Video games are a unique form of media. Compared to reading, watching movies, or enjoying arts and crafts when you’re at home alone, video games are unique in cultivating a strong and satisfying sense of community. Not only that, but video games can offer a community for both kinds of gamers: the single players and the online multiplayers.
There’s no denying that, when relaxing at home, watching an anime or reading a novel can help you feel far less alone, surrounded as you are in this fictional world with a band of colorful characters who make you feel like you’re out on an adventure with them. But the interactivity of video games brings you an extra step closer to a feeling of real community. You’re walking in one of these characters’ shoes, walking alongside these fictional friends, journeying, talking, and making progress together.
As for online multiplayer, these games provide perhaps the single best way to spend time with real friends and a real community from the safety of your own home. Unlike people who watch a movie together over Zoom or catch up with scheduled chats, online multiplayer games give you a purpose. You’re all there for the same reason, with a shared goal in mind. You’re there to accomplish something together; you’re on a mission, you’re competing, you’re engaged on a deep and meaningful level.
Here are five multiplayer and six single player games that each offer a sense of community from home — for times when you can’t (or rather won’t) leave the house.
Online Multiplayer Games
Some of these online multiplayer games are competitive, others are co-operative. All offer endless hours of online community fun for all players.
1. Monster Hunter World
The Monster Hunter franchise is king in Japan, but it has gently seeped into the rest of the world as well. Monster Hunter World (and its expansion, Iceborne) drops players into an expansive and richly detailed world where the aim of the game is hunting and slaying enormous, gorgeously designed creatures across a varied and beautiful landscape. As you grow stronger and forge better weapons and armor, you can go offer bigger and tougher prey as part of a community of like-minded monster hunters.
2. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Considered by gamers across the globe to be the pinnacle of massively multiplayer role-playing in 2020, Final Fantasy XIV saw a rocky first few years before relaunching as A Realm Reborn. As it exists today, the game is cherished and celebrated by players everywhere. This is a MMORPG that offers hundreds of hours of online play as part of a dense and kind community of players who set out on quests, build their characters and their guilds, and explore this expansive world as they go. Few games offer as much freedom, time, and scale as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
3. Splatoon 2
This competitive online game from Nintendo is a favorite amongst Switch owners. While many first-party Nintendo Switch games offer a fun and engaging single-player experience, Splatoon 2 remains the go-to competitive multiplayer game for Nintendo fans. Splatoon 2 gives players a bright, bold, colorful, world of hectic gunplay and precision movement. In true Nintendo fashion, however, this is not a game of blood and gore, but of paint and strangeness. Players take control of an Inkling: a boy or girl who is sometimes human, sometimes a squid. Armed with a paint gun and the power to shapeshift, you must own the battlefield in a ferocious explosion of color across multiple modes and arenas.
This is the one that transformed the gaming landscape forever. Minecraft is available on every video game system available, and follows the same ethos as a tub of LEGOs: build whatever you want. There is no limit to the amount of time you can spend on Minecraft, either alone or with other players. You only stop when your imagination dries up. The tools are simple and the objectives are set by you and your friends. This is an endless world of building. Even beyond the game itself, players can get lost on YouTube and Twitch, watching other players build seemingly impossible monuments, buildings, and entire cities. Minecraft never ends, and the community is as expansive as the game itself.
Fortnite is, without a doubt, the most popular video game in the world right now. While it didn’t invent the “battle royale” genre, it certainly perfected it. What allowed the game to take over the world was its ease of entry for new players, its bright and vibrant aesthetics, and its wicked sense of humor. Fortnite works like this: your character is dropped into a map, weaponless, and must quickly scavenge for weapons and supplies before hiding, stalking, and taking out other players until one winner remains. A familiar premise to anyone who has seen or read Battle Royale or The Hunger Games. Despite a simple premise, the game’s color and charm offer endless fun and the enormous community means enormous amounts of excitement and variety from match to match.
