It’s a popular refrain among video game players of a certain age. In our early 20s, we could spend whole days immersed in epic role-playing video games, sacrificing months to the demands of the latest Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest adventure. But, in our 30s and 40s, we’re lucky to catch 10 minutes of Fortnite here and there.
However, now that many of us are finding we have time on our hands, it could be the opportunity we need to attempt some of the more chronologically demanding narrative video game masterpieces of the last decade. Here are 15 that should see you through the next six months – and beyond.
Ubisoft’s tale of vengeance-seeking mercenaries battling through the chaos of the Peloponnesian war gives us a vast reproduction of ancient Greece, almost Homeric in its depth and detail.
A truly weird, sometimes pretentious but always fascinating apocalyptic drama from Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima that may have looked like an indulgent purchase a few weeks ago but now seems like a reasonable and perhaps even educational time sink.
Fiendishly difficult and rife with gothic dread, the Dark Souls titles from developer FromSoftware are the pre-eminent action adventures of the modern era. Attempting all three will give you enough monster battling and dungeon hunting for a year.
These two hugely atmospheric stealth adventures, set in a plague-ridden world full of aristocratic intrigue, offer versatile combat and evasion options as you tiptoe over rooftops and through alleyways assassinating corrupt officials. If Dickens had written interactive steampunk fiction, it would have looked like this.
Divinity: Original Sin II Definitive Edition
Set in the battle-scarred fantasy realm of Rivellon, Divinity: Original Sin II is one of the most painstakingly detailed role-playing adventures of all time, providing a truly open world, crammed with quests and characters that truly react to player actions. Play it alone or in a party of four.
One of the definitive achievements of role-playing specialist BioWare, this is a vast adventure that mixes sword-and-sorcery combat with political intrigue, humour and hot romance.
One of the finest entries in the defining action role-playing series, Breath of the Wild lets you loose in a truly open version of Hyrule Kingdom, making your own story amid the eccentric characters, intriguing relics and clever, physics-based game systems. An utter joy.
Hideo Kojima’s final visit to the stealth adventure series that made his name is a baggy, idiosyncratic and at times bewildering espionage thriller set in and around the war in Afghanistan and filled with what-just-happened? moments.
Set 200 years after a nuclear war, the latest title in Bethesda’s apocalyptic survival yarn has you emerging from a fallout shelter to discover a world descended into tribal barbarity – that you can gleefully participate in.
With 15m copies sold, this is the zenith of Capcom’s beast-slaying adventure series, in which players intricately prepare for and then take part in monster battles of searing intensity. Craft your own weapons and develop unique hunting strategies through hundreds of hours of side quests and multiple environmentally diverse regions.
Painstakingly expanded since its initial release in 2016, No Man’s Sky is a ludicrously ambitious space exploration game with a style and spirit that borrows much more from 2001: A Space Odyssey than, say, Star Trek or Star Wars. Travel the galaxy upgrading your ship and wandering undiscovered planets while following an elegiac narrative to the centre of the universe.
Persona 5 Royal
An expanded edition of an already enormous Japanese role-playing adventure, Persona 5 Royal is a bizarre, beautiful, anime-splattered romp involving schoolkid demon-slayers running wild in an alternative Tokyo.
Nobody really does mature open-world narrative adventures like Rockstar and this is arguably the company’s masterpiece – a slow-burning western, its six-guns loaded with smouldering revenge trauma. Come for the shootouts, stay for the beautiful scenery and imaginative and often humorous story set-pieces.
Arguably the closest we’ll get to an interactive Game of Thrones, this fantasy adventure pits monster-killer Geralt against a kingdom teeming with sadistic warriors, flesh-eating hell beasts and seductive sorcerers – but still provides time and space for amusing side quests, emotional subplots and sex. Lots of sex.
Sega’s open-world gangland saga offers dozens of hours of entertainment as you cruise a neon-drenched 80s Tokyo with ambitious hoodlums Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima, working for rival clans and indulging in bone-cracking street fights. All of the Japanese city’s (low) life is encountered here in sprawling, eye-popping detail.