Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Social distancing entertainment guide: best movies, TV shows, games & more

As the looming threat of Covid-19 intensifies, many Australians have rightfully taken the government's advice onboard by practising self-isolation and social distancing in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Whether you're staying home under self-imposed lockdown or under a doctor-ordered state of quarantine, self-isolation can be quite boring – particularly if you're usually a very outgoing person.

Thankfully, technology has made it easier than ever to keep yourself entertained while stuck inside your home. With that in mind, we've taken the liberty of putting together a helpful guide on how to keep yourself entertained during self-isolation. 

Read on to learn more about how you can stave off boredom via Australia's available streaming services during this especially trying time in our history. 

Australian movie & TV streaming services

For most people, being stuck at home will be a less-than-ideal situation. That said, it does present the perfect opportunity to catch up on all the TV shows and movies you haven't gotten around to. In fact, you could even choose to re-watch the ones you loved.

Thankfully, Australia has a number of excellent streaming services on offer which will allow you to watch (almost) anything your heart desires without having to leave your couch. 

Netflix

Netflix
The most popular option is Netflix, which offers a never-ending supply of original shows and movies from around the world, along with constantly-changing licensed content. Pricing starts at AU$9.99 per month for the entry-level tier (one screen in standard definition), all the way up to $19.99 for the full Ultra HD package with four simultaneous streams. Unfortunately, Netflix no longer offers a free-trial period. That said, we can't imagine you'll have difficulty finding something to watch on the service. Here here to sign up to Netflix. Here's how to watch Netflix with friends while self isolating.

Stan

Stan
Similar to Netflix in its pricing tiers, Australia's first major streaming service Stan starts at AU$10 per month for its one SD stream, followed by AU$14 per month for two HD streams and AU$17 per month for four 4K streams. It too offers original content, along with a large selection of first-run international shows that aren't available to stream elsewhere – though not quite as many as Netflix. That said, it does have a vast back catalogue of classic shows like Friends, Seinfeld and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If that sounds good, you can sign up for Stan's free 30-day trial from its website.

Disney Plus

Disney Plus
The newest streaming service to hit the Australian scene, Disney Plus offers an incredible back catalogue of the Mouse House's TV shows and movies – we're talking everything from the Mickey Mouse's original appearance in Steamboat Willy, all the way to modern Marvel blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame. Disney Plus has already started showing original content, such as the much-loved Star Wars series The Mandalorian, and you can expect plenty more in the near future. For a flat fee of only AU$8.99 per month for everything it has to offer, we highly recommend you sign up to Disney Plus for a free 7-day trial.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video
Included with every subscription to Amazon Prime, this streaming service offers a growing library of Amazon Original shows and movies, along with access to a countless number classic shows and movies. Of course, an Amazon Prime subscription much more than just another streaming service – for a flat fee of AU$6.99 per month, you'll get a number of additional bonuses for shopping on Amazon Australia. These include access to Prime Reading, Prime Music and Twitch Prime, free two-day delivery on domestic purchases, early access to discounts and deals, huge savings on Amazon Prime Day and more – all things that will come in handy during your home quarantine period. Here's where you can sign up for Amazon Prime in Australia.

Foxtel

Foxtel Now
While it's far more expensive than competing streaming services, particularly if you want to opt for every package on offer, Foxtel Now does offer many shows and movies that aren't available to stream anywhere else. For instance, the only place to stream HBO's extensive catalogue, including the likes of Game of Thrones and Westworld, is via Foxtel Now. Luckily, you can get started from only AU$25 per month (following a 10-day free trial) for mandatory Pop and Lifestyle packages, and if you're willing to spend more additional packages you can also access a huge selection of movies, sports and much more.

Apple TV Plus

Apple TV Plus
While Apple's new subscription-based video streaming service is unable to compete with the likes of Netflix and Disney Plus when it comes to the size of its content library, it makes up for it by offering a very high quality shows from big-name talent across the board. At only AU$7.99 per month after 7-day trial, it's also fairly inexpensive, and if you happen to have bought a major Apple product recently, such as an iPhone or iPad, you will receive 12-months of Apple TV Plus for the fantastic price of 'free'.

Kayo Sports

Kayo Sports
Are you a sports nut? Well, you're going to love Kayo Sports – a streaming service dedicated to all things running, kicking, throwing, racing, jumping and... you get the idea. With Kayo, you get almost everything sports-related that's available on Foxtel for less than half the price. The Kayo Sports Basic Package provides two simultaneous streams for only AU$25 per month, while for AU$35 per month, you can sign up to the Kayo Sports Premium Package, which provides three simultaneous streams. Best of all, there are no lock-in contracts and you can try before you buy with a free 14-day trial.

