Students’ guide to lockdown entertainment

If you’d have told 14 year old me that there would be a whole year where all there was to do was watch films and play video games, I’d probably have gotten quite excited at the idea of it. Having that much time to catch up on things I’d missed and try out new shows and movies sounds great, until you physically spend a year sat in your room doing just that and realise you’re completely burnt out.

With at least another month and a half of lockdown ahead of us, I expect many of you will be scrambling for recommendations on what to watch and play until we are allowed to venture into the real world once more. To help with this, I’ll be mentioning and briefly discussing a number of films, shows and video games that may have slipped under your radar that either I or other students have watched/played over the last few months, so here we go!

The Mandalorian
Type: TV series (2 seasons released so far)
Where to watch: Disney+
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure
Cast: Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers

The Mandalorian’s armour has quickly become iconic among Star Wars fans and newbies alike (credit: Disney)

Okay, this one’s a bit obvious. While many of us have; in a figure of speech, been living under a rock in lockdown, I’d be amazed if you haven’t heard of the Mandalorian. Disney’s blockbuster series has taken the world by storm and for good reason, it’s quality Star Wars action. The show follows the mysterious Mando, a masked figure who makes a living hunting bounty targets across the galaxy after the Empire collapsed, who finds himself tasked with a complicated job that takes him all over the Star Wars universe. Fans could (and have) argue for months on end about the three new mainline Star Wars films and what they did right and wrong, but the Mandalorian brought those fans together to enjoy the best that the Star Wars universe has to offer, breathtaking visuals, a roaring soundtrack and of course, Baby Yoda.

Sam: “The main reason I love Mando so much is it’s consistency, every episode is great and it finally feels like Disney are making good use of the piles of money they’ve been raking in since they bought the Star Wars license. It works as a self-contained series just as well as a piece of Star Wars, because while you will obviously get more out of watching it as a fan, it generally only hints at other areas of Star Wars so it’s unlikely that people new to the series will get confused.”

Mr Robot
Type: TV series (4 seasons)
Where to watch: Amazon Prime (free with prime subscription)
Genres/themes: Drama, hacking, conspiracies
Cast: Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday

Elliot finds some insight from an unexpected source (Photo: USA Network)

Mr Robot is not for the faint of heart. A huge amount of subplots and character arcs running at the same time might be enough to confuse some viewers on their own, but adding the fact that the show is narrated by Elliot (Rami Malek) who suffers from a number of mental illnesses sends this dizziness into overdrive. However, instead of coming together to create a messy and incomprehensible plot, Mr Robot manages to constantly exceed your expectations with seemingly endless twists and turns that will leave you with your jaw on the floor every couple of episodes. This show is the definition of all killer, no filler. Plus, it’s refreshing to see a world (even if it’s fictional) in an even worse state than ours is right now.

Stardew Valley
Type: Game
Where to play: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Genre: Farming, life sim

Stardew Valley offers plenty of tools to make your farm your own (Photo: ConcernedApe)

When the first lockdown came into effect, many gamers rejoiced that the new Animal Crossing game came out at roughly the same time, as it allowed them to shield themselves from the outside world, hunker down, and crack on with some serious virtual property development.
However I, along with many others lost interest in Animal Crossing after the initial craze, and that is why I’m recommending Stardew Valley. Stardew is very similar to Animal Crossing, you have a house you can customise and a variety of cheery villagers to get to know, but where Animal Crossing focusses on the appearance of your island, Stardew is all about function. Efficient farming is essential to earning money to develop land, villagers will ask for favours and have their own quest lines as you become better friends with them, and unlike Animal Crossing, you can play Stardew Valley as much as you like in a day without running out of things to do, as the days last 20 minutes rather than a full 24 real-life hours. If you’re looking for something to scratch that escape to the country itch, for less than £15 I can’t recommend Stardew Valley enough.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Type: Movie
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova

Borat reveals he was the president of America all along (Photo: Amazon Prime Video)

If you’ve seen Borat before, you know what to expect. Sacha Baron Cohen’s iconic bumbling Kazakhstani returns to America to try and mend the relationship between the US and Kazakhstan ruined by his actions in the first film, all while trying to hide his now very well-known face to avoid detection and get people to say incriminating things on camera. If you’re easily offended I would advise you to stay away from Borat 2 as you’ll likely find it more infuriating than funny, but for those who might enjoy some risky humour about the world’s currently awful state, its definitely worth a watch on Prime. Great success!

Alice: “I’ll admit that at the start there were a couple of jokes in the film that I was a bit uneasy about, but when you put it into the context of the film and remember it’s a comedy it gets a lot easier to watch. Seeing Sacha Baron Cohen make jokes of all the worst things in the world at the moment oddly made me feel a lot more optimistic about it!”

DOOM Eternal
Type: Game
Where to play: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Genre: Action, Shooter, Fast Paced

The Marauder is the toughest enemy you’ll face in DOOM Eternal, and will test your knowledge of every skill the game teaches you (Photo: Bethesda)

If you don’t follow games particularly closely, you might be confused as to why I’m recommending DOOM, a sequel to a game from 1993. The reason I’m recommending it is because it was simply the best game I played all year. DOOM was re-imagined in 2016 with a release (ingeniously named ‘DOOM’) that brought back the magic of the first game in a more fast paced setting, and if that game turned it up to eleven, this one has turned it up so much that it’s broken the dial. You are the Slayer, a prophesied killing machine that is the only thing stopping the demons of hell from taking over Earth. You will sprint, jump and blast your way through about 15 hours of absolute chaos accompanied by the best soundtrack of any game I have had the pleasure of playing, nodding your head to heavy metal as you explode demons left and right with your Super Shotgun. If Stardew Valley sounded a bit too pleasant for your tastes, then DOOM Eternal might be right up your alley.

Sam: “I heard the soundtrack was a large part of the game’s fun, and since I used to hate rock and metal I wasn’t very interested in DOOM. But after seeing some gameplay I had to try it, and ten minutes into the first level I found myself headbanging along to the soundtrack and didn’t stop until I finished the game. It’s such an adrenaline rush!”

History of Swear Words
Type: TV series (1 season so far)
Where to watch: Netflix
Genre: Comedy, documentary, educational
Cast: Nicholas Cage

HISTORY OF SWEAR WORDS Nicolas Cage as himself in HISTORY OF SWEAR WORDS. Cr. Adam Rose / Netflix

If watching Nicholas Cage sat by a fire explaining the etymology and history of swear words doesn’t sound like a perfect night in, then lockdown must’ve really done a number on you. One of Hollywood’s most beloved stars is back on Netflix with a newly released six episode series where he and a number of linguists and social issue experts discuss the detailed history of our most popular form of taboo, and with the episodes being a bitesize-length of twenty minutes, there’s no excuse not to give it a go.

So those are our recommendations for the latest (and hopefully last) lockdown. Let us know what you think of them in the comments, and be sure to share what you’ve been watching and playing to pass the time that little bit faster on our social media pages!

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