The Christmas dinner is eaten, the catch-up conversations are spent, how are you going to pass the time? Look no further than the glorious marriage that is alcohol and video games, two natural time-killers that both entertain and destroy depending on how they are used. Remember to try and keep things civil.
For the purposes of this article, 'one drink' means one gulp of beer/cider/wine/spirits with mixer. Shots of neat spirit are very much not recommended with these games unless you want your night to end before it's even started.
Two important points before you read on:
1.This article is strictly for those of a legal drinking age; if you can’t hit the sauce in your country then do not try these games!
2. If you are the sort whose head starts spinning after one or two beers, then you should probably take smaller sips of your drink. There are already enough decorations in the room without you adding sick to the mix.
With all that out of the way, the challenges await.
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Best for: When you want a little versatility.
There are plenty of CODs to choose from but none of them are able to top the amount of content that Black Ops 3 provides. Over the years, playing COD has started to feel much more serious than it once did. The endless pursuit of unlocks and the perfect kill/death ratio will forever have you hungry for whatever carrot on a stick most appeals to you. There is therefore, an undeniable sense of freedom in letting go, jumping into the online versus modes and playing for the camaraderie and the fun instead of the ego boost. It's surprising how good a match can be once you lose your emotional investment in the outcome.
Once the drinks start to pile up and getting killed over and over again starts to lose its charm, however, there's plenty more to do. Zombies mode is as chaotic as ever and far less painful a ride for the casual player than the unforgiving online experience. The top-down zombies spin-off, Dead Ops, is also a barrel of laughs and even more suited to quickly pick up and play.
Making it boozy:
Online multiplayer – First and foremost, every time you die you need to have a drink and pass the controller on. Have two drinks if you are killed with a killstreak or specialist power, and three drinks if you are killed with a melee attack or if you kill yourself by accident. If you lose a match then everyone has to have three drinks.
Zombies mode – Every wave you survive, have one drink. Every time you use a Pack-a-Punch, mystery box, or power up have one drink. Every time you are downed have two drinks, every time you completely die have three. If everyone is killed then everyone drinks four.
Dead Ops – Every two waves, have a drink. Every time you are downed have two drinks, if you all die have five drinks. Oh and If the gorilla gets you, have three drinks.
2. Rocket League
Best for: When you want to keep things competitive, but friendly.
Owing largely to its colourful art style and the uncanny sense of cuteness that only cartoonish cars with giant hats can achieve, this car football game somehow manages to capture all the things that make the FIFA games great without the burning hatred that comes along with it. Nothing is less fun that going up against a seasoned FIFA veteran and spending half of your match watching replays of the countless goals that got past you. Despite the potentially massive skill ceiling, pretty much anyone can pick up Rocket League and start nailing a few balls into the net.
Though you can play against bots or each other, heading online and operating as a team is much more satisfying. With such a huge fan base, it wouldn't be at all surprising to come up against teams that are just as inept as you are, even with the handicap of intoxication. As is the case with so many of these games, failure leads to a sort of snowball effect whereby having to drink leads to further mistakes which leads to yet more drinking. You must master your booze-addled mind.
Making it boozy:
Have one drink for exploding because someone rammed you, two drinks for each of your team members for letting the opposing team score a goal against you, and three drinks for your each of your team members for losing a match.
Best for: When you want to go full bro with your bros.
The entire point of this game is to promote (bromote?) brohood. Taking on waves of menacing terrorists, aliens and demons as bro versions of the most iconic action heroes to ever be conceived is one sure-fire way to spark love between your fellow man.
The side-scrolling shooter/slasher platformer is a simple premise but don't let that fool you, it's hard as nails. More so than any of the other titles on this list, you have to make sure the booze doesn't make you go on a full-tilt rampage because the result will almost always be you left in giblets with another forfeit on the way. Of course, the harder fought the victory, the greater the bromance. Just don't be that guy who jumps on the helicopter at the end of each level and leaves his friends to die. Not cool, man.
Making it boozy:
Have one drink every time you die. If both players run out of lives, have two drinks and give your controllers to the next people. Each time you unlock or play as a new bro character, you must be quizzed about who the actual bro is based on and from which movie/TV show they appeared in. If you don't know the answer you must drink three.
4. Mount Your Friends
Best for: When you want to make things a little awkward.
As you struggle to make sense of the rudimentary yet mind-boggling controls, desperately hoping to make your way up the mountain of half-naked man flesh, their dongs waving in the wind, you will likely begin to question your life choices. Mount Your Friends is a 'simulated sports' game with a number of modes, but primarily you are tasked with mounting a goat and holding a pose. The next player must then do the same except now they have to climb over the first player's body too, making the tower of nudity ever greater in size. This continues until each of the would-be climbers cannot reach the top. With a set timer, the only way to win is to master the deceptively simple controls – a button for each appendage.
Mount Your Friends will raise a few eyebrows with your friends and even more if you are playing with family, but it's weird penile fascination and clumsy movement is what makes it so very entertaining. With a single mistake sending you plummeting from the top of the pyramid all the way to the bottom, the tension is real, especially as the timer runs down to zero.
Making it boozy:
After each player has successfully finished their turn, one drink is added to the count. This goes on until someone is eliminated. For example if someone fails on the fifth turn then they must have five drinks. The count is then reset and starts up again until the next person is eliminated.