Immersive Single-Player Games
Every one of these games offers dozens of hours of immersive single-player narrative gameplay, where you can feel like part of a world and a group even while playing alone.
1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
This is a unique new game that bridges the gap between online multiplayer and immersive single player nicely. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the newest in a series of cult-favorite Nintendo games in which your only real goal is to build a community of fun and friendly neighbors to spend time with. In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you move to an island paradise with the aim of transforming it into a flourishing, colorful town. You spend your days fishing, catching bugs, chatting with friends, shopping, and redesigning your home, your wardrobe, and even the island itself. You can also hook up with real friends online to visit each other’s islands; there, you can chat, trade, and be inspired by how they have chosen to design and build their home. The game moves forward in real time, meaning it has years of potential life, with you logging in every day to check on your islanders, go shopping, fill the museum, and explore.
2. Persona 5
It’s not often that a new game comes along to join the great pantheon of revolutionary JRPGs. But in 2017, Persona 5 released to monumental applause and was immediately placed alongside beloved favorites like Final Fantasy VII, Chrono Trigger, and Xenoblade Chronicles. This enormous 100+ hour role-playing game is part life simulator, part dungeon crawler. What ties these two halves together is the game’s beloved cast of characters: the Phantom Thieves. You play as Joker, one of a group of high schoolers who are on a mission to rewrite the hearts of corrupt people in positions of power. The game oozes style and offers one of the best friendship-based narratives ever written in the world of video games.
3. Red Dead Redemption 2
One of the most ambitious and beautifully realized video games ever made, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game of intense immersion, in which you embody a man at the end of a culture. The cowboys and outlaws of the Wild West are a dying breed, and you fill the shoes of Arthur Morgan, a man of the Van der Linde gang. You ride horses, steal from the rich, help strangers, kill rival gang members, and quietly complete chores around your camp. The art, design, animation, sound, plotting writing, and voice acting all come together to make for an enormous and enthralling journey. These gang members become your family as you play; you care for them, hate them, love them, fight with them, change how you see them. This is an astonishing piece of writing, and a wonderful world to live in.
4. Dragon Quest XI
One of the best-loved JRPG franchises in Japan, Dragon Quest, erupted in popularity overseas with Dragon Quest VIII on the PS2, and now again with Dragon Quest XI on the PS4 and Nintendo Switch. With character and world design by the legendary Akira Toriyama, an unparalleled musical score, and gorgeous animation, this game offers a vibrant landscape begging to be explored and enjoyed as you embody the Luminary (chosen one) on a quest to save the world. Your band of misfits are a charming bunch, to say the least, and the sheer beauty of this game will keep you tied to your chair for a hundred and more hours.
5. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
One of the best RPGs on Switch is part of another beloved franchise in Japan. The latest entry in the tactics-heavy Fire Emblem series, Three Houses, is a game with clear similarities to Persona 5, as you take on the role of a teacher with a diverse group of students to teach and fight alongside. The game is split between your time at school, training students in the way of tactics and combat, and your time on the battlefield, helping them perfect what they have learned in real combat. You choose between three different houses (as the name suggests), and each one has a huge cast of characters with unique personalities, goals, and problems to overcome. This means that an already massive RPG can be enjoyed three times, each run offering a unique experience.
6. Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition
The newly-released and much-demanded remaster of Xenoblade Chronicles offers players dozens of hours of adventuring, questing, and battling. Originally on the Nintendo Wii, this game is now available on the Switch, remastered beautifully. Set atop the body of a long-dead titan, you play as Shulk, a young man who can wield a unique sword called the Monado. Shulk and friends head out on a journey of revenge, after their human town is attacked by the enemy Mechon: a race of machines whose only goal seems to be wiping out the human species. The vast and open world of Xenoblade Chronicles, matched by the game’s incredible soundtrack and wonderful character writing, is what makes it such a pleasure to spend a hundred hours and change in. Adventure far and wide from the comfort of your own home.
What game would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.