Hey SoCal! So, you’ve seen your buddy boot up his video game console or computer and start to think, “Wow, that geek stuff looks pretty fun. I want in!” But hold on. Where do you start? What do you buy? What does “pwned” mean?
Well firstly, it’s ancient gamer speak that no one uses anymore. So, don’t worry about that. Secondly, even seasoned gamers are stuck trying to figure out what to play sometimes. Crazy right?
It’s mainly due to just how massive gaming is these days. There are thousands of genres and platforms that you might feel the need to just buy them all. That can get to you easily with so many choices.
Well, put your wallet down and pay attention! As part of this month’s Hey GeekCal series, we’ve compiled this a handy dandy primer to help you. By the end of this list, your brand-new gamer soul should be begging to be released.
And for some IRL SoCal geekery, check our Hey GeekCal Summer Geek Guide.
Some of gaming’s finest for the rookies
- DOOM (2016)
“DOOM” is a granddad game that comes around every now and then to show the younger generation how it’s done.
The 2016 remake is probably one of the best remakes in all of gaming. You have the kinetic, brutal gameplay that made the 1993 shooter famous, with a modern twist.
Enemies swarm you, and once the killer heavy metal soundtrack kicks in, you’re all of a sudden in a state of flow that’s hard to rival. It’s almost zen how the entire game brings all of its mechanics together to create an experience, unlike any other shooter.
Feel like blowing off some steam? Start up DOOM. It’s the best stress reliever around. Grab your controller and enter shooter nirvana.
PC, Xbox One/Series X, PS4/5, Nintendo Switch (Single Player, Multiplayer)
There’s a reason why Fortnite is so huge. It’s a fun, goofy game where you duke it out against other players with PG-13 guns. Plus, what other game lets you pit gaming legends such as Master Chief against pop culture monoliths like Darth Vader?
Epic Games has pulled tons of strings and dropped a ton of cash to let gamers play as their favorite pop culture icons. When you get a group of friends to join you, all bets are off. You’re dropping in and having a good time.
PC, Xbox One/Series X, PS4/5, Nintendo Switch (Multiplayer)
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Fighting games are infamous for being a genre that requires time to master button inputs, unique systems, and characters that each feel different to play. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is probably the best gateway into fighting games with an easy-to-learn, hard-to-master style of game that’s great fun.
Even when you’re getting kicked off the stage for the billionth time in a row, the salt inside you is just gonna make you get good. To top it all off, you have a massive roster of characters that will ensure you’ll find someone that’s fun to play as.
All of them are from different games, so maybe you’ll find a new game to look into after playing different characters. This one’s a “gateway game,” without a doubt.
Nintendo Switch (Singleplayer, Multiplayer)
Who doesn’t love Legos? Creating something out of simplistic shapes is something anyone can get behind. Minecraft is still one of the best sandbox games to ever grace video games. Sandbox games encourage players to explore and play however they want, and Minecraft has that in spades.
Want to build a castle made of glass with lava that flows in the walls? You can do that. Want to explore a randomly generated world, create your own gear, and fight otherworldly monsters? You can do that, too.
The only thing you can’t do is put the game down. Once you’ve built your tenth evil fortress on the side of a mountain, you’ll find that you’re stuck. And that’s the best (or sometimes worst) feeling you can have as a gamer.
PC, Xbox One/Series X, PS4/5, Nintendo Switch (Singleplayer, Multiplayer)
For the rest of this month’s geek content, check out other Hey GeekCal articles here!
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Famous video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto cited his inspiration for the original Legend of Zelda as being his love of exploring the wilderness as a child. Decades later, that sentiment is the infectious core of its most recent title, Breath of the Wild.
Beautiful vistas, understated music, and a sense of wonder all make this game a must-play title. Sure, you have a sword and get to fight monsters, but the adventure, the mere act of exploration, is near perfect.
Regardless of what your approach is, you’re bound to find a playstyle that makes it your own Zelda experience.