Once everyone has been eliminated, the winner must have one drink, the person in second place must have two drinks, the person in third place must have three drinks, etc.
5. Surgeon Simulator
Best for: When you want to laugh at the expense of others.
Surgeon Simulator has been around for awhile now but it remains one of the most entertaining games to get lit with simply because of how inaccessible and slapstick it is. Despite only being a single player game, it turns out that few things can bring friends and family together quite like watching someone horribly botch a surgical procedure. Like a car crash in slow motion, you simply can't look away as your companions blunder on.
Each of the fingers on the hand is manipulated by pressing a key on the keyboard, while the hand's movement and rotation is dictated by the mouse. Even without alcohol, Surgeon Simulator is notoriously difficult to play. With booze, the constant threat of blood loss and the most uncontrollable hand known to gaming will have you sweating throughout.
Also, you should get ready for a lot of backseat surgeons because the drunken howls of those who think they can do a better job than you will be constant. Of course, that makes it all the more satisfying as your opponents struggle their way through the kidney transplant, lamenting how unusually tough it is to remove intestines from the unfortunate patient.
Making it boozy:
You all take it in turns to perform a surgery. For each litre of blood that is lost by the patient, have one drink. Additionally, for every five minutes of surgery time, have another drink. If the patient dies, have five drinks.
6. Rock Band 4
Best for: When you want to feel like rock stars.
Embarrassing karaoke sessions have long been a valued Christmas tradition. With Rock Band 4, you can turn that shameful solo act into an inspiring team effort that will leave you feeling like rock gods. Unlike the rest of the games on this list, you are likely to actually think you are getting better the more you drink despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
A proper, well-rounded session of Rock Band is a great feeling and one of the best games around for bringing a group of people together. For those that are inclined, however, Harmonix's rhythm game can be utterly punishing. We'll let you decide which is more fun.
Maing it boozy:
If you are feeling friendly – Nice and simple, the player with the highest note percentage drinks one, the second highest drinks two, etc. Same thing for High Scores. Swap your instruments after each song.
If you are feeling competitive – Everyone starts on Medium difficulty on the instrument of their choosing, and performs a song. If anyone fails or hits less than 80 percent of their notes, they drop down a difficultly and must have five drinks. If a player succeeds and hits more than 80 percent of their notes, they go up a difficultly and must assign five drinks to someone else. Keep doing this until you are good and satisfied.
7. Mario Kart 8
Best for: When you aren't afraid to strain relationships.
Beneath this legendary karting game's friendly exterior, we all know that evil lurks. A game that arbitrarily punishes the strong and empowers the weak, yet remains absurdly addictive throughout. The moment you boot up Mario Kart 8 you consent to having your friendships tested. Only the mad would agree to speed around twisting abominations like Rainbow Road, keenly aware that shell-based ballistics might have you in their sights at any moment. Whatever the consequences may be, you only have yourselves to blame.
With all that doom-mongering out of the way, Mario Kart's fondness for the inexperienced works wonders to make sure that everyone is having a good time and can, at least sometimes, feel like a winner. One thing is for sure, if you've ever been that player in the group that always loses and never has any fun, you'll have more than a few tools in your arsenal to ruin people's days. Just don't be surprised if their drunken outburst seems disproportionate to the offense.
Making it boozy:
For the longest time, the de facto Mario Kart drinking game has been Kario Mart, and for good reason. You'll need a full drink of something, preferably a can of beer or cider. All you need to do is make sure that you finish the drink before the end of the race. There is one stipulation however, you cannot drink and drive at the same time. Do you chug the drink straight off the starting line? Perhaps you could wait till right before the end then down it? Or maybe you could make a bunch of quick pit stops and drink it slower? You decide.
Once the race is over, everyone except the winner has to have three more gulps. Anyone who didn't finish their drink has to down that too.
8. FTL: Faster Than Light
Best for: When you aren't afraid to yell.
Rounding off our list is another single-player only game that effortlessly works up groups of people into a frenzy. The aim of FTL is to make it from one side of the galaxy to another, making use of tactical jumps and intelligent use of your ships arsenal. To do so will require expert micro and macro management as well as nerves of steel and an eye for diplomacy. None of these things benefit from alcohol.
The first player is the ship's captain, and every other player has a crew member assigned to them as they become available. Survival is the aim of the game here, with strict punishments for death. It is important to note that only the ship's captain may operate the game. Therefore, all other crew members must run their suggestions past the captain and hope they take them to heart. Though suggestions usually start along the lines of 'we should consider the scrap repair arm for low cost maintenance', it's usually not long for they turn into 'get me to the med bay! There are giant mantis creatures eating me alive for the love of God!'
Making it boozy:
Only the ship's captain may operate the computer. The captain never has to listen to his crew but it would probably be wise to do so. The crew can vote to mutiny once per system (it has to be unanimous); if successful, all players then have three drinks and a newly voted player becomes captain. If the captain is killed, they are replaced by another member of the crew. If your character is killed then you must down your drink and leave the game (strictly no clone bays). Every player has one drink for moving to a new system, destroying an enemy ship or fleeing combat.
And there you have it, 8 of the best video game drinking games to have you laughing, loving and raging this winter. If you have any of your own you'd like to share, leave them in the comments. Remember to drink responsibly and have a great Christmas!