Looking at six to eight weeks of isolation during the quarantine for COVID-19 (Coronavirus) can be daunting, but fortunately there's a silver lining: those of us who are locked inside and free from social and work obligations now have quite a lot of time on our hands. Luckily, there are more than a few great games out there to pass the time that have never been more topical! Here's a list of the best contagion-, virus-, and pandemic-based games available right now to help you while away the hours. These are in no particular order, so pick one that looks good to you!
A Plague Tale: Innocence
A Plague Tale: Innocence was a surprising hit last year, proving that the cinematic, story-driven games still have a place in the industry even when they're not made by Naughty Dog. This slow-burning narrative is full of intrigue, twists, hard-hitting realism, and heartbreaking losses. The characters are well-crafted and have definitive goals that they give everything to achieve, all during the dismal years of the Black Plague. Somewhere between a walking simulator and a puzzle game, A Plague Tale finds a home telling a compelling story about not just surviving the worst pandemic in history, but learning to live in it.
Tom Clancy's The Division 2
Tom Clancy's The Division 2 had a quiet launch last year, and while it achieved critical acclaim, it didn't meet Ubisoft's sales expectations. In a world of a thousand multiplayer military shooters, what sets The Division 2 apart from the herd is the gorgeous landscapes of post-apocalyptic D.C., the precise gun play, and some of the sharpest AI we've ever seen. The story of Washington D.C. struggling to stay above water amidst an unprecedented plague ends up being nothing to write home about, but if you and a few friends want to lock in for some intense multiplayer and enjoy the steady stream of free updates since launch, there's never been a better time to jump in.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows
If you're willing to jump back a generation or two, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is a surprisingly solid brawler about the Symbiote (a la Venom) attempting to infect all of humanity. The contagion spreads like a literal plague, hopping from one person to the next, and it's all the Peter Parker can do to just try and contain it to New York City. You'll team up with a whole host of other Marvel characters, such as Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Wolverine, to stop Venom and destroy the Symbiote once and for all.
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is only available currently as a physical disc, but it released for PC, Nintendo Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360. Some finagling may be required to run it on Windows 10, but it's worth it if you're hungering for more Spider-Man after completing Insomniac's PS4 masterpiece.
In Bloodborne, an unstoppable blood-borne pathogen is infecting a Lovecraftian version of London, where vampires, werewolves, and Eldritch Abominations stalk the dark and disgusting streets. Setting a new high for sheer atmosphere, Bloodborne was an unprecedented hit for From Software, creators of Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and won more than a few Game of the Year awards. Become the Hunter and shoot, stab, and blast your way thorough a nightmare to discover the source of the plague in what is perhaps the hardest game of all time. If you're going to be stuck in your home for a month, might as well master something.
Bloodborne is available on PS4.
I'll be the first to concede that the graphics of Fallout 3 have not aged well. However, if you don't mind slightly clunky gunplay, the story absolutely holds up. If you're unfamiliar with the Fallout franchise, it takes place in an alternate universe where a resource war between the Chinese and the U.S. ended in a total nuclear apocalypse, releasing the FEV (Forced Evolutionary Virus) from the mysterious Institute and creating a veritable hellscape of mutated monsters. Over 100 years in the future, the Lone Wanderer emerges from the safety of the underground vaults into the open-world Wasteland to stop a powerful organization from infecting the water supply with the FEV and finishing off what's left of humanity. Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4 are both excellent games as well (for very different reasons) but don't really involve a pandemic. Fallout 3 is a must-play classic.
Resident Evil 2
Calling Resident Evil 2 (2019) a remake is almost a disservice to the love and care that was so obviously put into this game. The unstoppable G-Virus escapes containment at the much-maligned Umbrella Corporation, and before long the virus infects all of Raccoon City. People afflicted by the G-Virus generally become zombies, but many of them become something much worse. Ivies, Lickers, and BOWs created by rampant strains of this uncontrollable pandemic stalk the streets and sewers of the city as college student Claire Redfield and rookie cop Leon Kennedy race to the Umbrella Labs in the hopes of finding a cure. Resident Evil 2 manages to walk a very thin tightrope between telling an emotional, compelling story and scaring grown adults to tears. Look out for Mr. X... he's always watching.
Resident Evil 2 is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure
If you like simple puzzle games, Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure is as solid as any of them. Dr. Mario and Dr. Luigi team up to fight the viral infection that's slowly taking over the Mushroom Kingdom! It's a pretty simple match-3 formula, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun. I personally recommend this if, like me, you like to have something to do with your hands while watching Netflix or listening to a podcast. Ironically, this game about being a doctor doesn't use too much brainpower, so give it a try! It's only $10. Alternatively, Dr. Mario World is available for iOS and Android for the low, low price of $0—but you get what you pay for with that one.
Dr. Mario: Miracle Cure is available for Nintendo 3DS on the eShop.
The original Dishonored is a fantastic game, but its successor manages to outdo it in every way. In the Mediterranean whalepunk Kingdom of Serkonos (stay with me), the rightful empress Emily Kaldwin is usurped by her long-lost aunt. Thrown out on the streets and marked as a traitor, she makes a deal with the literal devil to gain superpowers and take revenge on those who have wronged her and captured her father. The world is beautifully built, somehow mixing the sunny streets of a coastal town in Greece with a demonic rat plague that has taken over the Kingdom. Use stealth, assassinate enemies, and shadow-walk your way through the corpse-riddled alleys to rescue your father, kill the usurper, and end the plague once and for all.
Vampyr is a a third-person action-adventure game about a newly formed vampire trying to solve the mystery of his own making in 1912 London. That's right, square in the middle of the Spanish Flu, the last true plague we've seen on earth. Vampyr is from the makers of Life is Strange, and you'll see they share some of the same strengths. Whatever Vampyr lacks in combat and actual vampire-ing, it makes up for with the most intricate dialogue trees and character relationship webs that we've seen in years. If you're looking for a good RPG with excellent dialogue and writing to sink your teeth into, look no further.
Two Point Hospital
Two Point Hospital is a fun indie management game that doesn't try to take itself too seriously. You'll build up a hospital in the midst of a growing pandemic to ensure that everyone is taken care of, everything is going smoothly, and that your hospital is actually making money. Two Point Hospital is more about having fun than the actual stresses of running a hospital, so grab this one if you're ready to think about something less depressing and laugh a little bit along the way.
Where else could we have ended but with Plague Inc.? In this global pandemic simulator, you play as the virus that is attempting to wipe out the entire world. Utilize points in your skill tree by infecting large areas and attempt to stay alive as the foolish humans slowly realize what's happening much too late to stop you. Plague Inc. runs on proven models of infection spread, so run your own simulations on any disease you like (including the coronavirus, if you're moribdly curious). Make sure the humans never learn to wash their hands, and you might just wipe out every last one of them.
Plague Inc. is available for Android, iOS, PC, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4, so you really have no excuse not to play it (unless you're in China).
Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments! On a more serious note, stay safe, follow the instructions of medical professionals, and wash your damn hands. Enjoy!