Gaming technology has undergone massive improvements over the last decade. Gone are the days when online games were a glitchy, pixellated mess. Instead, we’re now treated to beautifully designed gaming applications – both on desktop and mobile – that immerse us into fantastical realms.
From the magical mysteries of Hogwarts to the thrill of the casino, here’s a round-up of five of the most immersive gaming experiences online today.
Fallout: New Vegas (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
First emerging in the video game industry way back in 1997, the Fallout series has become one of the most globally popular modern gaming franchises. With their post-apocalyptic settings, distinct atompunk vibe, and retro-futuristic styles, the Fallout game both hearkens back to 1950s post-war culture and feature a post-nuclear future that may not be all that far-fetched.
Each of the titles from 2008’s Fallout 3 could easily be considered amongst the most immersive online games, however, 2010’s Fallout: New Vegas remains the most engaging and evocative. Developed by Obsidian (Fallout, Fallout 2) New Vegas has become a modern cult classic for its massive open-world map which you are free to roam and explore. The game’s class-less progression also offers flexible customization, meaning you can truly develop the main character for extra immersion.
The magical Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry needs little introduction! The stomping ground of Harry, Hermione and Ron has captivated our imaginations since the release of The Philosopher’s Stone in 1997. As a result, we’ve had mobile games, desktop games, AR games, and even a Harry Potter Hangman game, so it was about time someone made a themed digital escape room.
That’s exactly what the team at Peters Township Public Library did this year. Played on a Google Docs Form, this free-to-use digital escape room experience involves quizzes, puzzles, team challenges and the opportunity to dive into the world of Harry Potter from your living room. Players can take part as single gamers or as a team sharing one screen.
PokerStars Casino (PC and Mobile)
iGaming is one of the most popular tech trends of the 21st century and the industry is saturated with all manner of real-money gaming operators, platforms, and apps. While the quality of casino games will vary by platform, the PokerStars Casino is one of the most user-friendly gaming hubs out there.
It’s especially notable for its smooth-performance software and adherence to Responsible Gaming guidelines – an absolute must in real money gaming – as well as offering users a wide selection of online casino games, from slots to table games and live dealer games. There are also a number of promotions that registered users can take advantage of, including daily jackpot promotions and free spins offers.
Bioshock (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Interestingly, this video game is also over a decade old. 2K’s Bioshock was a groundbreaking release back in 2007 for its highly-detailed and immersive gaming world that still impresses today. Another retro-futuristic game, Bioshock is set in a 1960s underwater city called Rapture, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
A first-person shooter-style game, Bioshock still works on so many levels, not least because of the gorgeous aesthetics of the half-ruined Rapture. It also subtly explores popular 20th century utopian and dystopian philosophies and themes, so it engages the gamer on an intellectual level too. And, while the game still has its imitators even in 2020, no game released since has been able to surpass its shock reveal.
Half-Life: Alyx (PC VR)
While Virtual Reality games haven’t quite taken off the way that champions of the tech initially hoped, there are nevertheless a handful of gems in the PC VR sphere, Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx being at the top of the list. The Half-Life franchise was, of course, one of the most post popular multi-platform series during the late nineties and early 2000s, but for over a decade, no further titles were release following 2007’s Half-Life 2. That was until Valve decided to reboot the series for a brand new decade with a VR installment.
Alyx may only feature a total of 15 hours of gameplay, but the level of detail and immersion within the game makes it feel much longer and the environment much bigger than it actually is. It offers a linear narration too, meaning that you can easily get lost in the game and complete it in just one (albeit marathon) sitting. While it won’t set the gaming industry alight with its innovation, Half-Life Alyx is nevertheless a worthy entry in this beloved franchise and sets a good standard for all future releases.