Change is a constant. In the old days, you could see people smoking in G-rated movies. Seat belts were nonexistent. You could start and finish a video game in a single sitting. With some rare exceptions, those days are long gone. Now game developers want to keep players’ attention for as long as possible. It seems like many video games want to be the only game you play. Here are six that do just that.
If there’s one game that encourages players to keep coming back night after night and week after week, it’s Destiny. It does that by offering gamers a persistent world and a character that can be leveled up for dozens of hours. Even when you reach the level cap (which rises as new expansions are released), you can always keep playing to get better gear, a treadmill that never gets old for some gamers.
And if you team up with other players, you can go on raids, which are where you’ll find the best gear in the game. And since loot drops are randomized, you might have to go through the same areas many times before you get what you’re after. Throw in a player vs. player mode, limited-time events, and a vendor whose inventory changes week to week, and you’re looking at a game that doesn’t want to let you go.
2. The Division
Ubisoft’s take on the persistent online shooter is a little more grounded than Bungie’s. The Division takes place in a post-apocalyptic New York City that’s under lockdown thanks to a disease that’s wiping out the entire population. Polite society is nothing but a memory by the time you’re dropped into the ravaged city to bring peace — which mostly means killing looters and kidnappers.
Like in Destiny, you can level up your character and amass the equipment loadout of your dreams, or venture into the fascinating player vs. player-enabled Dark Zone. Ubisoft plans lots of updates and content add-ons, so if you start playing this game, don’t expect to stop anytime soon. (If you do want to play it, be sure to check out these tips and tricks to stay alive.)
3. Fallout 4
You’ve probably heard Fallout 4 is big, but unless you’ve roamed the apocalyptic Commonwealth of Boston, you might not realize just how enormous it is. On top of that, it’s packed full of things to do, from completing the hundreds of quests and side quests to establishing and building up settlements all across the map. Even if you somehow manage to see everything there is to see in the core game, Bethesda is busy pumping out downloadable expansions that give you even more quests and opportunities to create your own fun. And then there will be all the mods. With a game this big, who needs other games?
4. Grand Theft Auto V
The “game to end all games” aspect of Grand Theft Auto V might have seemed like an afterthought for Rockstar, the developer of this mega bestseller. Most players bought the game for the campaign, which centers around three very different criminals as they work together to pull off crimes big and small. The single-player portion of the game lasts around 40 hours, depending on how many of the extra things you do.
But once you complete it, you’ll find yourself with an unending reason to keep coming back. Grand Theft Auto: Online, as the mode is called, lets you create a character and run around in the game world with other players online. You can compete in races, run missions, buy real estate, and team up with other career criminals to pull off intricate heists. It’s enough to satisfy any gamer for months at a time, by which point you’ll probably find a new update to keep you occupied.
5. The Witcher 3
Like Fallout 4, this single-player game doesn’t immediately seem like it’s in the same “never stop playing” class as the online games on this list. But when you drill down into the jaw-dropping size of the game’s environment and the headache-inducing number of quests available, it becomes clear that if you want to do everything The Witcher 3 has to offer, you’re not going to be doing much else with your free time for months to come.
Even if you somehow manage to finish the main quest and side missions, and hunt all the beasts in the Witcher contracts, and follow all of the treasure hunts to completion, you’re still not done. That’s because the game has two massive expansions: Hearts of Stone, which is already out, and Blood and Wine, which is coming in the June 7. Oh, by the way, all of that content is incredibly well written and fun to play.
6. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Blizzard’s digital take on the collectible card game could easily consume your life if you’re not careful. It came out in 2014, but it’s still going strong, with regular content updates and a smart plan to keep the game from going stale as the years roll by.
There’s so much to do in Hearthstone it’s hard to know where to begin. You can level up each of the nine heroes to find the one you like best, filling out your card collection along the way. Then you can assemble decks and tinker with them endlessly, play in ranked and unranked matches, try out the expansions, and then start looking into the tournament scene if you’re serious about it. Like the others on this list, it’s a deep game that’s fun and addictive enough to be the only one you play, if that’s how you choose to spend your time.