9 Games You Can Fit in Your Ruck and Play in the Field

(Screenshot courtesy of IGDB)

Who doesn’t love gaming, especially in the U.S. military? The space and weight constraints of military life can make it tough, though. It’s hard to take a gaming PC or PlayStation 5 to the field, stuff it into a locker onboard a ship or find a spare outlet to plug it in miles from home.

Luckily, we live in an era where we carry powerful computers in our pockets and can fit even stronger ones in the same space as a couple of novels. If you have a spare bit of space on your next trip, may we recommend any of these games go with you?

1. “Hogwarts Legacy” (Via Steam Deck)

(Screenshot courtesy of IGDB)

The top-selling, role-playing game (RPG) of 2023 now plays stable on mobile, as long as it's on the Steam Deck. The story takes place 100 years before the Harry Potter books and drops the player into a beautiful world with all sorts of quests in Hogwarts school. It's easy to sink 30 hours into the game, so while the Steam Deck takes the place of a manual, a novel or a whole selection of spices in your ruck, it will also earn its space with just a couple of games. And “Hogwarts Legacy” is a good choice for one of them.

2. “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,” or Any Other Zelda Game (Via Nintendo Switch)

(Screenshot courtesy of IGDB)

If you'd rather take a Switch than a Steam Deck -- the battery life is typically better, it's lighter and smaller, and games are plug-and-play -- “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” is the newest of the series, very popular and well-rated. The world you can explore is vast and filled with islands in the sky, caves in the depths, and the surface world in-between. Craft, kill monsters and loot equipment until you're ready to fight Ganondorf. Expect to spend at least 50 hours playing it.

Alternatively, all of the Zelda games can be played on Switch. Go nuts.

3. “Mario Party Superstars” (via Nintendo Switch)

(Screenshot courtesy of IGDB)

Another great Switch game, “Mario Party Superstars” brings back many of the best minigames from the series. If you've never played, all the top Mario characters are playing epic board games, and you're in charge of whichever one you like. Roll dice, beat minigames and collect stars. Best part is: It's at its best with other players. So this is one you can share with buddies. It may take up more space than a pack of cards, but it's worth it, even if you have to bring a couple of extra controllers for friends.

4. “Sid Meier's Civilization VI” (via Steam Deck)

(Screenshot courtesy of IGDB)

It's one of the oldest series in gaming. “Civilization VI” carries on the Sid Meier legacy of humanity growing on hexagon-based boards from pre-agriculture to the Space Age. You can pick to lead any civilization and try to get it to the end of the world, taking over your neighbors militarily, diplomatically, culturally or more.

Each campaign can easily take 20 hours to complete, and it's a game that nearly everyone plays many times, repeatedly. If you win with America, you want to try Rome, Babylon, Egypt or even playing as India just so Mahatma Gandhi won't nuke you this time around.

5. “Stardew Valley” (via Steam Deck, Nintendo Switch or Android)

(Screenshot courtesy of IGDB)

This indie game proved terribly popular on PC and is now available on Steam Deck. You inherit an overgrown farm and have to turn it into a thriving one through agriculture and animal husbandry (plus mining, forestry and a bit of travel). Meet a partner, raise a family and build up some wealth. The game is cozy, good for relaxing after a day of exercises or patrols. Or you can play with 1-7 friends, and the game even scales as you add players, so it doesn't get too easy.

6. “Metroid Dread” (via Nintendo Switch)

(Screenshot courtesy of IGDB)

Intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran can still dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge with the best of them. In this instance, she's still in 2D and is hunting aliens across a new planet. You kill those between you and your target, you get more powerful and then you kill your target. Beat it once, and you can unlock harder difficulties and more varied game modes.

7. “Mini Metro” (Android or iOS)

(Screenshot courtesy of IGDB)

This game is deceptively simple. You're in charge of building a metro system, people need to go places and you connect those places with your metro. But the number of people keeps increasing, as does the number of places and the number of tracks you need. You can easily play the game for hours, as the game is addictive even as it's frustrating. But it's also easy to play in bite-sized chunks. Since it can be played on the phone, you can play almost anywhere and it takes minimum space.

(If you are already planning to carry a Steam Deck, you can also play “Mini Metro” on that. But we recommend using a phone otherwise to save space and weight.)

8. “Dragon Quest” (Nintendo 3DS, Android or iOS)

'Dragon Quest IV' was originally released for PlayStation in 2001.
'Dragon Quest IV' was originally released for PlayStation in 2001. (Screenshot courtesy of IGDB)

The “Dragon Quest” games have fascinated players since 1986, and nearly all of the games are now available on phones. And the newest games are playable on Steam Deck if you need the newest storylines.

The games have a great, warm style that's easy to embrace right before sleep. But they also have tough storylines meant for adults. The first games were released in trilogies, so do some quick research before you jump in. They all feature classic hero stories: A chosen one is plucked out of obscurity and sent on an epic quest to win the battle between good and evil. If you've played Japanese role-playing games, you know the type. Grind up the levels and beat the big bad, similar to the “Final Fantasy” games.

Speaking of which …

9. “Final Fantasy” (Android or iOS)

(Image courtesy of IGDB)

Most of the “Final Fantasy” games are now on mobile devices and can be played offline after you download them. This author prefers “Final Fantasy VIII,” but the more widely popular “IV,” “VI” and “VII” are also on mobile. Each game gives you dozens of hours of great story and gameplay. The early games have mostly a cozy art style like “Dragon's Quest,” but there are darker elements in others.

“Final Fantasy VII” opens in a dark, futuristic city beset by shortages where thousands live without sunlight. “Final Fantasy VIII” is full of orphans turned into mercenaries. And “Final Fantasy X” includes racism, religious extremism and human sacrifice.

But chocobos are in most of the games, and They. Are. Adorable.

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