What Will You Play on November 2nd?
At some point, everyone who participates in Extra Life has no idea what they are going to play for 24 (this year 25!) hours. Some people plan out their gaming session weeks or months in advance, others decide to wing the whole event, giving it no forethought. Then there are the people who are caught somewhere in-between those two groups. Hopefully, if you are one of those individuals wracking your brains regarding what titles you'll be playing for 25 hours, this list of suggestions will help you narrow down your options.
As we all know, livestreaming games has become one of the most popular activities marathon-ing activities for Extra Lifers. Broadcasting gameplay to the world, raising money from strangers to do ridiculous things or talk in funny voices, it sounds like a relatively simple. However, one of the tricks to putting on a successful livestream is picking games that people will be interested in watching. Streamers need to hook viewers in with something weird, fast-paced, relevant, or nostalgic. Here are some ideas to consider if you are planning to go the livestream route.
StarCraft II/League of Legends/Dota 2 - All three of these games have several things in common, but most importantly they are fast-paced, fun, and three of the most played games in the world. Have some gaps in your schedule? You might want to consider showing off your pro gamer skill. Alternatively, grab several friends and undertake a mission to be as silly as possible in your games. Mass reaper rush? All Yordles, all mid? Courier-minion push? The possibilities are endless(ly entertaining)! Also, all three are free (thought the free version of StarCraft II is pretty limited), so what are you waiting for?
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - Some people just want to see one of their favorite games from the past replayed. With the live chat functions, viewers can shout out encouragement, reveal secrets in the level, and berate marathoners for skipping side quests. Ocarina of Time is a great option for streamers because it holds entire warehouses of nostalgia for gamers who played it back in 1999 and is still incredibly fun to play. Also, give someone grief if they are going to skip the Biggoron’s Sword quest.
Shadow of the Colossus - The goal is to show viewers a game they may have never seen before or a type of game that they would never play/have the opportunity to play on their own. Shadow of the Colossus accomplishes this because there has never been a game quite like it, aesthetically or structurally. Sharing unique experiences is the lifeblood of an interesting livestreaming event and Shadow of the Colossus is certainly an experience worth sharing.
Outlast - If there is one thing that people love to see on a livestream more than anything else is someone devolve into a laughing blubber-mess while playing a video game. Horror game accomplish this feat with ease, especially if they are actually designed well. There are millions of videos of people trying to play Amnesia: The Dark Descent, so why not play Outlast, a game that improves on the formula set forth by Amnesia. Just remember to bring your safety blanket in case you need to hide from the monsters.
Dark Souls - Overcoming seemingly impossible challenges is fun to watch for spectators; almost as much fun as watching someone rage at a video game. Blisteringly difficult titles like Dark Souls or Demon Souls fit both accounts marvelously. Just make sure that people know your stream is going to be NSFW if you are planning to cuss like a sailor after the Taurus demon beats you senseless for the fourteenth time.
There is a small but ever-growing subset of games that can only be described as bizarre. These oddities are a blast to play with a small group of friends or as a livestream event. Some fall into the category of so-bad-they're-good, while others are mystifyingly strange, yet intriguing. People love to watch these spectacles unfold and love even more when people are confounded by outdated controls, terrible graphics, or awkward design decisions.
Deadly Premonition - There is something charming, yet utterly broken about Deadly Premonition. Animations look odd, characters are baffling, and the story is full of things like invisible friends, squirrel-obsessed nuts, and imaginary zombies. And pop-culture references. Lots of pop culture references.
OverBlood - If you want to see one of the least terrifying horror games from the early days of the PS1, look no further than cult favorite OverBlood. Polygonal zombies, awkward relationships with robots, archaic game design and more contribute to one of the most entertaining spectacle games.
Earth Defense Force 2017 - Have you ever wanted to have access to weapons with infinite ammo and take on hundreds of giant ants, giant spiders, flying saucers, and death robots? If your answer is something resembling yes, then you might want to check out EDF 2017. The gameplay is incredibly fun and everything from the story to the animations to the over-the-top-weapon-effects is silly. Oh, and it is co-op. Grab a friend and blast everything that moves.
Mr. Mosquito - In Mr. Mosquito you play as a mosquito/robot that preys upon a Japanese family. As you suck their blood, you slowly drive the family insane. Strangely enough, this game is actually pretty fun. Where else are you going to see a Japanese mother doing back-flips and uttering death threats to a mosquito?
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron - Honestly, it is pretty hard to describe El Shaddai other than by saying it is what I'd imagine an acid trip would look like. When it first came out, I played through it and took notes. A few excerpts from those notes: “Creepy line lady,” “Face sticks,” “Girl on a ghost sheet, thing,” and “running on cloud waves.” If you want to play a visually stunning and mentally befuddling title, it might be time to meet the ascending Metatron.
Sometimes gamers are in it for the long haul. They want a game that can occupy their attention for an entire 24-hour (or 25-hour) marathon. There are a number of quality games out there, but many of them simply aren't long enough to involve a person or a group of people for a whole day. Luckily, we came up with a few ideas for games that can last for weeks and sometimes years.
Total War: Rome II - Just start a campaign of Total War. Just... start one. I recently finished my first full campaign of Rome II. I would not have been able to finish it within the Extra Life time frame. Can any of you finish a Total War: Rome II campaign during Extra Life? *Throws down the gauntlet.* If so, you should let us know and maybe we can recognize your achievement.
