looking to play stuff like “Grand Theft Auto 5” and “The Witcher 3”? A slightly pricier, but similarly excellent option exists in Xbox Game Pass.

For $10/month, Xbox Game Pass provides access to a library of over 100 games. Every new game that Microsoft publishes, from “Forza” to “Halo,” is available through Game Pass at launch, in addition to a wide library of major third-party games, like the aforementioned “Grand Theft Auto 5” and “The Witcher 3.” It also features replayable stuff like “NBA 2K20” and “Tekken 7.”

If you own an Xbox, there are few better deals to be found in gaming — and if you’re looking for a library of games to play while passing the time indoors, look no further than Game Pass.

Platform(s): Xbox One, PC

Play all the huge PlayStation 4 exclusives you haven’t yet, from “Marvel’s Spider-Man” to “God of War” and “The Last of Us.”

There are too many good games on the PlayStation 4. If you’re one of the more than 100 million PS4 owners, it’s hard to know where to start.

You’ve no doubt missed or forgotten some of this generation’s biggest first-party games — games that can only be played on Sony’s PlayStation 4. 

  • “Marvel’s Spider-Man” manages to tell a story and evoke the feeling of a high-budget Marvel superhero film — except you get to play it.
  • “God of War” is an impressive, gorgeous action game with a surprising depth to its characters.
  • “The Last of Us” takes the endlessly retread trope of the zombie apocalypse and uses it to stunningly emotional ends in a game that helps to move the entire genre forward.
  • “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” is essentially the video game version of “Indiana Jones,” as you trot around the globe avoiding bad guys and stealing long-hidden treasures.
  • “The Last Guardian” is a subtly told story of friendship and adventure that’s more reminiscent of a Miyazaki animated film than a video game. 
  • “Bloodborne” is a gorgeous, gruesome, tremendously challenging 3rd-person action game that rewards persistence above all else.
  • “Horizon Zero Dawn” is an innovative, immersive, simply massive open-world game that features hulking metal dinosaurs and a soaring storyline that sets up a huge upcoming franchise.

Platform(s): PlayStation 4

Retain some sense of social activity with “World of Warcraft Classic.”

Being stuck indoors can be isolating, but games like “World of Warcraft” can help with that.

Back before “Fortnite” and Facebook and smartphones, people were grouping up in the millions in a virtual world named Azeroth. “World of Warcraft” is the Ur text of so-called “MMORPGs” — massive multiplayer online role-playing games where players took on virtual adventures together. 

Sure, you’re killing 10 rats/snakes/etc., but what really matters is the friends you made along the way, right?

Platform(s): PC, Mac

Embrace your inner deity while clearing lines in the best “Tetris” game ever made, “Tetris Effect.”

“Tetris Effect” takes a foundational game (“Tetris”), executes it perfectly, and crucially evolves the concept into something completely fresh.

The foundation of “Tetris Effect” is still focused on creating and clearing lines from the play field as new blocks are randomly generated from the top. There is no major shift or evolution in this respect — “Tetris Effect” is, at its core, a “Tetris” game. 

The game’s title sounds like a psychological phenomenon — and it is, in fact, exactly that: where players start “seeing” the patterns of “Tetris” in the world or in their mind as they drift off to sleep. “Tetris Effect,” the game, takes that and twists it back on itself. 

During gameplay, a synaesthetic journey takes place in the background. With each twist of the “Tetris” block (“tetronimo”) and lateral movement, the game’s music responds in turn. While this auditory collaboration occurs, the game’s background visuals take players on a journey through space, or the oceans, or across a vast desert.

It’s surreal, beautiful, intense — and it’s much more than a parlor trick.

Beyond offering an additional audio/visual component, these synaesthetic effects serve to further imprint the game’s seemingly simplistic gameplay into consciousness. It deepens an already flow-like experience. 

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PC

Hit the trail with the slow-pourin’ “Red Dead Redemption 2.”

On its surface, “Red Dead Redemption 2” is a cowboy game about six-shooters, robberies, and living outside the law. It’s a Western-styled shooting game with a big open world. The game’s advertising tagline says it all: “Outlaws for life.”

Rockstar’s fictionalized 1899 America is a gorgeous, deep, surprisingly slow-paced experience that focuses on one man’s journey of self-realization.

“Outlaws for life” sounds like a battle cry, but in “Red Dead Redemption 2” it’s actually a desperate attempt to hold together a lifestyle that’s rapidly becoming untenable.

“Red Dead Redemption 2” is also an absolutely massive journey of a game — the “There Will Be Blood” of video games, that demands as large an intellectual investment as it does time. If there’s a better time to dive into such an endeavor than right now, while stuck indoors, I don’t know it.

Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC