As mentioned in our recent Snow Day Binge Guide: Movies, this is the perfect time of year to stay indoors and get caught up on some of your favorite entertainment. If you prefer to trade in the TV remote for your system controller of choice, the games in this guide should keep you occupied for literally weeks on end. The guide is divided into two sections: meaty single-player experiences, and episodic games you can consume in a more traditional seasonal format.
Gigantic Single-Player Experiences
The following games are huge, immersive experiences with tons of side content in which you can lose yourself for hours. Since games are unique in that playthrough time will vary depending on the choices you make or how much of the side content you are willing to explore, we have provided binge time as a range. The minimum playtime is the estimated amount of time needed to experience the full main story. The maximum playtime is an estimate of how long it would take for completionists to experience everything the game has to offer. These times do not include any multiplayer gameplay.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The main story of Geralt of Rivia‘s quest to eliminate the Wild Hunt while the Kingdoms are torn apart by the Nilfgaard invasion should take you about forty hours total to see all the way through. However, if you want to become a master of alchemy, experience every secondary quest, and fulfill every contract, you are looking at over 200 hours total. Add on another ten to fifteen hours for the excellent “Hearts of Stone” expansion.
BINGE TIME: 40 – 200 hours
The Witcher: 35 – 70 hours
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: 25 – 50 hours
The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone DLC: 10 – 15 hours
TOTAL BINGE TIME: 110 – 335 hours
Bethesda’s Fallout and Elder Scrolls games are known to be enormous time sinks. So far I have dropped over one hundred hours exploring the Commonwealth, and probably twenty percent of that time has just been in the menus and settlement workshop modes alone. Relatively speaking, Fallout 4 actually isn’t a that much of a time commitment if you just want to experience the main story, which should take just over twenty hours. However, if you are like me and are constantly encumbered while scavenging goods for upgrades and settlements, or want to level up the ultimate Sole Survivor and get every companion side quest, plan on spending over 150 hours doing so.
If exploring the nuclear wastes of Boston makes you curious to play the two previous Bethesda Fallout games to see the Capital Wasteland and New Vegas, plus all of their DLC, you may need to find your own Vault in which to hunker down, as that will tack on another seventy to 250 hours.
BINGE TIME: 20 – 150 hours
Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition: 30 – 100 hours
Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition: 40 – 150 hours
TOTAL BINGE TIME: 90 – 400 hours
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Hideo Kojima certainly didn’t skimp in his swan song for the Metal Gear Solid series. The game is packed full of content and things to do. If you just want to blow through the main missions to learn the fate of Big Boss and the Diamond Dogs, that will still take over forty hours. However, if you want to savor your time with Venom Snake, D-Dog and company, it can take over 150 hours to S-rank every side op, collect all the blueprints and cassette tapes, find every easter egg, Fulton everything in site, research every upgrade and build the ultimate Mother Base.
If you want to go back and experience the entire canonical Metal Gear series designed and directed by Kojima, Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection is the most complete compilation available. It includes six full games as well as the VR Missions, in a collection that spans four decades.
BINGE TIME: 40 – 150 hours
Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection: 70 – 160 hours
TOTAL BINGE TIME: 110 – 310 hours
The Souls games and last year’s spiritual successor, Bloodborne, are not to be taken lightly. It takes a tremendous amount of skill and perseverance just to make it through one of these games. Mastering the nuanced combat systems and seeing everything the games have to offer is a daunting task that will take hours of blood (vials), sweat, and tears to accomplish. For fans of the series, it is time well spent, as few things are more rewarding than knowing you are one of an elite few who can say they have bested all that Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware can throw their way, at least until Dark Souls III arrives later this year.
BINGE TIME: 30 – 80 hours
Demon’s Souls: 30 -100 hours
Dark Souls: 50 – 100 hours
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin: 40 – 120 hours
Bloodborne: The Old Hunters: 10 – 20 hours
TOTAL BINGE TIME: 150 – 400 hours
Xenoblade Chronicles X
No list of long single-player games would be complete without the inclusion of at least one JRPG. Xenoblade Chronicles X contains a massive open world to explore, a variety of character classes, and a number of weaponized mechs known as Skells to collect and customize. As is the case with the previous Xeno games, Xenoblade Chronicles X contains a deep leveling system, and a ton of side content which could take a dedicated player over 200 hours to wade through.
BINGE TIME: 60 – 200 hours
Xenogears: 60 – 80 hours
Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht: 40 – 60 hours
Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Bose: 40 – 60 hours
Xenosaga Episode III: Also sprach Zarathustra: 40 – 60 hours
Xenoblade Chronicles: 60 – 150 hours
TOTAL BINGE TIME: 300 – 610 hours
For those who prefer a heavy emphasis on story over gameplay systems or side content, the following list of games includes some of last year’s best episodic games. With the exception of Until Dawn, these are streamlined experiences with set times that should only take one to two hours per episode, and you can experience the complete story arch of each season in a few days.
Tales from the Borderlands
This Telltale Games collaboration with Borderlands creator Gearbox Software tells the story of two main characters, Rhys and Fiona, across five episodes. Borderlands fan favorites Claptrap, Scooter, and Mad Moxxi make appearances in this story that perfectly captures the humor and style of the series.
BINGE TIME: 10 hours
Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series
This six-part series by Telltale Games tells the story of House Forrester, one of the minor houses from the North trying to establish their place in Westeros amidst the turmoil of the War of the Five Kings. The game is based on the HBO television series, and several of that series’ main characters make appearances, featuring the look and actual voices of the actors from the show. The events of the game weave in and out of those of the show, so you may want to use our handy infographic as a guide to keep track of the timelines.
BINGE TIME: 12 hours
Life Is Strange
Life Is Strange takes place over five episodes and tells the story of Max, a high school senior who learns she can manipulate time. This mechanic is used to excellent effect, as you explore the different timelines created using your powers. The game’s striking, hand-drawn art style, eclectic soundtrack and interesting cast of characters all serve to enhance the narrative and set Life Is Strange apart from more traditional episodic adventure games.
BINGE TIME: 15 hours
Minecraft: Story Mode
While Minecraft: Story Mode may be intended for a younger audience than the other two Telltale games on this list, it can be enjoyed by Minecraft fans of all ages. The game’s five episodes take the main character, Jesse, across familiar Minecraft locations such as the Nether and The End in an adventure to save the world. As is the case with all Telltale adventures, the story and character interactions are influenced by the choices you make, so in true Minecraft fashion you are actually building your own experience as you go.
BINGE TIME: 8 hours
Unlike the other story-driven games here, Until Dawn isn’t episodic. Instead, it is an interactive survival horror game that plays out over nine or so hours. The game is meant to be played through multiple times, as the choices you make have consequences which affect the game later on, creating a unique story each time. The game also has a strict auto-save system so that your choices are binding, meaning you can’t reset to the last save if you don’t like an outcome of one of the game’s many difficult decisions.
BINGE TIME: 9 – 20 hours
If you were to play all of the games on this list, it would take you anywhere from 806 to 2,070 hours. That is between 33 and 86 days, or around one to three months. That should hold you over until this year’s batch of big games arrives.
Many thanks to HowLongToBeat.com and all of the communities here at Wikia for providing estimates on playthrough times.