Summer has arrived, and while the opportunity to relax outside is tempting indeed, it sure does seem like the perfect chance to spend some quality time playing video games! I’m talking like the epitome of a gamer here, but moments like that can be so difficult to come by while the academic year draws to a close. Unfortunately though, when it finally gets to the summer, deciding what to play can be its own problem.
Before the recent battle royale bandwagon, the trend for much of this console generation has been about games centred around open world expanses. These often contain hundreds of hours of content, and while many people look towards these in pursuit of good value, I instead look on in terror. After all, it’s never fun to sink a weekend into a game only to scratch the surface of its content and then come back weeks or months later without a clue of how to progress. No, a game five to ten hours in length is a mercy, and it’s these smaller experiences that are perfect for the busy months of university. As bitesize experiences, they can be done and dusted in a couple of evenings, while the open world behemoths are best saved for the summer months.
Unfortunately, this just results in one manifestation of the dreaded backlog, which brings me to my first summer strategy: work through that backlog! Have a gander, pick out a few games that you’ve really wanted to get to during the year and make sure you’re done with them by the time university rolls back around. Take that summer freedom, go through the long list of games that have slipped through the cracks, and you’ll be sure to have found some gems at the end of it all.
But maybe you’re hoping to keep summer social. Online games are great for this - the combo of reconnecting with friends and the endlessly replayable content of the games themselves have already claimed many hours of my free time. A good choice for this summer is Overwatch, with the seasonal events bringing fresh content to the package, while the core game itself has something for everyone.
If you’re in the lucky position to not have much of a backlog but are looking for something besides a pool to sink into over the summer, I recommend having a look over the past couple of years of big game releases. Resident Evil 2 Remake and Marvel’s Spider-Man are two seriously impressive modern reimaginings of classic game formulas - great if you’re needing something to get back into gaming after a long time away.
Each generation of consoles brings with it another trend that has developers falling head over heels to meet. The trusty mascot platformer was a clear example of this for a long time, spanning all the way into the catalogues of PlayStation 2, Xbox and Gamecube. The massive open worlds and battle royales are just the latest in that list, but the backlog always remains, as do the long summer hours ready to spend gaming. What more do you really need for a good break?