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Top Pandemic Video Game Picks From KERA’s Justin Martin

3 space ships flying high in the atmosphere of an alien planet.
Paradox Interactive

Our resident video game expert/addict has six games you should try to fend off pandemic boredom and have fun with your friends.

I stay up late at night playing video games so you don’t have to.

So, if you've reached the end of the seemingly infinite selection of titles from all the streaming services out there you might be feeling a touch of cabin fever.

Here’s a list of games I’m loving right now:

1) Minecraft

The basics of Minecraft involve exploring, gathering materials, and crafting all sorts of things to create your own world essentially in a nearly infinite blocky landscape.

It's an older game that continues to win high marks (from me) because of its accessibility and frequent updates from Microsoft. So if you stopped playing a while ago, you might want to give it another shot.

You can easily play Minecraft solo but I highly recommend playing with friends.

2) Stellaris

Stellaris is a space strategy game that requires a lot of thought and micromanagement. Users take turns as they play the game.

You pick a space-faring civilization to control and guide through hundreds of years of history and conflict. Do you want to be a super technological race of peaceful sapient rocks? Maybe a vengeful artificial intelligence seeking to destroy all organic life? It's up to you.

The game is fun solo or with friends. If you do play with friends, you might want to set aside some time.

Like the board game Risk, Stellaris games have the potential to go on for several highly entertaining hours.

3) No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky is a huge space exploration game. You can explore the stars, walk around on strange planets, encounter new life forms and build all sorts of stuff.

It's honestly hard to summarize the galaxy of things you can do in No Man's Sky, which is one of the reasons it's on this list.

4) Back 4 Blood

Back 4 Blood is a soon-to-be released zombie shooter/survival game and the spiritual successor to the wildly popular Left 4 Dead franchise.

When it comes out on Oct. 12 you and three of your friends can match up against the endless zombie hordes.

I like this game because you have to work together to survive, which can lead to some seriously entertaining and nerve-wracking fun.

5) Population One

Population One requires a VR headset. That means you'll need a PC and a headset of some sort. One affordable way to play is through the Oculus Quest 2.

However you play, it's a highly engrossing game that'll have you climbing and jumping off buildings while battling simulated or real players.

This game can give you quite the workout depending on how you play. You can easily work up a sweat fighting against others while climbing and hanging off of buildings.

However, sometimes I'll just load up a private game to leisurely fly around with friends while we're talking about our days.

6) Demeo

Demeo also requires a VR headset to play but isn't as physically involved as Population One.

The game essentially brings the fun of classic tabletop role playing games to the digital realm with some really snazzy VR interactivity.

You and up to three of your buddies will select a character to play and then fight in a virtual arena. Players take turns using virtual dice to decide whether their actions succeed or fail.

Demeo involves luck and teamwork and can easily go on from 15 minutes to a couple of hours.

What games have you been playing during the pandemic? Send me your suggestions via email or Twitter. Thanks!

Got a tip? Email Justin Martin at You can follow Justin on Twitter @MisterJMart.

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Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.