It’s January now, and that means in certain parts of the world there’s little else to do but snuggle in, accept the snow, and find something to occupy your time during the long winter hibernation. If you happen to be one of those people stuck indoors and wishing desperately for more sunlight in your day, you’re in luck; the staff here at Goliath decided to band together and come up with a list that’s sure to have you entertained for dozens and perhaps even hundreds of hours. We’re talking, of course, about the 10 Best Time Wasting Video Games, games so immersive and expansive that once you start, you’ll have no choice but to sink your newfound free time into solving their puzzles, winning thier battles, or interacting with other players worldwide.
10. Kerbal Space Program (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, Linux, Mac)
It’s always a joy when you stumble across a video game that doesn’t baby it’s audience; rather, it presents difficult and unique challenges that ask more of the player than your standard fare. Kerbal Space Program, the space flight simulator which sees players designing their own rocket ship and attempting to successfully take off, navigate the cosmos, and land, uses real physics to simulate the challenges that face aerospace engineers every day; to the point where we can say with confidence that we never, ever want to be an aerospace engineer. Infinitely engaging and endlessly infuriating, Kerbal Space Program has been endorsed by real life bigwigs NASA and SpaceX (Elon Musk himself is an admitted enthusiast), further reinforcing the legitimacy of this fun and challenging game.
9. Starcraft II (PC)
It’s no secret that Blizzard Entertainment remains one of the best when it comes to crafting excellent and time-consuming video games. The studio has produced innumerable critical and commercial successes, but even in a pond full of big fishes, Starcraft II might be the biggest. A game so good it rates as more of an international phenomena than a pure piece of entertainment, Starcraft II capitalized on the monumental success of Starcraft and Starcraft: Brood Wars by giving fans more of what they wanted and less of what they didn’t. An awesome real-time strategy game that lets players choose between three different races (Terrans, Protoss and Zerg) and battle it out for galactic supremacy, Starcraft II remains one of the most popular choices in competitive gaming due to its requisite strategy and need for superior hand-eye coordination skills; in fact, setting aside Riot Games’ League of Legends, one could argue Starcraft II remains the pinnacle of the competitive gaming industry today.
8. Diablo II (PC)
There’s plenty of new games on this list, but we wanted to make sure we included a couple of classics to satiate those gaming fans with an affinity for history. One such game, Diablo II, also comes from the aforementioned Blizzard Entertainment (those guys really are swell at their jobs); however, unlike Starcraft II, Diablo II is not a real-time strategy game, but rather an action role playing game which allows players to guide a character (one must choose from one of five classes: Amazon, Barbarian, Necromancer, Sorceress and Paladin) through a horror/dark fantasy landscape on a variety of quests and missions. An excellent and immersive game that was once accompanied by a dedicated community and online play, Diablo II is still a fine experience to enjoy all by your lonesome and is definitely a recommended play for fantasy enthusiasts. Speaking of fantasy…
7. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
This is the fantasy game to end all fantasy games. While many argue that The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion are superior games, there’s really nothing like Skyrim to fill that deep and endless video game void inside all of us. Skyrim, which continues the action role playing game trend popularized by its predecessors, combines spectacular graphics and immersive gameplay into a singular, stellar gaming experience; it’s no coincidence that most gamers were happy to sink hundreds of hours into it when it was first released in 2011, as this loosely plotted game gives players tons of freedom in choosing how they progress through and affords them plenty of customization in both their characters and equipment. Skyrim is a sandbox game at its finest, and with plenty of sword-swinging and dragon-slaying yet to be done, we can’t recommend enough that our readers go get themselves a copy.
6. Age of Empires II (PC, Mac)
We promised you we’d sneak some classic time wasters onto this list, and very few are as classic as Age of Empires II. Released in 1999 (although an HD re-master was released in 2013, to much acclaim), Age of Empires II is a real-time strategy game that sees players working through historically based campaigns with one of thirteen chosen civilizations, gathering resources, constructing towns, and building armies. It’s wildly addictive stuff, and it mimics in some ways the popular Civilization series from Sid Meier (more on that series later), although Civilization operates on a turn-based rather than a real-time system. Age of Empires II, which remains a must-play for anyone looking for some entertainment in these cold winter months, also has two expansions available for purchase.