Civilization V - There is literally a marathon setting for Civilization. However, even on the quick setting, one game of Civilization can easily kill time for an entire Extra Life marathon. If you are playing a Civ game with friends, all the backstabbing, backroom deals, and the just-one-more-turn nature of Civilization are perfectly suited to a 25-hour gaming session.
Sins of a Solar Empire - Sins of a Solar Empire has been around for five years and might not be as well-known as other RTS games like StarCraft, but the scale of the game is well beyond any other RTS I've encountered. Players conquer solar systems that can encompass dozens or hundreds of worlds with fleet sizes that can number in the thousands. The game is paced slowly, but can quickly ratchet up the tension when large scale conflicts ensue.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - Role-playing games have a long and storied tradition of lasting for a year and a day. If you want to cultivate the patience of a Jedi, play through all of the Final Fantasy games in sequential order. Ni no Kuni is no different, but it is well worth spending the time playing, if for no other reason than to witness the beautiful world created by the famed Studio Ghibli.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown - A game that revolves around tactical, grid-based combat and fighting off an alien invasion that can last for hours and hours with the fate of your squads and humanity resting on every choice that you make? Yes, please. XCOM will stretch you to the limits of your tactical prowess and it won't pull any punches on the higher difficulties, nor will it allow you to reload earlier saves if you lock yourself into an iron man mode.
While longer games are great, there is something to be said about games that you can finish in one sitting. Some gamers have large backlogs of games that they’ve been meaning to play, but haven’t gotten around to finishing. With 25 hours to fill, now is a great opportunity to play some of those smaller games that may have fallen off the radar. If you want to play and finish multiple games within the broad confines of the Extra Life marathon, here are some ideas to consider.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger - One of my favorite games from this year, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a fast-paced, arcade-y FPS that takes place as an old drifter is telling about his life as a bounty hunter. Of course, since it is a story, embellishments occur and the levels shift around you as you play. It is pretty creative and fun. And of course, you can play this game from start to finish and still have time for other games during your marathon.
The Stanley Parable - The Stanley Parable has a limited appeal. It has a lot of things to say about philosophy, game design, choices, and storytelling. If you aren't interested in those topics, then The Stanley Parable might not be for you. You control Stanley as he walks through an office building to discover where his co-workers have gone. Every choice you make has consequences, but then again, every choice you make has no consequences. That previous sentence sums up the title rather well. If you play through the game once, it might take you around a half-hour to finish. Playing through several times trying to see all there is to see, will take maybe three hours.
Mark of the Ninja - One of the best stealth games in recent memory, mark of the Ninja places players in the role of a ninja who has been marked, giving him terrible power, but at a price. The gameplay is tight and the stealth feels simple and fair. The game can be completed in about five hours the first time, through, but in as little as two or three hours (possibly even less than an hour?) by someone who really knows what they are doing.
Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons - Brothers is a neat little indie game from Starbreeze studios. Made in collaboration with Swedish filmmaker Josef Farnes, the game revolves around two brothers searching for a cure for their ailing father. Gameplay revolves around having the two brothers interact with the environment and solve basic puzzles. The end result is a roughly three hour long work of beauty that leaves players satisfied.
The Wolf Among Us - The latest episodic series from Telltale is pretty enthralling. Characters are interesting, the plot thickens in a satisfying manner, and, as of right now, there is only one episode available, which means that the completion of The Wolf Among Us takes only a few scant hours.
On November 2nd, not just video games can be played. Tabletop games are also more than welcome. If you're leaning toward gathering a few friends and throwing dice or flipping cards, we have a few suggestions so you aren't completely without ideas.
Risk - This game has ruined friendships. People tend to get mad when you break a diplomatic arrangement in an attempt to conquer all of Asia. There are numerous variations of Risk (my favorite being Lord of the Rings) and most of them are pretty fun. You just need to be able to gather a group of people who are willing to spend several hours or days with you, depending on the luck of the dice. If you are lucky enough to have such true friends, be careful who you stab in the back in your quest for world domination.
Arkham Horror - Set in the midst of a Lovecraftian Armageddon, Arkham Horror tasks players to work together to stop a randomly selected horror from beyond time and space from coming into our dimension and destroying everything. Monsters must be fought, clues must be found, and be careful not to lose your mind to madness.
Munchkin - Another game that destroys friendships (I had a friend who nearly flipped our game table), Munchkin combines various fantasy tropes and very basic Dungeons and Dragons concepts into a simple, fun card game. There are oodles of expansions that bring in other genres, like Westerns, Sci-Fi, etc. and can be combined with the core Munchkin deck.
Any Tabletop RPG - There are an awful lot of pen and paper RPGs out there and there is no reason why people can't summon up their Dungeons and Dragons or Exalted or World of Darkness groups to run a huge role-playing session. Maybe you are finally having that long-awaited final confrontation with the main villain that would otherwise take three or four sessions to conclude, or maybe you are going to start a new campaign and want to have a really cool, prolonged inciting incident. There are tons of possibilities.
Settlers of Catan - If you've never played Settlers of Catan, the name might make it sound a bit odd. The basic premise is that a bunch of different people decide to settle this island called Catan and begin building settlements and roads with the goal of becoming the most powerful faction on the island. Building requires resources, which need to be acquired from the surrounding countryside or by trading with other players. Settlers quickly becomes similar to a poker game, with each player trying to bamboozle the other into thinking they aren't far enough along in their faction's development to pose a game-ending threat. It might be worth a look if you've never tried it.
That's all of our recommendations for now, but we'd love to hear some of yours! Share in the comments below or on Facebook to give more ideas on what you think would be good games for the marathon.
Feature originally appeared on www.extra-life.org 10/26/13