I have two to three hours each night to game. What are my options?
Welcome to the first edition of Efficient Gaming. Each edition will feature a selection of games (mostly from recent or near recent release dates) that feature gameplay design or features that make sure you get the maximum gaming experience even if you don’t have a lot of time to put into them. Most importantly, these games are highly rated and highly recommended (primarily by us but also by general consensus). Second, but still important, you won’t have to sink a lot of time into them to have a fun or interesting experience. If you only have a couple of hours each day to game, we’ve got you covered. Finally, we try to cover the full spectrum of gaming so if you aren’t into certain types of games you should find something on here that interests you.
Star Wars The Old Republic
Link: SWTOR Platform: PC (Windows) Game Type: MMORPG Cost: F2P / $15 per month Avg Session Time: 30 minutes to 3 hours
Yes, you read that right. The first game on our list is an MMORPG. Make no mistake though, Bioware has re-engineered the game to be completely playable as a single player adventure and a faithful follow-up to the original KOTOR. This is especially apparent in the latest updates to the game. With a heavy emphasis on the story driven experience, SWTOR isn’t really an MMORPG in the strictest sense anymore. Yes, there are other people logged in and running around doing various things but with the way the game is gated, you can play it however you want. Do you want to play it as an RPG and never bother with other people? You can do that. Do you want an enjoyable co-op experience with a couple friends? You can do that too. The game is broken up into small, consumable chunks and with the ability to log out and save your progress anywhere, its great for someone who needs to be able to step away from the computer.
SWTOR does the “play it your way” design better than any other MMORPG out there. It really is multiple games all rolled into one. If you pick this up we recommend paying the subscription fee and starting at level 60. Alternatively, you can play from level one and experience the entire game from the ground up. A word of caution: this is not the newest game in the world. Being several years old it assumes the player has some knowledge of gear & stat based games. The engine is starting to show signs of aging but the game still looks good even with today’s standards.
Link: Overwatch Platform: PC (Windows) / Xbox One / PS4 Game Type: Competitive FPS Cost: $39.99 - $59.99 Avg Session Time: 20 minutes per match
If you are into competitive first person shooters, you’d have to be living under a rock to avoid Overwatch. Blizzard has reinvigorated the hero team shooter first popularized by Team Fortress. What did they do? They did what Blizzard always does: simplify the game, make the controls tight and responsive, and emphasize gameplay over customization. The premise of Overwatch is simple: Each round has some type of objective and that objective is fought over between two teams of six. Each player character has a selection of actions and abilities that they can utilize in various ways (e.g. shield your team, shoot a rocket, build a turret, etc).
Overwatch is relative newbie friendly and not every hero character requires precision aim. The match times are very “bite size” making it a perfect game for competitive shooter enthusiasts who don’t have a lot of free time. We really enjoy Overwatch, not only for its exciting gameplay, but for the fact that we can easily fit in a few matches a night.
Link: Hearthstone Platform: PC (Windows) / Android / Mac OS / iOS Game Type: Competitive / Collectible Card Game Cost: F2P / ~$1.50 per pack Avg Session Time: 10 minutes per match
Blizzard has two games on this list this time and for good reason: Blizzard’s business model is targeting a demographic that doesn’t have all day to game. You can easily get lost in a game like Overwatch or Hearthstone for eight straight hours but each individual match is short enough that a long commitment of time isn’t needed.
Hearthstone (HS) is essentially Magic the Gathering (MtG) simplified and digitized. If you are already familiar with MtG, making the transition to HS should be relatively simple. There are gameplay differences compared to MtG but overall the premise is very similar. If you aren’t familiar with MtG fear not, Blizzard does a good job of explaining the mechanics and making sure you have enough cards to start building some decks. We recommend playing a few games against the computer to get started. Once you can build some decks don’t be afraid to jump into casual mode and start playing against other people. There is no live chat option in HS. It’s impossible for your opponent to type “lol git gud noob” while you are learning the ropes. And trust us when we say this game is very addicting. Half the fun is in trying to create your own decks. Don’t want to create your own? Plenty of websites offer guides and advice. One of the most popular is Hearthpwn. Go download HS if you are looking for some enjoyable, consumable, card collecting action. Don’t forget, it runs on a variety of mobile platforms so you can take it with you.
Link: https://www.dirtgame.com/us/home Platform: PC Windows / Xbox One / PS4 Game Type: Racing Simulation Cost: $34.99 - $59.99 Avg Session Time: 10 - 30 minutes
We end the list with a racing sim. What makes Dirt Rally so addicting for rally fans and race fans alike is that it’s amazingly rewarding. Rally racing isn’t for everyone but for those of us who are big fans of the sport, Dirt Rally is the game we have been asking Codemasters to make for years. This is a game that requires some patience and discipline but once you get it, it’s a lot of fun.
Rally racing is a time trial based, point to point competition. Normal cars are given limited modifications (this is debatable but that’s another conversation) and driven on logging roads, deserts, tarmac, and dirt. The driver and co-driver only have one thing to do – go as fast as possible without destroying the car. At set points, the team mechanics can work on the car and fix anything broken but they can’t go over their alloted time or they are hit with a penalty. This continues until the rally is over. The driver with the lowest time is the overall winner. It’s is a simple premise but its exciting to watch and even better to do.
There are three main modes in Dirt Rally: Rally, Rally-X, and Hill Climb. Rally is the normal point to point mode. Rally-X features multiple cars competing in a closed circuit. Hill Climb is another point to point mode but features much higher speeds and different types of cars. Every mode is playable in small time chunks. You can easily run one or two stages, save your game, and do something else. If you are looking for a race sim or want to see what rally racing is all about, look no further than Dirt Rally.
So there ya have it! The first edition of Efficient Gaming is complete. Keep checking back for new articles, recommendations, and analysis. If you have a question or idea you want to share, please let us know in the comments.