5. Pokemon (Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, DS, 3DS etc.)
We’re just going to go ahead and lump all of the Pokemon games into one entry here, as it’d be far too difficult to cherry pick the ones we like and the ones we don’t like (they all operate on the same principles regardless, although we are partial to the Gold and Silver games, ourselves). The Pokemon games, which have been entertaining Western audiences since their North American release in 1996, see players attempting to capture, train, and battle a wide variety of creatures…oh who are we kidding, everybody and their grandmothers knows who and what Pokemon are! That being said, if you haven’t taken the time to invest in one of these games at some point in your life, we highly recommend you do; raising that Vulpix into a Ninetales and watching it grow in power is a satisfying feeling most every gamer should experience. But be careful: with over 700 Pokemon in the current games, it can be a bit overwhelming to just jump in and play. Maybe start with Pokemon: Fire Red or Pokemon: Leaf Green for the GBA, which are updated versions of the earliest iterations of the game.
4. The Sims 3 (PC)
With over 10 million copies sold, The Sims 3 is one of the bestselling video games of all time (both its predecessors also sold extremely well). A game which sees players creating and controlling the lives of simulated people, or “Sims”, and every minute detail of their lives, from the construction and decoration of their house to the intricacies of their day-to-day existence, The Sims 3 escalates the brutally addictive qualities of the first two entries by amping up the possibilities times a thousand (give or take). There’s more clothes, more jobs, more wallpapers, and more expansions. In fact, there may be too many expansions (this was one of the few critiques of the game: why not just include it all in the first place? Money, money). The Sims 3, which was first released in 2009, is an excellent binge video game for the wintry months ahead.
3. Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 + Expansions (PC)
Players of Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 will be intimately aware of the experience we’re about to describe, wherein you boot up the game to play just a few turns before looking outside and realizing it’s night time, you’ve missed dinner, and you’re knee-deep in a land war with China that you just don’t think you can win. We can guarantee the Civ players out there understand exactly what we’re talking about; if you’re looking for something to do this winter, we recommend you take some time getting familiar with this scenario yourself. Sid Meier’s Civilization 5, which features several excellent expansion packs, sees players taking control of an ancient civilization and guiding them through the many ages of humanity; whether the society flourishes or crumbles is very much up to the player. Equal parts war, diplomacy, and trade, Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 is a time-waster that you’ll be more than happy to dump hours into.
2. League of Legends (PC)
If Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 represents the ultimate in turn-based strategy gaming, then Riot Games’ League of Legends is most definitely the ultimate in real-time strategy (well, technically it’s a MOBA — Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). League of Legends, which has taken the video game world (and by extension, the eSports world) by absolute storm since its release in 2009. A five on five game that boils down to “kill the enemies and take over their base”, League of Legends allows players to control a single champion at a time, purchasing items to strengthen this champion with gold accumulated from positive plays made in-game. An intricate strategy experience that’s immersive and addictive, League of Legends has almost 70 million active users and rates as one of the most popular video games on the face of the Earth. Oh, and it’s all entirely free to play; just download and enjoy.
1. World of Warcraft (PC)
It’s no secret that World of Warcraft is the grandfather of all time-wasters; the game, which is notorious for its endless potential and wildly addictive elements, has been the subject of much discussion since the very first edition was released in 2004. It’s a sign that you’ve done your job right when people start talking about whether gamers are spending too much time playing your game, and boy did the developers of World of Warcraft really get something right. The most dominant force in gaming, World of Warcraft is far and away the highest-grossing video game of all time, due in no small part to the approximately 100 million accounts that have been subscribed to it at one time or another since the game’s launch. But don’t take our word for it; log on yourself and see what all the fuss is about. We’ll expect to hear from you in…oh, six months or so.