Nintendo Switch, Wii U (Singleplayer)
- Pokemon: Sword and Shield
So, you like cute animals? What about cute animals that also shoot fire? Or lightning? Or razor-sharp leaves? Pokemon. That’s what you want if you’re into superpowered animals that turn you into ash with a thought.
Explore a world populated by these critters (or Pokemon) and battle other “trainers” with your own team. You’ve got dozens of games to choose from but “Pokemon Sword” and “Pokemon Shield” are two of the more recent titles.
Spend hundreds of hours catching every single Pokemon in the game’s world and then go nuts trying for a shiny variant. Look it up, it’s absolutely insane!
Nintendo Switch (Singleplayer, Multiplayer)
- Super Mario 3D World
Mario is as familiar to video games as peanut butter is to jelly. His outings have been numerous and have been mostly received very well.
Super Mario 3D World is the most balanced choice if you’re interested in the platforming plumber’s adventures. Don a cat costume and bring some friends as you hop your way through several worlds with dozens of levels. Even when you’re done with the main game, there are plenty of secret levels for some spicy challenges.
If you’re not up to playing alone, don’t worry! Up to four players can play together through every level. The Nintendo Switch release of the game even comes with a bonus game, “Bowser’s Fury,” for extra hours of fun.
Nintendo Switch, Wii U (Singleplayer, Multiplayer)
- Final Fantasy VII
Say you don’t like high-flying action and fast-paced gameplay. That’s fine because the humble turn-based Role Playing Game (RPG) can accommodate you. Take turns performing actions while strategizing what to do next.
Final Fantasy is a series with many turn-based games under its belt, and the seventh entry is the one everyone loves to talk about. You don’t need to play the previous six games to understand the seventh, so just jump right in.
Enjoy the tale of heroes that are racing against the clock to save the world. You’ve got the original 1997 that has the turn-based gameplay or the 2020 remake that opts for full-on action-based gameplay. Ideally, play the original before you play the remake, it’ll hit differently if you do!
Keep in mind that the remake is only on PC and PS4/5. Sorry if that shot down your dreams of owning a Switch or Xbox console!
PC, Xbox One/Series X, PS4/5, Nintendo Switch (Singleplayer)
Strategy is the cornerstone of almost any board game, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s a staple of video games. Starcraft is the OG, an ancient sage of the modern strategy game.
Well, specifically, the real-time strategy game. Control your own mini-army, support them with the appropriate resources, and carefully plan your assault against enemy units. Not only is it an OG of the genre, but the original version released in 1998 is free to download and play.
And hey, if you want the game to look prettier, check out the remastered version after blowing through the original!
PC (Singleplayer, Multiplayer)
- Resident Evil 4
Who doesn’t love being scared? For the horror fan who loves facing their fears, Resident Evil 4 is a great game to pick up.
Embark on a mission to save the president’s daughter while unearthing a horrifying conspiracy. Fight waves of possessed humans and eldritch abominations with guns, explosives, and karate kicks. Yes, you read that right.
There are even german suplexes so don’t feel like you’re constrained here. When you’ve beaten the main game, dive into the Mercenaries mode to just enjoy splattering creepy enemies. No story to work through, just pure gameplay.
Don’t let the number four scare you, by the way, this game doesn’t require you to have played the previous games.
PC, Xbox One/Series X, PS4/5, Nintendo Switch, Oculus Quest (Singleplayer)
Welcome to gaming!
Don’t be intimidated by the monolith that gaming has evolved into. It’s a medium that encourages everyone to find what they like and enjoy it to its fullest. This list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what there is to play. We didn’t even cover VR, which is a whole other world of gaming to enter! But if you’ve found something to play from this list, good. Enjoy it. Share your new love with friends and family.
Just take care of your wallet. Gaming without a doubt can be an expensive hobby, so game wisely!
You can reach Eloin Barahona-Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.