Ah, summer. The Dark Times, or The Season That Games Forgot. With most publishers releasing their biggest games either very early or very late in the year, the summer months tend to be fairly quiet in comparison. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty to play. Here are some suggestions for you:

Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)

Fire Emblem: Awakening

Now, you might be thinking, “You fool, why would I play Awakening when I could play Three Houses?” Well, okay, Three Houses might very well end up being an excellent game, but it would be rude of me to recommend it without having first tried it myself. Fire Emblem: Awakening, however, is a game I’ve spent dozens of hours on across multiple playthroughs, and it offers an experience that remains undiminished no matter how play times you play it.

Thanks in part to the dozens of Supports (essentially bonding scenes between any two characters) in more recent Fire Emblem games, not to mention the lengthy stories, you’re sure to get dozens of hours’ worth of fun from any FE title. I recommend Awakening in particular because I think it’s one of the franchise’s strongest entries, and it expertly blends the challenging strategy gameplay of past titles with newer, more accessible difficulty options and the Support-based dating-sim elements.

Or, sure, you could just wait until Three Houses. I’m not gonna stop you.

Final Fantasy XIV (PC, PS4)

Final Fantasy XIV

If you’re at all interested in MMORPGs, Final Fantasy XIV is a great choice to keep you busy this summer. Not only has the game been going from strength to strength since it first launched in 2013, but it just got its third expansion: Shadowbringers. As with all MMO expansions, this added a tonne of new quests, characters, storylines and even some new job classes to play as.

Another upside to starting FF14 is that it’ll likely carry you through summer and well into the rest of the year, especially if you find some friends to play with. There’s a gigantic amount of content at this point, from the initial A Realm Reborn main storyline all the way to the newest Shadowbringer features. While the game certainly has its flaws – its early hours feel a little too grindy and focused on fetch quests – you definitely aren’t going to run out of things to do any time soon.

If the Final Fantasy aspect isn’t for you, you can always tag-in a different franchise MMO like Elder Scrolls Online instead.

Persona 5 (PS3, PS4)

persona 5

With Persona 5 Royal on the way, it might seem silly to suggest replaying the base version of the game, but hear me out. All we know for sure is that P5R comes out next year, which could be anywhere between January and December. With the expanded version of Atlus’s hit RPG potentially over a year away, playing the original version of the game couldn’t hurt, and it’ll certainly keep you busy: my first playthrough was about 70 hours long!

If you’ve yet to see everything Persona 5 has to offer – or maybe you’ve yet to play it at all – there’s loads of content to explore. Whether you’re maxing the numerous Confidants or completing the Pokédex – I mean, er, the Persona Compendium – you’re never short of something to do in Persona 5. I just started a new game myself (I last played it in 2017), and I expect to be busy with it for dozens of hours yet.

Pokémon Go (Android, iOS)

Pokémon Go

It’s hard to believe Pokemon Go launched three years ago, isn’t it? Summer of 2016 was a great time, full of nostalgia and people swarming notable landmarks because a Vaporeon spawned. Fast-forward to July 2019 and Pokémon Go is a very different game, packed full of social features, gameplay mechanics and Pokémon themselves that weren’t in the initial release. Whether you’re a regular player or someone who’s become inactive over the years, there’s plenty to do in Pokémon Go this summer.

First and foremost, going out with your friends to catch some Pokémon is still great fun. There are over 400 Pokémon in the game now, comprising the franchise’s first four generations. Let’s not forget the numerous events scheduled for this summer, including the ongoing Global Research tasks or the upcoming, uh, One Piece crossover. Needless to say, you can’t go wrong with Pokémon Go right now.

If you want a free-to-play mobile game that isn’t Pokémon, some other great choices include Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

Story of Seasons (3DS)

Doraemon Story of Seasons

Who says you need to be constantly beating stuff up to have fun? Sometimes it’s better to just relax with a more peaceful game, and the Story of Seasons series (formerly Harvest Moon) certainly has that aspect covered. Start-up your farm, raise some animals and, eventually, preside over a vast agricultural empire, all the while wooing your favorite townsperson in the hope of an eventual marriage.

There are plenty of games in the series to choose from, though the most recent and easily accessible are all on the 3DS. Due to a confusing and misleading legal dispute, recent games using the Harvest Moon title are actually by completely different developers; the Story of Seasons games are the proper continuation of the series, and it’s with them that you’ll get all the farming goodness fans of the series have come to expect.

If you want a farming sim that’s a little easier to get your hands on, there’s also Stardew Valley, which is available for . . . pretty much every system.

If you want some more suggestions, check out Angela’s choices.

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