In these days of isolation, we’re all striving for human connection, be it with friends, family, and loved ones. And while some are indoors alongside their partners, others who live separately have been forced apart. Nobody said dating in quarantine would be easy, after all.
But that still creates a tricky situation: how do you keep a relationship alive when you’re not able to meet up in person?
The answer is obvious: video games.
I know this because I’ve been there, not just for a few weeks of isolation but for three years of a long-distance relationship. With my partner in Italy and myself in the UK, we spent three years – bar traveling every couple of months – relying on the internet for connection. And, as two gaymers, gaming together online became an important way of keeping our relationship alive.
Our game of choice was perhaps not a conventional one: Dark Souls 3. When you think of date night, you don’t necessarily think of grim fantasy worlds, demonic beasts and incredibly high difficulty. But Lothric and its foul bosses became our sanctuary, where we could join forces in battling incredible odds – not just overcoming each fight, but maintaining a relationship from different countries.
It’s not the easiest game to play in multiplayer, which goes for the Souls series as a whole with its secret messages, summoning spots, and dastardly invasions. Summoning another character requires embers and any deaths mean summoning all over again. Let’s just say I used a lot of embers very quickly…
Seeing the words YOU DIED crop up on screen time and time again is a source of frustration; seeing those words alongside a partner is both better and worse. Was it my fault or his? Can we overcome this together? Or are we just getting in each other’s way?
Eventually, we managed to complete the game together and moved on to another that’s significantly less taxing but no less enthralling: Monster Hunter: World. We played through almost the entire game together, adorable cats in tow, felling dragons for loot side by side.
Let’s face it, Monster Hunter can be quite the grind, repeatedly killing the same beasts as you pray for those random drops to drop just right. It’s a formula that’s so much better in multiplayer alongside others; even more so when it’s a partner.
I can safely say, then, that couples that game together, stay together. That’s not to say there won’t be arguments of course. But if you’re currently stuck in isolation away from your partner, pick up a controller and get gaming. I promise you, you can get through this.
Need some recommendations? Here are some online co-op games to keep you playing together.
Final Fantasy XIV
Widely considered one of the best MMOs, as well as being amongst the best games in the series, Final Fantasy XIV thrives on cooperation. It’s a particularly social take on the formula, with groups forming up to take on dungeons and raids together and battles relying on teamwork to make it through. Outside of that, join a guild, buy a house together, and make some friends!
Ok it’s not technically a co-op game. But the multiplayer aspect of Animal Crossing is key to its success. Not only do you get to design and manage your own island, you can visit others, share your resources, and send each other gifts. If isolating is getting too much, this is your opportunity to simply relax together in a calm, sunny idyll as if on holiday. At the least, all that furniture shopping will prepare you for IKEA.
It’s definitely more fun in the same room, but Overcooked 2 remains one of the most hilarious, tense and infuriating co-op experiences even online. Frantically throwing ingredients around as you chase that high score is a blast, but beware: this might cause more arguments than it solves.
The single-player of Portal 2 is one of the best puzzle games around with its ingenious teleportation gun mechanic. Throw in another player, twice the portals and some fiendish puzzles, and this is a game that’ll get both your heads working together in unison.
When all else fails, just shoot something! There are plenty of games – co-op and competitive – where you can fight together with your partner, from Apex Legends, to Splatoon 2, Borderlands 3 and more. But why not give Warframe a go? It’s a third-person shooter with tonnes of loot drops and customization, plus it’s free!