5 Games to Play this Winter Break


The winter break is in order. There's time now for binge gaming on a deep storyline or building your own grand empire. Get cozy and enjoy. The winter break is the ideal time to unwind.


Here are five games for this winter session:

5. The Guild 2: Renaissance


The Guild 2 can get you immersed on building your business empire as soon as you're able to find that sweet spot of a steady profit. Guild 2 is a hidden gem of a sim game as you compete and outlast rival families by being the top mogul of the renaissance era. The dynasty mode is ideal during the winter break as Guild 2 is meant to be played for long gaming sessions. 


In the Guild 2, you start off with your sole avatar and decide on one of four professions: a patron, a craftsperson, a scholar or a rogue. I recommend starting a craftsperson to start a simple production business. But Guild 2 offers more than managing your own business; your family member can participate on civic duties to help the needy or serve your own interest. You can sabotage rival shops with your thugs, or simply take care of your family's needs. Despite that Guild 2 is open-ended, the overarching goal remains on ensuring the survival of your lineage, making profits, and becoming the best at what you do.  

There's the sequel which is The Guild 3 but it's still on EA until now; I've pre-ordered it since 2017 and it's nearing release next year.


4. Mount and Blade


Mount and Blade is the ultimate medieval sandbox of a game. I've spent so much time playing Warband running my own faction despite its complicated politics. When Bannerlord hit Early Access, I've immediately bought its digital copy and ignored the bugs. After all, Bannerlord offers a dynamic AI, unique playthroughs, and the idea of either serving as a vassal OR running your own kingdom.


You start off as a wanderer (in Warband and Bannerlord) until one of the claimant rulers recruits you to become their vassal. As a vassal, you would contribute to make your faction better which also requires finding a means of income to sustain this conquest. Raid enemy villages. Ambush caravans for spoils. Join castle sieges. Perhaps the Lord will grant you a fiefdom. And once you've amassed enough men and estate, your private army can branch out into something grander than a vassal of the state. The choice is up to you: found your own faction or stay loyal to which who adopted you until Calradia is united under one banner. Once you've picked up your way around, you'll understand why Mount and Blade needs a long playthrough.

Mount and Blade also supports mods!


3. Civilization V


I don't know why Civilization VI did not click with me, but Civ V is still one of my favourite strategy games. I play Civ V from time to time, and I always build wide - which means having many cities across the map. You can build tall - which means having few but highly productive cities - but I prefer having my unit production and territorial influence across the map. Civilization V is like a grand chess game. You think that the next turn is the last turn. Then you realize that you need to have a few more turns since you've founded a city surrounded by luxury and productive tiles. You fall in love on that spot and it suddenly becomes  a beacon of hope to your civilization. At the end of few more turns you realize that you've reached the modern era while leaving the rest in the renaissance era. And you find yourself not being able to stop because you've assimilated half of the map.

When the AI settles near me (credit to: Survivor of Hathsin).

2. Mass Effect Legendary Edition


There's not much to explain why Mass Effect: Legendary Edition warrants your attention during the winter break. It's one of the best RPGs out there. And unlike my past playthroughs, completing each title won't leave you hanging since the trilogy will keep your momentum going on saving the universe. The story is top-notch with likeable characters that grow on you where the game's narrative makes you feel like you are the authentic Commander Shepard.


1. Skyrim


I'm a little biased toward playing Skyrim in the winter -- because it's cold where I am and it's cold in Skyrim. The immersion breaks VR boundaries. I feel like I'm in Skyrim when I play it because my room gets cold in the winter. So I can appreciate the grit involved in this part of Tamriel. There's one time where I got off from work late at night, and while walking on my way home the blowing snow looked frightful; it reminded me of Skyrim; I pressed on through the snow to go home just like returning to Breezehome after my daily quest.


Skyrim is filled with quests. You'll get distracted among its many quests while completing the main storyline. In fact, you need a long playthrough because the quests don't end. And mods increase immersion further that can't be found on ESO. It has been a decade already since it launched, but Skyrim is still a fantasy filled game during the winter break. For goodness sake, you're the Dragonborn who will save Skyrim from the world eater, but you still have time to build your home, and take care of your spouse and kids! Or you can just be yourself in the game and build a castle of your fancy. As long as the mods permit!

Special Mention: Tales of Arise

There's a lot of Tales games out there that I got tired of tracking them. Tales of Arise is something fresh and it's worth checking out. The game hooks you to long cozy plays. I love story-rich action RPGs and Tales of Arise is a breath of fresh air in the Tales series. This winter break, if you haven't tried any Tales games yet -- I recommend Tales of Arise.

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