10 All Access

10 All Access
The local Australian version of America's CBS All Access streaming service, 10 All Access offers a growing number of premium television shows (including originals) as soon as they're released. We're talking complete and up-to-date shows like The Bachelor, NCIS, Hawaii Five-0, Masterchef Australia, Survivor and Neighbours, along with exclusive originals like The Twilight Zone. You can even watch some before they've premiered on Network 10, and with the added bonus of absolutely no ads. Additionally, the services a live streaming 24/7 news service in the world-renowned CBSN, all for AU$9.99 per month. Join now and get your first month free.

Tubi

Tubi
Trying to save money during these uncertain times? Tubi just might be the service for you. Relatively new to the Australian streaming landscape, the ad-supported Tubi is 100% free and offers an enormous number of C-grade movies and shows, cult classics and trashy gems, along with a selection of honest-to-goodness mainstream films from years gone by. All you need is a Facebook or Gmail account to login with and you're good-to-go. Of course, you will have to suffer the occasional pre-film 30-second advertisement, but you won't see any more ads for the remainder of the film or show you're watching. Check out Tubi for free right now.

Of course, there are also a large number of free streaming and catch-up services which offer ad-supported content. These include apps from all the major Australian networks, such as 7Plus, 9Now, SBS On Demand, ABC iview and 10play.

As for the rest of the paid streaming services we've covered, you'll find several comprehensive guides to the best shows and films they offer below.

What to play while social distancing

If there's one thing the Covid-19 lockdown has given us, it's plenty of time to catch up on the latest video game releases. Luckily, the last couple of months have seen the arrival of some truly excellent games, which should help greatly during this difficult time.

On top of that, our time indoors has also afforded us the opportunity to conquer that growing pile of shame that every gamer has amassed. 

You know exactly what we're talking about – that large collection of games that have for one reason or another been pushed to the side and neglected in favour of the next big blockbuster release that came out right after it. 

Here's a list of recent game releases to play during this period of social distancing and self isolation.

Final Fantasy VII Remake


Final Fantasy 7 Remake is finally here, 23 years after the release of the original version on the original PS1. If you're an OG fan who's been waiting for this release with baited breath, you're in luck – it's absolutely fantastic.

This isn't your average remaster job, either – Final Fantasy VII Remake is completely new from top to bottom, hewing closely to the classic game's original story but taking advantage of modern-day graphics and gameplay. Apart from being a faithful re-imagining of the original game, Final Fantasy VII Remake expands upon everything that made this story great in the first place, offering full voice acting and cinematic cut scenes to rival the biggest Hollywood blockbusters in terms of quality and scope.

Out now for PS4, you can pick up a copy of Final Fantasy VII Remake from the deals listed below.

Resident Evil 3 Remake

Following on from 2018's truly fantastic remake of Resident Evil 2, Capcom has returned to the well once again with a remake of Resident Evil 3, which was originally released 21 years ago.

As you might expect, Resident Evil 3 is very different experience in 2020, dropping the original game's fixed camera and opting instead for the same 3rd person camera view that helped make the Resident Evil 2 remake feel like a brand new game. 

On PC. we played it in 8K at over 60fps (though there are some big sacrifices), and tested its performance with today's biggest graphics cards. However, if you aren't a big PC gamer you can still pick the game up for PS4 and Xbox One.

Here are the best Resident Evil 3 Remake deals currently available.

Doom Eternal

Doom Eternal

Doom Eternal is a beautiful, but brutal reinvention of the first-person shooter series that actually makes life at the moment look... not so bad. This ride through Hell is one of the best experiences you'll have in 2020. 

Our full Doom Eternal review agrees, with a five-star rating and an Editor's Choice award. It's fast-paced at 60fps and has surpassed our expectations even when it played it in 8K with a high end graphics card

Get ready to rip and tear through a never-ending swarm of aggressive demons to an incredible soundtrack of fellow Aussie Mick Gordon's crushing industrial guitars. You can find the best Doom Eternal deals in Australia below.

Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is on the other end of the spectrum – it's a ready to lull you into a sense that nothing is wrong whatsoever like a good ASMR. This is fine. Everything is fine, says main character Tim Nook. Nintendo's cute social life sim is ideal for today's self-isolation situation. Read our Animal Crossing: New Horizons review and think happy thoughts.

One thing to note: while the new Animal Crossing is a must-have Nintendo Switch-exclusive, Doom Eternal is available on a wider set of platforms: PCs, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and even Google Stadia.

Sign up to Apple Arcade

Our best Apple Arcade games list now includes Crossy Road Castle, a platform title that thrives on its four-player local multiplayer gameplay (fear not, single-player is a choice, just in case confined at home alone). The frantic action reminds us of all the New Super Mario Bros. games and the old Castle Crashers game that never made its way to iOS somehow. Developer Hipster Whale provides the next best thing.

What's great about a game like Crossy Road Castle is that it's easy to get the entire family in on the multiplayer action thanks to Apple's family share feature. You're able to share this game with anyone in your iCloud family, and we just re-upped out Apple Arcade subscription (AU$7.99 a month) to do just that.

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