Ignore the relentless cheer and get lost in a game-world
Ahh, it’s the most wonderful time of the year… Wait, no it isn’t! It’s full of long-lost relatives emerging from the woodwork, rampant social awkwardness and the kind of gift buying culture that will drive you bankrupt before Christmas Day rolls around.
No, you need a getaway. A virtual gateway of escapism that will help you sidestep the uncomfortable aspects of the festive period and embrace a brave new world.
Here at techrear Towers, we love all kinds of games, but we really like the ones that offer worlds and universes rich and Narnia-like in their depth. And with so many games out there across a smorgasbord of platforms, it’s easy to lose sight of the wheat through all that pesky chaff.
Well, worry no more. We bring you ten of the most rewarding, absorbing experiences available right now, with stories, characters and settings that will burn through those hard-earned days and weeks off like wildfire.
Platform: PS4 / Xbox One / PC / PS3 / Xbox 360
A basketball game? Immersion? Yes! And yes!
Developer Visual Concepts has slowly been building one of the most comprehensive sports simulators in the industry, with the kind of physics and gameplay you can pick up and play with almost no concept of the sport.
Around that core, NBA 2K16 offers a bizarre yet engrossing story mode directed by Spike Lee, the endless 3V3 PVP of MyCourt and the ever stellar MyCareer mode. It’s one of the most robust RPGs out there, and one that trades tunics and orcs for jerseys and layups.
Platform: PC / PS4
If you’re looking to lose yourself in a new world that’ll sink its anthropomorphic claws in deep, then Armello is the destination for you. Like a wonderful cross between the Redwall novels and Games Of Thrones, this digital board game combines the dice-rolling fundamentals of a tabletop game and adds in the real-time elements of a regular RPG.
Raid dungeons, hunt other players on the board and carve your way towards the throne occupied by a king who’s slowly losing his mind.
Platforms: Xbox One / PS4 / Xbox 360 / PS3
Much like NBA 2K16, the latest addition to the WWE simulation brand is the best one in years. A pro wrestling game might appear shallow on the surface, but WWE 2K16 is one of the year’s best RPGs wrapped in spandex and body oil.
Apart from the awesome fun of Stone Cold Stunner-ing fools as Steve Austin in the Showcase mode, the MyCareer mode (built upon the deep and rewarding model used in its NBA sibling) offers every nuance of wrestling culture – rivalries, match star ratings, run-ins and more.
Few games demand time, effort and a large quantity of swear words like the works of auteur Hidetaka Miyazaki. Following the same principles of his Souls series (give you a weapon, make you feel big, then beat your to bloody bits, over and over again), Bloodborne makes the experience slightly more palatable for new players/fresh meat (including more powerful weapons and the ability to regain health if struck by an enemy) and wraps it in a Gothic shroud so beautifully tragic you’ll be kissing your TV while gently weeping.
Paper Jam Bros
The red-capped wonder himself has been making inroads into the often impenetrable world of RPGs for years, and result is some of Nintendo’s most rewarding and immersive experiences.
Paper Jam Bros is no wannabe, either – yes, it looks cute, but beneath that sugar coating is a rich and rewarding world as addictive as any RPG on the market. Prepare to sink into the sofa forever if you fire this one up on your Nintendo 3DS.
Need For Speed
Platform: Xbox One / PS4 / PC
Forza Horizon 2 might have the open-world driving schtick down to a ‘tee’, but there’s something incredibly moreish about Ghost Games’ mildly flawed street racer.
Much in the same way that The Crew became an addictive destroyer of free time, NFS wears its arcade aspirations like a proud badge from teacher and makes for a rewarding time sink. Switching between races, drifts and sprints is a joy and few open-worlds look as good as this one.
Platform: PC / Xbox One
You want more immersive? You want a world that will suck you in like a ravenous black hole? Elite: Dangerous is an entire universe just waiting to be explored. For those that want a proper recreation of hard science fiction, Elite: Dangerous offers a kind of freedom so broad and so dense it’s almost overwhelming.
Become a trader, a pirate and more with a ship that will soon become your closest companion in the dark depths of space.
Platform: Xbox One
When it comes to sheer content, few packages can hold a torch to the glorious celebration of Rare’s career highlights (okay it doesn’t have Donkey Kong Country or Goldeneye 007, but Nintendo has those so stop your belly aching). It packs 30 whole games into one package with a meaty 4,000 gamerpoints up for grabs.
From Banjo to Viva Pinata, Rare Replay is the very definition of diversity.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
Platform: PS4 / PC / Xbox One
Few genres are as demanding as the MMO – and Tamriel Unlimited is no exception. With its monthly subscription scrapped earlier this year, the massively multiplayer online take on the world of The Elder Scrolls is vast as it is ambitious.
If you even had a passing fancy for Skyrim, Tamriel Unlimited will draw you in and drink you dry with its rich storytelling and PvE/PvP gameplay. Play solo or party up with friends – either way you’ll be hooked in minutes and lost for days.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Platform: PC / Xbox One / PS4
As if we would feature a list all about searching for the time sinkiest of time sinks and not doff our proverbial caps to the king of life consumption that is The Witcher 3.
CD Projekt RED has created a world so deep and nuanced, you’ll find yourself roaming its towns and countrysides in a perpetual state of enchantment. Its combat demands focus, its prerequisites moral fortitude and as for the in-game card game Gwent? Well, let’s just say it’s a bottomless pit you’ll tumble down smiling.
If you still haven’t played it through you owe it to your gaming heart to get involved.